Revelation 17:24, “They will are war on the Lamb, and the Lamb will conquer them, for he is the Lord of lords an King of kings…”
The understated simplicity of this verse is beautiful to consider. John is writing about nothing less than the culminating manifestation of worldly opposition to God, embodied in the Beast and the Great Prostitute and their demonic entourage…this would seem to be the climactic instance of worldliness in rebellion against the will of God…and all John says is, “the Lamb will conquer them.” No fanfare, no “drama,” no tension considering which way the results will tilt. Instead, with five words, John spells out the invariable end for every power or authority that sets itself against the One True God, “the Lamb will conquer them.”
Now, what specifically causes me to stop and consider this verse this morning is the ground that John gives for that conquering. He says that the Lamb will conquer them “for he is Lord of lords and King of kings.” Why is their such certainty that the Lamb will conquer any and all worldly opposition? Simply because of Who He Is.
Now, the title “Lord of lords and King of kings” has a long history in the OT tradition. We see the first form of it in Deuteronomy 10:17 where YHWH is called “God of gods and Lord of lords…” It shows up again in Psalm 136:3, “Give thanks to the Lord of lords,” and is at least hinted at in Daniel 2:47, “Your God is truly the God of gods and Lord of kings.” In the NT, Paul uses it to refer to God (the Father), saying, “He who is blessed and the only Sovereign One, the King of kings and Lord of lords.” So, when John applies this title to the Lamb, he knows what he’s doing. He knows that he is taking a title of divinity, a title that belongs to God alone, and is assigning it to the Lamb who was slain. Why will the Lamb conquer any and all opposition set against Him? Because of who He is, because He is Lord of lords, King of kings, because He is YHWH incarnate, God the eternal Son.
Now, the real beauty of John’s words here begins to show when we consider how the Lamb conquers. What is the instance of the Lamb’s conquering? What does it look like when a Lamb conquers? For the answer to that, we return to Revelation 5:5-9, where we read:
“Weep no more, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals…”…I saw a Lamb standing as though it had been slain…Worthy are you to take the scroll and open its seals, for you were slain…”
So, what we see here is the the Lion-like conquering that allows the Lamb to open the scroll (that is, to enact God’s purposes for history, which entails the final defeat of the Beast and its minions)—the Lamb’s conquering is His being slain. The Lamb overcomes/conquers the world precisely in His laying down His life for His own. This is the act that not only ransoms a people for Himself, drawing all of God’s people into one, but decisively achieves the Father’s purposes in all of history, judging and casting out the God-opposing ruler of the world (John 12:31-32), and installing the true King of kings over all the earth (Rev.1:5). The victory by which the Lamb will conquer and has conquered every enemy is His own willing, love-born self-offering on the altar of the cross.
But lastly, let’s put these concepts together. So, John says that the Lamb will conquer because of who He is, because He is Lord of lords and King of kings (a divine title), yet earlier in Revelation, John tells us that the Lamb conquers by giving up His life as a ransom for His own. Which is correct? Of course, they both are. The Lamb gives up His life on the cross—and so is installed and universally recognized as the divine Lord and King (Phil.2:9-11; Heb. 2:9, Rev. 1:5, 5:9)—because of who He is, because He is the divine Lord, because He is the Son of the Father who does all that the Father does, is filled with the whole fullness of the Father and, therefore, whom to see is to see the Father. Yes, because of who Christ is (the divine Lord and King), He does what He does (offers Himself up unto death on the cross), and so conquers all worldly opposition to God (by becoming the damnation due His people and sealing the judgment of all who will finally oppose His name), and so is recognized to be who He is, namely, the divine Lord and King (Phil.2:9-11, Heb.2:9, Rev. 5:9).