The Second Coming of Christ

Revelation 19:11-21

Alan Lewis
Elon, North Carolina
August 2012

There are hundreds and hundreds of messianic prophecies in the Bible.  There are prophecies of the First Coming and there are prophecies of the Second Coming of Christ.  The prophecies of the First Coming were all literally fulfilled and the prophecies of the Second Coming will all be literally fulfilled. No one ever predicted the coming of Buddha, Confucius or Muhammad.  There are no prophecies of them but there are prophecies of Jesus.

What is interesting is that most of those are prophecies of the Second Coming of Christ.  For every one prophecy of the First Coming in the Bible, there are eight prophecies of the Second Coming.  If you remember the Second Coming was the first prophecy in the Book of Revelation (1:7).  In fact, the first prophecy ever uttered by man is about the Second Coming of Christ, not the first Coming.  Enoch uttered the first prophecy in the Bible (Jude 14-15) and it was about the Second Coming.

Our topic is the Second Coming of Christ. It is the theme of the book.  Some have called it the theme of all Scripture. Everything in the book builds up to this point when Jesus returns and sets foot on the earth. It will be the climax of human history. Revelation 19 gives us one of the most colorful and vivid portrayals of the Second Coming anywhere in Scripture.  Jesus comes out of the sky riding a white horse.  The return of Christ will be the most dramatic and spectacular event in human history.  It will be witnessed by everyone on the planet.  “Every eye will see him” (1:7).

Is the Liberal Jesus Biblical?

What we read in these few verses is literally mind blowing.  It may completely change your view of who Jesus is.  The Jesus that many people worship is church after church all throughout the country is not the Jesus found in these verses. For many people, even some professing Christians, the only Jesus they know is someone who is soft, meek and mild.

Many people think of Jesus as a gentle man who loves little children who talks about love and forgiveness.  They think of Jesus as someone who is completely non-judgmental and accepting.  He is non-violent and peaceful.  That is the liberal Jesus.  Some have bumper stickers that say, “War or Peace- What Would Jesus Do?”  You can also buy t-shirts and coffee mugs that say, “Who Would Jesus Bomb?”

As someone said, “those people must not have heard about Sodom and Gomorrah”.  The problem is that this is not the Jesus that we see in Revelation 19.  The Jesus of Revelation 19 is very different from the liberal Jesus.  It describes a Jesus that is very different from the Jesus that many people think of.  It may be different than the Jesus that some people worship but it is the biblical Jesus.

This Jesus is Angry

What are some signs in the text that Jesus is angry?  Jesus’ eyes are blazing LIKE fire (19:12)Jesus has this long sharp coming out of his mouth (19:15)When he returns, he will tread “the winepress of the fury of the WRATH of God” (19:15). One version reads, “He will rule them with an iron rod and will show the fierce ANGER of God” (CEV). Isaiah 63:3 says, “I have trodden the winepress alone; from the nations no one was with me. I trampled them in my ANGER and trod them down in my WRATH”.

Many do not picture Jesus ever getting angry.  Many just picture Jesus as all loving and forgiving.  The Bible actually says that Jesus got angry at times (Mark 3:5).  When Jesus overthrew the moneychanger in the Temple, he was angry.  It is not a sin to be angry.  Anger is just an emotion.  Most of the time we are angry, we do sin but this is not always the case

This Jesus Goes to War

We see that in Revelation 19:11.  “I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges AND WAGES WAR.”  This Jesus wages war.  He makes war.  Many people think that war is wrong.  War cannot be inherently wrong, because Jesus will go to war.

In the First Coming, Jesus came to make PEACE.  He came to make peace between God and man.  He came, as Paul said, to give us “peace with God” and to reconcile people to God (Romans 5:1, 10).  What did the shepherds in the field hear that night?  They heard “a great company of the heavenly host appeared praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”  (Luke 2:14).  Isaiah 9:6 says, “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.­”

In the Second Coming, he will come to make WAR.  He is followed by armies.  When Jesus returns to the earth, we will be there right with him.  The sheep follow the lamb wherever he goes (14:4). We will witness everything.  We will have a front row seat.  Jesus will be followed by the armies of heaven when he returns.  It is a strange army.  Most armies have weapons.

None of us will have any weapons for this battle.  In fact, we will not wear any armor.  We will wear white robes.   We will not be doing any of the fighting.  He will not need us.  He will do all of the fighting by himself.  He will be the only one in the army to do the fighting.  That is why the armies that follow him are all wearing white but Jesus has these red garments, because he is the only one who fights.

Why does he return on a horse?  When Jesus was on earth, he walked everywhere he went.  The one animal we ever see him riding was a donkey a few days before he was crucified.  Why does he come back the second time on a horse?  That seems very strange to us today, especially because it is not just a horse, it is a flying horse.

Today, people ride horses and also race horses. In Bible times, the main purpose for horses was for war.  Historians tell us that they have been used for war for 5000 years.  They didn’t’ have heavily armed tanks in the ancient world.  They used horses.  Proverbs 21:31 says, “The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but victory rests with the Lord.” 

Jesus rides a white horse because white is the color of victory.  Roman generals would always return from battle riding a white horse.   It is the second time in the book that we have seen someone ride a white horse.  In Revelation 6:2 we saw someone riding a white horse who was holding a bow in his hand and was given a crown to wear.

There is a lot of debate as to who that individual is but there is absolutely no debate as to who the rider of the white horse in Revelation 19:11 represents.  This horse comes right out of heaven.  Heaven is opened and the rider on the white horse comes out.  John even tells us the name of that rider.  In fact, he gives us three names for him, so there can be no doubt who he is.

When Jesus returns, he will go to war.  Who will he go to war against?  It will be “the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to wage war against the rider on the horse and his army” (19:19; cf. 16:14).  That is interesting.   When Jesus returns, the Antichrist and his armies do not surrender.  They are ready to fight.  “We crucified you once.  You set foot on this planet and we will kill you again! ”

This Jesus is a Judge

Revelation 19:11 says “with justice HE JUDGES” (19:11) which makes Jesus a judge.  Acts 17:31 says that one day Jesus will judge the world with justice.  We do not normally think of Jesus as the final judge but the Bible says that God has committed ALL JUDGMENT to the Son (John 5:22).  Jesus did not judge people the first time that he came.  In fact, John 3:17 says, “For God did not send his Son into the world to judge the world, but to save the world through him” (John 3:17).  The second time he will NOT come to save people but to judge them.  Who will he judge?  He will judge the nations (19:15).

This Jesus Kills People

Jesus is not only a judge, he is an executioner.  He returns and people are killed, a lot of them.  So many are killed that Jesus’ clothes are drenched in blood and that is not his blood, it is the blood of his enemies.  His clothes are stained red with the blood of the people that he slays. He kills his enemies and gets their blood on his clothes in the process (cf. Isaiah 63:1-6).  It is not a pretty picture.  The First Coming, He came to save people.  “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10).  Now he is coming to kill people.  The First Coming, he came as a lamb.  The Second Coming, he will come as a lion.  Lions are ferocious.  They kill people.

The Three Names of Jesus

1) He is called “Faithful and True” (19:11).

This is in contrast to the Antichrist who is not true.  He is a false Christ.  He is also not faithful.  He breaks his covenants and his promises.  He will make a covenant with Israel and break it.  He will promise everyone peace but will wage war on the saints.  Jesus is faithful and true.  He keeps his promises.  He said that he would one day come back to earth and he will.

Jesus said in the Olivet Discourse that one day people would see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory(Matthew 24:30)The Bible does not just predict that Jesus would come back.  Jesus predicted that he would one day return.  The Book of Revelation ends with the words “Yes, I am coming soon” (22:20). 

2) He is called “the Word of God” (19:13).

That is John’s special name for Jesus, the λόγος.  That is what John calls Jesus in the Gospel of John and the Epistles of John.  The first name deals with his character.  The second name deals with his divine nature. It is a divine title, according to John (cf. John 1:1-3).  It shows that he is distinct from God.  He is with God.  They are not the same person but he possesses the attributes of God.  He performs the functions of deity.  He is the Creator.  He sustains the universe one day will be the judge of all mankind.

3) He is called “King of Kings and Lord of Lords” (19:16).

That name deals, not with his character or nature, but with his function.  Jesus returns, not to die but to reign.  He will not come the second time to be a sacrifice for sins, a suffering servant but to be a king.  The rider on this horse is a king and not just any king.  He is “the King of Kings”.  He will have the name “King of Kings and lord of lords” on his robe and on his thigh.

There are two ways to read that.  It could mean that it is written in two places.  Revelation 19:15 could read, “he has on his robe AND on his thigh a name written, KINGS OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS”.  It could also mean that it is written in only one place.  Some very good Greek scholars (e.g., Robertson, Beale) tell us that it is possible to translation Revelation 19:16: “he has on his robe EVEN on his thigh a name written, KINGS OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS””.

Jesus is wearing a long robe (so 19:13).  The idea here would be that the name KINGS OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS would be written only once “on the part of the garment which fell open across the thigh”[1]  Why will it be written on his thigh?  That seems like a strange place.  If a man rides a horse, you can see the side of his leg clearly.   It would be very conspicuous.[2]

Jesus is a king. He is not a President or a Prime-Minister.  What do we know about kings?

Characteristics of Kings

Kings are Born

We have a President but countries all over the globe have kings.  Presidents are elected but kings are born (cf. John 18:37). God made a covenant with David.  It is called the Davidic Covenant.  God promised David that he would have a dynasty.  Kings would come out of his line and that one of those kings would be the Messiah.  God promised a thousand years earlier that the Davidic line would bring the Messiah into the world.  Jesus will be a Davidic king.  He was a descendant of David.  He was called “the Son of David” (Matthew 20:30; Mark 10:47).

Kings Wear Crowns

Who normally wears a crown?  A king.  Kings have crowns.  Why?  Crowns are symbols of authority.  Jesus will be wearing a crown but it will not be a crown of thorns this time.  In fact, he will not have one crown.  He will have “many crowns on his head” (19:12).  That is a strange picture of a whole bunch of crowns fitting on one head.  The point is that when Jesus returns, he will rule the world.  The kingdom of the world will become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah, and he will reign forever and ever (11:15).  He will wear a crown for every nation in the world.

Kings Rule

The purpose of the Second Coming will not be to die (suffering servant) but to rule on the earth as a king, to “rule the nations with an iron scepter” (19:15).  The Bible does not just say that Jesus is the Davidic Messiah.  It says that one day he will REIGN on the throne of David FOREVER.

Isaiah 9:7 says, “Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever.” Luke 1:32-33 says, “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.” 

Jesus never reigned on David’s throne when he was on earth.  No one did.  The Romans ruled the place.   No one has sat on that throne since 586 B.C.  No one has sat on that throne for 2500 years.  Jesus is not reigning on David’s throne in heaven now.  He is not ruling over the house of Jacob right now, as Luke says.  When Jesus ascended into heaven, he sat down at the right hand of the Father (Hebrews 1:3), not on David’s throne.  David’s throne is on earth.  It is in Jerusalem.  Solomon sat on David’s throne (I Kings 2:2).  One day, Jesus will sit on David’s throne and rule.  When he does, he will not just rule over Israel but the whole world.

When Will Jesus Return?

The Bible teaches three very clear things about when Jesus will return.

1. No one knows exactly when Jesus will return

The Bible does not say this one or two times.  It says six times that no one knows when Jesus is going to come back (Matthew 24:36, 42, 44; 25:13; Acts 1:7; I Thessalonians 5:1-2), so don’t believe anyone who says they know when it will take place.  The Bible says that even the angels do not know when he is going to return.

2. Certain things must happen before Jesus returns.

Even though we do not know exactly when Jesus will return, certain things must happen before Jesus returns.  The Bible is very clear about that.  Just read Matthew 24.  Jesus talks about signs of his coming.  Certain things have to take place first (e.g., the gospel has to go out to the whole world, the abomination of desolation has to take place, etc).  Let me give you just a few examples of this

  • The Tribulation has to take place first before Jesus returns.

Revelation 6-18 has to take place before Revelation 19.  Jesus comes AFTER the Tribulation Period.  The Second Coming will be post-tribulational.  We see that in both Revelation and Matthew (cf. 24:29-30).

  • The Antichrist has to come first before Jesus will return.

Everyone said that.  Paul said that.  He said that day will not come first until the Man of Sin is revealed (II Thessalonians 2:3).  Jesus will put an end to him when he returns (II Thessalonians 2:8).  Jesus said that he will not return until the abomination of desolation takes place in the holy place (Matthew 24:15).  He will not come back until the Antichrist desecrates the Jewish Temple.  John also says this.  When Jesus returns, he will destroy the Antichrist (19:20).  He will cast him into the Lake of Fire.  Right now the Antichrist has not been revealed yet.

  • The Temple has to be rebuilt before Jesus will return.

Jesus said there would be a temple in the Tribulation.  Paul said it.  Daniel said it.  John said it and since there is not a temple now in Israel, one would have to be rebuilt.  The Antichrist cannot desecrate the Temple until it is rebuilt.

  • Israel has to be saved before Jesus will return.

Jesus was the Messiah sent to the nation of Israel.  They rejected him the first time (John 1:11). ).  He will not return until Israel accepts him as Savior (Matthew 23:37-39) and Zechariah says that they will do this before he returns. “And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look onme, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son. (Zechariah 12:10)

3. Jesus is coming back soon.

Jesus said that he is coming back soon (22:20).  If the Second Coming will be soon, the rapture must be sooner because it will happen before the Second Coming.  While there are some things that have to happen before Jesus returns, they could all happen within our lifetime.

Where will Jesus Return?

Where will Jesus go when he returns?  When he returns, he will go to the Middle East.  When Jesus ascended into heaven, two angels said, “This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:11).  Jesus ascended into heaven from the Mount of Olives (Acts 1:10).  Apparently, he will not just come back in the same way as he left.  He will also come back in the same place that he left.  The Book of Zechariah also says that when Jesus returns he will put his feet on the MOUNT OF OLIVES (Zechariah 14:3-4).  In fact, that passage says that when he returns the mountain splits in half.

Why does Jesus return to the Middle East?  Why not Chicago,  Washington, DC or San Francisco?  Zechariah gives us a hint.  What happens immediately before Jesus returns?  Zechariah 14 describes an end-time invasion of Israel by ALL NATIONS (14:2). All of the nations would include our nation.  Unfortunately, America may not always be a friend to Israel.

Notice who does the fighting here.  The text says, “THE LORD will go out and fight against those nations, as he fights in the day of battle. On that day HIS FEET will stand on the Mount of Olives” (Zechariah 14:3-4a).  Just as in the Book of Revelation one person is fighting and notice whose feet stand on the Mount of Olives.  It is the Lord’s feet.  It is another proof of the deity of Christ.

Nature of Christ’s Victory Over his Enemies

1. The victory will be QUICK.

It will not take seven years, like some battles.  This battle will be over in seconds.

2. The victory will be EASY.

Earlier in the book, the followers of the Antichrist said, “Who is like the beast?  Who can make war with him?” (13:4). Here we see the answer.  Jesus is able to make war with him and he does so effortlessly.  One word is spoken and the battle is over.  He doesn’t even need to get off his horse.  He fights while he is sitting on his horse without using any weapons.

What is a little strange is that Jesus does not return with any physical weapons.  He doesn’t return with a gun, a missile or a bomb.  He doesn’t have a weapon.  He returns with nothing in his hands.  He doesn’t need one.  Jesus will win the battle without firing a shot.  All he has to do is to speak a few words.  His weapons are his words.

Jesus says a few words and people are killed (19:21).  The Antichrist is taken care of without any effort.  According to II Thessalonians 2:8, when Jesus returns, he will overthrow people with “the breath of his mouth” (cf. Isaiah 11:4).    His weapon comes out of his mouth (19:15).  His words are powerful.  Jesus created the world with a few words.  “He spoke and it was done”.  He said “Let there be light and there was light”.

3. The victory will be BLOODY.

This will not be a bloodless victory.  There are two feasts mentioned in the chapter.  The first feast is the marriage of the lamb. The second feast is for the vultures to come and feast on all of the dead bodies lying on the ground.  They do not just eat, they gorge themselves on all of the dead bodies (19:21).  There will be so many of them (cf. 14:20).

4.  The victory will be DECISIVE.

There will be no doubt about who wins.  The side that lost is lying dead on the ground.  Notice the two results of the battle.  The soldiers and armies which fight against Christ will all killed (19:21).  There will be mass destruction of the armies of the Antichrist but two people will not be killed.  They will have a fate worse than death.  The beast and false prophet will be thrown in the Lake of Fire alive (19:20).

5. The victory will be COMPLETE.

There will be no unbelievers left.  Paul says that when Jesus returns from heaven with his holy angels, He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus” (II Thessalonians 1:7-8).  Every person on the planet will not be killed when Jesus returns.  How can Jesus rule the nations with a rod of iron if he kills them all?

That is the biggest problem for those who believe in a post-tribulation rapture of the church.  Those who believe in the post-tribulation rapture of the church believe that Jesus will come back and rapture everyone at the end of the Tribulation and then return to earth.  When he returns to earth, he would have to kill everyone, because there would be no believers left.

If he kills everyone, there would be no one left to rule over.  We know from other passages that there will be people on the planet in natural bodies (cf. Revelation 20:7) and that children will be born during this time as well (Isaiah 65:20).

6. The victory will be FAIR.

He judges and wages war in righteousness (19:11).  Everything he will do will be perfectly just.  Many wars on earth are not just.  Even when the cause is just, innocent civilians often die.  Here, only the wicked die.  There will be no collateral damage.  This will be a holy war.

[1] Robert Mounce, The Book of Revelation (NICNT), 348.

[2] Does this mean that Jesus had a tattoo on his leg?  It is possible that it was written two times, one on his body and one on his clothing.  That cannot be ruled out from the text.  On the other hand, it is highly unlikely, in my opinion, for several reasons.  One, it would violate Levitical Law.  Jesus was the one who gave that law in Leviticus 19:28.   It would make Jesus break one of his own laws.  Two, some would say that it would be immodest for Jesus to return from heaven showing his thighs.

The Jews would have considered that being naked.  People who ride horses professionally cover their bodies.  They wear certain apparel (jackets, a helmet, pants, a shirt, shoes and a saddle).  It makes even less sense to go into battle uncovered with your thigh exposed.  Soldiers are covered when they go into battle.  Three, if Jesus’ thigh was uncovered here, you would expect him to be sprinkled with blood on his leg.  There is no evidence of this in the text. It is only on his robe.

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