“Christ Our Conquering King”

(Revelation 19:11-21)

Series: Understanding The Book Of Revelation

Rev. Todd A. Linn, PhD

First Baptist Church Henderson, KY

12-17-06 (AM)

 

Some months ago we began a verse-by-verse exposition of the book of Revelation.  We find ourselves in Revelation 19 and in a moment we’ll be reading verses 11-21.  To refresh our memories, the context of these verses concerns the recent fall of the Babylonian system of one-world religion and government during the Tribulation and the ensuing gathering together of the forces of evil in the hopes of defeating the cause of Christ at the Battle of Armageddon.  John looks up and he sees an encouraging sign.

 

11 Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. 

12 His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. 

13 He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. 

14 And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. 

15 Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. 

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

17 Then I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the birds that fly in the midst of heaven, "Come and gather together for the supper of the great God, 

18 "that you may eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and of those who sit on them, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, both small and great." 

19 And I saw the beast, the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army. 

20 Then the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who worked signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. These two were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone. 

21 And the rest were killed with the sword which proceeded from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse. And all the birds were filled with their flesh.

 

 

Introduction:

 

Interestingly we are reading in this passage about the second coming of Christ and next week, December 24th, I plan to depart from the book of Revelation to focus on Christ’s first coming.  So by God’s providence we have this back-back-study of Christ’s two advents, His two comings.

 

We have noted before that the way Jesus is coming the second time is very different from the way Jesus came the first time.  The first time Jesus came He came in meekness.  The second time Jesus comes He’s coming in majesty.  The first time Jesus came He came in humility.  The second time Jesus comes He’s coming in victory.  When Jesus came the first time He carried a cross on His back.  When Jesus comes again He’ll wear a crown on His head.  The first time Jesus came He was judged by the world.  But when He comes again He will come as Judge over the world.  Let’s learn together what this passage teaches about Christ’s second coming.  First:

 

I.                   He Returns as Scripture Promises (11)

11 Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. 

 

Here we have the fulfillment of a promise made at the end of Jesus’ first coming.  Turn back to Acts, chapter 1.  Jesus has just given what is known as the Great Commission.  He has challenged His followers to be His witnesses to the end of the earth.  Now look beginning in verse 9:

 

9 Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. 

10 And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, 

11 who also said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven."

 

Jesus’ return to this earth is a visible return.  We will see Him.  The Bible says in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 that when the Lord returns, He will “descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God.  And the dead in Christ will rise first.  Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.”  So we will be caught up into the air, or raptured up into the air, to meet our returning Lord and to welcome Him to His earth.

 

So John has a vision of Christ’s second coming.  He sees Christ coming a bit differently than He came the first time.  He comes not humbly and riding a donkey as in His first coming, but in majesty riding the white victory horse.  He comes as our conquering king.  And John says, “He who sat on him was called Faithful and True.”  Christ is faithful and true to every promise He makes. 

 

He promises, for example, to never leave you nor forsake you.  He promises to be with you always.  He is faithful and true to His promises.  If you’ve never been saved from the penalty of sin, He promises in John 6:37, “Come to Me all and I will not cast you out.”

 

And then John says, “He judges and makes war.”  When Christ returns He returns to do battle with the enemies that stand in opposition to Christ during the Tribulation period.  He returns as Scripture promises.  Secondly:

 

II.                He Reigns in Sovereign Power (12-16)

 

In verses 12-16 we read of the sovereign power of our returning Lord Jesus.  Look at how his sovereign power is described in verse 12:

 

12 His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. 

 

John says “His eyes were like a flame of fire.”  That refers to the all-knowing and all-seeing sovereign power of God.  Christ can see things in you and me that no one else sees.  That teaching is at once comforting and convicting.  It is convicting because it means that while you may do a good job on the outside, Jesus Christ can see right into your soul.  He knows the thoughts and intents of your heart.  But this is also comforting.  It’s good to know that Jesus knows me better than anyone else and that He loves me still!

 

“And on His head were many crowns.”  There are two words we come across frequently in the Greek language to denote the crown.  One is “Stephanos.”  If you’re name is “Stephen” or “Stephanie” your name means “the victor’s crown.”  The other word is “Diadema” from which we get “Diadem,” the word for the majestic, royal crown.  That is the word used here in verse 12.  and note: Jesus has not just one diadem, but “many crowns,” many diadems.  This highlights Christ’s sovereign power and majesty.

 

Now this last phrase in verse 12 is interesting.  John says, “He had a name written that no on knew except Himself.”  What does that mean?  It means just what it says.  There is a name our Lord Jesus has that no one else knows.  That’s an incredible thing to think about!  Jesus knows things we don’t and He’s under no obligation to tell us anything.  By the way, sometimes it’s not always helpful to reveal everything you know.

 

I heard about a police officer who pulled over a speeding car.  He walked up to the driver and said to him: “I clocked you at 80 miles per hour.”  The man said, “Gee, officer, I had it on cruise control at 60.  Maybe your radar gun isn’t working right.”  Sitting in the passenger’s seat beside him, the man’s wife said, “Now dear, don’t be silly.  You know this car doesn’t have cruise control.”  As the officer writes out the ticket, the man says to his wife, “I wish you would please just keep quiet.”  The officer then says to the man, “I see you’re also not wearing your seatbelt, sir.”  The man says, “Well you see, officer, I had it on, but I had to take it off when you stopped me to get my wallet out of my back pocket.”  His wife said, “Now dear, you know very well that you didn’t have your seatbelt on.  You never wear your seatbelt while you’re driving.”  As the police officer writes out another ticket, the man turns to his wife and in seething anger says, “Would you please just be quiet for once in your life?  Can you do that?  Just be quiet!”  The officer looks at the man’s wife and says, “Does your husband always talk to you this way, Ma’am?”  She said, “Only when he’s been drinking.”

 

Sometimes it’s not always helpful to reveal everything you know.  But we’re reading here of something known only to Jesus.  Only He knows the name.  So when we reign with Christ and when we’ve been with Him for 10,000 years, we will never exhaust the knowledge of the things of God.  There will always be things to learn and He will always know more than we.  He reigns in sovereign power.

 

We speak erroneously when we say that one day we’ll know everything that Jesus knows.  No, we won’t.  We’ll know a lot more.  That’s for certain.  But we’ll never know everything Jesus knows because He is God.  God is infinite.

 

13 He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. 

 

The blood is probably a sign of Christ’s victory over Satan.  Christ defeated Satan at Calvary, conquering sin, death, hell, and the grave.  And Christ will continue to defeat Satan at the Battle of Armageddon.

 

14 And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. 

 

Who are the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen?  Well, the context seems to suggest that the armies of heaven are the saints, the Christians, who will meet our Lord in the air and then return with Him as Christ fights the Battle of Armageddon.  The Bible says in Matthew 25:31 that the holy angels will return with Christ, but we also read of those “clothed in fine linen, white and clean,” following Him on white horses.  If we go back up to verse 8 we read this as a description of the church.  Do you remember this from last time?  Verse 8, “And to her (the church) it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.”

 

So Christ is the Great Army General leading the way to do battle and we follow Him on white horses.  That’s an incredible thing to think about—riding a horse, following the Lord Jesus Christ into battle!  And this is so like our Lord Jesus isn’t it, to be out in front during the battle?  Most generals stay back and everyone else goes out to the front lines.  Jesus leads the charge Himself.  Because, you see, the truth is, He won’t need our help to defeat the Satanic forces.

 

Christ reigns in sovereign power without our help.  He defeated sin at Calvary without our help.  He accomplished the resurrection and ascension without our help.  And when He returns again and defeats the enemy He will do so without our help.  We are not participators in the Battle of Armageddon.   We are merely spectators in the Battle of Armageddon.

 

By the way, let me say that this is why it’s always wise to go to Jesus with your problems.  He is the One who goes ahead of you, fighting the battle for you if you will allow Him.  Let Jesus get out in front and fight the battle over your temptations.  And when sorrows like sea billows roll, go to Jesus and let Him lead the charge.  Jesus says in Matthew 11:28, “Come to Me all you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

 

15 Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. 

 

The sword protruding out of Christ’s mouth is a symbol of the sovereign power of Christ’s word.  He speaks the word and strikes the nations.  We read of the sovereign power of Christ’s word during His earthly ministry like the time He spoke to the raging sea and it immediately became calm.  Or like the time He cursed the fig tree and it immediately withered.  Or the time he stood at Lazarus’ tomb and said, “Lazarus, come forth” and Lazarus rose from the dead.  And anytime Christ squares off with the devil, as Luther writes in his hymn, “A Mighty Fortress is our God,” he says, “One little word shall fell him!”  That’s all it takes.  Christ reigns in sovereign power.  That’s spelled-out all the more clearly in verse 16:

 

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

 

Christ returns as Scripture promises and Christ reigns in sovereign power.

 

III.             He Rules over Satan’s Plans (17-21)

 

17 Then I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the birds that fly in the midst of heaven, "Come and gather together for the supper of the great God, 

18 "that you may eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and of those who sit on them, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, both small and great." 

 

Well, this admittedly sounds rather disgusting, doesn’t it?  The angel proclaims to all the birds, “Hey, you birds, supper time!  Come and eat the flesh and carcasses of all those who stood in opposition to Christ.  Come and eat the flesh of kings, captains, mighty men, horses, those who sit on them, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, both small and great.”

 

This is a proclamation of victory before the battle even starts. 

 

19 And I saw the beast, the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army. 

 

So here is the enemy on one side.  The beast, remember from chapter 13 he is the Antichrist, the kings of the earth, and all the armies are gathered together to make war against Christ and His followers during the Battle of Armageddon.  But the battle is over in an instant!  In some sense it is over before it even begins.

 

20 Then the beast was captured (that’s the Antichrist, the beast from the sea we read about in chapter 13), and with him the false prophet (that’s the second beast rising from the earth we read about in chapter 13) who worked signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. These two were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone. 

 

The Battle of Armageddon seems to be over in an instant.  Christ merely speaks the word and it’s the end for the Antichrist and the false prophet.  Those two are captured and “cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone.”  The lake of fire burning with brimstone is the place known as hell.  The Bible says that they are “cast alive” into the lake of fire, which suggests an eternal, conscious torment. 

 

21 And the rest were killed with the sword which proceeded from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse. And all the birds were filled with their flesh.

 

We must remember the repeated divine offers extended to the unbelievers of the earth during the time of tribulation.  You may recall back in chapter 16, for example, in a message I brought entitled, “When Man Refuses to Repent” that, despite the repeated warnings of judgment, mankind continues to turn his back upon Jesus Christ and refuses to follow Him.  If we continue to spurn the ways of a loving God, we can expect to be judged by a holy God. 

 

That last phrase is striking: “All the birds were filled with their flesh.”  That is, with the flesh of those who said “No” to Jesus.  We have here a parody of what we read last week in the preceding verses: the invitation to the saints to attend the wedding supper.  Here we have a different kind of supper.  Here we have those who are alive during the tribulation being killed and then becoming a feast for the carrion birds.

 

Conclusion / Invitation:

 

Grant Osborne has suggested that a powerful sermon title for chapter 19 would be, “Will you be the Eater or the Eaten?”  That is, will you partake of the wedding banquet, or will you be consumed in judgment during the Battle of Armageddon?  We will participate in either one or the other feast.  Will you be the Eater or the Eaten?

 

I don’t know when Jesus is coming again, but I know this: we have a choice this morning as God moves upon our hearts.  We may follow Him by receiving Christ as Savior and being ready when He comes again or we may refuse Him and face Him in judgment, whether we die first or He returns first.  Will you be the Eater or the Eaten?  Will you be ready?

 

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