Editor's note:

In the first of a three-part series, Richard J. Foster explores the ideas of what it means to be in the Lamb’s Army. Today he considers why we are “called into this army with the Lord Jesus Christ as the commander-in-chief who leads his faithful people through all of history.”

On Wednesday, Richard will look at the weapons we bring into these battles.

On Friday, we’ll look at arenas of action in the Lamb’s War.

—Renovaré Team

All who desire to follow Jesus are called into the peaceable war of the Lamb against all principalities and powers. Like any warfare, it is waged on all fronts at once—inward and outward, personal and social, individual and institutional. The perimeter of its concerns embrace three hundred sixty degrees. Inwardly the Lamb of God seeks to conquer all forms of pride, lust, greed, hate, fear, envy, and everything that stands against life in the kingdom of God.

But Jesus, our conquering King, refuses to stop with the private sector of life. All kinds of injustice, oppression, hatred, bigotry, cruelty, tyranny, brutality, and anything else opposed to the way of God are legitimate battlegrounds in this spiritual warfare.

Conquest by suffering

In Revelation 5 the Apostle John is told that the Lion from the tribe of Judah has conquered sin and is worthy to break open the scroll that contains the mystery of human destiny. John turns, expecting to see a majestic Lion but instead of seeing a Lion, he sees a Lamb—a Lamb split from ear to ear on the altar of sacrifice.

It is Jesus, the sacrificial Lamb of God, who has conquered by suffering and to whom all heaven’s host prostrate themselves in worship, declaring, “You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by your blood.”

In chapter 14 we see this same Lamb atop Mount Zion with all the redeemed gathered around him, and in chapter 17 we are told that the nations “will make war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will conquer them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings.”

Finally, in Revelation 19 this Lamb is described in a strange mixture of metaphors as a conquering king astride a white battle stallion. He wears the royal crown, his eyes are like a flame of fire, and out of his mouth issues the sharp, two-edged sword. This conquering King/suffering Lamb makes war on all who oppose the rule of God.

God’s mission

This great end-times vision of the Lamb’s war is a straightforward description of the total mission and struggle of the pilgrim people of God. In it we can see a wonderful combination of the transcendent lordship of Jesus with the suffering servant Messiah, of conflict and reconciliation, of crown and cross, of courageous, militant action with compassionate, redeeming love.

In the Lamb’s war we have an attack on evil in all its guises, overcoming it with good. There is brotherly love, radical sharing, witness without compromise, and an obedient, disciplined, freely-gathered, martyr people who know in this life the life and power of the kingdom of God. Such people are committed in revolutionary faithfulness to Christ’s everlasting rule in an eternal kingdom of peace, not only imminent on the horizon but already coming to birth in our midst.

This is the vision of the conflict of the Lamb. We are called into this army with the Lord Jesus Christ as the commander-in-chief who leads his faithful people through all of history, conquering evil at every turn and establishing a total, new love relationship among all people until the end of the age.

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Published in Equipping the Saints (Spring, 1989).