Calvary Road Baptist Church

ďA VESTURE DIPPED IN BLOODĒ

Revelation 19.13

 

Before I ask you to open your Bible, allow me to rehearse how sin has been dealt with down through the history of Godís dealings with sinful men. Keep in mind that what is important is not how sinners felt they should appease an offended deity, but rather how God prescribed the appropriate method by which man should address his sin problem in a manner acceptable to God.

In the days of the patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Moses tells us in Genesis that they constructed altars upon which animals were sacrificed, with the innocent sacrificeís blood spilled and the body consumed by the fire burning atop the altar. At that time in history, each man offering a sacrifice functioned as a priest, and the animal that was slain served as the offering that was given to God. It was not until the time of Moses that explicit instructions were given by God for the proper construction of an altar.[1] When God gave the Law to Moses, along with instructions for the construction of the Tabernacle and the furniture that was to be placed in front of and inside the Tabernacle, the offering of sacrifices was from that time forward carefully ordered.

With the Law given, the reason for offering sacrifices became explicit, to atone for sins, which is to say to cover sins from Godís sight for a period of time by the proper offering of an innocent sacrificial animal and the proper application of that animalís blood. Accompanying the giving of the Law of Moses was the institution of the Aaronic priesthood, whereby only certain men could function as priests, and the reasons for offering sacrifices, along with the proper steps to take to offer the sacrifice, were carefully spelled out. The sacrificial animal was brought to the priest by a sinner, who placed his hands on the head of the animal and confessed his sins as the priest slit the animalís throat in a manner that was quite painless. After a number of steps were executed to prepare the animalís body, it was placed on the brazen altar and consumed with fire. The priest would then take the blood that he had collected from the slain animal and place it where the Law dictated, with the high priest taking the blood of the atonement on the Day of Atonement into the holy of holies and sprinkling it on the golden mercy seat, the lid that sat atop the ark of the covenant in which the tables of the Law were kept.[2]

The typology of Israelís sacrificial system is extremely important for us to understand. Since it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins, Hebrews 10.14, we must understand that the sacrifices required under the Law of Moses could only hide sins from God for one year, never actually taking those sins away. The priests offering those sacrifices were descendants of the first high priest, Mosesí brother Aaron. The three components of the sacrificial system given to the children of Israel were the high priest, the sacrifice for sins, and the mercy seat as the place where the blood of the sacrifice was to be offered each year. Those components give us a clear understanding of the way Godís Son, Jesus Christ, would deal with sins many centuries later, not by covering sins but by washing them clean away.

Keep in mind that a sinner could not, under the Law of Moses, address his sin problem with God himself, since he was not qualified. A sinner cannot approach the holy God. A qualified priest had to offer the sacrifice on behalf of the sinner. Additionally, the sinner could not satisfy Godís righteous demands for punishment of the lawbreaker without forfeiting his own life; therefore, he needed a qualified substitute to suffer punishment for him. To satisfy Godís demand that sin be punished, while sparing the guilty sinner from Godís wrath, is the perplexing problem only Godís plan of salvation remedies. Lastly, the sinner did not have access to the place where reconciliation was made, inside the holy of holies, where the mercy seat that Godís glory hovered over actually covered the tables of the Law the sinner had violated by sinning.

On the Day of Atonement, the innocent sacrifice was slain, its blood was taken by the high priest to the only place where atonement could be made (into the tabernacle, past the holy place, into the holy of holies, where the ark of the covenant sat containing the tables of the Law, covered by the golden mercy seat with its two golden cherubim, between which was Godís glory). Israelís high priest would carefully make his way into the pitch dark room, being cautious not to touch anything lest he die, where he would sprinkle the blood of the sacrifice on the mercy seat, making atonement for Israelís sins for one year, the blood of sprinkling being between Godís glory and Godís broken Law.

Advance sixteen centuries, from the establishing of that system of offerings and sacrifices, to the death on the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Just for the unjust that He might bring us to God. Understand that the entire system of sacrifices by the priests, the sacrificial animals, and the mercy seat atop the ark of the covenant, were all types, with each one being a symbol of the Person and Work of Jesus Christ. In fulfillment of those types, the Lord Jesus Christ did come, born a member of our race to a virgin named Mary, in Bethlehem. Not born of the tribe of Levi or of the family of Aaron, Israelís first high priest, the Lord Jesus Christ would be a different kind of high priest, of a different order, not offering sacrifices again and again that only covered sins, but offering one sacrifice that would cleanse away sins for all time.[3] This is why the writer to the Hebrews identifies Jesus Christ as ďthe High Priest of our professionĒ and our ďgreat high priest,Ē in Hebrews 3.1 and 4.14. As our High Priest, the Lord Jesus Christ discharged the awesome responsibility of offering to God a fit sacrifice to wash away our sins.

However, that is not all. Not only is the Lord Jesus Christ the priest to offer the sacrifice, He is also the Sacrifice. The Law of Moses required that sacrifices be innocent animals without spot or blemish. When such a sacrifice was properly offered, sins were covered from the sight of God, atonement was made. However, the Lord Jesus Christ is the sacrifice for sins that completely removes sins. First John 1.7 declares, ď. . . the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.Ē No wonder John the Baptist identified the Lord Jesus Christ, in John 1.29, saying, ďBehold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.Ē Thus, we see that the Lord Jesus Christ fulfilled the Old Testament typology requiring that sins be dealt with by means of a priest offering a sacrifice. Jesus Christ is both the high priest and the Sacrifice.

You may recall that there is a third aspect of the divine provision for dealing with sins. Not only must the qualified sacrifice die a substitutionary death and shed its blood, as well as the high priest actually offering up the sacrifice, but the Old Testament pattern required that the high priest sprinkle the blood on the mercy seat. It is consideration of the mercy seat that brings us to our text for this morning, Revelation 19.13. Find that verse in your Bible, and stand to read along with me when you locate it. We will read from Revelation 19.11:

 

11     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.

12     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.

13     And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God.

14     And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean.

15     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.

16     And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.

 

This is the Apostle Johnís record of his vision of the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ in power and great glory. The scene is heaven, His armies in heaven follow Him, and He is prepared to smite the nations and rule with a rod of iron. This is prophecy. The events we have just read have not yet occurred, but the way things are developing in the world, they may take place sooner than many imagine.

Before we address our text, Revelation 19.13, let me clear up confusion in advance by pointing out that the word ďvesture,Ē which translates the Greek word imation, simply refers to a cloak or a robe[4], and the word ďdippedĒ is the Greek word baptw, from which we get baptism or immerse.[5] When the Lord Jesus Christ comes again, He will be wearing a garment of some kind that has a great deal of blood on it.

The scene the Apostle John describes provokes four important questions for us to address:

 

First, WHEN DOES THE BLOOD ON JESUS CHRISTíS VESTURE GET THERE?

 

It is reasonable for us to conclude that the Lord Jesus Christ had no blood on His clothes prior to His ascension, since there were occasions where He was not immediately recognizable to His disciples. If He had blood all over Him, there is no question they would have immediately recognized Him. As well, no such mention of blood on His apparel is found in the gospel accounts. Most commentators claim the blood on Christís vesture is the result of His engagement in the battle of Armageddon. However, John MacArthur, who I generally disagree with concerning scriptural issues related to the blood of Christ, correctly discounts that notion when he writes, ďThis is not from the battle of Armageddon, which will not have begun until v.15.Ē[6]

An examination of Revelation 19.11-15 will bear this out. Thus, it is quite clearly established that the blood on Christís vesture is somehow applied after His ascension to heaven, but before He returns to earth to fight the battle of Armageddon.

 

Next, WHERE COULD THE BLOOD HAVE COME FROM?

 

I have frequently heard it said in discussions about this matter that the blood on Christís vesture is the blood of His enemies. However, since it has been shown that He has blood on His garment before He comes to earth to fight the battle of Armageddon, one has to wonder where the blood of His enemies came from? Could the blood of Christís enemies be in heaven? I do not think so. To insist His enemiesí blood was in heaven, and that is how it came to be on His robe, is an argument from silence, since there is no hint of such a possibility found anywhere in Godís Word.

To be completely open about this entire matter, there is no statement that I know of in Godís Word that directly speaks to the matter of anyoneís blood being in heaven. However, if the typology of the Mosaic system of sacrifices is any indication, consideration must be given to the Lord Jesus Christ, functioning as our great High Priest, taking His Own shed blood to heaven (which He shed as the Lamb of God), to properly apply that shed blood for the remission of sins. Thus, though the Word of God does not explicitly assert that Christís blood was taken to heaven by our great High Priest, to do so would not be inconsistent with the typology of the Old Testament. As a matter of fact, it would be quite reasonable to conclude that Christís blood was taken to heaven, since blood is a major organ of the human body and Christ was raised from the dead so that His body (including His blood) would not suffer corruption.[7]

Of course, many argue that this did not happen at all. However, if this did not happen then something horrible to the Christian occurred, Christís blood dripped to the ground and remained there to corrupt by rotting in the sun and by consumption by bacteria and insects. Excuse me, but that is not a picture I can live with as a Christian. I will admit to being biased about this. I will also admit to believing in the complete resurrection of Christís body from the dead, by means mysterious to me.

 

Third, WHOSE BLOOD IS THIS?

 

I am convinced the blood on the Lord Jesus Christís garment is His Own blood, for four reasons:

First, it could not be the blood of His enemies in the battle of Armageddon, since this blood is on His robe before the battle of Armageddon begins, while He is still in heaven, just as heaven opens.

Second, it could not be the blood of His enemies, put on His garment while He was still in heaven, since there is no possible way for the blood of any of Christís enemies to be in heaven.

Third, it could not be the blood of anyone other than Christ, since there is no evidence angels have blood (having no corporeal bodies) and the blood of glorified saints is a preposterous suggestion.

Finally, the fulfillment of Old Testament typology, of the high priest taking the blood of the sacrifice from the place of the sacrificeís death to the place where the blood was to be sprinkled, is a perfectly reasonable explanation of how Christís blood comes to be in heaven. The only issue remaining is,

 

Finally, WHAT IS THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE BLOOD ON CHRISTíS VESTURE?

 

Remember the three parts of the Old Testament sacrifice under the Law of Moses? The right sacrifice must be offered, by the right priest, who then takes the blood of the innocent sacrifice and sprinkles it on the mercy seat, the right place. We already know the Lord Jesus Christ is the right sacrifice, since He is the Lamb of God. As well, we know He is the right priest, since He is our great High Priest and the High Priest of our profession. The question that remains, however, is whether the blood of the offering has been sprinkled in the right place.

Calvaryís cross atop the hill called Golgotha was the right place for the Sacrifice to be slain, corresponding in the Old Testament to the brazen altar in front of the Tabernacle. However, the Aaronic priest would then take the blood of the offering from the brazen altar into the Tabernacle, into the holy of holies, to sprinkle the blood of the atonement onto the mercy seat atop the ark of the covenant.

Is the Mosaic Law typology fulfilled in the offering of the Lord Jesus Christ? I am confident that it is. Turn with me to Romans 3.25: ďWhom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God.Ē See the word ďpropitiationĒ? It is the word ilasthrion, translated ďmercy seatĒ in Hebrews and in the LXX. It refers to the place or the means where Godís demands for sinís punishment occurs.[8] Guess what? Is that not Who and What Jesus is, both the place and the means where Godís demands for sinís punishment occurs? In the Old Testament, the mercy seat was positioned atop the ark of the covenant, placed between the glory of God and the tables of the Law the people had violated. In like manner, the Lord Jesus Christ mediates between God and men, perfectly positioned between the holy God and the sinners who so grievously offend Him.

If the Lord Jesus Christ completely fulfills Old Testament typology, and I am convinced that He does, then He is not only the Lamb of God Who takes away the sins of the world, and our great High Priest who offers the perfect sacrifice for sins, but He is also the fulfillment of the Old Testament mercy seat, the place where Godís justice and demands are satisfied.

This, I am convinced, explains the blood Christís vesture has been dipped in. It is His Own blood, placed there when He culminated His high priestly duties of placing His sacrificial blood that was shed on Calvaryís cross on Himself, the antitype of the Old Testament mercy seat.

 

Revelation 19.13 reminds us that our returning king is ďThe Word of God,Ē bringing us full circle from Johnís opening remarks in the gospel of John: ďIn the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.Ē However, that is not all our text accomplishes, in my opinion. Before He ever leaves heaven at the head of His majestic army of saints and angels to reclaim what is rightfully His and establish His kingdom here on earth, the Lord Jesus Christ, with His vesture dipped in blood, thereby reminds even those He will go forth to vanquish that He shed His blood for menís sins.

What a terrifying scene it will be, one day, for lost men and women to see the approach of their destruction in the person of the KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS, with the blood that He shed in view, reminding them of the gospel they rejected, the sins they refused to turn from, and the destiny that awaits them. The lost will think to themselves, ďOh no. The blood He wears is the blood I rejected.Ē

My Lord Jesus Christ is the Lamb of God, my great High Priest, and the place where Godís wrath is appeased, corresponding to the mercy seat. In short, He is my everything, the all-sufficient Savior of my soul.

Who is the answer to manís sin problem, and the remedy for manís estrangement from God? His name is Jesus, and He is at once the Lamb of God, our great High Priest, and our mercy seat, the place where Godís demands for the punishment of sins was satisfied. This is the Savior who saves menís souls. This the Savior who must be lifted up. This is the Savior we preach throughout the world. This is the Savior you must come to to be saved.



[1] Exodus 20.24

[2] Leviticus 1.1-5; 4.1-7; 16.1-14

[3] Hebrews 7.27; 9.7, 12, 26, 28; 10.10

[4] Bauer, Danker, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and other Early Christian Literature, (Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press, 2000), page 475.

[5] Fritz Rienecker & Cleon Rogers, Linguistic Key To The Greek New Testament, (Grand Rapids, MI: Regency Reference Library, 1980), page 856.

[6] See footnote for Revelation 19.13 from John MacArthur, The MacArthur Study Bible, (Nashville: Word Publishing, 1997), page 2020.

[7] Psalm 16.10

[8] Rienecker, page 356.



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