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).

Originally published March 1989