(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. 

1. First, an overview of the verse, and then an exposition and an expansion of the text and topics related to the text. 

a. This is the greatest event in the course of human history since the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ! We are now told of His second coming. This is not the Rapture, where He comes secretly to snatch away the church age believers. No, this is His glorious second advent, when He comes back a conquering king. 

b. When this opening of heaven occurred and John saw the white horse appear, his mind might have contrasted the Rider of this white horse with the rider of the white horse he saw in Revelation 6.2. Remember, in Revelation 6.2, it was the antichrist riding. Here it is the real Christ riding. These two different scenes cannot show the same rider riding, since so many things about them are different. Their time of appearing is different, their purpose for appearing is different, the results of their appearing are different, etc. 

c. This rider is called Faithful and True. This has to be the Lord Jesus Christ. No one else fits these two titles properly. 

i. It is from Revelation 3.14 that we know the title Faithful applies to the Lord: “And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God.” 

ii. Moreover, it is from John 14.6 that the title True applies to Him: “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” 

iii. Faithful applies because He is faithful in His execution of the things His Father wants Him to do. What does His Father want Him to do? Execute judgment upon the wicked. True applies to the standard by which He judges. 

d. God’s righteousness demands that judgment be carried out according to truth. Men who must stand before the Almighty God will find that the standard by which they are judged is truth. 

2. And I saw heaven opened 

a. Heaven opens up when something profoundly significant has happened, or is about to happen. Consider some of these passages in the Bible in which an opening in heaven is referred to: 

Ezekiel 1.1: “Now it came to pass in the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, in the fifth day of the month, as I was among the captives by the river of Chebar, that the heavens were opened, and I saw visions of God.” 

Do not think John’s Jewish Christian reader’s minds would not immediately hearken back to Ezekiel 1.1 when their eyes fixed on this phrase in the Revelation. Ezekiel is the most apocalyptic of all prophetic books in the Old Testament. So, adding to the already heightened tension in this portion of John’s vision, this phrase, “And I saw heaven opened” would produce in them an exquisite anticipation. 

Matthew 3.16-17: 16 And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him:

17 And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. 

Luke 3.21-22: 21 Now when all the people were baptized, it came to pass, that Jesus also being baptized, and praying, the heaven was opened,

22 And the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased. 

John 1.51: “And he saith unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.” 

Revelation 4.1: “After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter.” 

When the Lord Jesus Christ was baptized heaven did open, the Spirit of God was seen descending by John the Baptist (but no one else), and the Father spoke. This shows the truth that God is a tri-unity. Then the Lord Jesus Christ predicted that Nathaniel would see heaven open and the angels ascending and descending upon the Son of man, which was His name for Himself. Then, in Revelation 4.1, we read of the Rapture-like experience of the apostle John, as heaven opens to receive him in a fashion similar to the way heaven will open to receive church age Christians at the time of the Rapture. Thus, we see that the opening of heaven is a very important occurrence in the fulfillment of God’s program for the ages. 

b. That John “saw heaven opened,” or that John will see heaven open (since this is yet future to us) once again shows that John is not functioning in any prophetic office or role. Instead, he is merely a seer. He is one who gives testimony to what he has seen.  

c. But what John saw some 2,000 years ago are events, which, for the most part, have not yet occurred. What can this mean? This suggests that only a portion of reality exists within the boundaries of time. This suggests that there is reality beyond the constraints of what we think of as the past, the present, and the future.  

d. This can only be true if there is an infinite God, Who exists both within and outside of this time-space-matter continuum that we call the universe. When heaven opens there is created by God an opening, a bridge if you will, that for a moment connects history to eternity. Of course, this means the universe in which we live is not what scientists would call a closed system, but is an open system that God is continually involved with, and continually involved in. 

e. This is why we pray, people. God involves Himself in the affairs of men. God interacts with the universe that He created. He presides over it. And as the Second Person of the triune godhead once dwelt among us for some thirty-three years, before His death, burial, resurrection and ascension to the Father’s right hand on high in heaven, so He will someday return to our midst to rule and reign. 

f. What specific events on earth correspond to this future moment when heaven opens? There are several things that happen: First, as we have recently seen in the Revelation, Mystery Babylon the Great, the Mother of Harlots, has been destroyed in all her manifestations. Second, but not mentioned in the Revelation, coincident with that, the armies of mankind will have surrounded the regathered Jewish people in Israel to annihilate them in a suicidal frenzy just before they are themselves going to be destroyed by the King of kings and Lord of lords. Third, and also not specifically mentioned in the Revelation, at that precise moment the Jewish people will respond to the preaching they have heard over the last seven years, coupled with the obviously hopeless situation they find themselves in, and they will cry out to this One they have rejected for 2,000 years, laying hold of Him by faith to save them from their sins and from their enemies. 

g. But what about you? Where do you stand with the Lord Jesus Christ? When He comes (and He will come), will He come for you? Or will He come after you? Will He come to rescue you? Or will He come to judge you? Will you come to Him now, or will you foolishly dawdle and wait for Him to come to you then? 

h. To summarize: “The One who ascended to heaven (Acts 1:9-11) and had been seated at the Father’s right hand (Heb. 8:1; 10:12; 1 Pet. 3:22) will return to take back the earth from the usurper and establish His kingdom (5:1-10). The nature of this event shows how it differs from the Rapture. At the Rapture, Christ meets His own in the air—in this event He comes with them to earth. At the Rapture, there is no judgment in this event it is all judgment. This event is preceded by blackness—the darkened sun, moon gone out, stars fallen, smoke—then lightning and blinding glory as Jesus comes. Such details are not included in Rapture passages (John 14:1-3; 1 Thess. 4:13-18).”[1] 

3. and behold a white horse 

a. In the Roman triumphal processions, the victorious general rode his white war horse up the Via Sacra to the temple of Jupiter on the Capitoline Hill. Jesus’ first coming was in humiliation on a colt (Zech.9:9). John’s vision portrays Him as the conqueror on His war-horse, coming to destroy the wicked, to overthrow the Antichrist, to defeat Satan, and to take control of the earth (cf.-2 Cot 2:14).”[2] 

b. Those are the words in the MacArthur Study Bible, which I think are basically correct. Yes, the Lord Jesus Christ did enter Jerusalem on Palm Sunday on the foal of an ass, Matthew 21.1-11: 

1 And when they drew nigh unto Jerusalem, and were come to Bethphage, unto the mount of Olives, then sent Jesus two disciples,

2 Saying unto them, Go into the village over against you, and straightway ye shall find an ass tied, and a colt with her: loose them, and bring them unto me.

3 And if any man say ought unto you, ye shall say, The Lord hath need of them; and straightway he will send them.

4 All this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying,

5 Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass.

6 And the disciples went, and did as Jesus commanded them,

7 And brought the ass, and the colt, and put on them their clothes, and they set him thereon.

8 And a very great multitude spread their garments in the way; others cut down branches from the trees, and strawed them in the way.

9 And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the Son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest.

10 And when he was come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, Who is this?

11 And the multitude said, This is Jesus the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee. 

c. However, we see nothing in Christ’s ride into Jerusalem on a donkey colt which is humiliating or which speaks of humiliation. His humiliation had to do with His crucifixion. Riding into Jerusalem in this way is simply another manifestation of His condescension, not His humiliation. Turn to Philippians 2.7-8, where you will see that Christ becoming a man is one thing, what we call the incarnation, which was an act of condescension, while His humbling of Himself has directly to do with His crucifixion: 

7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:

8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. 

d. The point of my concern for detail has to do with the fact that what we have is the Lord Jesus Christ, Who was not humiliated by becoming a man. He humbled Himself by submitting to the death of the cross, which of course included becoming sin for us Who knew no sin. In His condescension, He came in peace to reconcile sinners to God. But now that He is exalted, it is clear that He is not at His second advent coming in peace. Oh, no. He is coming to execute judgment, to wage war, to exact vengeance, to smite His enemies, to kill those who are unconverted. 

4. and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True 

a. Of course, the One who sits on the white horse at such a time as this can only be the Lord Jesus Christ, seen as the Conqueror and the Victor. 

b. But take note of how He is identified, Faithful and True. What is meant by the use of those two words to identify our Lord Jesus Christ? Is not one who is faithful one who can be relied upon, one who can be trusted, trustworthy? This is a reminder that the One Who returns is the One Who is the Object of our faith, the One in Whom we trusted. That would demonstrate Him to be true, would it not? If you are faithful you are also true, and if you are unfaithful you cannot possibly be true. 

c. Ah, this One Who is my Lord, Who is my Savior, Who is my Master, is glorious beyond description and reliable beyond expectation. Words are too feeble to do Him justice. They fall far short of the honor that is His due. 

5. and in righteousness he doth judge and make war.” 

a. No surprise here. In John 5.22, the Lord Jesus Christ proclaimed, “For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son.” Thus, we do not have anything resembling a good cop versus bad cop arrangement between God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, whereby God takes the role of the offended one and the Lord Jesus Christ takes on the role of the sympathetic one. 

b. Listen to Jude 14-15, which speaks of Enoch’s preaching some 5,000 years ago:[3] 

14 And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints,

15 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. 

So you see, the Lord Jesus Christ is not angry with sinners at this time, during our Christian era. He really does want sinners to come to Him for salvation and cleansing in His blood. But if you think for one moment that it will not be Him Who avenges God for your sins, that it will not be Him Who inflicts judgment upon you for stubbornly refusing to forsake your sins, you are very, very mistaken. 

c. And what about the fact that He will make war? He is God. And Exodus 15.3 declares, “The LORD is a man of war: the LORD is his name.” Keep in mind that God is holy, and His holiness is active, energetic, and cleansing. Therefore, it is God’s nature, and Jesus Christ is God, to actively and aggressively seek to judge sin. Therefore, not only is it no surprise that Jesus Christ will judge when He comes again, but it is also no surprise that He will make war when He comes again. To think otherwise of Him is to mistake His very nature. 

d. And it is in righteousness that He will do these things. You see, it is righteous that He is presently not angry with sinners, since that is the posture He takes to most greatly display His mercy and His grace. However, when the time of His longsuffering ends, when the time comes that He has finished with patience and determines that it is time for judgment and wrath that, too, will be righteous. 

e. Beloved, time is running out for those who are not saved. They dilly-dally and delay, they piddle and procrastinate. Do you do that? Then stop. Do not think that you should wait until things feel right to you before you deal with your sins. If you do that, before long your time will have run out and you will either be dead or your opportunity to come to Christ will have passed. 

f. The reason the apostle Paul wrote that “behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation,” and the reason why God has given us this book of the Revelation, is so you will quit wasting time, so you will stop delaying, and so you who will come to Christ will come now!

[1] See footnote for Revelation 19.11 from John MacArthur, The MacArthur Study Bible, (Nashville: Word Publishing, 1997), page 2019.

[2] Ibid.

[3] James Ussher, The Annals of the World, (Green Forest, AR: Master Books, Inc, 2003), page 18.

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