On the White Horse
Revelation 19:11ff

Heaven open

   "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." (Rev. 19:11)

   Instead of "heaven opened" the Greek reads, "heaven having been opened." In a sense, heaven has been open for most of the book. After the literal introduction in chapter 1, we saw Christ walking among the candlesticks which represent the churches on earth. The location moves to heaven at the beginning of chapter 4 where we are taken to the throne in the sanctuary of heaven Rev. 4:1b. Following through the book we find scenes in heaven, focused on the heavenly sanctuary, and scenes on earth. Finally we find God dwelling with His people on the earth made new (Rev. 21:3).

Can we tell when the opening happened?
   The translation is not bad. "Opened" and "having been opened" are, in one sense, equivalent. However, the more complex grammatical form clarifies the idea that heaven had been opened before the point in time when we see Christ on the white horse. This leads us to ask when this special opening happened. The extra bit of information in our text directs our attention to the importance of the timing. Let's look at the present context (all future to our time but partly past when Christ rides). Lady Babylon was destroyed at the end of the previous chapter. In the present chapter, the multitude rejoices and the victorious lady, the wife of Christ, is seen to be righteous. These events are illustrated by a chiastic literary structure in the text, relating the two women 1908. Image copyright © 2000, Justinen Creative Group

Sequence of events
    The scene of Christ on the white horse may be understood to follow chronologically from the previous one where His wife is found (in the preadvent judgment) to have been ready 1907. The ready bride is equivalent to the sealed people of God 0702a. The sealed ones have made their commitment permanent and are ready to stand during the blowing of the winds. Here the bride who made herself ready, receives the white robe. She is seen by the court of the faithful and true witness as clothed in His righteousness. The Witness (Christ) then mounts the white horse as the bride's protector. He can now destroy the wicked who had persecuted her because the doubts about her faithfulness have been removed by the verdict of the preadvent judgment court.
   In another comparison, the bride's faithfulness in resisting the demands of Babylon (beast and image 1502a) confirms her purity as the true wife of Christ while it shows the falsehood of Lady Babylon who had claimed that position 1807. The scenes which follow, continuing into the beginning of chapter 20 are also in sequence as we will see 2001pr.
    Paul describes this event 2th0105ff.

The door
    In our verse (19:11), John saw heaven having been opened, and he saw a white horse with its rider. The words, "having been opened," draw our attention to a specific prior scene depicting the same time. Chapter 11 finishes with the sounding of the seventh trumpet when Christ will take over the kingdoms of this world, reward the righteous and punish the wicked 1118. In the next verse following our Lord's assumption of power our attention is directed to heaven. "And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament: and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail." (Rev. 11:19). At the time of the seventh trumpet, the temple in heaven is opened to view. The ark is identified as "of God's testament" because it holds the tables of stone written by His own finger. This is God's law. It is the standard for righteous and wicked revealing the basis of His decision of who is saved and who is not. 1406e.
    The term in the preceding verse, 11:18, "thy wrath is come," describes the same wrath as is seen in Christ coming on the white horse with the angels of heaven to punish the end-time wicked. Time relationships clarify what is happening. The bride being found ready is equivalent to the subjects of the kingdom being identified in Dan. 7:13, 14. It follows the time of Christ as High Priest in the most holy place of the sanctuary in heaven (where He is now). When this time of preparation and judgment ends, Michael (Christ, 1207b) stands up and the time of trouble begins. His work of sitting in judgment is finished. (Dan. 12:1). "Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen." 0107a. Soon Christ will ride the white horse! We will see more of the similarity between the two scenes when we look at the armies who come with Christ (verse 14). The pivotal time of the bride being found ready is described to us in many different ways. God wants us to be ready. He wants our hearts so He can help us.

1st - Oppression of God's people continues Evil woman continues to ride the beast (chapters 17, 18)
1st - Preparation and judgment of end-time righteous Bride makes herself ready (19:1-7; same time as above)
2nd - Preadvent judgment ends (righteous sealed) Granted to be clothed in fine linen (found worthy) (19:8)
3rd - Coming of Christ; Reward for righteous Marriage supper entrance (19:9; Luke 12:35-37, mt22)
4th - Coming of Christ; Reward for end-time wicked Slain by the One on the horse (19:20, 21)
5th - Thousand years begin Beast, prophet, and dragon controlled (19:19 - 20:3)

    Some of the events shown in the table above could be considered as happening at essentially the same time as ones next to them. From other pictures of the same events, we see sequences. The oppression of God's people in the top row has been happening since the Garden of Eden. Chapter 17, as I understand it, begins to examine the oppression with literal Babylon (before the woman rides the beast). The end-time judgment began at a specific time 1407d. Between that time and the coming of Christ, those who claim to belong to Christ have the opportunity, as the bride, to make themselves ready. Of course Christ provides the power. It is His righteousness (Phil. 1:11). The 3rd and 4th events in the table above are not intended to indicate that Christ will come twice. Rather, the righteous are rewarded before the wicked are. We find this sequence at 14:14-20 where the grain is harvested before the grapes are trampled r14v.

A look at the conqueror

     "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. 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. And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God.
   "And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. 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. And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS." (Rev. 19:11-16)

The white horse
   We saw horses at the opening of the seals.
   "And I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals, and I heard, as it were the noise of thunder, one of the four beasts saying, Come and see. And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer. And when he had opened the second seal. . . there went out another horse that was red: and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth. . . And when he had opened the third seal. . . lo a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand. . . . And when he had opened the fourth seal. . . . behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him." (Rev. 6:1-8)
   In looking at these first four seal openings, we concluded that the horses were the professed people of God and that the riders were their leaders.

   In our present verse we again have a white horse with the same rider, Christ. He initiated a pure church which is again pure. Look back at the comments for the beginning of chapter 6 to see how we may identify the horses, the riders, and the armies of heaven. 0601ch.

Our part in the battle
   The purified people of God after the sealing demonstrate the power of the gospel to change lives 0702b. They show that sin has no excuse because we have been offered grace to overcome. Read 2 Peter 1:3, 4.
   Satan would have us believe that because of the human nature which we have inherited we are hopelessly captives of sin. But by the divine nature we can be more than conquerors through Christ (Rom. 8:37). Our victory is Christ's victory in us vindicating His holy name before the world. We are His horse. During the thousand years we will be judges, priests, and kings, reigning with Christ. That is different from the apparently passive role here during the punishment of the end-time wicked.

Faithful and true
   "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." (Rev. 19:11).
   "And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; I know thy works. . . ." (Rev. 3;14, 15). Christ's faithful and true character justifies His role of punishment. His horse is white. Notice that being identified as "faithful and true" points to His role with Laodicea, God's final church on earth.

Judges and makes war
   We saw these characteristics at the beginning of this chapter. "And after these things I heard a great voice of much people in heaven, saying, Alleluia; Salvation, and glory, and honour, and power, unto the Lord our God: For true and righteous are his judgments: for he hath judged the great whore, which did corrupt the earth with her fornication, and hath avenged the blood of his servants at her hand." (verses 1, 2) This indicates that we are looking at the punishment of Babylon in new symbols. It confirms our statement above that Christ rides the white horse before the Lamb's wife is presented.

Eyes, crowns, name, and a robe

     "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.  And he was clothed with a vesture [garment] dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God.  And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean." (Rev. 11:12-14)

Eyes as flames
   What an experience for the wicked! They will stand trembling, feeling the terrible weight of their own sins. They will have refused the pardon offered through the blood of Christ. No excuse will do. They cry to no avail for the rocks and mountains to fall on them to hide them "from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb." Rev. 6:16 0616, cf is3027.

Many crowns Listen to the melody click.
    Christ was anointed several times at different points in His ministry for us, and will finally be anointed at the end of the preadvent judgment. We looked at these special times in connection with His being the worthy lamb 0509b. Also, several groups recognized His sovereignty: the living ones, the elders, the angels, and every creature 0408. The seven special days of the sanctuary calendar represent steps in our atonement. Each time He is worthy. We may find that He thus received seven crowns.
   "Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. . . . For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works." (Matt. 16:24, 27)
   The church of the Dark Ages assumed this role of a universal kingdom with the pope crowned with the three-layer tiara as seen at the top of the arms of Pope John Paul II. The layers represent authority over heaven, earth, and hell. Pagan gods have similar crowns. (Lucius Ferraris, Prompta Bibliotheca, vol. 6, "Papa," art. 2., p. 26, Venetiis, 1772. Also Paul Hutchinson and Winfred E. Garrison, 20 Centuries of Christianity, p. 120, Harcourt, Brace and World, 1959.)

The name written which no one could know
   Our Saviour has a name that no one knows. As I understand it, this is not a secret word. It represents an element of His character which describes His unique experience as the sacrifice for humanity!
And Jesus saith unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered." (Matt. 14:27).

   He bore the curse of our sin alone, separated from His Father. And from this we can understand that He is justified in punishing the wicked.

   "And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father's name written in their foreheads." (Rev. 14:1). Christ came to reveal the Father. The Father's character is His name which will be written in the foreheads or minds of the 144,000. It is this group the sealed ones who are associated with Christ in this punishment of the wicked. We read that they also stand with the Lamb on Zion 1401b. The name of the Father (His character revealed in His law) will be written in our foreheads if we remain faithful. It is only through Christ that this happens.

His name is called the Word of God
   I almost missed the meaning here. We just discussed the name no one else could know. In my casual reading, I thought that "The Word of God" was a second name one which could be known. Instead this is a name for the unknowable name. Perhaps we can say that it is a description of the name that only Christ can understand.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men." (John 1:1-4)

   Jesus Christ is the Word of God because He reveals or expresses the Father. In Christ, the Father communicates His love and his will for us.

His robe
   The symbol of the garment dipped in blood is also drawn from the passage in Isaiah (above). Those who refuse the gift of Christ's blood, receive the wages of sin. Their blood is on His robe like stains from the winepress. (For an interesting study look at Ezek. 3:18, 19).

Armies of heaven
    "And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean." (Rev. 19:14)

We saw heaven's armies in chapter 12
   These are the angels. Do you remember an earlier scene: "And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him." (Rev. 12:7-9).
   The same Christ, before coming as a baby to this planet, was commander of the angels r1207. The evil angels and Satan are on the earth at this time. Although we don't see them in the text, their power is certainly restricted because, after the close of probation, the righteous are protected da1201; is2620. Before that time, they will suffer. We see more about the battle in the next scene.
   These angels in pure linen are seen pouring out the plagues in chapter 15 1503. It's the same work here but in different symbols. Again we see them helping pour out the wrath of God on those who worship beast and image. 1409b&c: Also jude14. The situation was similar in the time of Esther es0920. 

And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: (Rev. 14:9, 10)
Saints in heaven as the army
    The picture is easy enough to imagine. Instead of angels as we have described here, those who follow Christ on white horses could be seen as the righteous who have gone to heaven at death. This can be argued only superficially, however. Why is the idea an error?
First, because the righteous don't go to heaven when they die. We have discussed this from many Bible verses. link.
The righteous don't fight during this time of trouble. They are saved out of it, Dan. 12:1c. They are protected. Isa. 26:20: " Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee: hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast." And in Psalm 91:2, 3, 7, 8 "I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust. Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence. . . . . . A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee. Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked."
God used an angel of destruction (not people) for the tenth plague to fall on Egypt. he1128.

Sword, rod, and winepress

     "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." (Rev. 19;15)

   "And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God." (Eph. 6:17). "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." (Heb. 4:12). Compare ho0605.
    We met the concept of being killed by the word when studying the two witnesses 1105.

Rod of iron
   Christ's rule with a rod of iron was predicted by Balaam nu2417 and seen in connection with the dragon's attack at His birth.
   "And his [the dragon's] tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born. And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne. And the woman fled into the wilderness. . . ." (Rev. 12:4-6) 1205.
   Christ on the white horse comes down from God to rule with a rod of iron. The word for "to rule" here is poimaino which also means "to feed as a shepherd." Thus we see the shepherd's rod. As I have seen it explained, one end is used for keeping the sheep going the right way and the other end as a weapon against wild animals. The weapon end might have an iron ball or or iron wrapped around it. In the picture here, the whole rod is of iron. So what is Christ doing? As the divine shepherd, He is destroying the animals that would hurt the sheep. The Greek word is used in mt0205.
   Recalling 12:17, "And the dragon was wroth [angry] with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ." 1217b. Does God allow the dragon to destroy the sheep? No, Christ brings out the iron rod. Compare Psalm 23 ps02304.

A note from Stanley
Stanley is the father of Lois who married one of my sons so I have to be nice to him.  ;-)

  Another idea here is that the rod and staff of the shepherd are two different pieces.  The staff - perhaps with a small crook for hooking a lamb's or sheep's hoof - made out of a thin and tough wood . . . of some kind.  And the rod brass or iron for defense against the lion, bear, etc. It is likely that the staff might also have served as a walking stick.  Probably the heavy rod was held in a sling of some kind so that the hand was not required to hold on to it for carrying.
    In the case in Revelation,  the shepherd has already saved the sheep, so the staff is not used here.  Just the rod - and apparently to deadly advantage.  There is no immunity from the rod of Christ....

   Christ treads "the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God." At the end of chapter 14 we saw two harvests, just as we have two banquets here in chapter 19. First the grain is harvested by Christ on the cloud. Here is 1:7: "Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen." The righteous are gathered from the earth 1415. Then what happens? The grapes are thrown into the winepress.
   We see the gathering and trampling of the grapes at 1418. Compare hab0312. Isaiah describes the Messiah as coming from Edom and trampling the winepress alone is6301. Image modified from Seer of Patmos, 1905.

Punished twice
    This is the punishment of the end-time wicked. They will be among all the wicked who are resurrected at the end of the thousand years. Here they are punished by Christ and the angels on white horses. There they will be punished by God the Father. This is double punishment 1806. We may be confident that God is just and will not repay them more than they deserve 1806di. The special punishment at the end of the world I believe is merited because these people have chosen to follow the beast and his image supreme wickedness when the issues will be very clear 1316c. The righteous, too, get special treatment at this time. They pass through the time of Jacob's trouble and are faced with death and privation 0801c.

King of kings!

     "And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name [having been] written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS." (Rev. 19:16)

    In grand finalé, Christ is conqueror. As king and Lord He takes over the powers of earth. "And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever." (Rev. 11:15)

A name on thigh and vesture
   From verse 15 we find that Christ had been treading the winepress which would mean blood of the wicked on His thigh. (Compare re1420).
    The blood on his vesture (robe) is different. The garment was "dipped" in blood. This draws our attention to an old story. Joseph took food to his brothers who despised him and sold him as a slave.
   "And they took Joseph's coat, and killed a kid of the goats, and dipped the coat in the blood; And they sent the coat of many colours, and they brought it to their father; and said, This have we found: know now whether it be thy son's coat or no. And he knew it, and said, It is my son's coat; an evil beast hath devoured him; Joseph is without doubt rent in pieces. . . .  Thus his father wept for him. And the Midianites sold him into Egypt. . . ." (Gen. 39:31-36).
   The robe dipped in blood represents the faithfulness of Christ who was tempted but did not sin (Heb. 4:15). The blood on His thigh represents His justice seen in treading the wine press. On the white horse He rescues the righteous from the end-time religious power who threatened to kill them (Rev. 13:15), and He punishes the wicked in the wine press. Also see Isa. 11:5.
   "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (1 John 1:9). What a wonderful Saviour we have!

A name having been written
   He had a name "having been written": King of kings and Lord of lords. Where did He get it?, and who wrote it? Our names are written in the Lamb's book of life (13:8) but why would He need His name written? The Greek emphasizes that it had been written before the time when we see him here. It is in fact this recognition of His authority that opens the way for Him to punish the end-time wicked without being misunderstood.
   "I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed."
     This pictures the preadvent judgment. The Son of Man receives the kingdom because He was found worthy to be king (receive dominion) and lord (receive citizens) when brought near before the Ancient of Days (the Father) in the Most Holy Place of the sanctuary in heaven. At the same time we as citizens are found worthy. On the day of atonement the high priest made atonement for himself and for the people (and the sanctuary and the altar) (Lev. 16). This final day in the sanctuary calendar comes just before the feast of tabernacles which our experience of rejoicing in the heavenly Canaan. It is the time of the preadvent judgment.

Christ of the seven churches
   We saw our Lord walking among the candlesticks of the seven churches with several names that also appear in describing Him on the white horse. Here somehow He confirms His character and His promises. There are likely more links I have not uncovered.

(Christ on the white horse)
(Where Christ has the same title)
Faithful and True, 11 Laodicea, 3:14
Eyes . . . of fire, 12 Thyatira, 2:18
New name, 12 New name for overcomers in Thyatira, 2:17
Sharp sword from His mouth, 15 Pergamos, 2:16
Rod of iron, 15 Thyatira, 2:27

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