Ultimately in Lord of the Rings the power of evil is not destroyed by any army. It is not destroyed by military power or human strength. ‘All our hopes,’ says Gandalf at one point, ‘lie with two little hobbits somewhere in the wilderness’. Frodo and Sam enter Mordor to destroy the ring in the volcanic fires of Mount Doom. And they doubt they will return. They accept their fate to die destroying the ring. In The Two Towers Galadriel comments: ‘In his heart Frodo begins to understand the quest will claim his life’.
Evil will be destroyed not when the ring of power is turned against it. That would simply create a different evil world. It is destroyed through sacrifice.
Colossians 2:13-15 says:
When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having cancelled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross. (Colossians 2:13-15)
Jesus, too, defeats evil through sacrifice. At the heart of human history, at the heart of God’s place of salvation, at the heart of the defeat of evil is a man dying on a cross. The ultimate power of evil is its power to accuse. Satan’s claims as his own by pointing to our rebellion against God. And we are all guilty. We are rebels against God. We have all chosen to live our lives our way. But Paul says here in Colossians that God forgave our sins because of Jesus. Jesus died in our place. He took our punishment. It is as if the charges against us, says Paul, were nailed to his cross. He died in our place. And so Satan comes to accuse. He says: these people deserve to die; they deserve to be punished. But God says: indeed they do, but Christ has died for them; their punishment is paid. They are free. The power of evil is broken. The victory is secure.
At the end of the Bible the Apostle John sees a vision of heaven. “Then one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.” Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the centre of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders.” (Revelation 5:5-6)
On the throne of heaven is a lamb. It is a picture of Jesus. He was like a lamb sacrificed on an altar. He died to set us free. And now he reigns.
God invites you to enter that reign, to be part of his kingdom, to share his future. And that reign is not tyrannical. This is the empire of the lamb. The king who reigns is the one who was slain. He is the one who loves his people so much that he died for them. And so gives us freedom and offers us love.