Sunday, December 7, 2014

REVELATION 19: 11-21 “THE RIDER ON THE WHITE HORSE“

In the closing  chapters of  the  Revelation given to  the apostle John,  he  is given  insight  into what happens at the end of time  as we know it, when  God’s judgment  finally comes upon the whole earth.  It will be the  end of all   gospel preaching. It will  be the end of the great invitation for all sinners  to  be reconciled with God through Christ . It will be  the end of  God’s  great  mercy expressed to an unwilling  and rebellious  people.   It will be the day of accounting! And it will be the beginning   of a new era for God’s  people   which begins with  a  feast !

I remind you  again of the  scheme  and flow  of the  Revelation to John. Central  to the  Revelation  are  the visions of  three cycles of judgment  - seven seals (6:1-8:5) , seven trumpets (8:6-11:19) and seven bowls (16:1-21). Each  cycle  represents the   time  between Christ’s  ascension and  His descension , and  the cycles occur with  ever increasing  intensity.  Following this  comes  a revelation  of the end,  a vision  of  the  glorious redemption of all the saints and  of  the final destruction of all of God’s enemies -  the prostitute , the beast, the false prophet, and  finally Satan himself .

It all begins  in  16:17. There we  see  the  judgment  of God  beginning  upon the great prostitute  - Babylon  -  the city of man -  the bride of the dragon (16:17-18:-24). This vision is then contrasted with  a vision of   heaven , and the gathered saints - the bride of Jesus Christ ,  the church! (19:1-11). 

A Remarkable  Contrast !
* The beast has ten crowns (13:1) , indicating that his kingdom is limited, while Christ wears many crowns/ diadems  (19:12).
*The beast has blasphemous names on his head  (13:1) , while Christ has a name  called “King of kings and Lord of lords” (19:16).
*The dragon,  Satan gives the beast his power (13:2) , while Christ, the lamb’s ’s power and authority is  from God  the eternal Creator.  (5:12 etc.)
*The beast imitates  Christ  ( who bears the marks of the cross  ( 5:6,12) and who rose again) through a fatal wound that is healed (13:3). 
*The beast seeks the worship of  the inhabitants of the world ( 13:4 etc. ) . But Jesus Christ is destined to be confessed  as   King of Kings and Lord of Lords (17:14).  He is the true  object of worship.
*The beast has been waging war on the saints (13:7) and  Christ now makes war on the beast.(19:11)


We noted then that  destruction  finally descends  upon  the great  prostitute,  Babylon, who has caused the  saints so much trouble. She is the city that symbolizes  and represents  every  city  in which immorality and greed  and all forms of ungodliness  are  welcomed . We have noted that heaven  rejoices over her destruction (18:20 à  19:1-5).  The only ones who weep for  the destroyed city  are  the kings  of the earth (18:9)  and the  merchants of the earth (18:11,15)   who had  made their living out of her, and whose identity was from her.  They are grieving  because their life  and their  livelihood is now  gone .

Following  this  we find  the greatest love story ever told.  The  long suffering  bride of Christ, the church , which He purchased with His blood  (5:9-10) ,  has greatly suffered  in Babylon .  But now  she is united  with her great   bridegroom , the Lord Jesus Christ (19:6-10).  It is a happy ending. It’s the completion of a promise . The bridegroom has come to fetch his bride  that she may be  where He is (John 14:1-3)  Here  is the consummation of the marriage promised ages ago .  This  was  foretold by Israel’s prophets, and  by Jesus in several of his parables.  NOW the time has come  when  God’s people ( metaphorically called the bride) WILL BE joined  to  their  Lord Jesus  (metaphorically called the bridegroom of the church) .

Babylon’s destruction   ushers  in  the  wedding feast.  The time has now come for  church to be physically and actually  united to her  Saviour,   whom until this time  she  has  only  loved  by faith , and not by sight . Now is the time  in which the true church  will be  united with her  Saviour,   and it  all  starts  with a huge  wedding  banquet !  This is  a party  and a feast   beyond all human comprehension.  In some  measure  this  is  what we look forward to every time we celebrate the Lord’s supper , and  may I also add , this is  what we ought to be  reminded of  every time  we attend a wedding.  

Have you received your wedding invitation?  “ Blessed are  those who are invited to the marriage supper of  the Lamb,”  (19:9) 

What about those  who are not invited to the  marriage of the Lamb?
Texts like this  beg the question ,  “what  will happen to those  who  have denied or refused  Christ  in the day when the gospel was preached?” The answer to that , is “ It will be terrible!” But before you  get very  discouraged  about that  thought ,  remember that right now we are  still living in the  gospel age.  “Behold , now is the favourable time; behold now is the day of salvation.” (2 Cor 6:2). This is  still  the  age of God’s mercy . We are still living  under the shadow of the cross. We are living in the days of the outpoured  Spirit,   who  still  opens people’s  blind eyes and deaf ears .  So,  if you are thinking about your  loved ones that  do not worship  Christ ,  do not loose heart ! Pray and seek the Lord for their  salvation . Remember  Bible  promises  like Luke 11:13  and  Luke 18: 1- 8  and  Rev. 5:8 ; 8:3-4.  Remember that God  is  still in the business of answering our prayers.

Revelation 19: 11- 21 -  Two visions
(i)            First vision - 19:11-16 - The Lord  Jesus  Christ  on a white  horse , like  a  conquering king ready to    defeat  His enemies .  He  comes to   strike  all the enemies of God – all those  that  have opposed Him, inspired by their leader   Satan  (the dragon- Ch. 13 ),   and the  anti-christ (the first beast)  and the false prophet  ( the second beast).      Christ appears on a white horse    with the armies of heaven (v. 14)  who  are also seated  on  white horses .  The  horse is  for war. Notice  that  our Lord does not appear now  on the colt of a donkey[1]  but on a horse.  He does not now come as  the meek  Galilean announcing the kingdom  of God and calling people everywhere  to repent  and believe the gospel.  No! He now comes  as a warrior and a judge . He is  fighting  a  battle that He will win.  His  personal appearance and His body language say it all . His eyes are like a flame of fire.[2]  He sees everything for what it is, even the   inmost thoughts of the human heart.   Nothing is hidden  before Him when He comes for judgment.   He   is called  “ Faithful and True”. He is the Faithful One as He now comes on the clouds of heaven according to His Word, as he said He would ( e.g Matt 24:30)  to meet the expectation  of the  church of all the ages  that has been waiting  for His return. Jesus had spoken many  times  about His second coming.    The prophets  and the apostles had spoken about His second coming .  He is the True One .  Many false Christ’s  arose in His absence,  just as He said according to His Word ( e.g. Matt 24:4,5). When He returns,  the difference  between  the false christ’s and Him will be overwhelming !  

On His head He wears many  crowns (diadems)  symbolic of victories won in the past. This is not the first time that He has won the battle.  On the cross He already has overcome sin and  the devil.  

 “… and  he  has a name  written that no one knows but himself.”    This  name is no secret. It is in fact revealed in v. 16  :  “On his robe and on his  thigh he has  a  name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.”     

In v.  13 we read that the  Lord Jesus  is “clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and he  is called  the Word of God.”  We are immediately reminded of    5:9   :  “worthy  are you … for you were slain, and  by your  blood you ransomed people  for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.”   But a number of commentators think that  the  imagery here relates to  Isaiah 63:1-3 – a reference to the day of the Lord  : “Who is  who  comes from Edom,  in crimsoned garments from Bozrah,  he who is splendid in his apparel, marching in the greatness of his strength? It is  I , speaking in righteousness, mighty to save.  Why is  your apparel red, and our garments like his who treads in the winepress ? I have trodden the winepress alone  and from the peoples  no one was with me. I trod them in my anger and trampled  them in my wrath; their lifeblood spattered  on my garments, and  stained all my  apparel clothing.”  The image of  a robe dipped in blood corresponds  with the  last judgment  and  it appears  that  Isaiah  63 and John 19:11ff speak about the same thing – the terrible judgment of God  on all His opponents.

V. 14  “ And the armies  of heaven , arrayed in fine linen  white and pure were following him  on white horses” .  When  the Lord Jesus  returns in judgment He does not come alone.  He will be accompanied by   His angelic army – just as He said in   Matt. 13:39-49; Matt  16:27; 24:31; 25:31.   

V. 15  Notice too, that this army  does not fight in the great battle. They  accompany  Christ  who will  simply strike the nations with his  Word[3] and rule them with a rod of iron[4] !  He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty  alone[5] !   

(ii)             Second vision - Vv.17- 21 :    An angel  makes a gruesome  announcement .  This    sounds  similar to what we read of in Ezekiel  39: 17 -19. Here  Ezekiel   speaks  of a coming judgment, in which the birds  will feed upon the flesh of those defeated by the God of Israel . John links this picture  with  the day of judgment .  

Note  the  irony !  In the first 10 verses of  Ch.19 John speaks of the great blessing  of  being invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb. In verses 11 and following  there is a   “feast of judgment” . For this feast,  the LORD  issues an invitation to the birds : “Come and dine !”   All those who reject the   free offer of Christ  will  be handed  over to the birds!  They won’t be guests . They will be the main course!

Here follows  the  climax !  (Vv.  19-21) . The servants of the devil  will now suffer the full consequences of their actions. In this  last battle ( called  Armageddon – 16:16)   the beast and the false prophet do their utmost to destroy the church ,  when  suddenly  the Lord Jesus  appears!  We read that  the beast  and the false prophet  were  captured  and thrown into the lake of fire, to be tormented forever and ever. All those who  have  followed the beast and  who bear his mark   will be consumed by the wrath of God, their remains will be eaten by  the birds.

Summary: The prostitute  has been judged; the   anti-christ  ( the first beast)  is  now judged, and the false prophet ( the second beast )  is now  judged.  All those who serve them will be judged.  In chapter 20 we will  see  Satan  judged.

The second coming of Jesus Christ is  wonderful good news  for all those invited to the marriage supper of Christ the Lamb .

Those who  have ignored the  message of Christ and who have  mocked His word  and who have refused  to come to Him  to have life will  then be judged  by Him .  Be warned. If you are not trusting in Christ for your salvation, you cannot stand. You will be handed  over . You now know what awaits you.
Right now it is not  too late  to   respond  and to receive that  invitation to the marriage supper of the Lamb .  I beg you to flee  to Jesus Christ this very moment  before that day comes when He shall be your Judge,  and not your Savior.
Amen!




[1]  Luke  19: 28- 38  à Zech. 9:9
[2] See also 1:14
[3] Isa 49:2 ; 11:4
[4] Psalm 2:9
[5] Isaiah 63 

No comments: