The Rider on the White Horse
11 I looked and saw heaven was open, and a white horse was there. Its rider was called Faithful and True, and he is always fair when he judges or goes to war. 12 He had eyes like flames of fire, and he was wearing a lot of crowns. His name was written on him, but he was the only one who knew what the name meant.
13 The rider wore a robe that was covered with blood, and he was known as “The Word of God.” 14He was followed by armies from heaven that rode on white horses and were dressed in pure white linen. 15 From his mouth a sharp sword went out to attack the nations. He will rule them with an iron rod and will show the fierce anger of God All-Powerful by trampling the grapes in the pit where wine is made. 16On the part of the robe that covered his thigh was written, “KING OF KINGS AND Lord OF LordS.”
17 I then saw an angel standing on the sun, and he shouted to all the birds flying in the sky, “Come and join in God's great feast! 18You can eat the flesh of kings, rulers, leaders, horses, riders, free people, slaves, important people, and everyone else.”
19I also saw the beast and all kings of the earth come together. They fought against the rider on the white horse and against his army. 20 But the beast was captured and so was the false prophet. This is the same prophet who had worked miracles for the beast, so he could fool everyone who had the mark of the beast and worshiped the idol. The beast and the false prophet were thrown alive into a lake of burning sulfur. 21But the rest of their army was killed by the sword that came from the mouth of the rider on the horse. Then birds stuffed themselves on the dead bodies.
The marriage supper of the Lamb (19:5-10) is contrasted with God’s great feast (19:17). The marriage supper of the Lamb is the supper of the saints. God’s great feast is the supper of the sinners. The one is a celebration of joy and life in Christ, the other concerns the judgment and death of those who opposed Christ.
There are two important incidents at God’s great feast: the triumphal return and the last battle.
In the triumphal return (vv 11-16). Christ the King leads his army to victory with an entourage of God’s people accompanying him. Christ is on a white horse of conquest and secures victory (see Psalm 45) by destroying his enemies and establishing his kingdom over the nations (see Ezekiel 38-39, Joel 3, Zechariah 14:3).
In the last battle (vv 19-21) Christ triumphs over all the powers of evil. There’s tremendous carnage that includes the death of the high and mighty, as well as the death of the slave and free (v 18). The Church doesn’t take part in the battle. Believers carry no weapons. Dressed in fine linen that’s bright and clean (vv 8, 14) they’re there to watch, not to help.
Christ wages war. He speaks and the battle is won. His Word is all powerful, described as a sharp sword (vv 15, 21). Everyone in the army of rebellion is slain (v 21), to be later judged at the Great White Throne (Rev. 20:11-15). The finality of Christ’s victory is sealed when the beast and the false prophet are taken alive and cast into the lake of fire (v 20). The beast and false prophet will remain in the lake of burning sulphur forever (Rev. 20:10).
The last battle is the great reversal. The persecuted Church has become the triumphant Church. The stage is now set for the Millennium (the thousand years of peace as Christ reigns on earth, (Rev. 20) and the eternal state that follows (the new heaven and the new earth, Rev. 21-22).
Lord, your judgment of sinners is fearsome and final, and the last battle is terrifying. Forgive me for the times when I forget that you are “King of kings and Lord of lords” (v 16). Help me remember that even though you are slow to anger and rich in love (see Psalm 145:8), the day will come when you take vengeance on your foes and pour out your wrath against your enemies (see Nahum 1:2). Amen.