We have now come to the final showdown; the last battle between earthly forces of evil and Jesus with the armies of heaven. It is D-Day and the Heavenly Warrior storms the beaches and defeats the beast and the false prophet. It is important to note, as NT Wright points out, that the military imagery here is symbolic and not to be taken literally. Some crazies anticipate a real physical battle with actual military weapons when reading and interpreting this passage. These kooks take military metaphors and make them literal. The Bible, however, takes military language and makes it metaphorical. This is a depiction of a real defeat, but it is not a description of actual occurrences. Evil will certainly be overthrown. Not, however, with an earthly military campaign. This is a spiritual conflict. It is fought with spiritual weapons. No general would actually lead a battle with a sword hanging out of his mouth. No army would actually go into battle dressed in “fine linen, white and clean” (v. 14). This is clearly symbolic language.
Jesus is armed with spiritual weapons. He dons a robe of bloody spiritual sacrifice and the word of God. He strikes down the nations with the word of truth, justice, and faithfulness. This is a war of words, ideas, concepts, and worldviews. Just as God created the world in the beginning with the power of His Word, God will judge the world at the end with the Word of Truth and Justice. The Apostle Paul confirms this when he says: “I beg you that when I come I may not have to be as bold as I expect to be toward some people who think that we live by the standards of this world. For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds” (2 Cor. 10:2-4). Jesus lived a life of nonviolence. Jesus is the paradigm for Christian life. The Church is an alternative community of discipleship following the paradigm of Jesus. Nonviolence ought to be the normative pattern of the Christian life. The powers of this world consider the pattern of Jesus as unrealistic and unsuccessful. Nonviolence as a strategy to combat evil looks ineffectual and doomed to failure. Jesus, however, redefines success as faithfulness. In the end, Jesus is victor. And, He is the LAST WORD.