Revealing Revelation – His Name is Faithful and True (REVISED)

12Jan11

After receiving a few responses to the post below I realized I did not give both interpretive options as to the “armies of heaven”  portion of this passage. This revised version will be the permanent work and it is recommended that those who have read the original post reread the pertinent points included here in the changes. dwl

We will now examine the most debated passage in the entire book except for the Millennial passage that opens chapter 20. Even more controversial and misunderstood than the Beast of Chapter 13 is the picture of the Rider on the White Horse here in Chapter 19.

Rev. 19:11-14 Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. [12] His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. [13] He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. [14] And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. [15] From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations

It has been a long held belief, especially among futurist that this picture is quite obviously the visible, literal Second Coming of Jesus Christ. But there are many reasons why it simply cannot be so as we shall see. It may be worthwhile to look at previous post dealing with the idea of “comings” of Christ and how different context demands different understandings.

THE COMING

The first is that this coming is drastically different than how it is described in Acts 1.

Acts 1:9 And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. 10And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, 11and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.

The angels declared to the Apostles that Jesus would return in the same manner in which he ascended, which is described as standing on a cloud. This is drastically different than the horse-riding, judgment-like way that is described in Revelation 19. In the Revelation passage there is a sword coming out of his mouth and He is riding a white stead in a combative and war-like position. This is by no means “in the same way” as He ascended.

ARMIES OF HEAVEN

There are two primary interpretations of the the “armies of heaven” that accompany the Lord in His battle against His enemies. The first is that it represents the angels in Heaven in spiritual battle against the spiritual forces waging throughout history for the souls of God’s elect.

A careful reading of the text shows that He is coming with the “armies of heaven.” The futurist, especially Dispensational picture, is Christ returning with the Church or the Saints that have been previously raptured. This is not the case. He is coming with angels to do battle as a warrior. The angels have been described as the armies of heaven and the heavenly host, not the Church, according to this view.

This picture is also to be seen as spiritual warfare as the combatants are angels and the weapon is a sword that comes from the mouth of God, His holy, eternal word. This is not the bombs, missiles and tanks of modern warfare by any stretch.

Following the previous point it should be noted that the Church is in Heaven when last seen and we are told is “making herself ready” for His return, not coming with Him. He comes to the Church, the Church does not come with Him.

The other view is that this Church is pictured here in battle, but not in a physical or military sense. The Church, as representatives of His kingdom on earth, do the actual work of sprerading the Gospel and doing battle.

It is argued that the direction that which the Church is traveling must indicate that the Church is “coming down” from heaven. It is argued, though, that John is using the constant and eternal placement of the Church (in Heaven) symbolically as the Gospel is transmitted throughout the entire earth. This is no stretch since the New testament is filled with images of the present placement of the Church is in Heaven, including those presently alive.

In Revelation previously we saw the present placement of the Church in Chapters 7, 12, 13 and 19. In Ephesians there is a more clear statement about the present placement of the members of the Church when Paul declares;

Eph 2:4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ— by grace you have been saved— 6and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus

Similar sentiment is contained in Hebrews as well.

Heb 12:22 But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, 23and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect

Chilton notes that it is quite possible that both the angels and the Church are in view. This common Biblical idea is that the spiritual battles waged by the Church have a coinciding, invisible warfare performed by the angels of heaven. This may be the best explanation; As the Church wages the war for spiritual supremacy through the expanse of the Gospel as seen as the sword proceeding from the mouth of the Lord Jesus Christ, a parallel spiritual battle is waged by the heavenly hosts.

4. The Dispensationalist assume the Rapture has taken place seven years prior to this event, but cannot provide one verse in support of this presupposition. There is no timetable associated with this event nor the length of the supper itself [previously discussed “Marriage Supper.”] It is all completely assumed and forced into the passage!

This is clearly a coming in judgment passage as the warrior motif, conquering king and spiritual battle lines fought by the heavenly host – whether angels, the Church or both – attest to this. This coming is all too similar to previous judgment comings that it should not be missed.

We must consider, though, two important factors in this discussion. Is this a coming of judgment against Jerusalem or Rome simply told in a different perspective or is it possibly the constant coming of Christ in victorious action of Gospel proclamation throughout history. There appears to be sufficient evidence for both as not to make too rash a decision.

The first thing to consider is whether this white horse and rider is the same picture that is described in Revelation 6 in regards to the the first seal being opened.

Rev 6:2 And I looked, and behold, a white horse! And its rider had a bow, and a crown was given to him, and he came out conquering, and to conquer.

There is great disagreement here as many claim the rider of both is Jesus and that the difference between the two is only found in the weapon used. It is argued that initially He comes is judgment with a bow meant to go to war against apostate Israel where the second image of the white horse He is defeating the nations with His Gospel being proclaimed with the weapon being the sword from His mouth representing the word of God.

It should be noted that in both instances the person riding the white horse has gone out to conquer, but whether they are one in the same the passages are silent on. So, primarily we will focus on whether this image is best understood to be representing the fall of Jerusalem or Rome or whether it represents the Gospel’s proclamation throughout history. Here again, there is division.

The strongest argument that this is still dealing with Israel and Rome is the mentioning of the destruction of the Beast later in the passage. This, though, could be related to the conquering of Rome which actually took place the through the spread of the Gospel. It may also be in reference to God’s Old Testament track record of punishing those nations that He used to punish Israel (Egypt, Babylon, Syria, Edom, etc).

The best argument that this is, in fact, a picture of the Gospel’s advance is that this is a spiritual battle being fought by spiritual beings (angels) or through the Church by way of the Gospel being preached. It is important to note that the Gospel does not only save, but also condemns. His victory is not only viewed through the lens of the Gospel’s expansion but also through the punishment of His wrath set against His enemies. This is seen in the destruction of the Beast as well as the kings.

Ultimately here is the point. This pictures the Biblical promise of the Kingdoms of the earth being subjected to the Kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ! This is promised and declared by the prophets in many ways. The most obvious is found in Daniel 2.

Dan 2:31 “You saw, O king, and behold, a great image. This image, mighty and of exceeding brightness, stood before you, and its appearance was frightening. 32 The head of this image was of fine gold, its chest and arms of silver, its middle and thighs of bronze, 33 its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of clay. 34As you looked, a stone was cut out by no human hand, and it struck the image on its feet of iron and clay, and broke them in pieces. 35Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold, all together were broken in pieces, and became like the chaff of the summer threshing floors; and the wind carried them away, so that not a trace of them could be found. But the stone that struck the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth.

Daniel states that these four parts to the statue are the four great kingdoms of the earth. They are Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece and Rome. The stone cut by no human hand represents the Kingdom of God. That stone hits the feet (Rome) and by doing do destroys all of the previous kingdoms. Then this stone (Kingdom of God) expands to cover the entire earth. This is the Kingdom of God initiated at the first coming of Christ and is exemplified by John here when he mentions how the Lord Jesus Christ is victorious over all the kingdoms of the earth!

The Kingdom of God is the last and greatest kingdom and has already been established. It is now and throughout all of time growing like the rock and will consume the entire earth!

John is using similar imagery to describe the demise of the nations of the earth under the weight of the Kingdom of God. This victory is not one of guns, tanks, missiles and bombs, but rather of the Gospel proclaimed as it is the ONLY weapon with the power to tear down the strongholds of the Devil.

It is such a shame that in modern evangelical circles that not only is this truth ignored, it is actually denied! Modern Dispensationalism has a Gospel in which the Gates of Hell do prevail despite the overwhelming Biblical evidence to the contrary! If only the Church would understand her place in God’s dramatic and redemptive work in history!

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3 Responses to “Revealing Revelation – His Name is Faithful and True (REVISED)”

  1. 1 Tracey Bonsell

    Excellent.

  2. 2 Adam Minneapolis

    Hi again. I’m open to this interpretation, especially as I’ve been following the other posts during the last few weeks, and I can now see the book of Revelation in a new light than I did before.

    I have a question, though, regarding the identity of “the armies of heaven” (verse 14) as angels. These armies are described as “arrayed in fine linen, white and pure.” Just six verses earlier the Bride is also clothed “with fine linen, bright and pure” and this fine linen is said to be the righteous deeds of the saints.

    I realize that the event of verses 6-10 is different than the event described in verses 11-21. How is it, though, that one minute the saints are arrayed in pure, white linen garments, and then suddenly armies of angels are seen wearing the same garments?

    • 3 low5point

      Please see revisions as I missed this section of discussion in my original post


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