Bloody is the Lamb

Bloody is the Lamb

As part of what I do in Circles of Peace, I respond to various emails and questions regarding Peace and Non-violence….. It seems much of the misunderstanding of what I am attempting to share comes from conservative evangelistic segments. I imagine that many who read about these things simply do not care or do not understand and do not wish to invest the time involved to consider what may be contrary to what they have learned in today’s culture.

Below are excerpts from a recent conversation that will serve as a basis for what I will add to and clarify later in this essay:

[John]

Thanks for your question… I don’t think you actually responded to the whole mailing list, which is good… Let’s just you and I talk…

(Cut) also mentioned the difficulties (cut) has been having… I am not in the inside loop on things like that…. I hope and pray for the cleansing of the blood of Jesus on all matters…

As a matter of fact, what you are referring to very much concerns the blood of Jesus….

Accomplishing Peace in the world, as much as possible, is a mystery, and it can be hard to understand, even for Christians…. Let me quote a Scripture to consider:

Eph 2:11-3:1

11 Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” (that done in the body by the hands of men)— 12 remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.

14 For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, 15 by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, 16 and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. 17 He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.

19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.

NIV

[John] We see here how Jesus makes Peace, by His own blood…. He is the one preaching the Gospel of Peace, not just to Americans, but to all those far and near… This transcends nationalities…. Notice all the references to Peace in this selection… Our Peace must be founded on Jesus….. The mystery is that Jesus creates Justification, not just for individuals, but for people groups, both the Jews and the Gentiles…. All of us, Jews and Gentiles, (we are gentiles) are joined together as one people, God’s people….members of his household, the way I see it, that is Jesus’ intention… It is somewhat a mysterious intention that it is spoken of that even the Principalities and Powers did not understand… Nor do many Christians yet understand…..

Now, if Jesus makes Peace through His blood, breaking down the hostilities, the dividing walls between people groups, such as Jews and Gentiles, how is it that we should interpret Romans 13, (I just wrote an article on that subject, at https://jcooperforpeace.wordpress.com/ ), as our participating in the killing process of those He came to save? Would it not be better to mimic as much as possible the suffering Love of Jesus, in dying for our enemies if needed, and loving them, as much as we can, just like Jesus?

Now, also, if Jesus bled and died on the cross for the sins of mankind, and all the people groups, all of the world, pictured in the joining of the Jews and Gentiles mysteriously, why would he come again in Revelation 19 and start killing those he came to save, that he bled and died for, to save?

My view, and those of some others who have tried to understand Revelation in view of all the other revelations of Jesus, about loving our enemies, blessing those who curse us, praying for those who despitefully use us, etc. is that the war of Revelation in which Jesus participates follows after His ethics in the rest of the New Testament, that of sacrificial love… True, there is blood everywhere, the rider of this horse is soaked in blood… I believe the rider of this horse is Jesus, and it is His own blood in which He is soaked…. This is the blood that saves us…. Then, He sends one angel out to seize Satan, the Beast, and the False Prophet…. The sword Jesus uses is the sword of the word of God…..

All this is in symbolic language, not literal language….. It is written in Apocalyptic genre….. I do not think we can take this as proof text that Jesus is actually going to be killing those He bled and died to save, generally speaking…. Certainly, there is no way we can interpret it to be that WE should go about killing our enemies in opposition to what Jesus expressly says, to Love our enemies….. All the things in Revelation were written as to have “shortly come to pass”… Although there are four views of Revelation, one of them is that these things have already occurred, shortly, as it says, in the destruction of Jerusalem… I think it is a stretch to interpret this in any way to justify our own warfare….

In the past, it seems every time I respond to you in detail, it seems you just drop the subject, and you never respond….. Would you please consider reading my response, thinking and praying about it, and responding to tell me if you do or do not understand my viewpoint?

Also, If you would like for me to copy the group you mentioned, for their response, let me know, and I will forward it to them… I would be happy to do that… Maybe they all have some valuable input….

Grace and Peace,

John Cooper

https://jcooperforpeace.wordpress.com/

[John’s Friend wrote:]

“John,

Thanks brother. I appreciate it. I wanted to ask you and the folks on

your mailing list this question.

How can those who hope to achieve world peace before Jesus put their trust

in Jesus when He promises to come back to wage a bloody war with His

heavenly saints following? See this scripture below.

Is not Jesus the Price of Peace and a mighty warrior?

The Coming of Christ Revelatoin 19:11-20:

11And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it

is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war.

12His eyes are a flame of fire, and on His head are many diadems; and He has

a name written on Him which no one knows except Himself. 13He is clothed

with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. 14And

the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were

following Him on white horses. 15From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that

with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of

iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty.

16And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, “KING OF KINGS,

AND LORD OF LORDS.”

17Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, and he cried out with a

loud voice, saying to all the birds which fly in midheaven, “Come, assemble

for the great supper of God, 18so that you may eat the flesh of kings and

the flesh of commanders and the flesh of mighty men and the flesh of horses

and of those who sit on them and the flesh of all men, both free men and

slaves, and small and great.”

19And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies

assembled to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army.

Doom of the Beast and False Prophet

20And the beast was seized, and with him the false prophet who

performed the signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who had

received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image; these two

were thrown alive into the lake of fire which burns with brimstone. 21And

the rest were killed with the sword which came from the mouth of Him who sat

on the horse, and all the birds were filled with their flesh.”

[John – additional ideas:]

Let us explore this a little more than we did before…..

Let’s quote the original reference, Revelation 19 in more of its context:

Rev 19:6-20:1

6 Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting:

“Hallelujah!

For our Lord God Almighty reigns.

7 Let us rejoice and be glad

and give him glory!

For the wedding of the Lamb has come,

and his bride has made herself ready.

8 Fine linen, bright and clean,

was given her to wear.”

(Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints.)

9 Then the angel said to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!'” And he added, “These are the true words of God.”

10 At this I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, “Do not do it! I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”

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. 12 His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. 13 He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. 14 The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. 15 Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron scepter.” He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. 16 On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written:

KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.

17 And I saw an angel standing in the sun, who cried in a loud voice to all the birds flying in midair, “Come, gather together for the great supper of God, 18 so that you may eat the flesh of kings, generals, and mighty men, of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, small and great.”

19 Then I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to make war against the rider on the horse and his army. 20 But the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who had performed the miraculous signs on his behalf. With these signs he had deluded those who had received the mark of the beast and worshiped his image. The two of them were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur. 21 The rest of them were killed with the sword that came out of the mouth of the rider on the horse, and all the birds gorged themselves on their flesh.

NIV

I would like to point out a few different ways of thinking of these verses…..

1.) This is a time of rejoicing… This is a time of the wedding supper of the lamb.

2.) The saints, the righteous ones, the church, who have met the Lamb in the air, have clean, white robes as they accompany the Lamb into this “battle”. They do not appear to be participating in carnage. Their robes remain clean and pure.

3.) The armies of Heaven, or, the good angels, not fallen, are also accompanying the Lamb, and their robes are also clean and white, hardly the type of robes one would wear to battle, but the type one would wear to a wedding.

4.) Those who are militaricalisticly minded, such as my friend who originally brought this Scriptures from Rev. 19 up to me, to support his militarialistic viewpoint, are the ones who are apparently not pleasing this Lamb riding in robes dipped in blood, upon a white horse and are figuratively to be eaten dead or alive by the birds of the air, NOT the ones clothed in pure and clean white linen who accompany the lamb. Why would one want to be in the military at this point?

5.) Note that the lamb comes to this “battle” clothed in robes already dipped in blood BEFORE the “battle”….. One might imagine the robes were already dipped in blood before they were put on. Was this blood already shed? Is it Jesus’ blood, shed on the cross that defeats Evil? Has the “battle” already been won? Is it already finished? Maybe that is why in Rev. 20, only one angel, a nameless one, at that, comes to restrain Satan for a thousand years…. What is the meaning of “dipped in blood” as opposed to being spattered in blood, as if one were cutting off people’s heads and blood is spurting out and spattering one’s robes? Why do the saints remain spotless, pure, and clean?

6.) The sword coming out of the Lamb’s mouth is apparently the word of truth. Jesus had already advised his disciples what to do with the sword… Put it away… No more….

Let us go back to the beginning of Revelation:

Rev 1:4-7

4 John,

To the seven churches in the province of Asia:

Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits before his throne, 5 and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.

To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, 6 and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father — to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.

7 Look, he is coming with the clouds,

and every eye will see him,

even those who pierced him;

and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him.

So shall it be! Amen.

NIV

What could the Apostle, John mean, wishing us Grace and Peace, and going off on this long tangent, saying that all these things are to “shortly” come to pass? Why, many are looking for them to come in the future… Maybe there is a dual meaning, but why would we want to ignore the clear words that these things will “shortly” come to pass? What about even the mention of Grace AND Peace? PEACE? If the Apostle, John, tells us that Jesus has already, in the past, freed us from our sins by His blood, so that we will be clothed in white, clean, and spotless linen when He returns, why the hell :):) would some of us want to be a part of the militants, on the ground, getting figuratively eaten up by birds; perhaps having our eyes plucked out by vultures? I personally, would rather ride with Jesus on this one…….

I feel the world has been deceived. I feel fundamentalist Christians have been deceived and “deluded” along with most everyone else who subscribe to the theory of redemptive violence…. I feel we are living in a culture dipped in blood, That blood of our children sent to and going ro be sent to war….. violence in the streets, violence in the home, and our eyes cannot see clearly…. I feel we need a Revelation like this one…. Let us not ask the questions, as Coleman McCarthy would say, but as he would say, Question the Answers…. The main answer we have been given throughout history is that we defeat Evil with Evil. This is the Myth of Redemptive Violence…. This is simply not the message of Jesus. His message is that Evil is defeated by Good, by suffering Love and sacrifice.

Is there really any battle at all? I hope not. I believe the battle has already been fought and won, on the cross….

While we come with Jesus, in the air, will we be reminded of the ancient text?:

“Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet; righteousness and peace will kiss each other. Faithfulness will spring up from the ground, and righteousness will look down from the sky.”

– Psalm 85:10-11

I am writing this at the beginning of the traditional Advent season, 2011…. If I remember my Latin from years ago correctly, advent means coming to…. It happens in these passages that Jesus is coming to us in the clouds, riding a white horse, with robes dipped in blood… We Christians look forward to that, and even speak of Peace, the majority of us only once per year around this time…. I think as we consider these things Jesus could come to us now, and is coming to us, as we read of His words that may be cutting to the heart of those of us who realize we have been deceived by the Myths by which we have lived for so long…

Just thinking, … again…. Feel free to disagree or add your input.

Grace AND Peace,

John Cooper

http://tuscaloosacirclesofpeace.blogspot.com/

About jcooperforpeace
Peacemaker in Fellowship Engaged in Active Nonviolence and Social Justice

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