Before we begin, let us pray:
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.Psalm 19:14 ESV
We heard last week the comparison and contrast between the harlot of the dragon and the bride of Christ. We also learned from the last week, the great wedding feast of the Lamb. And I praying it brought us great comfort knowing that despite of our gruesome situation now here on earth, in the end we will worship God and feast with Him forever!
So now we come to the contrast part to this wedding feast. We will learn about the feast of judgment that Christ bring with his second coming. That in the end, as God destroys everything on this creation, Christ will decisively win the battle against his enemies: the dragon, the harlot, the beast and the false prophets. Now, Revelation 18 shows us what happened to the harlot and then Revelation 20 narrates to us what happens to the dragon. But for the beast and the false prophet, we will learn about this destruction here in Revelation 19.
Revelation 19:11-21 contains the vision of the second of our Lord Jesus Christ. In summary, he comes back again and now in glory and finally destroys the beast and the false prophets. These events will happen at the end of the millennium (Revelation 20) and prior to the new heavens and the new earth (Revelation 21-22). We are now dealing with the events in the last of days.
Chris comes back in glory. John describes his coming in a highly symbolic style. We will learn about them in detail as we go through them one by one so let us begin by reading again the whole section from Revelation 19:11-21.
The Second Coming of Jesus Christ
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. 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. He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.
Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, and with a loud voice he called to all the birds that fly directly overhead, “Come, gather for the great supper of God, to eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all men, both free and slave, both small and great.” And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth with their armies gathered to make war against him who was sitting on the horse and against his army. And the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who in its presence had done the signs by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped its image. These two were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur. And the rest were slain by the sword that came from the mouth of him who was sitting on the horse, and all the birds were gorged with their flesh.Verses 11-21
John’s description of Christ’s exaltation is highly symbolic. We cannot take them literally. The first description that strikes us about his appearance his white horse. The white color of the horse pertains to the purity of its rider. Unlike, the four horsemen (white, red, black, and pale) of the apocalypse in Revelation 6, this rider brings total destruction to the whole of creation. So even though, both contains white horses, the rider of the white horse her in Revelation 19 is different from the rider of the white horse in Revelation 6. Color white is the description of Christ’s holiness and exalted nature. In Revelation 1:14, John describes Christ as “the hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow”. Then what about the horse itself? What does it symbolize? Well, the horse is not literally a horse. Rather, it points to the divine warrior identity of its rider. Christ comes back not in humiliation but in exaltation. He is not portrayed as a lowly servant but triumphant King! The rightful King of all creation comes back in glory and judges all his enemies. John calls Christ as “Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war.”
Now the comparison between the beast and Christ is obvious. In Revelation 1, John introduces Christ to us with “His eyes were like a flame of fire, his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters (Revelation 1:14b-15).” Then here in Revelation 19, John says that Christ’s “…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.” We can notice the same language about his eyes in both accounts. At the same time, we can compare the diadems and the names between the beast and Christ from Revelation 13 where John describes the beast as with “ten diadems on its horns and blasphemous names on its heads.” The diadems and horns symbolizes power while the name pertains to authority. The power of the beast in only limited to the earth while Christ because it is many extends to all things. And as for the names, the authority of the beast is questionable hence its blasphemous titles but the authority of Christ is divine because it is known only to himself.
Furthermore, Chris is said to be, “…clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God.” Now, this is reference to the wrath of God symbolized as the winepress. He tramples over the bodies of his enemies. Isaiah visualizes this for us when he wrote God saying: “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 (Isaiah 63:3).” The royal robe of the Judge-King gets stained by the blood of his enemies as he presses their bodies through the winepress. It is a graphic visualization of God’s judgement over his enemies. “From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.”
Now, what about the description Word of God? Who are the armies behind Christ when comes back? The title Word of God clearly identifies Christ as God (John 1:1). The Word of God is the creative power of God in Creation as well as in Providence. This asserts the divine nature of Christ. When John says in verses 15-16 that Christ strike down the nations with a sharp sword coming out from his mouth, and we can read this same description of Christ from Revelation 1, it means the Christ do not anymore set aside his divine attributes like what he did when he was still in humiliation. Rather, he brings to pass all this judgment, the end as well as the means. He rules over them with a rod of iron (compare Revelation 2:27) just like the eternal king of the eternal kingdom proclaimed in Psalm 2. Then with regard to the army, we can simply say they are the angelic host warriors of God which Jesus identifies in his return. Jesus said in Mark 14:62, “…I am, and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.” This means in the end, in the great and final cosmic battle, Christ will defeat the great army of the dragon and his beast.
The defeat of the beast and the false prophet seals the fate of God’s enemies. They were all thrown down to hell, And the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who in its presence had done the signs by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped its image. These two were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur.” This same event will again appear in Revelation 20 where the dragon himself get defeated and thrown in hell as well but at this point, John makes it clear for us his readers that the defeat follow judgment, and judgment follows eternal punishment. Truly, Christ will judge the living and the dead.
What then our key take away about Christ’s second coming?
Heidelberg Catechism puts it this way:
Q#52. How does Christ’s return “to judge the living and the dead” comfort you?
Answer: In all distress and persecution, with uplifted head, I confidently await the very judge who has already offered himself to the judgment of God in my place and removed the whole curse from me. Christ will cast all his enemies and mine into everlasting condemnation, but will take me and all his chosen ones to himself into the joy and glory of heaven.
The Second Coming of Christ, while it brings fear and judgment to unbelievers and hypocrites, actually gives us comfort and encouragement. As Christians, we clearly have hope. Now this hope is not just positive thinking or even simply good vibes. Rather, it is grounded in the promises of God himself. God promises to bring everything under Christ’s feet. As he rules and reigns over his church by his Word and Spirit, in the end, he will consummate his kingdom here on earth by fire and destruction, judgment and wrath. God will vindicate his people and he will punish his enemies. Let us encourage one another with these words.
ZCRC(Imus), Jesus Christ will return in glory. He will demonstrate his divine power, authority, and majesty over all things from creation to new creation. Christ will defeat, judge, and punish his enemies. In Him, our eternal destinies are sealed so take heart Christian, King Jesus rules and reigns in this world and the world to come. Amen.
Rev. Lance Filio is a minister of the Word and Sacraments at Zion Cornerstone Reformed Church (Imus). He finished his Bachelor Degree in Electronics Engineering at Mapua Institute of Technology and He is currently taking his Master of Arts in Theological Studies (MATS) at MINTS. He lives in Taguig City, Philippines with his wife and three children.