… the king sprang suddenly erect. Tall and proud he seemed again; and rising in his stirrups he cried in a loud voice, more clear than any there had heard a mortal man achieve before:
Arise, arise Riders of Théoden!
Fell deeds awake: fire and slaughter!
Spear shall be shaken, shield be splintered,
A sword-day, a red day, ere the sun rises!
Ride now, ride now! Ride to Gondor!
Suddenly the king cried to Snowmane and the horse sprang away. Behind him his banner blew in the wind, white horse upon a field of green, but he outpaced it. After him thundered the knights of his house, but he was ever before them… For morning came, morning and a wind from the sea; and darkness was removed, and the hosts of Mordor wailed, and terror took them, and they fled, and died, and the hoofs of wrath rode over them.
This passage from J.R.R Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy might seem out of place as we approach Christmas, but over the years it has come back powerfully to me as I pray during Advent. In Advent we are asking for the King to come, and the Bible makes it very clear that when He comes a second time it will be very different than His first coming:
Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war.
His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself.
He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God.
And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses.
Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.
And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS. Rev 19:11-16
Sounds a lot like the ride of Théoden! That day will be ‘a sword day, a red day’ and the King of Kings will sweep His enemies before Him. He will establish His Kingdom and there will be none to oppose Him. I think this is why we love stories of rescuers arriving in the nick of time to set people free from the attack of evil. It touches on the Great Story which God has put deep in our hearts, the Hope of the coming of the King to put all things right.
However, as we wait, King Jesus has taught to pray ‘Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven’. That ‘sword day’ will not come fully and finally until Jesus returns, but right now, every day in small and large ways, incrementally, that day is to be pressed out in the world around us. We are to ask for, expect, and participate in His Kingdom, His rule, His rescue to break in. We are not to hunker underground and await His coming, but to pray and be part of His Kingdom coming daily until the day He comes to finish the job.
As I have prayed and thought on this, I realize that for me to live and believe this way, His Kingdom is going to have to come more in my life, too! I have enemies of fear, of slavery to approval, of unbelief that need to be swept away for me to be a partner is seeing the Lord’s will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. Freeing me to witness boldly, to pray for healing, to work for reconciliation, to address wrongdoing. So this Advent I am praying for the Rider on the White Horse to sweep through my life and rout these enemies so that I can be part of the pressing out of His rule and will now – until the final ‘sword day’.