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Rider on a White Horse


Oct 22, 2023

by: Jack Lash Series: Revelation | Category: Eschatology | Scripture: Revelation 19:11–21

I. Introduction
A. We have looked at several visions of Christ in this book.
1. Rev.5:6-7 the Lamb who was able to open the seven seals
2. Rev.14:14 the son of Man with the sharp sickle
3. The vision in Rev.1:12-18 of Christ among the lampstands was the most extensive we’ve looked at so far, when He had eyes like a flame of fire and a sharp sword coming out of His mouth.
B. But this morning we come to the most expanded description of Christ and His defeat and judgment of the ungodly forces at the end of history in all of Revelation.
C. It has three sections, and I’m going to read them separately. First, the description of Christ as the...
II. The rider on the white horse (Rev.19:11-16)
A. Rev.19:11-16 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. 12 His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. 13 He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. 14 And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. 15 From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. 16 On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.
1. This vision of a warrior on a white horse, leading the armies of heaven, also on white horses, is of Jesus, of course. But it is not Jesus as a lamb but Jesus as a warrior.
2. The OT promises a messiah who is both conquering warrior and suffering servant.
3. But most Jews latched onto the conquering warrior part and were therefore largely unprepared to receive Jesus when He first came as a suffering servant. This was not what they were expecting.
4. They didn’t realize He was going to come twice.
5. But now in this vision, He comes the second time – as a conquering warrior messiah. Finally.
6. These six verses tell us four things about what He looks like, four things about what He does, and four things about what He’s called. Let’s go over them:
B. What He looks like
1. 12 His eyes are like a flame of fire, (just like in the Rev.1 vision, and 2:18) (See also Dan.10:6.)
a. This speaks to the power of His eyes, that He sees everything and judges all.
2. 12 on his head are many diadems
a. Diadems are crowns. They represent authority. The dragon had seven diadems and the beast had ten (12:3) representing their seemingly total authority.
b. But here Christ trumps them, for He has many diadems. He is the “King of kings &Lord of lords.”
3. 13 He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood
a. This raises the question of whose blood is on His robe. It is His own blood, symbolic of His own death, or is it the blood of His foes?
b. It seems to be blood of His foes, for a number of reasons.
(1) The context here is one of war, and He is a warrior.
(2) Also, there’s a similar vision of Christ judging the nations in Isaiah 63:1-3. A figure appears: Who is this who crimsoned garments...marching in the greatness of his strength? “It is I, speaking in righteousness, mighty to save.” Why is your apparel red, and your garments like his who treads in the winepress? “I have trodden the my anger and trampled them in my wrath; their lifeblood spattered on my garments, and stained all my apparel.”
(3) This not only answers the question explicitly, but it connects the robe dipped in blood with “He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God” in v.15.
4. 15 From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which
a. In Jesus’ first coming, people “marveled at the gracious words which came from his mouth” (Lk.4:22), but now in His second coming there is a sharp sword coming from His mouth.
b. The sharp sword also refers to His words, but now it’s not words of redemption which He speaks, but words of judgment. They are the words by which He strikes down the nations. (See Is.49:2.)
c. In all the Bible passages about the judgment day, the one aspect that is missing is any kind of real struggle or prolonged battle. Consistently, as soon as the Lord shows up, the battle is over.
d. God created the world with the words of His mouth. And every indication is that the weapon with which He will judge the world is also the words of His mouth, here depicted as a sharp sword.
5. Compare this to 2Thessalonians 2:8 “Then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will kill with the breath of his mouth and bring to nothing by the appearance of his coming.”
6. — (Cf. Matt.25:41, where Christ executes final judgment by the mere pronouncement of His words, “Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.”)
C. What He does (The four things we’re told about what He does have a lot of overlap: judgment.)
1. 11 in righteousness he judges and makes war
2. 15 (From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which) to strike down the nations
3. 15 he will rule them with a rod of iron
a. Ps. 2:9, where the Messiah “dashes them in pieces” with a “rod of iron.”
4. 15 He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty.
a. A winepress is a giant vat filled with grapes and people stomp on the grapes to release the juices.
b. The idea here is of God crushing the wicked in His wrath.
D. What He is called – In this passage Christ is called by four names: Faithful & True, The Word of God, King of kings & Lord of lords, and then there’s a name written no one knows but Himself.
1. 11 is called Faithful and True
a. This is the One who keeps His promises and does what He says.
b. As He has always warned that He will come to judge mankind, so now He has come to do it.
2. 13 the name by which he is called is The Word of God
a. This is the same thing John said about Jesus at the beginning of his gospel: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” John 1:1
b. This refers to Jesus as the way God expresses Himself, communicates Himself. He is the epitome of God’s revelation of Himself.
3. 16 On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.
a. All these kings/kingdoms seemed so powerful and unstoppable...until the king of kings shows up.
b. But the other name is a little trickier...
4. 12 he has a name written that no one knows but himself
a. There are a few things similar to this elsewhere, but they pertain not to the name of the Lord but always to the name of His people. E.g. Rev.2:17: “To the one who conquers I will give...a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it.”
b. This is similar to Is.62, which talks about a future day when Jerusalem will receive a “new name” showing their new, intimate “married” relationship with God: “You shall be called by a new name that the LORD will give... 4 You shall no more be called Forsaken, and your land shall no more be called Desolate, but you shall be called My Delight Is in Her, and your land will be called Married; for the LORD delights in you, and your land shall be married. 5 the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you.” Isaiah 62:2-5

c. I think this gives us a good hint about the “name written that no one knows but himself” in 19:12.
d. The new name has to do with the marriage. That’s when you receive a new name.
e. And now, even more profoundly, we find out that as a result of marrying His bride, Christ Himself receives a new name. He was always Creator, then He was Savior and Redeemer.
f. But now He is Bridegroom, now He is called Married, now He has the name Husband.
g. But there’s more. In Revelation 17:5 it says that the great prostitute had a name of mystery written on her forehead: “Babylon the great, mother of prostitutes and of earth’s abominations.”
(1) The written name is stated as a mystery, but then immediately we’re told what the name is: “Babylon the great.”
(2) So there the “mystery” doesn’t seem to refer to keeping the name “Babylon” secret, but to discovering the proper meaning of the known name in the light of its historical significance.
h. So, it’s possible that the confidential nature of the name has nothing to do with the name itself being concealed, but has to do with Christ’s people coming to realize the mystery of what the name means when they see Him face to face and the two become one in marriage.
i. On that day He will reveal Himself fully to His bride. Rev.22:4 tells us that on that day, “They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads.”
E. And before moving on, we should mention that in this vision Christ has His army with Him.
1. 14 The armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white &pure, were following him on white horses.
2. Elsewhere in the NT, armies of angels accompany Christ from heaven in executing the final judgment (Matt.13:40-42; 16:27; 24:30-31; 25:31-32; Mk.8:38; Lk.9:26; 2Thes.1:7; Jude 14-15), so this may seem like a no-brainer.
3. But for a couple of reasons, it seems wiser to think these are God’s people, not angels:
a. First, in the seven times Revelation speaks of wearing white robes, six of them have saints in mind (Rev.3:4-5, 18; 4:4; 6:11; 7:9, 13-14; 15:6 being the one exception).
b. But, more than that, in this same context, a parallel passage in Rev.17:14 says, “The Lamb will overcome them…and those who are with Him are the called and chosen and faithful.”
III. The next section talks about the battle (what there was of it).
A. Rev.19:17-19 Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, and with a loud voice he called to all the birds that fly directly overhead, “Come, gather for the great supper of God, 18 to eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all men, both free and slave, both small and great.” 19 And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth with their armies gathered to make war against him who was sitting on the horse and against his army.
B. Here, in anticipation of a great bloodbath an angel calls to the birds of prey to gather for a great feast. But instead of this being followed by the Lord shouting, “Charge!” or “Attack!,” as you would expect, it is followed by the beast, the kings of the earth and their armies gathering to make war against Christ and His army.
1. We usually think of the judgment day as God going after His enemies, but here when we zoom in we see that actually He shows up and they attack Him.
2. In a sense this is what mankind wanted all along. When He showed up the first time, they went after Him and eventually killed Him. But then He rose from the dead, and they were never able to get their hands on Him again – until now. All they could do is go after His people (Rev.12).
3. But now, just as they were attacking His people, He shows up in their defense. And they pounce.
C. Their hatred has obviously overpowered their rationality. How foolish it is to fight against the One who spoke all things into existence by the word of His mouth! How foolish it is to attack the very One who gives strength to your arms and breath to your lungs!
D. But God knew this would happen, and He called the birds of prey to clean up the mess.
E. We have to notice the contrast between the two great suppers. Last week we looked at the marriage supper of the Lamb, and here we read about this great judgment supper of God.
1. The saints are invited to the one; the birds of prey to the other.
IV. The third section tells us the results of the battle. Revelation 19:20-21 “And the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who in its presence had done the signs by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped its image. These two were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur. 21 And the rest were slain by the sword that came from the mouth of him who was sitting on the horse, and all the birds were gorged with their flesh.”
A. We have come to the final showdown between the seed of the serpent and the seed of the woman, prophesied from the beginning (Gen.3:15). At His first coming, they bruised Christ’s heal, while He delivered a fatal blow. But here finally, they are being thrown into the lake of fire, once and for all.
B. And notice the order.
1. Four evil characters were introduced into the drama (Rev.12-17). You remember the dragon was introduced first, then the beast, then the false prophet, and finally Babylon, the great prostitute.
2. Then, the characters are removed in opposite order they were introduced: first the prostitute in ch.18, the false prophet & then the beast in ch.19, and finally the dragon himself in ch.20.
C. You see, all along, our battle has not been against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, the authorities, the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 6:12)
V. In conclusion, beloved,
A. Whether we like it or not, whether we believe it or now, this is where we’re headed!
1. This passage tells us that history will end in a time of war. The devil and his forces have always actively opposed God, but their rebellion will culminate in one last ferocious battle.
2. And “God has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed.” Acts 17:31
3. Yes, He’s kind and gracious. He is reaching out to every man with a gracious offer of life.
4. The first time He came, He came as a servant and in humility.
5. If defeating His enemies was His only agenda, of course, Jesus could have just come as warrior the first time and gotten it over with. But He also wanted to save His bride. And so He came as a sacrificial lamb first.
6. And when He returns, those who received Him will be treated with a generosity and intimacy beyond our imagination.
7. But, those who have refused Him, those who have repudiated Him in spite of His grace – He will come to them as a fierce warrior. That’s not from me, that’s what God’s word says – over & over.
8. Don’t be a fool. Hoping it isn’t true doesn’t make it untrue.
9. What your family and your friends think of you doesn’t matter. What God thinks of you is everything, so open your heart to Him; come to Him; surrender your life to Him.
10. He has love you’ll find nowhere else!
11. Many of us would be happy to help you.
B. Some people actually prefer the conquering warrior Jesus. Others prefer the meek and gentle Jesus. But guess what? We don’t get to pick which Jesus we prefer.
1. Christ Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever (Heb.13:8). He is meek and compassionate. But He is also furious and terrifying.
2. We see this all through Revelation.
a. Here Jesus judges and makes war; His eyes are flames of fire; sharp sword comes out of His mouth & He rules over the nations with a rod of iron, treading the winepress of the wrath of God.
b. But just before this (Rev.19:7-9), and twenty verses after this (Rev.21:2-4), this same Jesus is intimately marrying His beloved bride and moving in with her. He is tenderly wiping away the tears from their eyes, and taking away their mourning, crying, and pain. Jesus is both!
C. One thing Jesus is not? He’s not boring.
1. Can you imagine standing before this One with eyes of fire and having trouble staying awake? If there was ever a place where it ought to be easy to stay awake, it is in the presence of this One.
2. And yet, this is the same Christ we pray to every day.
3. How foolish to be unengaged. How foolish to just care about earthly comforts and successes!
4. Lord, help us not to be excited by the prostitute with all her beauty and allure,
5. Not to be enamored by the false prophet with all his convincing philosophies & amazing miracles,
6. Not to be impressed by the beast with all of his political power and domination. They will all fall.
7. Help us rather to be enthralled by the One sitting on the white horse, the One called Faithful and True, the Word of God, the King of kings and Lord of lords, the Lamb and the great Bridegroom!
8. Let us rejoice and be glad and give HIM the glory! Revelation 19:7
9. Only He is worthy of our worship and love. For He was slain, and by His blood He ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. (Revelation 5:9) And He will reign forever and ever!