Bible Commentary

A War of Word, Witness and Wine

Peter Leithart has written a remarkable commentary on the book of Revelation. He describes the book of Revelation as being fundamentally about the victory of the Church’s witness in the midst of the world. In describing the war imagery of Revelation 19, he says this:

The logic of the narrative seems to be this: The horns attack the Lamb and his followers; God turns that attack into his victory over the harlot city; and then the Lamb goes on the offensive against the same enemies, the “nations” that he smites (19:15). If chapter 19 is a battle scene, it is not a military operation, or, better, it is the most intensely contested, the most important and decisive form of military operation—a spiritual war, carried on by Word, Witness, Wine. Whatever fulfillment we find, it will not look like the latest news bulletin from Syria or Afghanistan. It will look like a sermon delivered at a table spread with bread and wine. It will look like a humble Christian woman refusing to renounce Jesus even when threatened with beheading. It will be a battle of Har-Magedon, a battle of the mountain of festival assembly.

Leithart, P. J. (2018). Revelation. (M. Allen & S. R. Swain, Eds.) (Vol. 2, p. 287). London; Oxford; New York; New Delhi; Sydney: Bloomsbury; Bloomsbury T&T Clark: An Imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing Plc.

His point: There is a war being waged on the nations in chapter 19, but it is not a typical military operation. Rather, it is a battle fought and won as the word of Jesus is faithfully proclaimed, bread and wine are faithfully eaten, and as God’s people faithfully worship in the midst of the nations. This is the grand strategy of our Lord for the renewal of all things - including our city - a people joyfully committed to faithfully witnessing to the Word about Jesus in the midst of our city, in our homes around tables with wine and food, and gathered together in the midst of our liturgies. In these gloriously mundane things, Jesus rules the nations.