Monday, 12 July 2021
And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. Revelation 19:14
The previous verse revealed the Lord returning in vengeance, symbolized by His robe being dipped in blood. The words now speak of those who will follow Him, saying, “And the armies in heaven.”
There is debate as to who these are, but the words of Scripture elsewhere reveal that they are the saints. In other words, they are those who have been redeemed by the Messiah. When Christ returns, His redeemed will return with Him. That they are His saints is seen in the next words, saying, “clothed in fine linen, white and clean.”
This speaks of the imputed righteousness of Christ. Those who have been cleansed and purified by Him are those who wear the white garments. This description has been seen several times in Revelation, such as in 3:4&5; 4:4; 6:11, 7:9; 7:13-17; & 19:8. The linen has been seen on others in Revelation, but the description here appears particularly suited to those who have been purified by Christ. It is these who “followed Him on white horses.”
The Greek is in the imperfect tense. It more specifically says, they “were following Him.” In this, it gives the sense of an advancing movement of the armies. The white horses speak of rule and authority. Paul, writing to Timothy said –
“If we endure,
We shall also reign with Him.” 2 Timothy 2:12
This is the thought of the white horses. Thus, the white horses go beyond the idea of victory (something assured in Christ), but they extend to ruling with Christ.
In the previous verse, Isaiah 63 was quoted where it said –
“I have trodden the winepress alone,
And from the peoples no one was with Me.”
From this, it can be argued that Christ alone brings vengeance on the people and that those riding with Him have no part in the battle. But the symbolism of Isaiah and Revelation is just that. One cannot expect that Christ is literally stomping in a winepress. Rather, it is symbolism to speak of Him gaining the victory over His enemies.
Elsewhere, the Lord is said to gain the victory even though Israel participated in the battles where those claims are made (see Judges 20:25, for example). How the exact events will play out is unstated, and so only speculation can be given. Whether the Lord alone conducts the warfare, or whether His armies join in the battle is a matter that will be known at that time. For now, it is clear that the Lord ultimately is the Victor of what will occur.
Life application: The Bible is a book of progressive revelation. It doesn’t arbitrarily introduce random thoughts that are key to the redemptive narrative. Things may come out of order at times, but the key points of the narrative will follow a logical introduction, development, and progression to what is presented. Understanding this helps us to make right decisions about important concepts. A very good example is from Genesis 6 which speaks of the “sons of God.”
In Genesis 6:2, it says that “that the sons of God saw the daughters of men, that they were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves of all whom they chose.” There are various opinions as to who these “sons of God” are – the sons of Adam through Seth who remained faithful to the Lord, angels, aliens, etc. A poor analysis will lead to the wrong conclusion. In other words, one must look at the progressive nature of God’s revelation to understand that it is, in fact, actual humans, not angels or other beings.
Nothing concerning angels had been introduced into the narrative, and specific points in the narrative that had already been provided were given as clues to who these “sons of God” were. Later passages in the Bible then confirm what is said in Genesis 6.
This is important to understand because it bears directly on this verse in Revelation. Who are the “armies in heaven” that are following Jesus? The answer is often given as “angels.” This is an incorrect analysis because the very context and progression of the book of Revelation (and of passages given earlier in Scripture) shows us who it is. It is the redeemed of the Lord already described in preceding verses. This is why this progression of thought has been given.
In Revelation 4:1, the rapture of the church occurred. From 4:2 until 19:13, the church has been out of the picture, except as they are noted with Jesus, in heaven, not on earth. The intervening verses where earthly visions have been revealed have referred to the tribulation, the final seven-year period of Daniel’s “seventy weeks” noted in Daniel 9. This seven-year period has now ended, and Christ is returning to set up His millennial kingdom. And it is the bride of the Lamb who is returning with Him.
Others have been noted as receiving white garments during the tribulation, and their state has been explained to some extent, and it will continue to be explained later as well (such as in Revelation 20:4).
This verse says these armies are clothed in fine linen, white and clean. Such are garments of righteousness mentioned in the preceding verses of Revelation. Another point concerning those coming with Christ is what was noted in chapter 17. The ten kings of the end-times empire are said to wage war with the Lamb. This isn’t possible until the Lamb actually returns which is now being stated in Chapter 19.
When they fight against the Lamb, it notes this in 17:14 – “These will make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, for He is Lord of lords and King of kings; and those who are with Him are called, chosen, and faithful.” Thus, it is clear that these are believers in, and followers of, Jesus – not angels.
And as added support, we read this from the hand of Paul in 1 Thessalonians 4:17 – “Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.” Although this doesn’t mean that all believers will be with the Lord at all times and forever, as if we are sitting in a room together. However, if we “shall always be with the Lord,” then it seems clear that this includes following Him to His glorious victory.
When we return with Him, we will also be riding on white horses. Thus, we are sharing in His victory as those who reign with Him. This in no way diminishes the victory as His alone, but rather glorifies it. As Paul writes in Romans 8:37 – “Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.”
It brings both honor and glory to Jesus for His saints to return with Him in this capacity because it is noting that He is the One who stood in victory over our sinful state, cleansing us and bringing us near to God through the purifying power of His shed blood. This is the reward and honor of being a faithful follower of Jesus Christ – sharing in His victory and glory. Hallelujah to the Lamb! Hallelujah to JESUS!
Lord God, help us to properly look into your word and to evaluate it as it is presented. Help us to not come to unfounded conclusions because of what we want to believe, but rather lead us to make logical conclusions based on what You have presented. You are the God of order, and Your word reflects this. Thank You for the beautiful words of life it presents to us. Amen.