No. 12

Rev 19 12

No. 12 [1]

Revelation 19:16

And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written,
The sublime passage, we have been for some time considering, closes with this verse, which expresses a declaration of his sovereign, universal dominion and government.  This title had been vainly usurped by some of the proud worms of the earth.  It was frequent with the Eastern Monarchs to style themselves Kings of kings and Lord of Lords.  It is both a striking proof, and presumptuous effect of the pride of mankind, that they cannot invent titles of honour to satisfy themselves, without invading the divine prerogative.  The Great have parcelled out amongst themselves the epithets of Sovereignty, Majesty, Grace and Holiness, which properly belong to God alone.  But Jesus will let the Mighty know, that in the thing wherein they speak proudly, he is above them, and that he alone is King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  

Two points:
1. Where he wears this title
  It is written or inscribed, upon his vesture dipped in blood and upon his thigh.  Either upon that part of his vesture which covers his thigh, or upon the upper part of his vesture, and upon his thigh likewise.  We may understand it of both:
  1.1 [It is written upon his vesture]
    This name written upon his vesture, denotes the manifestation of his glorious authority.  It is written upon his outward garment to be read, known, acknowledged and confessed by all beholders, and it is upon his bloody garment stained with the blood of his enemies, intimating that his government is founded upon his great undertaking.  In consequence of his obedience unto death, he has received and possesses this name which is above every name (Philippians 2:9 [2]).  That name which none knows but himself intimates his eternal power and Godhead.  His name, the Word of God, denotes the mystery of his divine personality – the name in my text imports his glory as the Mediator between God and man, in our nature, which when he resumed from the grave, became the seat of all power and authority in heaven and earth which we [are] taught now to consider not only as the power of God, to whom it essentially and inseparably belongs, but as the power of God exercised in and by the man who died for our sins upon the Cross.  This inscription is now seen and rejoiced in by his own people, and ere long every eye shall see it, and every heart must either bow or break before him.
  1.2 It is written upon his thigh
    The thigh was the emblem of power, and the part whereon the sword was girded (as Psalm 45:3[3] ), teaching us that the right which he has acquired he will maintain and employ.  As he has a just claim to the title he will act accordingly.  Many titles amongst men are mere empty sounds.  So our king bears the title of King of France, though he has no possession or authority there.  But this name of Jesus is full of life, truth and influence.  He is King of kings etc. because he actually rules and reigns over them and does according to his pleasure in the armies of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth with an absolute and uncontrollable sway, so that none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What dost thou?  Therefore:
2. The title itself
  King of kings and Lord of Lords, the Prince of the kings of the earth.  Though many of them imagine a vain thing, set themselves against him and say, Let us break his bonds asunder, he that sitteth in the heavens laugheth them to scorn. [4]  He has his hook in their nose and bridle in their lips, and the result of all their contrivances is only the bringing to pass what he has determined should be done.
  2.1 Their rage and resistance, cannot weaken this truth, but rather makes it more evident.  If it be asked, Why does he permit them to rage? we may answer from the case of Pharaoh.  He risked and he perished.  The power of God was more displayed by his overthrow than it could have been if he had not been suffered to oppose his will at all.
  2.2 The kings of the earth are continually disturbing the world with their schemes of ambition, and think to carry all before them, and that they are only pleasing themselves.  But in all they do they are but servants of this King and Lord, inflicting punishment upon his enemies, or opening a way for the spread of his Gospel.  Thus under the Old Testament (for he was King from everlasting, though he had not then actually taken our nature), the march and success of Sennacherib and Nebuchadnezzar and the exaltation of Cyrus, was wholly owing to their being employed by him.  They had one thing in view, he had another, and when his end was answered, we hear of them no more.  If my congregation were acquainted much with history, I could remind them of many like instances in later times.  In that glorious work of the reformation from popery, particularly in our own land, many of the chief movers, who contributed to establish it, hated it in their hearts.  But their ambition and appetites and passions engaged them to take such courses as the King of kings made effectual to accomplish it.
  2.3 Again, that he rules in the midst and over his enemies, is plain from the preservation of his friends and people.  For the world is against them, and they have no Protector but him.  The wrath of man, like the waves of the sea, has bounds set to it beyond which it cannot pass.  Sometimes the enemies divide and quarrel amongst themselves, and then one party out of opposition will protect those whom otherwise they wish to destroy.  So Paul escaped from the Council, by the disagreement of the Pharisees and Sadducees.  Sometimes he speaks to the heart of an enemy and makes him a friend, as he did to Paul himself.  Sometimes he cuts down his enemies with a stroke (as he did Herod) and then all their thoughts perish.  Thus his church, though assaulted by the gates of hell and the malice of the wicked, cannot be overcome, for it is founded upon the rock of his truth, and defended by the arm of his power.
  Rev 19 12 providence
1. Admire and trust his providence.  Fear not for his church and interest – it is in safe hands.  Fear not for yourself – if you believe in him, he has all your enemies in a chain.
2. Admire his condescension.  While he supports, upholds and governs all things, he is attentive to all the cares, wants and feelings of the weakest of his people.
3. Look forward with joy to the full display of his glory.  O what a family, what a triumph!  How will his wisdom shine!
4. Bow before him, or else when he maketh up his jewels, he will dash you in pieces. [5]

[1] Newton began the week by making ‘a beginning of an intended plan of writing some letters with a view to conciliatory peace amongst contending professors. But believe the beginning must be begun again. My views and thoughts seemed quite contracted, and what I wrote forced and stiff. I think the attempt might be seasonable, and that it[in] some respects it may come with propriety from me. My Lord, if it be thy pleasure to do then furnish me with light and thoughts.’ (These 4 letters were eventually completed and published in 1784 as Apologia. See also No. 6, Endnote 1.) His diary for Sunday 23 November 1777, the day of this sermon, the last in the series, on Revelation 19:16, ‘I have to praise thee my gracious Lord for thy assistance through another Sabbath, and for some liberty in preaching. In the evening preached at Weston [Underwood] for Mr [Thomas] Scott who is confined, and had a good congregation. News of the death of Mr Wilberforce [the future MP’s uncle], and that he died in peace. Thou didst break his bands, and smile upon his last hours. His late distress was a striking instance of thy truth Luke 12:15. Immediately upon a large accession to his fortune, he lost all relish for temporal comforts, sunk into a dreadful dejection of spirits, and was a burden to himself and to all around him. But now he is happy. Wrote to her [Hannah Wilberforce] on the occasion.’
There was no hymn for this day, as he was preaching away. This sermon on Revelation 19:16 formed the basis for his 38th sermon in Messiah, 1786, his 2 volumes of 50 sermons expounding the texts of Handel’s Oratorio.
[2] Philippians 2:9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:
[3] Psalm 45:3 Gird thy sword upon thy thigh, O most mighty, with thy glory and thy majesty.
[4] Psalm 2:4 He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision.
[5] Malachi 3:17 And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him. and Psalm 2:9 Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel.

Cowper & Newton Museum, Olney

Marylynn Rouse, 09/08/2016