Thank you for your websites. I am a premium member, which is good, as my sons are reaching the age of many difficult questions... I have a question of my own. What would be the accurate interpretation of Revelation 19:11-16? Does it teach that when Jesus is coming back to earth it is to strike down the non-Christians? Or does it teach that the Word of God will "strike down" the non-Christians in the sense of Hebrews 4:12-13? Perhaps I am sentimental, as the average Swede, but it just doesn't correlate to my picture of Jesus that he would strike down people. I think we are doing a good job in destroying ourselves anyway, and since he respects our free will he allow us to live the consequences of our sins. Or perhaps my picture of Jesus is too "nice". -- Christopher (Stockholm)
Yes, I certainly see that the picture of Jesus in Revelation is strikingly different from the one we get in the gospels. The entire passage you refer to is colorful, literarily picturesque. In Revelation, Jesus is both Lamb of God and Lion of the Tribe of Judah (5:5, 5:12). There are two sides. Or as Paul put it, "Consider... the kindness and sternness of God" (Romans 11:22).
Some of us gravitate towards the image of Christ as judge, the fierce agent of God's wrath; others prefer to think of Jesus as savior, gentle and patient. Many passages emphasize God's gentleness and kindness, but he is often also portrayed as a lion (Isaiah 31:4, 38:13; Jeremiah 4:7, 5:6, 25:30,31,38, 49:19, 50:44; Hosea 5:14, 11:10; Amos 12, 3:8). Both images are justifiable scripturally.
The point in Revelation, I think, is that Jesus will deal with the persecutors of the people of God. More broadly, at the judgment day, God will deal severely with those who reject him. The thought in Hebrews 4 is also of judgment, though without the violent images of the Apocalypse. Here the sword is simply the word of God (his truth, his message), not the Word of God (the incarnate Son). Yet the two are closely connected (Revelation 1:16, 2:12, 2:16, 19:15, 19:21).