We return this time to Revelation chapter 19. We looked at the first ten verses last time and discovered five reasons for Heaven’s song of rejoicing. Satan and his man the Antichrist have had their day and their time of judgment will have arrived. This will cause great rejoicing in Heaven as the great plan of God for the ages comes to fruition when the kingdoms of this world become the kingdoms of our God and of His Christ and He reigns on the Earth. Despite Satan’s, and in some cases man’s best efforts, the great plan of God for man and the Earth will be realized.
The next scene John sees is a stupendous one to say the very least. It is the event toward which all things are moving in this present hour, and I speak of the Second Coming of Christ. John writes, And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. [Rev. 19:11, 12] In the Greek before the word Heaven there is what is known as the definite article, making this, “And I saw the Heaven opened…”. This would be paradise or the “third heaven” [See 2 Cor. 12:2 – 4], the dwelling place of God. The greatest event of human history is about to break forth. Thousands, yea, millions of saints have cried and prayed for this event, and John sees it about to happen. It was distant future in John’s time, and it is certainly future in this present time; but we are much closer now.
750 years before the first Advent of Christ, the great Prophet Isaiah cried, Oh that thou wouldest rend the heavens, that thou wouldest come down, that the mountains might flow down at thy presence, As when the melting fire burneth, the fire causeth the waters to boil, to make thy name known to thine adversaries, that the nations may tremble at thy presence! [Isa. 64:1, 2] Now this cry of the Prophet’s is about to be fulfilled in that which John is witnessing. Despite the thinking of some, God has a plan and a program that He is following very carefully. Among other things, this plan reveals the Second Coming of Christ occurring at the end of the Great Tribulation period, right before the setting up of His earthly kingdom.
A comparison study between the First and Second Advents of Christ is definitely a study in contrasts. In His First Advent he was born into humble surroundings. He was meek and lowly. He was the suffering Messiah, who suffered and died for sinners. A completely different picture is before us now. In the verses before us He is Coming in great glory. His Coming will be the final manifestation of God’s Wrath on a sinful world. The rebellion of Satan, demons, and evil men is put down and judged. He puts down all unrighteousness before He establishes His kingdom in righteousness.
In Revelation 4:1 Heaven is opened to let John, as representative of the Church, enter Heaven where he sees the 24 elders (the Church) already there. Here in chapter 19 Heaven is again opened, this time to allow Christ to exit. The White Horse speaks of Christ Coming to wage war. When He entered Jerusalem He was riding a donkey. In ancient times if a leader came with a message of peace He rode a donkey. If he came and his mission and message was war, he rode a white horse. Jesus will leave Heaven on a white horse. He is Coming to wage war on the Antichrist.
Notice He is called, “faithful.” This is because He will come to execute the long-time program of God. The scoffer says, “Where is the sign of His Coming?” There is no sign at this point – He is here! He has fulfilled His Promise. He has made good. He is faithful. He is the only one that you and I can absolutely depend upon and rest in. He is not only “faithful”, He is “true.” He is called so because He is inherently true. He not only tells the truth; although He does do that, but He is the standard by which truth is measured. Why? Because He is Truth. [John 14:6] In a day when everything seems to be slanted and used for propaganda, it is a great comfort to know we serve a God who is truth and can absolutely be replied upon at all times in every situation and circumstance.
He has come to “judge and make war”, not die on a Cross again. Notice His eyes if you will. They are, “as a flame of fire.” We saw this very same imagery back in 1:14 as Jesus walked among the churches. The idea is He sees all. There is nothing hidden to Him. Judgment has come and there will be no accuses or alibis, He sees all and knows all. He will come to judge the earth and put down its unrighteousness. Notice His head, on his head were many crowns. This means He will be the sole ruler over the world, there will be no other. His rule will be a dictatorship in the best and purest sense of the term. Nothing will occur on the earth without His knowledge or permission. Nothing will happen if He doesn’t “sign-off” on it, as it were.
He says, he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. What is this “unknowable” Name? It is the Name above all names that causes every knee to bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of the Father. The word translated, knew here is a not often used primary Greek verb, eido which means to properly understand, perceive, or have perfect knowledge of. No man, even in Heaven, will ever exhaust much less plumb the depths of the most wonderful Name, the Name of Jesus. John further describes Christ at His Second Coming,
And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.[19:13 – 16 KJV] This has to be one of the most thrilling, awe-inspiring scenes in all of scripture. His vesture, which speaks of His garment, is dipped (Greek, bapto) in blood. This speaks of what He came to do. It points to the Cross. He is coming back as the conquering King, and that victory was won way back at Calvary. There is yet another allusion to the Old Testament here as this image takes us back to Isaiah 63:1 – 6, which obviously speaks of His Second Coming as opposed to is first. The fact that He will, rule them with a rod of iron, hearkens back to Psalm 2:6 – 9. The fury of His wrath at His second coming is in sharp contrast to His gentleness at His first coming. However, in both is revealed the “wrath of the Lamb.”
Who are the “armies” that follow Him on white horses? Some commentators equate them with angels. I submit to you that while angels may be involved here, these armies are all of the redeemed who have ever lived. This is the company that was taken to Heaven at the rapture, and now they are returning with the Lord at His Second Coming. The white horses speak of victory, and I believe are literal. The victory of the redeemed I submit has a two-fold meaning: 1) It speaks of the victory we have won through Christ, the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith. [1 John 5:4], 2) The victory that is about to be won by Christ over Satan, the Antichrist, the False Prophet, and all who follow them. Another reason we know that these armies represent the redeemed from all ages is how they are dressed. They are, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. This takes us back to verse 8, where we learned these garments spoke of the righteousness of saints. These armies will be made up of every saint who has ever lived, whether before the Cross where people were saved by looking forward to the Cross, or after Calvary where the believing sinner is saved by looking back to the Cross.
This company will be made up of saints beginning with righteous Abel [See Matt. 23:25; Heb. 11:4] and continuing up to the very last soul saved in the Great Tribulation. I submit to you that Noah, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob will be there. Joseph, Moses, Samuel, David, plus all the great Prophets of old, Paul, Peter, James, John, in fact all of the Apostles, as well as every saint, as we have already mentioned, who has ever lived. What a stupendous sight this will be!
Our Lord is Coming back to rule and reign. Notice, And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations. Jesus’ victory over Satan, the Antichrist, The False Prophet, and all of their followers; and this would take in all nations and individuals who have thrown in their lot with them; will not be a military conquest. He will judge them with a sharp sword. “Sharp” is the Greek oxus, which is sharp, rapid, or swift. It also associated with the Greek root from which we get, acid. It will be a sharp sword. “Sword” is the Greek, rhomphaia, a saber or broad cutlass. This sharp sword though will not be any physical instrument, it will come out of His mouth! He will speak the Word of God and evil men and women will be destroyed and Satan, the Antichrist, and False Prophet will be judged. [See Heb. 4:12, Eph. 6:17b]
Not only will the Lord smite the Nations with the sharp sword out of His mouth, but He will rule them with a rod of iron. This is emphatic in the Greek, it literally reads, He Himself shall rule them with a rod of iron. “Rule” literally is, to shepherd. A shepherd uses his rod to correct. To rule with a rod of iron denotes severity. As He returns on a white horse He will be wearing a robe probably with a sash of some kind upon which will be written the title, KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS. There will be absolutely no doubt as to who He is. It is possible that KING OF KINGS will be written on the top, with LORD OF LORDS on the bottom of the robe. We get an absolutely stunning description of our Lord’s physical appearance in this chapter that is found no place else in scripture.
And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, Come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the great God; That ye may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses, and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all men, both free and bond, both small and great. [Rev. 19:17, 18] These two verses take us to the end of the battle of Armageddon. John sees another angel, this one standing in the sun. Faith here has to accept what the mind cannot comprehend. How this angel could stand in the brightest and hottest of orbs and yet not be consumed, I must admit I don’t know. He is clearly discernible as well. Why this angel is standing in the Sun, we are not told. At any rate, if there is any passage of scripture that is truly revolting to read, this one is it. God included this toward the very end of His Word to remind us all of how nauseating and revolting the deeds of the flesh are. Men who live in the flesh will have their flesh destroyed. This is an invitation at the end of the Battle of Armageddon for the carrion-eating birds to come and dine on some A-1 flesh, the kings and mighty men of the earth. I know this is gruesome, but this scene reveals the heart of man and how dreadful that heart really is.
And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army. And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshiped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone. And the remnant were slain with the sword of him that sat upon the horse, which sword proceeded out of his mouth: and all the fowls were filled with their flesh.[Rev. 19:19 – 21] What a scene this is. The Beast and False Prophet will be defiant right until the end. Thinking they can actually wage war, and have a proverbial “snow balls” chance of winning? Some ask, “Is Hell real?” Many so-called ministers seemingly don’t know the answer to that question. My amillennial friends insist on an allegorical interpretation of passages such as this. Are these merely “word pictures?” If they are, then the reality is far greater and more horrible than the picture of it. I will have more to say on Hell and the Lake of Fire as we go into chapter 20.
Plan to join us next time.