Understanding The Apocalypse

Revelation 19:11-16
Chapter 33

It can be truly said Revelation 19:11-16, is the focal point of the Revelation of Jesus Christ and everything occurring before these verses is preparatory to the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in power and glory, to establish His Kingdom. For the first time, Christ will be revealed to all humanity in full glory as King of kings and Lord of lords. For the first time, He will sit upon the throne of His glory and reign over the nations of the earth.

Our Lord foretold this great event in Matthew 25:31,

"When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory. And before him shall be gathered all the nations; and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats."
This is in fulfillment of the promises God made to David in 2 Samuel 7:16, "And thine house and thy kingdom shall be established forever before thee; thy throne shall be established forever." Clearly, David was promised his house or family, his kingdom over which he reigned, that is, Israel, and his throne or authority would be established forever.

That Jesus is the One to fulfill these promises is made known by the birth announcement of our Lord in Luke 1:30-33,

"And the angel said unto her, fear not Mary; for thou hast found favor with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus, He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father, David. And he shall reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end."
There are some other factors we need to recognize concerning the House, Kingdom and Throne of David. These are: David's house or family is an earthly or human family; his kingdom is an earthly or human kingdom; and his throne is an earthly or human throne.

David, nor any other human, has ever reigned in heaven and no human can ever reign in heaven. For there God alone is the Sovereign. Therefore, it is because David's house, throne and kingdom are earthly that Jesus had to leave the glory of heaven and become a man, to fulfill the promises that God made to David.

Jesus is the Messiah promised to Israel. According to the angel who announced His birth, He was born the Son of David, given to "reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end" (Luke 1:33).

Even so, Israel did not receive her King and the Jews not only rejected Him, they crucified Him as if He were a criminal. However, their rejection did not negate the promises God made to David. It only postponed their fulfillment until the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in power and glory when He will establish His Kingdom on the earth.

Because Jesus, the Christ, has never reigned over the House of Jacob or Israel in the throne of His father, David, He must return to earth to do so. "Then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory" (Matthew 25:31).

Clearly, Jesus will return in Glory following the Great Tribulation. The Lord Jesus framed the time for His return in Matthew 24:29-30, when He said,

"Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give its light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken. And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven; and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory."
It is from the point of view that this second coming of Christ will be primarily to fulfill the promises God made to David and therefore, the Nation of Israel, that we undertake the study of the Lord's second coming to establish His Millennial Kingdom.

A careful reading of Revelation 19:11-16 reveals there are four different names assigned to our Lord in this passage. Each of these names is coupled with information explaining the use of the respective name and reveals something of the purpose in His return to the earth.

I. Faithful and True

"And I saw heaven opened and, behold, a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True..." (Revelation 19:11).

We know from our study of Revelation 6, and from Job 39:19-25, the horse symbolizes aggressive power and courage; the sheer ability to conquer in battle. The white symbolizes the purity of the mission, which is to establish the Millennial Kingdom.

The picture here is not too different from many I remember seeing at the Saturday Matinee when I was a boy. Just when the situation seemed totally out of control and it appeared all would be lost, one of the silver screen heroes such as Tom Mix, Hopalong Cassidy, or the Lone Ranger would come charging in on a white horse, to save the day.

It was obvious the rider was on the side of truth and justice because he rode a white horse and his race to stand against the forces of evil proved his courage and power. Truly, it could be said he was faithful and true.

One reason John saw heaven opened and the Lord appear on a white horse is because He is Faithful and True. He was born to reign over the house of Jacob and sit in the throne of His father, David. He promised His disciples He would return and occupy the throne of His Glory and He will do it because He is faithful to His Word and true to His promises.

Surely, we must realize we are on Jewish ground here. The coming of the Lord in Glory to establish His Kingdom on earth will happen because He is Faithful and True to the promises He made to Israel.

His coming will not be because of promises He made to the Church. He is not coming to reign over the Church. He is coming to reign over Israel. He is not coming to deliver the Church, for the Church will already be with Him in Heaven.

He is coming to deliver the believing remnant of Israel from the persecutions of the Antichrist and re-establish the throne and kingdom of David. Therefore, Israel need not despair of Her King. She need not think that God has forgotten her.

Though the Great Tribulation is called "the time of Jacob's trouble" by Jeremiah and will be Her darkest hour, God has promised Her King will come and restore Her to greatness when He establishes His Kingdom. God is Faithful and True to His Word and Promises.

II. A Name That No Man Knew

"...And in righteousness he doth judge and make war. His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself" (Revelation 19:11b-12).

We gain insight into what John means when he says Jesus has a name that no man knew, from the words of the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 2:8. There the Scripture says, "Which none of the princes of this age knew; for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of Glory."

If the world had truly known Jesus as the Lord of Glory, they would not have crucified Him. But they did not recognize Jesus as the Lord of Glory because He did not come in power with the angels of heaven in visible attendance. Rather, He came meek and lowly.

To those who expected the Messiah to appear riding a white stallion, swinging a terrible swift sword, the sight of our Lord riding into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey must have been disappointing. They wanted a God who would come with power and deliver them out of the bondage of oppression, they did not want a God who spoke of forgiveness, love and grace.

Because they would not recognize nor acknowledge Him as God, they killed Him and in their own minds forever put an end to what they considered His ridiculous claims.

The first time Jesus came to earth, He was meek and lowly, the subject of the world's ridicule. To those who despised Him, He was an impotent martyr who spawned a band of followers that would rather turn the other cheek than stand up for themselves.

Notice, how the description of this One whose name they do not know, differs from what occurred in our Lord's first advent:

(1) "He doth judge." Jesus was judged by men, convicted of being the "King of the Jews" and for this He was crucified. However, when He returns He will come as "King of kings" and He will do the judging.

(2) "Make War." Men made war with God by crucifying His only begotten Son but when the Son returns, He will make war with men and destroy all who are marshaled against Him at Armageddon.

(3) "His eyes were like a flame of fire." When Jesus first walked this earth, His eyes were often filled with tears because of sin. With tears He stood at the grave of Lazarus. With tears He lamented because Jerusalem would not repent and with tears He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane. But the eyes of the Lord will not be filled with tears when He returns, instead, they will be like "a flame of fire." Twice before in Revelation 1:14, and 2:18, John used this phrase to describe Jesus. There, as here, it is used in connection with His Divinity and Righteousness whereby He sees and judges sin.

(4) "On His head were many crowns." The only crown Jesus wore during His first visit to the earth was the crown of thorns mockingly placed on His head, by those who crucified Him. But when He returns He will be wearing many crowns to demonstrate His Sovereignty, Glory, Power, Honor, and Righteousness. Indeed, our Lord Jesus Christ alone is worthy to wear all the crowns identified in the Scriptures.

Because of the sharp contrasts between His first and second advents, it is no wonder the world will not recognize or know the name of the Lord when He comes in power and glory. When He came to earth the first time He was the Savior. When He comes the second time, He will be the Judge.

The point of John's statement in our text is that those in the world will not recognize Jesus because they do not know Him. This, because they have followed the Antichrist rather than the real Christ.

Our Lord's statement, "then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn," found in Matthew 24:30, does not mean the people of the earth will immediately recognize Jesus as Lord and mourn because of their sins.

Mourning for sins is a sign of repentance but there is no repentance in the hearts of those who will gather at Armageddon to do battle with the Lord. Revelation 16:21, tells us they will blaspheme God because of His righteous judgment.

Therefore, Matthew 24:30, is best understood to mean the people will mourn because the Lord will smite them with righteous judgment and it is only after He executes judgment that the world will recognize the Lord Jesus Christ as the Righteous Judge He is.

At the time when heaven opens and our Lord appears at His second coming, the nations of the earth will be gathered at Armageddon to do battle with the Lord under the leadership of the Antichrist. They will not know Jesus is their God and Judge. Therefore, John says He will have a name that no man knows.

III. The Word of God

"And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood; and his name is called The Word of God" (Revelation 19:13).

We know from John's Gospel that Jesus is the incarnate Word of God. All that God has spoken through His Holy Word is fulfilled in our Lord Jesus Christ.

We must understand that God has always had the power to destroy sinful men and thereby purge them from His creation. But to do that would not demonstrate love for the humans He created in His own image. Rather, it would serve the purposes of Satan who hates humans and seeks to destroy them through sin.

Therefore, it was necessary for God to provide a Savior for mankind. Jesus is the One the Scriptures say redeemed the world from the bondage of sin, by the shedding of His own blood. His victory over sin was not wrought with sword and spear but by humbly submitting Himself to death on the cross, as our Sin-bearer.

The war with sin will not be fought nor won on the battlefield of Armageddon because it was fought and won at Calvary when Jesus died in our place to pay the full penalty for our sins. Consequently, everyone who believes that Christ died for their sins and rose from the grave has victory in Jesus.

When Jesus returns in power and glory His ensign or battle colors will be the "vesture dipped in blood" displayed to remind all that the victory over sin was won on Calvary's cross and paid for with the precious blood of Jesus just as the Word of God says.

IV. King of Kings and Lord of Lords

"And the armies that 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" (Revelation 19:14-16).
In these verses our Lord is pictured as a mighty Potentate at the head of His legions, arrayed for battle and exercising all the authority of His office. However, the armies that will follow our Lord out of Heaven are not a military or fighting force such as the twelve legions of angels Jesus told Peter His Father would send, if Jesus asked for them.

Notice, the armies are "clothed in fine linen, white and clean." This is not the attire of an army going into battle. According to Revelation 19:7, this is the attire of the bride of Christ. It is the attire of celebration, not war.

This army will not follow the Lord to earth to fight a battle. Our text plainly says in v:11, that the Lord judges and makes war. He alone will fight the battle of Armageddon, that is why He alone is outfitted for battle.

Zechariah 14:1-5, says the Lord will go forth and fight the nations and that all the Saints will come with Him. The Lord will come to fight the battle and the Saints will follow Him. They will still be dressed in the attire of the bride they wore at the marriage supper of the Lamb. Perhaps, this means they will be on their honeymoon trip with the Groom.

As the sword, he named Excalibur, is associated with the conquests of King Arthur, so too, is a sword associated with the King of kings. Ephesians 6:17, says the Word of God is a sword and because our text says the sword goes out of our Lord's mouth we understand His sword to be His Word.

Our God does not need a weapon to smite the nations. The same tongue that spoke the universe into existence needs only to speak and the greatest of armies will fall before Him. He will mash them as one mashes grapes in a winepress and they will suffer the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God when He speaks.

After smiting them, that is, destroying the armies that stand against Him, the Lord will rule the nations "with a rod of iron." This means He will enforce the righteousness of His Kingdom without exception. Zechariah 14:17-18, says the nations that do not honor the Lord will have no rain and then, if they do not relent, He will destroy them.

V. Conclusion

What John has presented in this text are four different ways the Lord will be viewed when He returns to earth in Power and Glory:

To the believing remnant of Israel, He is Faithful and True to His promises to establish His Kingdom and reign on the throne of His father, David.

To the unrepentant on the earth, He has a name that no man knows. They do not know He is their God and Judge.

To the Saints, He is the Word of God in Whom they have trusted.

To the armies gathered against Him at Armageddon, He is their conqueror, The "KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS."

From "Understanding The Apocalypse"
A book of sermons by Pastor Jim McColloch, Th.M., Th.D.
© Copyright 1994, 1999