Revelation Chapter 19 Continued
Verses 11-16: In these next six verses, we are swept up into the triumphal entourage of redeemed saints in the heavenly procession with the King of Kings. Jesus Christ comes to make war on Satan, the Antichrist, the False Prophet, and the kings of the earth. He rides on a white horse and has on His head “many crowns.” When this war with Satan is over, He becomes the absolute ruler of the earth.
Throughout both Old and New Testaments, the Scriptures teach a literal, physical (bodily), and visible return of Christ to this earth to establish His kingdom and rule for a thousand years. The greatest theme of all Bible prophecy is the second coming of Christ (see article “Glorious Appearance – Second Coming of Christ”). This was the theme of mankind’s first prophecy (Jude 14-15), and of the last messages of the Bible (22:20). While certain events and experiences may occur in the lives of individuals (Christ appearing to those who are saved, or to those who die), these are of course not the ultimate return of Christ. The term Second Coming should be reserved for His final revelation at the end of the age. In anticipation of the Second Coming, Christians should live soberly, righteously, and godly (Titus 2:12; see Jude 14, Rom. 2:1-16, besides the scriptures here in 11-16).
This “white horse” is not that of 6:2. Here the “True” Messiah returns in victorious conquest. He is “Faithful” to His Word and promises. He will fulfill the twofold role of “judge” and warrior. His judgment of the earth will be totally righteous (compare 16:5-7; 19:2; Psalm 96:13). The “fire” depicts glory and judgment. The “crowns” indicate total sovereignty and authority (contrast 12:3; 13:1). The secret “name” expresses the mystery and greatness of the person of Christ (compare 2:17; 3:12; 19:13, 16; Phil. 2:9-11). The “blood” represents the judgment of Christ’s enemies (compare 14:14-20; Isa. 63:1-6). The name “Word of God” presents Christ as the revelation of God Himself (compare John 1:1, 14, 1 John 1:1). In His first advent, Jesus especially revealed the love and grace of God (compare John 1:17; Rom. 5:8). But in His second advent, He will reveal the holiness, justice, and judgment of God (compare Heb. 4:12).
Revelation 19:11 “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.”
“Heaven opened”: The One who ascended to heaven (Acts 1:9-11), and had been seated at the Father’s right hand (Heb. 8:1; 10:12; 1 Peter 3:22), will return to take back the earth from the usurper and establish His kingdom (5:1-10). The nature of this event shows how it differs from the Rapture. At the Rapture, Christ meets His own in the air, in this event He comes with them to earth. At the Rapture, there is no judgment, in this event it is all judgment. This event is preceded by blackness, the darkened sun, moon gone out, stars fallen, smoke, then lightning and blinding glory as Jesus comes. Such details are not included in Rapture passages (John 14:1-3; 1 Thess. 4:13-18).
“White horse”: In the Roman triumphal processions, the victorious general rode his white war horse up the Via Sacra to the temple of Jupiter on the Capitoline Hill. Jesus’ first coming was in humiliation on a colt (Zech. 9:9). John’s vision portrays Him as the conqueror on His war horse, coming to destroy the wicked, to over-throw the Antichrist, to defeat Satan, and to take control of the earth (compare 2 Cor. 2:14).
Notice several things about the description of our Lord’s return. First, it will be public, obvious, and not restricted to a small group. He says His coming will be like lightning that flashes from the east to the west. Everybody will see it, and there will be no hiding it. Second, He says it will occur “immediately after” the Great Tribulation. Third, His return will be accompanied by “mourning” on the part of “all the tribes of the earth”. The mourning of sadness on the part of the Jewish nation, that it so long rejected Christ as Messiah, as well as the mourning of despair on the part of the ungodly, who reject Him as King even as He appears in the sky.
This opening of heaven is not to go in, but is the opening for Jesus and His followers to come out.
Again, as we saw in chapter four, a door opened in heaven. The door to heaven has never been closed for the Christians to enter in. The “horse” symbolizes war, and the fact that it is “white”, symbolizes victory. White, also symbolizes holiness and righteousness. This tells us that this war is a holy war, and Jesus is victorious.
“Faithful and True”: True to His word, Jesus will return to earth (Matt. 24:27-31; see note on 3:14).
Just the fact that “Faithful and True” have initial caps, lets us know that this figure is God the Son who has been made Lord of lords and King of kings, Jesus is the Judge. He is always faithful to His promises and what He speaks is always true.
“In righteousness he doth judge” (see 20:11-15; compare Matt. 25:31ff; John 5:25-30; Acts. 17:31). We are assured that His judgments are right. He has been sitting at the Right Hand of the Father in heaven, but now He is about to set up His kingdom here on the earth.
“Wages war”; This startling statement, appearing only here (and 2:16), vividly portrays the holy wrath of God against sinners (compare Psalm 7:11). God’s patience will be exhausted with sinful, rebellious mankind.
The most detailed description of the (“Second Coming”), was given by our Lord Himself in Matthew:
Matthew 24:27 “For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be”.
Matthew 24:29-31 “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken”. “Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then 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”. “And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other”.
Revelation 19:12 “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.”
“His eyes were as a flame of fire”: “Eyes” show wisdom, and these, like “flames of fire” can see right into the soul of man. Nothing escapes His penetrating vision, so His judgments are always just and accurate (see note on 1:14).
This “fire” here speaks of purity and judgment. The crowns indicate total sovereignty and authority (contrast 12:3; 13:1). The secret name expresses the mystery and greatness of the person of Christ (2:17; 3:12; 19:13, and 16; Phil. 2:9-11).
“A name … no man knew”: John could see the name, but was unable to comprehend it (compare 2 Cor. 12:4). There are unfathomable mysteries in the Godhead that even glorified saints will be unable to grasp.
There was a secret name on the stone underneath the breastplate of the High Priest worn into the Holy of Holies. This was the unspeakable name of God. This name here is similar to that name. It is a name that no one knew except our Lord. In (Rev. 3:12), we studied about this name the Lord will put on us.
Revelation 19:13 “And he [was] clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God.”
“A vesture dipped in blood”: This is not from the battle of Armageddon, which will not have begun until verse 15. Christ’s blood-spattered garments symbolize the great battles He has already fought against sin, Satan, and death, and has been stained with the blood of His enemies.
This is not representative of the blood Jesus shed on the cross, but is a picture of judgment, not redemption. This is the blood of his slaughtered enemies. This is not His first battle, but His last. He has fought for His people throughout redemptive history and His “war clothes” bear those stains. The blood represents the judgment of Christ’s enemies (14:14-20; Isaiah 63:1-6).
“The Word”: Only John uses this title for the Lord (see introduction: Author and Date). As the Word of God, Jesus is the image of the invisible God (Col. 1:15); the express image of His person (Heb. 1:3); and the final, full revelation from God (Heb. 1:1-2).
Over and over in these lessons, I have given the Scriptures where the word of God took on the form of flesh and dwelt among us. In the book of John, the first chapter, we read about the Word of God.
John 1:1 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
Jump down to;
John 1:14 “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.”
We also see here, that this Word (Jesus), was, is, and always will be God the Word.
Verses 14-16: Christ is King over all who call themselves kings, and Lord over all who call themselves lords (compare 17:14; Deut. 10:17; Dan. 2:47; 1 Tim. 6:15). Here we see the Second Coming of Chirst as the armies in heaven come with Him.
Revelation 19:14 “And the armies [which were] in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean.”
“Armies … in heaven”: Composed of the church (verse 8), tribulation saints (7:13), Old Testament believers (Jude 14; compare Dan. 12:1-2), and even angels (Matt. 25:31). They return not to help Jesus in the battle (they are unarmed), but to reign with Him after He defeats His enemies (20:4; 1 Cor. 6:2; 2 Tim. 2:12; compare Psalm 149:5-9).
They will share in Christ’s victory and glory (Roman 8:18-19). The linen symbolizes righteousness (verse 8).
Here we see the believers in the Lord Jesus Christ following, these are the called, chosen, redeemed, the bride. The whole army is on “white horses”. They have white horses, because they have overcome the devil. They are washed in the blood of the Lamb. They have on pure white linen for the righteousness of Christ. This army has been in heaven waiting for the wrath of God, on the ungodly, to be over.
Revelation 19:15 “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.”
“Sharp Sword”: This symbolizes Christ’s power to kill His enemies (1:16; compare Isa. 11:4; Heb. 4:12-13). That the sword comes out of His mouth indicates that He wins the battle with the power of His word. Though the saints return with Christ to reign and rule, they are not the executioners. That is His task.
The sword from His mouth depicts judgment through His spoken Word (1:16; 2:12-16; Isaiah 11:4; 2 Thess. 2:8). The Bible says that it is so sharp that it can divide the soul and spirit.
Hebrews 4:12 “For the word of God [is] quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and [is] a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”
Smite the nations: Christ will destroy all unbelievers (19:21; Matt. 25:41-46; 2 Thess. 1:8-9). Rod of iron: Christ will subject all nations to Himself, and destroy all His enemies (Psalms 2:8-9; 1 Cor. 15:24-25). Winepress (see 14:17-20).
“Rod of iron”: Swift, righteous judgment will mark Christ’s rule in the kingdom. Believers will share His authority (2:26; 1 Cor. 6:2; see note on 2:27; 12:5; Psalm 2:9).
Words relating to wrath and anger are found 15 times in Revelation. We see how powerful this Word is. This “rod of iron” that He is to rule with just means that His law is absolute and unwavering. He never changes.
“Winepress”: A vivid symbol of judgment (see note on 14:19; compare Isa. 63:3; Joel 3:13).
When we see this “treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath”, This wrath of God is for three and a half years of Tribulation, then after those, another three and a half years that is called the Great Tribulation, making a total of seven years of God’s Judgment and Wrath.
Revelation 19:16 “And he hath on [his] vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.”
“On his thigh”: Jesus will wear a banner across His robe and down His thigh with a title emblazoned on it that emphasizes His absolute sovereignty over all human rulers (see note on 17:14).
KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS: Christ has universal sovereignty. This expresses His sovereign triumph over all foes and His absolute rule in His soon to be established Kingdom. (17:14; Deut. 10:17; Dan. 2:47; 1 Tim. 6:15).
There are approximately ninety-seven names throughout the Bible that the personage that we know as Jesus is used. The name He was called at the time had to do with the circumstance at hand. Here He is coming to the earth to take over as Supreme Ruler, so He is called by the name “KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS”.
Verses 17-21: These verses depict the frightening holocaust unparalleled in human history, the Battle of Armageddon, the pinnacle of the Day of the Lord (see note on 1 Thess. 5:2). It is not so much a battle as an execution, as the remaining rebels are killed by the Lord Jesus (verse 21; see notes on 14:19-20; compare Psalm 2:1-9; Isa. 66:15-16; Ezek. 39:1ff; Joel 3:12ff; Matt. 24:25; 2 Thess. 1:7-9). This Day of the Lord was seen by Isaiah (66:15-16), Joel (1:15; 3:12-21), Ezekiel (39:1-4; 17-20), Paul (2 Thess. 1:6ff; 2:8), and our Lord (Matt. 25:31-46).
Verses 17-18: “The supper of the great God” is different from the marriage supper of the Lamb (verse 9). Here, God call the “fowls” or birds of the sky to “gather” to “eat the flesh” of those who have died in the Battle of Armageddon (compare 16:14, 16; 19:21; Ezek. 39:17-20). “All men” indicates “all kinds of men”; not everyone at Armageddon will be an unbeliever (compare Matt. 25:31-46.
Revelation 19:17 “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;”
An angel speaking in a loud voice invites all of the birds to feed on the results of the carnage which will shortly take place. This angel is declaring Christ’s victory before the battle even begins. A similar passage is found (in Luke 17:37) stating: wherever the corpse is, there the eagles (vultures), will gather.
“The supper of the great God”: Also, called “the war of the great day of God, the Almighty” (16:14). It will begin with an angel summoning birds to feed on the corpses of those who will be slain (compare Matt. 24:27-28). God will declare His victory before the battle even begins. The Old Testament frequently pictures the indignity of carrion birds feasting on human dead (Deut. 28:26; Psalm 79:2; Isa. 18:6; Jer. 7:33; 16:4; 19:7; 34:20; Ezek. 29:5).
This “supper” that this speaks of, will be right after the battle of Armageddon. Some people believe the birds are gathering in Israel now for the feast (see article “Armageddon”).
“Unto the supper of the great God”: As if the great God were about to give you a feast, to wit, the carcasses of those slain. It is called “his supper” because he gives it; and the image is merely that there would be a great slaughter of his foes, as is specified in the following verse.
Revelation 19:18 “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.”
What this is saying is that for those lying out there dead in the valley of Megiddo, it will not matter whether you were a general or a private. The birds will not know the difference. With God, there has never been a distinction. He is not impressed with your position in life. The birds will eat them all.
This reveals the extent of the massive slaughter. To have one’s unburied body left as food for birds would be the ultimate indignity, especially for the mighty military commanders and the proud kings. The same fate awaits the God hating rebels everywhere in the world.
Verses 19-21: The “armies” of the “beast” and of the “kings” of the East (and of all the “earth”), will gather in Palestine at Armageddon (compare 16:12-16), to attempt to prevent the return and kingdom of Christ. Christ will immediately defeat and capture the Beast and the “false prophet” (compare chapter 13). These will become the first inhabitants of the “Lake of fire” (compare 20:10). The rest of the kings and armies will be killed by the Word of Christ, and will be eaten by the birds (verses 17 and 18). The unbelieving survivors of the Tribulation will be judged by Christ and also sentenced to everlasting fire (compare Matt. 25:41, 46).
Revelation 19:19 “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.”
“Kings of the earth” (see 17:12-17).
“Their armies”: (see 16:13-14).
“His army”: Zechariah describes this army of the Lord as “all the holy ones” (Zech. 14:5).
This beast is the Antichrist, the leader of the last and greatest empire in human history. The kings of the earth are those ten kings who rule the ten sectors which the Antichrist’s worldwide empire is divided into.
The Antichrist has gathered his armies to do battle with Jesus and His army. The formidable and seemingly invincible armed might of the beast, with all of its firepower, now awaits the arrival of the Rider on the white horse.
Ever since the beginning of time, the armies of God and the armies of the devil have been in mortal combat. The flesh and the Spirit have been in combat also. Isaac (Spirit), and Ishmael (flesh), are still in mortal physical combat through their descendants in Israel today. This Scripture above is speaking again of the battle of Armageddon.
Revelation 19:20 “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 worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone.”
“The beast was taken … the false prophet”: In an instant, the world’s armies are without their leaders. The beast is Antichrist (see notes on 13:1-8); the false prophet is his religious cohort (see notes on 13:11-17).
“Cast alive”: The bodies of the beast and the false prophet will be transformed, and they will be banished directly to the lake of fire (Dan. 7:11), the first of countless millions of unregenerate men (20:15), and fallen angels (compare Matt. 25:41), to arrive in that dreadful place. That these two still appear there 1000 years later (20:10), refutes the false doctrine of annihilationism (compare 14:11; Isa. 66:24; Matt. 25:41; Mark 9:48; Luke 3:17; 2 Thess. 1:9).
But before the battle can even begin, it’s over. Not only that, but those two demonically empowered leaders, Antichrist and False Prophet, are dealt a terrible blow. Those two are thrown alive into the lake of fire.
The false prophet and the beast were used of Satan to perform his evil deeds. As the two most evil, vile and blasphemous people who have ever lived, it is fitting that they should be the first two to arrive in that awful place. And they will be there by themselves for a thousand years until the devil joins them at the end of the millennium. Then at the second resurrection (the second death), they will be joined by all unbelievers for all eternity.
“Lake of fire”: The final hell, the place of eternal punishment for all unrepentant rebels, angelic or human (compare 20:10, 15). The New Testament says much of eternal punishment (compare 14:10-11; Matt. 13:40-42; 25:41; Mark 9:43-48; Luke 3:17; 12:47-48).
This is the first mention in the bible of the “lake of fire”. This is the final hell and the ultimate destination of Satan, his angels (or demons), and the unredeemed (see article “Hell, for the Unbelieving Dead”).
Hell has always existed, but this is hell’s final form. Unlike Hades which was a temporary holding place, this is the final permanent place for incarceration and punishment.
“Lake of fire burning with brimstone” (see note on 9:17. These two are frequently associated with divine judgment (14:10; 20:10; 21:8; Gen. 19:24; Psalm 11:6; Isa. 30:33; Ezek. 38:22; Luke 17:29).
We see here, the total victory over the beast and the false prophet. This shows here that the “KING OF KINGS” throws them into the “lake of fire”. This “brimstone” is sulfur. This is final victory over the earthly manifestations of Satan’s power.
Revelation 19:21 “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.”
Then all of the rest who were with the Antichrist and the false prophet will then be destroyed and the rest of those gathered to fight against Christ.
“Sword” (see verse 15; compare Zech. 14:1-13).
Then suddenly it will be all over. Actually, there will not be any war at all as we think of war. There will be just a word spoken from the Rider who sits on the white horse. That’s the same One who spoke the heavens and the earth into existence at the very beginning. The One who spoke to a fig tree and it withered away. Who spoke to the howling winds and heaving waves and the storm clouds vanished and the waves were stilled. Who spoke to a legion of demons in a man and instantly they fled.
Now by His Word, the Beast is stricken where he stands. The false prophet windbag from the pit is stilled. Then they’re hurled into the everlasting flames. Then another Word and all of the panic-stricken armies’ stagger and fall down dead.
“Fowls were filled with their flesh”: All remaining sinners in the world will have been executed, and the birds will gorge themselves on their corpses. All the birds ate and were filled with the flesh of those who were killed.
The rest of the unredeemed throughout the world will be judged at the sheep and goat judgment which takes place at this time (see Matthew 25:32-46; see article “Judgment on Mankind is Coming”).
This is not just defeat, but is physical death for those who followed the beast and the false prophet. The Word of God defeated them. They actually die in the battle of Armageddon by the Words of Christ and not by an easy death as scripture tells us that the blood in that valley ran up to the horse’s bridles, about 4 to 5 feet deep for the entire length of the 200 mile valley.
Revelation Chapter 19 Continued Questions
1. When heaven opened, what did John see?
2. What two names did the rider have here?
3. How does He judge?
4. What is peculiar about heaven opening here?
5. What does the horse symbolize?
6. Why is it white?
7. Where has Jesus been, up until this incident?
8. Describe His eyes?
9. What was on His head?
10. The fire here speaks of what?
11. The name under the priest’s breastplate was what?
12. What was His vesture dipped in?
13. Give me the portion of Scripture that proves Jesus is God’s only Son.
14. Who was the army that followed the Lord?
15. What are they riding?
16. What does this indicate?
17. What comes out of the Lord’s mouth?
18. How will He rule them?
19. In Hebrews 4:12, what do we discover about this sword?
20. What does the “rod of iron” mean?
21. What is written on His vesture and His thigh?
22. Approximately how many names does Jesus go by in the Bible?
23. Why are different names used?
24. Why were the fowls called from all over the world?
25. How long will it take to bury the dead?
26. Why does verse 18 speak of poor men and very powerful men?
27. Who made war against the Word?
28. What happened to the beast and false prophet?
29. What happened to the remnant left?
30. Describe Jesus in your own words.
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