The Lamb and the Lion
The wheels have come off the vehicle of our body politic. Good men can still run for public office, and sometimes win, in some places more than in others. We still talk about the rule of law, and when it is convenient, national leaders quote the colonial fathers. But our system of independent states which once agreed to delegate limited, enumerated powers to a federal government that was the organ of the States no longer exists. A bloody civil war, loss of religious faith, and historical revision have inverted our national institutions. The States are now the vassal organs to enforce Federal law, because the Federalists progressively prevailed: by sword, by money lending, by centralized educational initiatives, by a complicit system of courts, by erasing from public memory what really made us exceptional in the beginning, and by fomenting discontent. These are the ugly facts.
This is all that I will say about them other than this. I believe the Federal system is irreformable, at least from within. It is like Babel of old: God must come down and visit it, scatter its builders, and expose its satanic foundations. Too much money, too many special interests, too much debt, and too much power are at stake for its builders to abandon the enterprise. There is insufficient courage to resist the status quo, except among the radical progressives, who would drive us to full-blown socialism, the triumph and infiltration of the Federal government into every area of our lives – to save Mother Earth, make sure we all drive electric pods and eat plant goo, to guarantee a universal standard of income, to erase all debts, to suppress dissenting opinions and enforce acceptance of diverse perversity.
This, I recall, is the very opposite of the founding purpose of this nation. The founding men and women who braved many ordeals, many of them associated with their religious convictions, wanted a land and country in which individual freedom, self-government, and very limited external government allowed for initiative, growth, and worship without statist bureaucrats, whether royals or professional politicians, ruling, taxing, and ruining their lives. Our people no longer want this. It is too scary. This is our challenge – to address that fear, prove that our present course will not provide the security that the masses crave, and encourage self-government through regeneration and faith – under the peace-giving reign of Jesus Christ. We must make disciples.
Unto renewed ardor and hope, I particularly call our Lord’s Revelation to John to your attention. There we have the vision of a Beast and a Lamb – the Beast as representative of monolithic statism and the Lamb as the Head of the kingdom of God and the bringer of peace and righteousness through submission to his reign. When he gave this vision to John, there was nothing the church could do with this message but believe it unto death. Virtually all the first rounds of martyrs confessed that Christ, not Caesar, is Lord. Theirs was a confession that sealed the truth of God and his kingdom with their blood. They were small, very small, in comparison with the Beast, but the Lamb said he was bigger, that they were bigger in him. He told them to endure to the end, and they would overcome. And they did – not by infiltrating the Roman senate, or becoming vigilantes, or fomenting civil discord, but by confession, by faith, by being a kingdom of priests, and by love. The Beast of that age was slaughtered by the breath of the resurrected Jesus’ mouth – the gospel of grace, mercy, and peace. Shocking it is to think of a mighty empire and armies and decadence being toppled by such weapons, but this is God’s world, and he regularly allows his enemies to think him a fool so that their fall will be the more notable (1 Cor. 1:28-32) – when he bests the worldly wise and strong with the weakest imaginable instruments.
It will not win elections in the short term to heed the Lamb beckoning to us to recover the old and true faith. In our climate of “do something, and do it now,” no monies will be raised and the troops will not be much roused by John’s vision of the Lamb. But this is our problem, not the world’s, due to our lack of faith and understanding, our tone-deafness to God’s histories lessons and revealed history purposes – to gather all things under his Son (Eph. 1:10). As for the world’s problems: of course men enslaved to sin want others to pay their debts, secure their futures, and protect them from their fears. They do not want to hear of self-government by “keeping the commands of God and having the faith of Jesus” (Rev. 14:12). Satan blinds their minds so that they believe lies (2 Cor. 4:4; 2 Thess. 2:11). We must not believe them or be much moved by them, other than to take our case before the God of heaven and his enthroned Son.
Believing the Scriptures places us in a unique position of independence. We do not look to either national party to secure our futures. We live as we sing: “Put no confidence in princes, nor for help on man depend.” This is no mantra; it is the faith of our fathers, the truth revealed to John so vividly on Patmos, and the light that gives us sanity and purpose when the world’s unbelief sails on the choppy seas of rebellion against God. There is no peace for the wicked (Isa. 57:21). Peace comes through submission to Messiah the Prince, the King, the enthroned Nazarene, whom the apostles preached and for whom they suffered. And this gospel is not simply a spiritual platitude but a historical juggernaut against which unbelief of every stripe is helpless to overcome. He reigns. He is prevailing. He is showing us in some uncomfortable ways that his reign is over all men and nations. There is no future in rebellion against the Lamb, for he is also a Lion. He cannot be overcome. Our nation cannot overcome him. It will try everything to save the sinking ship of unbelief and rebellion. It will bow to Allah before kissing the Lamb. It will shake hands with the devil, revive the old pagan polytheism, and rekindle the old fires of persecution. Do not be surprised by anything unbelieving men will do to keep their delusions alive and funded, to prevent them from having to surrender to the Galilean. There are only two religions – submission to God and his Christ, or worship of man, Satan, lies, and the host of little gods men devise.
Our situation is by no means as bleak as the blind news outlets and pundits would have us believe. Yes, ways of life can change, and this will be painful, but the fundamentals remain ever intact. Let us be clear as to what they are. First, Jesus Christ, when he ascended on high, was giving universal dominion and power, for the purpose of subduing the nations with his gospel (Dan. 7:13-14; Matt. 28:18-20; Acts 2:33-36; Phil. 2:9-11). Second, he rules over all things with his church in mind, for her sake, her sanctification and sifting, her beauty and exaltation (Eph. 1:19-23). Everything that happens is his hand working toward the day when he will present his church to himself perfected and beautiful. Third, because he is the enthroned, Mediatorial King at the Father’s right hand, his mountain or kingdom will grow to be the highest mountain (Dan. 2:44-45), so that those peoples and nations that submit to him will be blessed, while his enemies must eventually be exposed as building upon the sinking sand of human wisdom. Fourth, his is not a kingdom of swords and bombs but of truth and righteousness. He will prevail with the rod of his mouth, the breath of his lips, the preaching of his gospel through his ordained and sent preachers, and the faithful witness of all his disciples (Isa. 11:4; 49:2; Rev. 1:16; 2:16; 19:15,21). Fifth, as he is the Prince of Peace, only through faith in his gospel and surrender to his Lordship will men and nations have true peace, not the peace of slavery and tyranny but the peace of righteousness (Isa. 9:6-7; 11:5). All the turmoil we see in the West is due to apostasy from its older commitments, its abandonment of Jesus Christ in favor of rank materialism or devilish spiritualism.
Take seriously, therefore, the reign of Jesus Christ. Strange that his dominion is the air we breathe, the great fact of public record and constant historical vindication, yet it never makes the evening news. It does not much impact the way most of his friends live each day. It must. “As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving” (Col. 2:6). The Lord –Jesus Christ is the enthroned King – walk in him, under his Lordship, seeking to please him in all things, depending upon his grace and strength, drawing hope and courage from his mediation and advocacy at the Father’s right hand. Walk in this faith – that Jesus Christ is Lord. This is the grand reality of our times, and the ship of unbelief is crashing against the crag of his dominion and tearing itself to shreds pretending that there is some other reason for its destruction. There is not. Jesus Christ is Lord. He is Lord of this nation. Remember his parabolic warning. “But bring here those enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, and slay them before me” (Luke 19:27). He is a merciful Lamb; he is also a terrible Lion.