The Rider on the White Horse ~ Part 1

Revelation 19:11-21
The End Times

In my last post, we explored Revelation 19:1-10 ~ The Marriage of the Lamb Has Come. In this post, we examine Revelation 19:11-21 ~ The Rider on the White Horse.  As you read the passage below, you will discover that there is a lot that needs to be rightly divided. Consequently, we will break the entire passage into three parts.  In this post, we will only cover the first three verses.  Even so, you may want to print the PDF version (below) to read this post offline.

11 Next I saw heaven opened, and there before me was a white horse. Sitting on it was the One called Faithful and True, and it is in righteousness that He passes judgment and goes to battle. 12 His eyes were like a fiery flame, and on His head were many royal crowns. And He had a name written which no one knew but Himself. 13 He was wearing a robe that had been soaked in blood, and the name by which He is called is, “THE WORD OF GOD.” 14 The armies of heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and pure, were following Him on white horses. 15 And out of His mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down nations — “He will rule them with a staff of iron.” It is He who treads the winepress from which flows the wine of the furious rage of Adonai, God of heaven’s armies. 16 And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS. 17 Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, and he cried out in a loud voice to all the birds that fly about in mid-heaven, “Come, gather together for the great feast God is giving, 18 to eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of generals, the flesh of important men, the flesh of horses and their riders and the flesh of all kinds of people, free and slave, small and great!” 19 I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to do battle with the rider of the horse and his army. 20 But the beast was taken captive, and with it the false prophet who, in its presence, had done the miracles which he had used to deceive those who had received the mark of the beast and those who had worshipped his image. The beast and the false prophet were both thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur. 21 The rest were killed with the sword that goes out of the mouth of the rider on the horse, and all the birds gorged themselves on their flesh. ~ Revelation 19:11-21 (CJB)

In Titus 2:13 we are taught “to expect the blessed fulfillment of our certain hope, which is the appearing of the Shekhinah of our great God and the appearing of our Deliverer, Yeshua the Messiah.” The present verses describe this eagerly awaited Second Coming.

At this moment, Yochanan sees the heavens open, and Yeshua returns to the earth, riding a white horse, followed by all the armies of heaven also riding white horses. What a glorious sight! This event has been called “the Revelation” for this is the moment when Yeshua reveals Himself to all the world. This is the second time in the book of Revelation that heaven’s door is opened. The first event is when the gates of heaven are opened for the Rapture of the Messianic Community into heaven (4:1). The second event is the Revelation when the gates of heaven open as Yeshua and all the armies of heaven return to earth (v. 11).

The Revelation of the King of Kings (19:11-13)

11 Next I saw heaven opened, and there before me was a white horse. Sitting on it was the One called Faithful and True, and it is in righteousness that He passes judgment and goes to battle. 12 His eyes were like a fiery flame, and on His head were many royal crowns. And He had a name written which no one knew but Himself. 13 He was wearing a robe that had been soaked in blood, and the name by which He is called is, “THE WORD OF GOD.”

This passage contains one of the most graphic pictures of the Second Coming of Yeshua to be found anywhere in Scripture. Merrill C. Tenney describes the Revelation of Yeshua in His Second Coming as following the pattern of a Roman triumphal procession. When a general returned from a successful campaign, he and his legions were granted the right to parade up the Via Sacra, the main street of Rome that led from the Forum to the Temple of Jupiter on the Capitoline Hill. Mounted on a white horse, the general rode at the head of his troops, followed by the wagonloads of booty that he had taken from the conquered nation, and by the chained captives that were to be executed or sold in the slave markets of the city. The chief prisoners or rebels were remanded to the Mamertine Prison, where they were usually executed, while sacrifices of thanksgiving were offered in the temple.

Even a casual study should make evident the remarkable contrast between this event and the Rapture of the Messianic Community. At the Rapture, Yeshua meets His own in the air, and there is no evidence of immediate judgment upon the earth. By contrast, Yeshua here is coming to the earth with the specific purpose of bringing divine judgment and establishing His righteous rule.

Many Scriptures in both the Tanach and Brit Hadashah anticipate this scene. Zechariah 14:3–4 revealed the event in these words: Then shall the Lord go forth, and fight against those nations, as when He fought in the day of battle. And His feet shall stand in that day upon the Mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the Mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north and half of it toward the south.

According to Zechariah’s prophecy, when Yeshua returns He will come to the Mount of Olives, the point of His departure on the occasion of His ascension into heaven recorded in Acts 1. His return to the Mount of Olives, however, will be dramatic, as the mountain will split in half in evidence of His power and authority. The Mount of Olives today has two high points, and what seems to be a natural division between them will be transformed into a vast valley stretching toward the east from Jerusalem and extending down to Jericho at the Jordan River.

The Second Coming of Yeshua is likewise described in Matthew 24:27–31:

27 For when the Son of Man does come, it will be like lightning that flashes out of the east and fills the sky to the western horizon. 28 Wherever there’s a dead body, that’s where you find the vultures. 29 “But immediately following the trouble of those times, the sun will grow dark, the moon will stop shining, the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers in heaven will be shaken. 30 “Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, all the tribes of the Land will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with tremendous power and glory. 31 He will send out his angels with a great shofar; and they will gather together his chosen people from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.”

As is made clear in these prophecies, the Second Coming of Yeshua will be a glorious event which all the world will behold, both Believers and unbelievers. It is compared to lightning that shines from the east to the west, in other words, illuminating the whole heaven. The Second Coming will be preceded by the sun being darkened and the moon not giving her light, stars falling from heaven, and other phenomena not only mentioned in Matthew 24 but vividly revealed in the Revelation. The climax of all these events will be the return of Yeshua Himself in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory and accompanied by the saints. The final revelation of this event is found in Revelation 19.

The dramatic presentation of this remarkable scene is introduced by Yochanan’s statement “I saw heaven opened.” In the vision, he beholds a person who can be no other than the Lord Jesus Yeshua on a white horse. In contrast to the pseudo ruler of the world (Revelation 6:2), Yeshua is presented here as the true ruler. The plea of Isaiah as recorded in 64:1–2 is now fulfilled:

“It would be like fire kindling the brush,  and the fire then makes the water boil.  Then your enemies would know your name; the nations would tremble before you! When you did tremendous things  that we were not expecting,  we wished that you would come down,  so that the mountains would shake at your presence!”

The titles of Faithful and True ascribed to Yeshua are previously given in Revelation 1:5 and 3:7, and were anticipated in the prophecies of Isaiah 11:3–4.

H.A. Ironside points out the significance of the three names given to Yeshua: [1]

“A Name written that no man knew but He Himself” speaks of His essential glory as the Eternal Son, concerning which He declared that “no man knoweth the Son but the Father.”… The second name is “The Word of God.” [The third title is] “KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.” In these three names we have set forth, first, our Lord’s dignity as the Eternal Son. Second, His incarnation—the Word became flesh. And, lastly, His second advent to reign as King of kings and Lord of lords.

These attributes are demonstrated in the appearance of Yeshua as described in the following verses. His eyes were like a fiery flame, a term previously used to describe Yeshua in Revelation 1:14 and 2:18. This speaks of His righteous judgment upon sin. His head were many royal crowns is the symbol of sovereignty. He had a name written which no one knew but Himself is as yet unrevealed. He was wearing a robe that had been soaked in blood as if anticipating the bloodshed to come.

The name given to Yeshua in verse 13 is The Word of God (Greek ho logos tou theou). The Word of God, who according to Yochanan 1:1–3 is the Creator, is here also the Judge of man.

Special Comparative Note on Chapter 19:11-21 [2]

Since I have elected to break this long passage into three posts, I have debated how to present the four views.  To keep continuity with Mr. Gregg’s summary, I have decided to provide my overview of his recap in its entirety here.  Another good reason to print off the PDF version for future reference.  😊

Historicist Approach:

Historicists understand that the riding forth of Yeshua on the white horse as either the ongoing victories accomplished by the church through the Word of God or else it is Yeshua’s continuing judgment upon His enemies as He conquers the nations at Har-Meggido as described in Revelation 16:16. The robe that had been soaked in blood and He who treads the winepress is an allusion to Isaiah 63.:1-3.

Preterist Approach:

Some Preterists see all references to the coming of Yeshua as being fulfilled in 70 CE; most expect an actual coming of Yeshua in the future ~ much as do those who take other approaches to the interpretation of Revelation.  Even those don’t see the Second Coming of Yeshua in this passage. Instead, they believe it applies to the continuing warfare of the church through the proclamation of the Gospel following the fall of Bavel. They take this position because another Scripture describes Yeshua returning to earth as He ascended ~ on a cloud and this passage describes a spiritual, not a physical conflict.  This battle is waged and won by the Word of God.

Futurist Approach:

For Futurists, there is no question that the rider is Yeshua. They are divided as to who comprises the armies of heaven that accompany Him.  They can be the Kehilah, or the Kehilah plus the saints of former dispensations and the Tribulation saints, or angels, or angels plus the Kehilah.

Idealist Approach:

Idealists concur that the rider is Yeshua and have similar views as the Futurists concerning the composition of the armies of heaven. They look to the Tanakh to explain verse 15.  The symbolism is a reminder of Isiah 11:3-4; Psalm 2:9; and, Isaiah 63:1-6.

In my next post, we’ll examine Revelation 19:11-21 ~ The Rider on the White Horse.

Click here for PDF version

 

[1] John F. Walvoord Commentary and Theology Collection – The Revelation of Jesus Christ.

[2] Material in this post is taken from “Revelation: Four Views, Revised & Updated” by Steve Gregg. Notations in brackets, if any, are my comments.

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