19:11-13 CHRIST ON A WHITE HORSE
“And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and He that sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns; and He had a name written, that no one knew, but He Himself. And He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God” (Revelation 19:11-13).
In chapter four John saw “a door standing open in heaven” and was able to witness events taking place in the heavenly sanctuary. This time heaven itself is opened—the invisible judgment taking place there is finished, and Jesus, no longer as a Lamb, but as a man of war is leading a very visible invasion of planet Earth. The unholy trinity gathered the “kings of the earth…to the battle of that great day of God Almighty” in a final effort to exterminate the people of God. But Jesus will not abandon His people. “Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin, but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him” (Hebrews 9:28).
The return of Christ in glory is the precious and often ignored promise that fills the scriptures. “Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied…saying, ‘Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of His saints, to execute judgment on all” (Jude 14,15). “Our God shall come, and shall not keep silent; a fire shall devour before Him, and it shall be very tempestuous all around Him.” (Psalms 50:3-5). “All the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory” (Matthew 24:30). “I will come again” John (14:3). “He will appear a second time” (Hebrews 9:28). “Looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13). These are just a small fraction of the verses which speak of the coming of Christ in glory.
In Revelation 6:2, Christ rode into the world on a white horse “conquering and to conquer” and “a crown was given to Him,” the crown of victory (Greek stefanos). Now the victory has been won and “on His head were many crowns,” but these are the crowns of rulership and authority (Greek diadema), showing that He has "taken [His] great power, and reigned" (Revelation 11:17) as the "great voices in heaven" proclaimed, "The kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!" (v. 15). The “robe dipped in blood” is an image from Isaiah 63 which shows that Jesus is not making a “courtesy call” when He returns. “I have trodden them in My anger, and trampled them in My fury; their blood is sprinkled upon My garments, and I have stained all My robes. For the day of vengeance is in My heart” (Isaiah 63:3,4).
“His name is called the Word of God.” The second person of the Trinity “humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:8), and throughout the Book of Revelation Jesus has been represented as the sacrificial Lamb. However, at His coming His name emphasizes the fact that He is the Eternal God—“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made” (John 1:1-3). Now He is returning to claim that which is His own.
“And the armies in heaven followed Him on white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean” (Revelation 19:14) No doubt this verse includes the myriad of angels who have surrounded His throne and will accompany Him from heaven. But the fact that these "armies in heaven" are “clothed in fine linen, white and clean” is a reference to verse 8 where the angel explained that “the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.” In chapter 7 we saw that the saints, “who are coming out of the great tribulation and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb…are before the throne of God, and serve Him day and night,” in other words, by faith they are "in heaven" even as they endure the time of trouble. In chapter 14 these same saints are shown again having an “in-Heaven-while-still-on earth” experience as they “follow the Lamb wherever He goes” (v. 4). They have "followed Him" by faith, but now as He comes they follow Him by sight as He turns the tables on their foes, who have been poised to strike against them.
“And out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations; And He shall rule them with a rod of iron. And He 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” (Revelation 19:15,16). As we saw in chapter 12, ruling with “a rod of iron” is an image taken from Psalms 2. “Why do the nations rage, and the people plot a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against His anointed, saying, ‘Let us break their bonds in pieces and cast away their cords from us” (Psalms 2:1-3). This verse exposes the underlying attitude which makes it impossible for the “kings” and “rulers” of this world system to be a part of the kingdom: they are unwilling to submit to the “King of kings.” To them the kingdom principles of loving God and neighbor are “bonds” and “cords” which would gall them forever; there is no alternative except the “rod of iron”—“You shall break them with a rod of iron; You shall dash them to pieces like a potter’s vessel” (v. 9). The fatal power of sin over the lives of those who will not submit to God is shown by the incredible fact that even after all that the ungodly have experienced through the time of trouble and particularly the seven last plagues, they are still fighting against God until the bitter end.