CHRIST MILITANT IN SCRIPTURE
Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder:
the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet
Initiated the Fifth Sunday in Trinity MMVI
Updated: September MMVII
ALMIGHTY God, give us grace that we may cast away the works of darkness, and put upon us the armour of light, now in the time of this mortal life, in which thy Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the quick and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal, through him who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, now and ever. Amen.
[Cranmer: 1549, BCP]
Christ Militant at Jericho
And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and, behold, there stood a man over against him with his sword drawn in his hand: and Joshua went unto him, and said unto him, Art thou for us, or for our adversaries? And he said, Nay; but as captain of the host of the LORD am I now come. And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship, and said unto him, What saith my lord unto his servant? And the captain of the LORD'S host said unto Joshua, Loose thy shoe from off thy foot; for the place whereon thou standest is holy. And Joshua did so. [Joshua v.13-15]
Comment: Some may associate "man" who stood with his sword drawn, the Captain of the Host, to have been Michael, the Archangel Militant. However, I believe it was Christ, for men do not worship angels, as it was not allowed anywhere in Scripture, and men do not remove their shoes in the presence of angels, but only before God. We must also consider that just prior to this appearance, two very special events: circumcision of all the males, and the Passover. Just as Christians are to be baptized before Communion, the Jew was to be circumcised as a sign of his membership in the called-out people. Only then does God send the Capatain of the HOst to Joshua. Seven days later to lead the Israelites. Seven days later, the invisible Army of the Lord brought down the wall of Jericho (perhaps on the Sabbath), and all was offered to the Lord, by the sword, or fire, or offering of the metals.
Christ Militant in Revelation
And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. [Rev xix]
Comment: The image of Christ coming with his army of warrior saints is the most graphic in scriptures of Christ Militant. He comes with wrath to slay the enemies of God with the sword that comes from his mouth.
Christ Militant - The Lion of Judah
Judah, thou art he whom thy brethren shall praise: thy hand shall be in the neck of thine enemies; thy father's children shall bow down before thee. Judah is a lion's whelp: from the prey, my son, thou art gone up: he stooped down, he couched as a lion, and as an old lion; who shall rouse him up? The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be. Binding his foal unto the vine, and his ass's colt unto the choice vine; he washed his garments in wine, and his clothes in the blood of grapes: His eyes shall be red with wine, and his teeth white with milk. [Gen xlix]
Comment: This prophetic utterance of Israel, as he blessed his sons in his final hours, gives the image of the coming Christ as a militant ruler. From the loins of Judah shall come the Kings of Israel.... concluding with the final King of the Jews, Jesus the Christ. He is the Lion of Judah.
Christ Militant - The King of Glory
Who is this King of glory? It is the LORD strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle. ... [Psalm xci]
Comment: Psalm 24 is a messianic hymn. The Church has since the its early days considered Jesus Christ to be the King of Glory here, as the Te Deum says, " Thou art the King of Glory, O Christ (iv century). It is he alone that is worthy to ascend into the hill of the LORD and stand in his holy place (v2), who has clean hands, a pure heart, and has not lifted up his soul to vanity nor sworn deceitfully (for he alone is without sin) (v3-4). Jesus Christ received, as the Son of God, his father's special blessing on the day he was baptized and came up out of the Jordan (v5). He who came in great humility, shall return in great power and might before a host who shall trample out evil and bring all things into subjection to his Lordship.
Christ Militant - Who Treads upon Evil
He [Christ] that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High [God the Father] shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. ... A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee.... Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet. [Psalm xci]
Comment: Psalm 91 is the source of the mosaic of the Christ Militant of Ravenna. This psalm as the epitome of the militant nature of the psalms. It is little wonder that David would be guided by the Holy Spirit to record these verses. David, the shepherd who slew bears and lions to defend his flock. David, who as a ruddy, fair youth, slew the giant of the Philistines, having before him his faith in God. David, the Warrior King, who knew first hand the power of God in battle. David, whose sin was put away, and whose heart was right with God. David, whose line of Kings will end with the King of Kings in the coming of the promised Messiah who tramples that old Serpent, crushing his head with his heel as God had promised in the Garden of Eden, that old Devil, the Roaring Lion, who shall never ravage the chosen of God again. It is Christ who conquers evil and tramples out the lion and the adder, and we, Christ's soldiers, who join the battle here in our time, as the Body of Christ -- the Church Militant.
Christ Militant - The Prince of Peace
The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light... For thou hast broken the yoke of his burden, and the staff of his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, as in the day of Midian. For every battle of the warrior is with confused noise, and garments rolled in blood; but this shall be with burning and fuel of fire. For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. [Isaiah ix.6]
Comment: This is a great passage of prophetic scripture of the coming of the Messiah. It was set in the time of great distress in Israel, and looks for a better day. We see here to begin with that his mission will be to relieve and to bring light (knowledge and wisdom) to those who sat in darkness. They were not to be in servitude any longer. The Lord engages the enemy not like warriors in battle with its confused noise and blood, but instead he will use the instruments of the War of the Spirit: "with burning and fuel of fire" (Like our baptism in the Spirit - Mt 3:11). Like the "day of Midian," when the men gave the battle cry: "For Gideon and the Lord", Jesus Christ is our Gideon, who by his word, light, and the sounding of horns threw the camp of the Midianites into complete confusion, wherein they slew one another. Jesus Christ comes in the last days to slay the evil host with the Sword of the Sprit, his Holy Word proceeding from his mouth. The last sentence clearly points to our Lord Jesus, the Christ Child, recognized as the savior in his infancy, sought by Herod for extermination, protected by angels from harm, one with the Father, light of light, true God of true God....The Prince of Peace who brings peace to his chosen in this world, and will bring the Kingdom in the next.
Christ Militant - Warrior King
Thou art fairer than the children of men: grace is poured into thy lips: therefore God hath blessed thee for ever. Gird thy sword upon thy thigh, O most mighty, with thy glory and thy majesty. And in thy majesty ride prosperously because of truth and meekness and righteousness; and thy right hand shall teach thee terrible things. Thine arrows are sharp in the heart of the king's enemies; whereby the people fall under thee. Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: the sceptre of thy kingdom is a right sceptre. [Ps 45]
Comment: Psalm 45 is prophetic of the coming of the Messiah. The Warrior king girds himself with a sword, his rule is everlasting, he subdues his enemies, his queen, the Church, is exalted.
Christ Militant - Redeemer Warrior
God saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor: therefore his arm brought salvation unto him; and his righteousness, it sustained him. For he put on righteousness as a breastplate, and an helmet of salvation upon his head; and he put on the garments of vengeance for clothing, and was clad with zeal as a cloak. According to their deeds, accordingly he will repay, fury to his adversaries, recompense to his enemies; to the islands he will repay recompense. So shall they fear the name of the LORD from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun. When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD shall lift up a standard against him. And the Redeemer shall come to Zion, and unto them that turn from transgression in Jacob, saith the LORD. [Is 59:16-20]
Comment: This prophetic scripture points to the man who would come to redeem Israel. By his actions he would bring Salvation. He would be their Intercessor and their Mediator, and he would come with his armor and bring recompense to the enemies of God's people. He would redeem all who repent of their sin and turn to him.
Christ Militant - Good Shepherd
Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber....I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep. The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep. ...and I lay down my life for the sheep.
Comment: The image of the Good shepherd in this scripture is important, for it shows Christ who will lay down his life in the defense of his flock. The Good Shepherd is ready to enter into battle with any who would kill a kid of his flock, even unto death. Here he prophesies a coming battle, and fulfills it at the cost of his human life, in order to defeat Satan and death for all of his flock for evermore. The similitude of the Good Shepherd must have brought to mind two other Bible sections: the 23rd Psalm, where God protects his flock in the Shadow of Death, and the history of Jesus' maternal ancestor, King David, who defended his flock against lions and bears, slaying them with his hands in 1 Sa 17:34-37
And David said unto Saul, Thy servant kept his father's sheep, and there came a lion, and a bear, and took a lamb out of the flock: And I went out after him, and smote him, and delivered it out of his mouth: and when he arose against me, I caught him by his beard, and smote him, and slew him. Thy servant slew both the lion and the bear: and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be as one of them, seeing he hath defied the armies of the living God. David said moreover, The LORD that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, he will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine. And Saul said unto David, Go, and the LORD be with thee.
And God shall deliver his elect out of the hand of Satan and Death. Amen.
Christ Militant - The Right Hand of God
“Thy Right Hand, O Lord, is made glorious in power. Thy Right Hand, O Lord, hath dashed in pieces the enemy;”
Comment: Ambrose, in his letter to Emporer Gratian on the Holy Spirit, cited these passages as referring to our Lord Jesus Christ. In all cultures the right hand has come to signify arms. It is so in the scriputures, it is so today.
Christ Militant: a Vision of a Beautiful Warrior
And it came to pass, when I, even Daniel, had seen the vision, and sought for the meaning, then, behold, there stood before me as the appearance of a man. And I heard a man's voice between the banks of Ulai, which called, and said, Gabriel, make this man to understand the vision. [Daniel viii. 15]
Comment: The verbiage of the Authorized Version doesn't convey the militant nature of this passage. however a wrod study reveals that indeed Daniel saw Jesus Christ as a warrior. In the first place, this entire vision passage is about the rising and falling of empires: Persia, Media, Greece, Rome through conquest. Secondly, the image of the vision was "the appearance of". The hebrew word is Mareh. It conveys the sense in some uses of a beautiful countenance, that is fair, favored, and good to look upon. The Hebrew transalted man here, according to Strong, is "properly a valiant man or warrior" We know that the beautiful warrior was divine for he commands the Archangel Gabriel to tell Daniel the meaning of the vision. Gabriel proceeded to reveal the meaning of the images and how these empires would rise up and fall, utlimately with an ultimate fierce dark king should stand up and destroy God's people and face the Prince of Princes, even Christ Militant, but shall be crushed.
Christ Militant: Prophetic King-Priest-Warrior
The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool. The LORD shall send the rod of thy strength out of Zion: rule thou in the midst of thine enemies. Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power, in the beauties of holiness from the womb of the morning: thou hast the dew of thy youth. The LORD hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek. The Lord at thy right hand shall strike through kings in the day of his wrath. He shall judge among the heathen, he shall fill the places with the dead bodies; he shall wound the heads over many countries. He shall drink of the brook in the way: therefore shall he lift up the head. [Psalm 110]
Comment: Psalm 110 is certainly one of the most vivid examples of Messianic prophesy in the Bible. It begins with the passage that Jesus identified as relating to himself: ("Jehovah said to my Lord..") It establishes the titles of everlasting King (who would "rule in the midst of thine enemy"), Priest ("after the order of Melchizedek"), and Warrior (who would "strike through kings in the day of his wrath."). The covenant of Jehovah is cited as the cause for this coming: David sang, "The LORD hath sworn, and will not repent". Note also that the King shall "wound the heads over many countries". Like in Psalm 91, we remember the prophetic voice of Jehovah in the Garden who said, " it [seed of Eve] shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel. ". It has been pointed out by O. Palmer Robertson that this prophesy showed the decitful way that Satan would strike, but the blow would not be fatal by striking the heel; whereas the Seed would crush the serpent's head; a mortal blow.