The Rider on the White Horse

Bible Book: Revelation  19 : 11-16
Subject: King of Kings; Jesus, King of Kings
Series: Revelation

I am reading the third Oliver North novel, The Assassins, right now. I remember how intrigued I was when I sat in a meeting of the Broadman and Holman Committee in Nashville and listened as LifeWay Christian Resources Vice President Ken Stephens called on David Shepherd to share some exciting news. David told us that he had heard that Oliver North was interested in having a book, I believe it was autobiographical, re-published. When David heard that Ollie was in New York for some function he flew to New York and when he had an opportunity, handed him his card and assured him we can get your book published. Ollie called and they agreed to do whatever it was, and Ollie agreed to write three novels for Broadman and Holman.

Ken Stephens has reported to the committee the success of North’s books each time and I look forward to hearing how well the third book is doing now. The first book was Mission Compromised and the second one was Jericho Sanction. John Thompson travels with Ollie when he does the book signings and he talked with us about the enthusiasm of those who show up for the events. These are really great mysteries, but they are a bit disturbing. That feeling escalated when David Shepherd report that many, if not most, of the events in the first book were based on real event, often including things in which Oliver North was personally involved. In the third book, The Assassins, there is a plot from Iran to wage a really nasty war against Israel, America, and the West in general. Is it possible that Ollie knows something we may not know? The story he tells seems to dovetail with what we read in the Revelation. Is it it possible that we may be witnessing events that testify of the imminent return of our Lord to rapture His church?

While countless students of the Word have done in depth studies of Revelation - some of them actually agreeing with each other - my purpose, as I have stated a number of times, is to simply skim the surface looking for the blessing our Lord promise in the first chapter. It should be expected that those who have made the study of Revelation a priority would have gained more than a casual reader. There is one thing, however, that should be mentioned. The person who adopts the wrong approach to this book may spend a lifetime trying to pinpoint current events without gleaning the blessings the Lord has placed there for us.

Let me stress that while the beginner may struggle with the imagery, if he will make a commitment to the study of this book and depend upon the Holy Spirit for guidance, he will benefit from his efforts. For example, the serious student of the Word cannot read this book without being aware of the significance of the throne room of Heaven, the One sitting on the eternal throne, or the Lamb of God Who sits (or stands) at the right hand of the Father.

At this point, the final seven bowls of God’s judgment have been poured out on the earth (chapter 16). In chapter 17, we are introduced to the notorious prostitute and to

Rev 17:5 (HCSB)

In chapter 18, Jesus reveals through the Beloved Disciple, the Elder John, the dramatic fall of Babylon the Great, the mother of prostitutes, who seduces people into spiritual harlotry. Babylon represents the fallen world, complete with the ungodly systems of the world. There are the religious systems that have enslaved billions of souls, many becoming so fanatical that they think they will please their evil god by killing other people, even if they have to blow themselves up to do it. There are the political systems of this world that honor Satan. Think of Japan and Germany of the WW II era; of the USSR of the Cold War era; or Communist China, or for that matter any other communist government.

Some students of the Word have studied the trials and tribulations of saints and martyrs living under evil regimes at various times over the centuries. Reading the testimonies of some of those martyrs who lived and died under the evil demonic reign of terror known as Nazi Germany, those Bible students concluded that the tribulation about which we read in Revelation refers to the on going persecution of Christians in the world. Let me assure you that those who suffered and died at the hands of Adolph Hitler, Stalin, or Castro were caught up in a tribulation as severe as anything to which an individual could be subjected. The same is true of Communist China today.

Islam is slaughtering Christians right now. Believers in Jesus Christ are being killed by Muslims and their children sold into slavery. Their tribulation is real - and no one in Washington seems to care. The liberal media in America could not care less about the evils of slavery in 2005 - they are only interested in how we feel about slavery in America, which ended a century and a half ago. Slavery is evil, but if it was evil in 1850 in Alabama, it is evil in 2005 in the Sudan, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia. Babylon the Great is Babylon is still with us!

I often stated in my youth that no one is being persecuted in America. Well, think of the activist judges in America who have waged - are waging - an unholy war against a thrice holy God right now. Only this past week (June 27, 2005), the US Supreme Court handed down two decisions that defy belief - and not only my belief, but the belief of conservative justices. In one decision, the court decided that the Ten Commandments could not be displayed in a court room in Kentucky. In another, it decided that the Ten Commandments could be displayed on public property, but only if they were a part of a civic display. Judge Roy Moore said, “In other words, they can post them, but only if they don’t believe them.”

Babylon is also made up of the commercial systems of the world. This is detailed in chapter 18, but let me call your attention to the escalating price of oil, and the price we are paying for gasoline as a result (the price of gas is now going down but any crisis could start it soaring again). I am convinced that it goes beyond the supply and demand principle of economics. Then there is Communist China. Have you tried to buy a tool, toy, or appliance lately. Where was it made? Right - China! And China recognizes America as he enemy, even to the point of trying to purchase an oil company that drills for oil in the Gulf of Mexico (they were turned down on that one). Babylon also includes social systems which reach out immoral and ungodly tentacles into art, entertainment, and even sports.

The Lamb of God is going to destroy Babylon in “one hour.” That probably denotes a brief, but very definite period of time. The world mourns the fall of Babylon. What is the response in heaven?
In chapter 19, we find the answer: “After this I heard something like the loud voice of a vast multitude in heaven, saying: Hallelujah! Salvation, glory, and power belong to our God...” (19:1a). In 19:1-5, heaven celebrates the fall of Babylon the Great. In 19:6-10, the marriage of the Lamb and His bride is announced. And now the stage is set for the appearance of the Rider on the White Horse.


A. Heaven Is Opened, and the White Horse and Its Rider Appear, 19:11.

“Then I saw heaven opened, and there was a white horse! Its rider is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war.”

1) The Rider is called Faithful and True.

(a) First, He is called Faithful). In 1 Cor. 1:9, Paul writes, “God is faithful.” In the following chapter, Paul writes, “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to humanity. God is faithful and He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation He will also provide a way of escape, so that you are able to bear it” (1 Cor 10:13). To the Thessalonians, He writes, “But the Lord is faithful; He will strengthen and guard you from the evil one “2 Thess 3:3). To Timothy, he writes, “He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself” (2 Tim 2:13).

We celebrate the many attributes of God, but if it were not for this one all other claims would be pointless. Our God is faithful - to be otherwise would violate His own character and nature. It is His nature to be faithful. How could we ever trust a god who proves himself unfaithful. Just as the Father is faithful, so is the Son faithful:

“Therefore He had to be like His brothers in every way, so that He could become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people” (Heb 2:17).

“He was faithful to the One who appointed Him, just as Moses was in all God’s household. For Jesus is considered worthy of more glory than Moses, just as the builder has more honor than the house. Now every house is built by someone, but the One who built everything is God. Moses was faithful as a servant in all God’s household, as a testimony to what would be said in the future. But Christ was faithful as a Son over His household, whose household we are if we hold on to the courage and the confidence of our hope”(Heb 3:2-6 ).

You can trust Jesus because He if faithful. If He is faithful to the Father He will be faithful to you.
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

(b) Second, He is called True. Jesus calls the Father the only true God in His high priestly prayer (John 17). John also wrote, “He who saw this has testified so that you also may believe. His testimony is true, and he knows he is telling the truth” (John 19:35). We are all familiar with the claim of Jesus in His Farewell Discourse, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life” (John 14:6). In Revelation 3:7, Jesus is the “The Holy One, the True One, the One Who has the key of David, the who opens and no one will close, and closes and no one opens...”

2) In righteousness He judges and makes war. As the Father is righteous, so is the Son righteous in all His ways. God is perfect holiness, perfect goodness, perfect righteousness. Compared to Him, our highest attempt at righteousness is as filthy rags. The Scripture is clear on this subject: “There is none righteous, no not one.” Jesus judges in righteousness and He will make war in righteousness. Paul writes, “In the future, there is reserved for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on that day, and not only to me, but to all those who have loved His appearing” (2 Tim 4:8).

B. The Rider Is Described, 19:12-13.

“His eyes were like a fiery flame, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knows except Himself. He wore a robe stained with blood, and His name is called the Word of God.”

1) His eyes were like a fiery flame, 19:12a. We are introduced to the Lamb of God in the first chapter of the Revelation. There, we read, “His head and hair were white like wool—white as snow, His eyes like a fiery flame.” John was instructed to write the letters to the seven churches, and one of letters is addressed to the church at Thyatira: “To the angel of the church in Thyatira write: “The Son of God, the One whose eyes are like a fiery flame....(Rev 2:18). The emphasis is upon the fact that nothing escapes His vision. Jesus has full knowledge, not only of what happens in the universe, but also of every thought and every impulse of every person. Generations of children have been fascinated by stories of Superman, with his X-ray vision. The Lamb of God has eyes like lasers, penetrating the very heart of man.

This past week there was a report that scientists had watched as a rocket they had launched a long time back had hit a meteor millions of miles out in space. They watched the impact as it hit within a hundred yards of their target, as I recall from the report. The cost of their project was 333 million dollars. Let me share a few observations: first, Jesus knew what that meteor was made of without a space probe, without the efforts of a team of scientists, without spending 333 million dollars. Second, He knows whether or not this was time and money well spent. Third, He knows they are not going to find intelligent life on some distant star or planet. Fourth, He knows they are not going to prove evolution or refute evolution by looking into space. They could find some answers in the first chapter of Romans. You know what they should be doing when they look into space? They should join David in praising the Creator. Many of them seem more concerned with proving that it all happened by random chance.

2) “On His head were many crowns”, 19:12b. This is a new feature in the Revelation, but in 12:3, the dragon has a crown on each of his seven heads. In 13:1, we read, “And I saw a beast coming up out of the sea. He had 10 horns and seven heads. On his horns were 10 diadems, and on his heads were blasphemous names.”

Here, the victorious Messiah, the Lamb of God, is wearing many royal diadems, many crowns. He is King of Kings (19:16) and Lord of Lords. He wears, not the crown of this world, but many royal diadems. The dragon and beast out of the sea wore temporal crowns, but His crowns are eternal.

3) “He had a name written that no one knows except Himself”, 19:12c. This should not surprise anyone who is familiar with the words of Jesus, recorded in Matthew 11:27: “...No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son desires to reveal Him.” There are mysteries within the Godhead which we will not understand until we are glorified. Then, “we shall know as we are known.”

4) “He wore a robe stained with blood”, 19:13a. The robe receives attention in the Passion of Christ, as it is stripped from Him before He is scourged. The Roman solders casts lots for His robe at the foot of the cross. Here, the question is, is this the blood of Calvary - that is, His own blood, or is it the blood of his defeated enemies? The answer is seen in the prophetic message from the eighth century B.C.:

“I trampled the winepress alone, and no one from the nations was with Me. I trampled them in My anger and ground them underfoot in My fury; their blood spattered My garments, and all My clothes were stained. For I planned the day of vengeance, and the year of My redemption came. I looked, but there was no one to help, and I was amazed that no one assisted; so My arm accomplished victory for Me, and My wrath assisted Me. I crushed nations in My anger; I made them drunk with My wrath and poured out their blood on the ground” (Isaiah 63:3-6).

The blood of the crucifixion was not on His robe. It has been stripped from Him. The soldiers cast lots for it. Here, the blood is the blood of His enemies. The world today should heed the warning. A. T. Robertson said the word sprinkled is the idea, not dipped. His robe is sprinkled with the blood of His enemies - the enemies He will have already defeated at this time. If you have watched many episodes of Cold Case Files or of the other crime mysteries, you are familiar with the term, blood splatter. His robe was splattered with the blood of the enemy. This is not blood from Armageddon - that battle will not have begun until verse 15. Jesus is coming again - not as the Suffering Servant - but as King of Kings, and His victory will be complete. It will also be violent. His robe will be splattered, at least symbolically, with the blood of His enemies.

5) “His name is called the Word of God”, 19:13b. In John 1:1 and 14, He is the Word, the Logos. In 1 John He is the Word of Life. With words, we communicate. Jesus is the divine Logos, the Word. In Jesus, we know the Father - and only in Jesus can anyone know the Creator, Sustainer, and Redeemer. Jesus is the very image of the invisible God (Col. 1:15). He is the express image of His Person (1:3); and the final, full revelation from God (Heb. 1:1-2).

There is no conflict between this verse and verse 12: “He had a name written that no one knows except Himself.” We know that Jesus is the Word - the Word of Life, the Word of God, so this cannot be the “name written that no one knows except Himself.” Do I know that name? No. Do I want to know it? Yes. Will I ever know it? Yes. When? When He reveals it - I believe He will.


A. His Armies Follow Him, 19:14.

“The armies that were in heaven followed Him on white horses, wearing pure white linen.”

I have just been reading from Kings and Chronicles about how the various kings had their officers report the number of men in Judah who were able to fight for their nation. A king would receive a report that there were 300,000 men who could serve in his army, and then he would consider how his army would stack up against Edom, Aram, or the Philistines. Jesus has an army. The armies of heaven are composed of the church (vs. 8), the tribulation saints (7:13), Old Testament believers (Jude 14; Dan. 12:1-2), and the angels (Matt. 25:31). For those who are intrigued by any distinction made between the Old Testament saints, the church, and the tribulation saints, there is no indication that there will be grades or degrees assigned on that basis in heaven. We will simply be His saints, children of God, set aside for His glory.

It is especially interesting to note that the armies of heaven are not dressed for battle! They are not equipped for war. What are they wearing? “Pure white linen.” That pushes the WOW! button, doesn’t it? They are following Him, not to help Him win the battle, but to reign with Him after He defeats the enemy (20:4; 1 Cor. 6:2). Is there any wonder the saints in heaven are shouting “Hallelujah!”?

The fact that they are not dressed for battle here does not deny the fact that there will be intense fighting going on for a period of time. The Bible Knowledge Commentary summarizes it like this:

“The scene on earth is the final stage of the great world war that will be under way for many weeks. With armies battling up and down the Holy Land for victory, on the very day of the return of Christ there will be house-to-house fighting in Jerusalem itself (Zech. 14:2). Combatants will have been lured to the battle site by demons sent by Satan to assemble the armies of the world to fight the armies of heaven (cf. Rev. 16:12-16).”

B. He Will Lead Them to Victory, 19:15

“From His mouth came a sharp sword, so that with it He might strike the nations. He will shepherd them with an iron scepter. He will also trample the winepress of the fierce anger of God, the Almighty.”

1) “From His mouth came a sharp sword, so that with it He might strike the nations”, 19:15a. The sword coming out of His mouth symbolizes the power of Jesus Christ to slay His enemies with the power of His word, the word of His mouth. As the Father spoke the world into existence, the Son speaks the words that destroys all His enemies. Now let me stress something we need to remember:
Jesus has a lot of enemies in the world today, including the Muslims who seek to destroy all Jews and Christians in the name of their god. Other enemies of Christ may seem tame by comparison with the radical Muslims, but the Buddhist and the Hindu, the shaman and the animist, the atheist and the agnostic, the Communist and the Nazi, the rapist and the murderer are all enemies of Christ today. My dear friend, the so-called “good” man or woman who rejects Jesus as Savior and Lord is the enemy of Christ. The church member who had never been born again is the enemy of Christ. The church member who spends his time gossiping about others, slandering the pastor, deacons, and Sunday School teachers may well be one of those lost people. They, too, are the enemies of Christ. We may not know them as such but He does and He will deal with them. He does not have to wait until Armageddon to deal with the enemies of the Cross!

The saints here are returning with Christ to reign, not to slay His enemies. He will do that with the sword of His mouth. That is His task and the task of His angels (Matt. 13:37-50). In 701 B.C., one angel swept through the camp of Sennacherib, leaving 180,000 dead soldiers in His wake. The death angel swept through Egypt, leaving all the first born of Egypt dead in his wake. That defies comprehension, but it is nothing compared to what is coming. Is there any wonder it is called a great - and terrible - day?

2) “He will shepherd them with an iron scepter”, 19:15b. His judgment is powerful, swift, and decisive. This will characterize His reign. Believers will reign with Him (2:26; 1 Cor. 6:2). At the time the first saints read this prophecy they were under the scepter of Rome, and no doubt it seemed like a scepter of iron.

Retired three star General Dutch Shoffner was commander of our army in Europe during the cold war. Gen. Shoffner was invited to Moscow to lead a seminar for Russian generals and admirals to teach them how the military functions under a democracy. That is amazing within itself - but that is not the point I want to make here. While there, Dutch had an opportunity to buy a Russian Bible, a Bible printed in “Old Russian.” He was accompanied by a Russian with a PhD in Russian history, and he could not read the Old Russian.

Dutch showed me his Bible and let me keep it and show it to anyone who might help answer some questions about it. I am still waiting to hear from someone whose step-father reads Old Russian. The amazing thing about this Bible is that someone spent endless hours reading it under candle light. You can see candle wax on page after page. It was obvious that someone had spent a lot of time - possibly hidden away in a closet, reading this Bible. The oil from his hands had stained the lower outside corners of the pages.

Now consider this - it is possible that the person, man of woman, who was reading this Bible so faithfully, was under the earth’s version of an iron scepter - the Iron Curtain! That person will be one of the returning saints who will share in the reign of Jesus Christ when he destroys all enemies of the Cross. He lived under an iron scepter in this world, but he will reign with Jesus under His scepter of iron. And the saints shout, “Hallelujah!”

3) “He will also trample the winepress of the fierce anger of God, the Almighty”, 19:15c.

Let us read the prophecy from Isaiah again: “I trampled the winepress alone, and no one from the nations was with Me. I trampled them in My anger and ground them underfoot in My fury; their blood spattered My garments, and all My clothes were stained.” Eight hundred years separated the prophecy in Isaiah from the Revelation. Isaiah’s prophecy was given more than 2700 years ago, but rather than fading away, it should be drawing more and more into sharp focus today.

This is a vivid and powerful symbol of His judgment. He will judge in righteousness, but He will judge with absolute power and authority. This awesome. Every reader should be in awe of this even today. When Jonathan Edwards preached the most famous sermon since Paul, Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God, people trembled, some holding onto door facings, fearing that they were falling into hell. We should pray that every lost person who reads this passage would sense the danger he is in at this very moment.

C. He Is King of Kings and Lord of Lords, 19:16

“And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.”

The New Bible Commentary carries the following note:

“The Seer sees in the vision the divine warrior and his heavenly horsemen—not halting but sweeping downwards from heaven and onwards against the serried armies of the beast, false prophet, and the kings of the earth, and, as they thunder along, their garments stream behind them, and so on the thigh of the leader is disclosed the name: ‘King of kings and lord of lords.’”


Jesus is returning to earth. There is a banner over His shoulder and running down his thigh. It’s words are clearly visible: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS. Genesis, the Book of Beginnings, begins with the words, “In the beginning God...” In John 1, we learn that Jesus Christ was the Agent of Creation. There was a conference in heaven in which the Holy Trinity said, “Let us make man in our own image.” As we move toward the end of the last book in the Bible, we read that He is “KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.”

I want to stress just one thing right here. We are here because of Jesus - He was the Agent of creation. If we are saved it is because Jesus has saved us. If you are lost it is because you have rejected Jesus. Now, let me stress one more thing here: you are deceiving yourself if you are telling yourself that you know you haven’t committed yourself to Jesus because you simply have not gotten around to it yet. You are deceiving yourself if you are telling yourself that you haven’t rejected Him, that you intend call on Him some day. Please don’t deceive yourself. If you have heard the Gospel, if you have read God’s Word and you do not know Jesus as Savior and Lord right now it is because you have looked your creator in the face and said, “I don’t want you!” You are saying, “You can wait until I am ready.” If you have never been born again, you have rejected the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. You are guilty of a serious offense. What should you do? The Bible is very clear about that: “Today is the day of salvation; this is the accepted time.” Call upon the name of the Lord and you will be saved (Rom. 10:13).

If you are a born again believer in Jesus Christ you will be shouting Hallelujah because you will be following the KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS. I thank God, we do not have to wait for this prophecy to be fulfilled to follow Him. He is KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS right now. But, don’t call him King or Lord if you are not following Him. Before you leave here today, pause and pray that you may fully accept His lordship over your life.