Then I saw heaven opened and here came a white horse! The one riding it was called “Faithful” and “True,” and with justice he judges and goes to war. 12 His eyes are like a fiery flame and there are many diadem crowns on his head. He has a name written that no one knows except himself. 13 He is dressed in clothing dipped in blood, and he is called the Word of God. 14 The armies that are in heaven, dressed in white, clean, fine linen, were following him on white horses. 15 From his mouth extends a sharp sword, so that with it he can strike the nations. He will rule them with an iron rod, and he stomps the winepress of the furious wrath of God, the All-Powerful. 16 He has a name written on his clothing and on his thigh: “King of kings and Lord of lords.”
The winepress flows — the rider comes!
My home church, Christ Fellowship (McKinney, Texas), has the mission of people helping people find and follow Christ. If you are a Christian, you should be thanking God that you will be one of those “following him” (19:14) on that awesome day when Jesus rides to war! The alternative is to be a person whose blood saturates Jesus’ clothes or one who will be struck down by a single word from his lips. Will you be following him?
Our Scripture for today is so filled with wonders that it is hard to choose where to start! The one riding out of heaven on a white horse is Jesus (19:11). That he is called Faithful and True relates to the phrase “with justice he judges and goes to war” (19:11); Jesus is reliable in performing all that God has promised and he is authentic in comparison to the false rule of the beast. God has promised to judge the nations — “with justice he judges” (19:11) — and he has promised to destroy those who rebel against the Messiah — “with justice . . . he goes to war” (19:11). First he judges.
Our Lord’s “eyes . . . like a fiery flame” (19:12) see everything with an eye of judgment. The name he will bear is a revelation that must wait for that very day, but the “clothing dipped in blood” (19:13) was declared long ago.
Why are your clothes red? Why do you look like someone who has stomped on grapes in a vat? 3 “I have stomped grapes in the winepress all by myself; no one from the nations joined me. I stomped on them in my anger; I trampled them down in my rage. Their juice splashed on my garments, and stained all my clothes. 4 For I looked forward to the day of vengeance, and then payback time arrived.” (Isa. 63:2–4).
The apparent implication is that Jesus rides to war after stomping the grapes in the winepress of God’s wrath. That he is covered with blood is a message to his enemies, gathered for battle at Armageddon!
In a severe contrast, those who ride behind Jesus are dressed in “white, clean, fine linen” (19:14). If I may be a bit irreverent and speak in the true-Texas dialect, they are clean because they haven’t busted a grape! It is Jesus alone who has taken vengeance on those who slaughtered the saints.
In the image of a divine warrior, Jesus is called “the Word of God” only here in the NT. This name connects with the sharp sword extending from his mouth (19:15), a symbol expressing the power of his words. He needs no other weapon to strike the nations (19:15). The background for 19:15 lies in Psalm 2 (see!).
D.E. Aune has pointed out that the whole scene is meant to resemble the triumphal parade of a conquering Roman general. The very fact that Jesus already bears the title King of kings and Lord of lords (19:16) declares the certainty of his victory over all who will soon oppose him at Armageddon.
Clean rider or grape?
Since you are reading this series of posts, I sincerely hope you are one of the clean riders behind Jesus in the vision (19:14). The image of the winepress is meant to be a compelling warning of what the experience of the grapes will be. There is no future in that choice!
Since it is Jesus who “stomps the winepress of the furious wrath of God, the All-Powerful,” it could not be more clear that Jesus is God, the All-Powerful! Serve only him!
Copyright © 2011 by Barry Applewhite. All rights reserved worldwide. Derived from material created for Christ Fellowship, McKinney, Texas. Used by permission.