Faithful and True

A Russian battle tank

40 Names of Jesus in 40 days of Lent — Day 9

Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war.

Revelation 19:11

“The first casualty of war is the truth,” is a saying often attributed to Ethel Annakin the wife of British politician Philip Snowden, given at a conference in 1915. Going back through hi it can be seen in lexicographer Samuel Johnson’s 1758 item, “Among the calamities of war may be justly numbered the diminution of the love of truth.” Ancient Greek playwright Aeschylus said, “God is not averse to deceit in a just cause.”

Was Aeschylus right? Will God lie to get thr correct outcome?

I am writing this about 10 days ahead of publication. Russian and Belorussian forces have invaded Ukraine and the war is being televised. We see footage of airstrikes on Ukraine’s second city, Kharkiv, and satellite footage of massive columns of troops and armour advancing on the capital, Kyiv. A Ukrainian refugee in Slovakia announced to the world’s cameras, “We don’t hate Russia, we hate war.” one of the few positive statements to come out of the conflict. In Russia, when asked about alleged war crimes committed by Russian forces, a woman who gets her news only from state television said that she believed her government when they said they would never commit such crimes, so it must be lies. Live footage from Ukraine broadcast around the world is telling a different story. I am praying for Ukraine with tears in my eyes as I see the worst conflict since the wars in the former Yugoslav states between 1991 and 2001 which led up to and resulted from the break up of Yugoslavia in 1992.

But this blog is not about apportioning blame. The quote from Revelation says that Jesus is faithful and true and wages wars in righteousness. How can there be truth in war? A hard question to ask when war takes up the majority of our news broadcasts.

When reading Revelation it is well to remember that the book is a vision, I find it much better to visualise the writings in this book and others written in the apocalyptic tradition. It is a picture book described in words. Jesus is pictured on a white horse, like a military leader but the context is clear that this is the final battle between good and evil. Jesus shall win and there will be no subterfuge, everything will be open and transparent, nothing will be hidden.

As well as truth there is faithfulness. Jesus is faithful because what he says is honest and he will faithfully and righteously (without fault) carry out what he has said.

Calling Jesus faithful and true means that he can utterly be relied on.

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