The Book of Revelation with commentary by Dr. Henry M. Morris and paintings by Ramona Lowe
The paintings are a work in progress and the finished pieces are highlighted in red on Page 2

Page 143

The King of Kings

     The saints have now all been called to the wedding feast and provided with the proper garments, fine linen, white and clean.  But the supper itself must be held on earth, and the earth is still in bondage to the kings of the earth, and they in turn to the dragon and the beast and the false prophet.  Babylon has been destroyed, but the armies of the kings have been assembled at Armageddon.  They know that Christ is about to return and are determined to wage a final, all-out battle to prevent His regaining sovereignty over the earth.

     Not only are the multitudes of human armies assembled there.  All the principalities and powers of darkness are also there, following their master, Satan, the god of this world.  They know their time has come, and the climactic battle of the ages is about to be joined.

Revelation 19:11.     And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war.

     John several times before had seen “heaven opened,” but never a scene like this.  Emerging from the temple in the city in the heavens appeared a great white horse and a majestic Rider, with all the armies of the gloriously arrayed saints following him (v. 14).

     This is evidently the same symbolic horse and Rider that John had seen going forth “to conquer” at the very beginning of the tribulation (Revelation 6:2) and now he sees Him setting forth in the great event of final conquest.  The earlier vision had not specifically revealed His identity, but here He is openly proclaimed as the Faithful and True One, with His war of victory based on perfect righteousness and His punitive judgments founded on divine holiness.

     He is called Faithful and True because He is “the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God” (Revelation 3:14).  He will keep His Word, for His Word is true; He is very faithfulness and very truth.  And because He is true and faithful and must act in righteousness, He must finally, after long ages of grace and mercy, become the Judge and the Warrior.  As the Judge, He has pronounced the sentence; as the Warrior, He will carry it out.  The rebels have been condemned (in fact, have condemned themselves, by deliberate choice); now they must be executed.

     This is the first of three magnificent names accorded the Lord Jesus as He returns to earth in power and great glory, as ascribed in this section.  His name is Faithful and True; then His name is the Word of God (v. 13), and finally His name is recognized as King of kings and Lord of lords (v. 16).

Revelation 19:12.     His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. 

     There is no room for doubt as to the identity of this conquering Commander on the great white steed.  His eyes are the same eyes of flame John had seen in the beginning (Revelation 1:14) when he recognized Him as the Son of man.  But now adorning His snowy white head were many diadems.  These crowns were not the same crowns which the elders had cast at His feet (Revelation 4:10), nor did they include the crown given Him when He first rode forth to conquer (Revelation 6:2).  These latter are translations of the Greek stephanos, whereas the crowns He is wearing as He parades in triumph are the crowns (Greek diadema) which had once been usurped by the kings of the earth (Revelation 12:3; 13:1; 17:9-12).

     No longer will alien rulers despoil His creation.  It is He whose right it is (Ezekiel 21:26, 27), not only as Creator but also as Redeemer.  As the Lamb, He was the only one worthy to break the seals on the scroll conveying ownership of the earth (Revelation 5:9), unleashing the great series of purging judgments that had finally wrested control from the rebel kings.  Now He wears their crowns as He rides forth in triumph.  “Gird thy sword upon thy thigh, O most mighty, with thy glory and thy majesty.  And in thy majesty ride prosperously because of truth and meekness and righteousness; and thy right hand shall teach thee terrible things” (Psalm 45:3, 4).

     It is apparently across these diadems that a name was written.  John could see the writing, but he could not decipher it.  Nor could anyone read this name, written evidently in characters of some angelic script, beyond the learning of mortal men.  It was not one of the other names ascribed to Him in this passage (verses 11, 13, 16) for all these names are all well known to believing men.   It is probably the name which is above every name (Philippians 2:9), not the name “Jesus” but the name “given to Jesus” (Philippians 2:10, literal meaning), when He was raised from the dead and exalted “far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named” (Ephesians 1:21).

     The names assigned to the Lord Jesus Christ in Scripture are many and beautiful (such as the Light, Master, Messiah, King of Israel, Son of man, Son of God, Lamb of God, Prince of Peace).  But all of them together cannot exhaust the infinite meaning of His ineffable name.  We know Him in many wonderful attributes, but we can never know Him in His incomprehensible fullness.  He is all and in all and we, even in the glorious resurrection, can never learn everything concerning Him, though no doubt our knowledge of Him will continue to grow throughout eternity.  The fullness of His mighty name, only He can know!

Revelation 19:13.     And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called the Word of God.

     The blood-dipped vesture, of course, speaks of the shed blood of His enemies.  As noted before, the great valley filled with the armies of the kings will flow with blood to the bridles of the horses (Revelation 14:20), and He is seen as riding triumphantly through this vale of slaughter.  Beginning from its southern end in Edom (Isaiah 63:1), He rides north to Jerusalem and on to Armageddon, “red in thine apparel, and thy garments like him that treadeth in the winefat” (Isaiah 63:2).

     There is a fine mixture here of graphic symbolism and stark reality.  The heavenly horses may be symbolic visions, of course, and so may be the blood-dipped vesture.  But the slain multitudes are real, and the conquering Redeemer is real.  This is the “glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13).  This is the great “sign of the Son of man in heaven” when all men “shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory,” and “all the tribes of the earth shall mourn” (Matthew 24:30).

     As the majestic Rider reaches Jerusalem, “his feet shall stand in that day upon the Mount of Olives” (Zechariah 14:4), and the mountain will split in two.  “And I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come: and I will fill this house with glory, saith the Lord of hosts” (Haggai 2:7). “But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap” (Malachi 3:2).  “The Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thessalonians 1:7, 8).

     In His glorious appearing, it is appropriate to remember that the mighty Conqueror is none other than the incarnate Word of God.  It was by the Word of the Lord that the heavens were made (Psalm 33:6) and the aeons were framed (Hebrews 11:3).  It is by the same Word that the heavens and earth are kept in store (2 Peter 3:7).  That Word which was in the beginning (John 1:1) is also the Omega, and will dwell forever with His people (John 1:14, Revelation 21:3-6).

Revelation 19:14.     And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean.

     Like a mighty general conducting his triumphant armies through the streets of an earthly capital, the victorious Rider is followed by a tremendous stream of warriors, all in gleaming white uniforms and all on beautiful white horses.  The fine linen apparel symbolizes the righteous deeds of all these followers of the Lamb (v. 8) and the whole procession is a glorious vision vouchsafed to John to indicate to him and to us the unprecedented majesty and glory of the Lord when He finally returns to earth.

     Although the horses and white linen armor may be symbolic (and perhaps even these are literal; God could surely create divinely-energized creatures of whatever type He chooses), they do speak of a great victory and glorious homecoming which will literally take place on the earth.  Both the Lord Jesus Christ and all the multitudes of the redeemed will descend from the region of the throne in the sky, from where the Lord Jesus has been directing the events of the tribulation period, and will engage the armies of the beast in a brief climactic battle to consummate the judgments and to establish His kingdom here on earth.

     This glorious coming of the Lord with His saints has been prophesied since the dawn of history.  “And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints [or “myriads of saints”], to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him” (Jude 14, 15).

     The great event was likewise foretold by the prophets of Israel.  “Then shall the Lord go forth, and fight against those nations. . . . And the Lord shall be king over all the earth” (Zechariah 14:3-9).  “Let the saints be joyful in glory. . . . Let the high praises of God be in their mouth, and a two-edged sword in their hand; to execute vengeance upon the heathen, and punishments upon the people. . . . To execute upon them the judgment written: this honour have all the saints” (Psalm 149:5-9).

     Likewise had it been prophesied by the Apostles: “To the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints” (1 Thessalonians 3:13).  What a magnificent procession that will be, when all the angelic host of heaven and all the multitudes of redeemed and purified saints of God accompany their victorious Redeemer back to earth again!  After long ages of rule by the old serpent, the god of this world, with his powers of darkness and his legions of Christ-rejecting human dupes, the diseased and fevered earth will finally be scoured and purified, and Christ will reign supreme.

Revelation 19:15.     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.

     John had seen this sharp sword before (Revelation 1:16), the piercing sharpness of the lethal words of judgment leaping from the mouth of the wrathful Son of man.  Isaiah also had prophesied of this: “He shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked” (Isaiah 11:4).  “[That wicked one] the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming” (2 Thessalonians 2:8).

     The “sword” is, specifically, a sabre or a long, broad cutlass.  Symbolically it can be used for any weapons of intense battle, and here of course it refers to the fiery words of judgment from the Lord.  The “nations” to be smitten thus are the Gentile nations (“Gentiles” and “nations” are translations of the same Greek word, ethnos).  The Jewish nation will already have undergone its own judgment during the “day of Jacob’s trouble,” the tribulation period, and will have accepted Christ as their long-rejected Messiah when He returns.

     During the imminent millennial age, these Gentile nations will be ruled with a rod of iron (see also Revelation 12:5).  The word for “rule” is actually “shepherdize” or “pastor.”  Christ will be their pastor, but He will demand absolute obedience.  It will be a dictatorship of love, but a dictatorship nonetheless.  The terminology comes originally from Psalm 2:8, 9: “I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.  Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron.”

     This promise was given by the heavenly Father to His Son (Psalm 2:7) but the Lord Jesus also extended it to each person that “overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end” (Revelation 2:26, 27).  As the psalmist noted: “This honour have all his saints” (Psalm 149:9).

     Once again there is a return to the figure of the overflowing winepress and the blood-dipped vesture.  This was the graphic picture of Revelation 14:14-20, but here we are told specifically that the one who treads the winepress is Christ Himself.  Further, He treads it alone (Isaiah 63:3), so that only His vesture is dipped in blood.

     The winepress depicts the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.  The word for “fierceness” (Greek thumos) is also translated “indignation” and “wrath.”  The word here for “wrath” (Greek orge) is also rendered “anger,” “indignation” and “vengeance.”  Thus the two terms are essentially synonymous and express with doubled intensity the unleashed ferocity of a long-suffering God, whose unrequited patience has endured for ages the wickedness and rebellion and blasphemy of the men and women He had loved and sought to redeem.  “Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded; but ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof: I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh; when your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish cometh upon you” (Proverbs 1:24-27).

     A mighty wind will sweep through the long valley where the armies of the millions are gathered, the sharp sword striking forth from the mouth of the offended King.  Bursting arteries will spew their blood until the great trough flows in blood and the press is full.  “Put ye in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe: come, get you down; for the press is full, the fats overflow; for their wickedness is great” (Joel 3:13).

Revelation 19:16.     And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.  

     Here is yet another wonderful name of Christ, written both on His blood-dipped vesture and also, in lieu of a two-edged sword, upon His thigh (compare Psalm 45:3).  In the days of His flesh, the minions of earth’s greatest king had cast lots for His vesture (John 19:24); now His vesture dripped with the blood of all such blasphemers and was inscribed with the testimony that He was King over all such earthly kings and Lord over all terrestrial lords.  He needed no sword at His thigh, like earthly conquerors, because His sword proceeded out of His mouth, so here also was placed the glorious ascription.

     This title was used earlier by the Apostle Paul speaking of the future “appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  Paul seemed to glimpse this very scene: “Which in his times he shall shew, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords” (1 Timothy 6:15).  Speaking earlier of these earthly kings, while writing about the harlot Babylon, John had recorded the testimony of the angel.  “These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings” (Revelation 17:14).  He is King of time and King of space, King of all creation.  How can mere creatures, whether men or angels, or even Satan himself, presume to oppose Him!

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