Revelation 19:11 I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war.
It seems to me that a lot of Christians never read Revelation at all. There are some who seem to read it almost exclusively, and that too is a mistake, but the Bible needs to be taken as a whole to stay in balance. Groups like the Jehovah’s Witnesses spring up because of an obsession with “End Times,” but failure to keep it in your mind and heart that God is eventually going to say “Enough” to all the nonsense can lead to all sorts of other aberrations. One striking feature of Revelation is that it doesn’t present “Gentle Jesus, meek and mild,” but a conquering Warrior King. It does speak of His “wiping away every tear,” (Revelation 7:17; 21:4, echoing Isaiah 25:8) but the image in general is certainly not pacifist. Many Christians have a knee-jerk reaction that war is always bad, but that really walls off large chunks of the Bible. Jesus indeed said, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God,” (Matthew 5:9) but peace is far more than the absence of visible conflict. True peace comes about only in submission to and agreement with the Prince of Peace, and there are groups and individuals, and places within almost every individual, that rebel against that. In the final analysis, such rebellion cannot stand against omnipotent and omniscient God. We get into real trouble when we imagine ourselves to be God’s “enforcers,” trying to impose the kingdom of God on people and situations by our own strength, but we still need to remember that God does use human instruments, and not try to limit how He might do that.
I certainly didn’t expect to write this this morning! I was drafted back in 1970 and spent two years in the infantry, but training was distasteful to me to the point that I wrote, and performed, a poem that almost got me a court martial! Thankfully my assignment was Hawaii rather than Vietnam, so I never saw combat, but I certainly rubbed shoulders with lots of guys who did. Also, I attended school at Itazuke Air Force Base in Fukuoka, Japan, as a child, and right now we are a little over an hour away from Sasebo Navy Base, so I have had considerable exposure to professional military people. I have at times been offended by their cultural insensitivity, but that is no worse than what is often shown by non-military tourists. I have come through all of this not at all a pacifist, but certainly not eager for conflict of any sort. I am very aware that the world is a very violent place at this point, and sometimes that violence is unavoidable. I am to maintain my own connection to the Prince of Peace and offer that connection in love to as many as will receive it, so that they will be on the right side in the final conflict.
Father, this isn’t an easy subject even to think about. You know I’m big on conflict avoidance! Help me be a peacemaker by Your definition, letting Your Spirit flow through me at all times in all situations, for the salvation of many and for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!