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The white horse

“Then I saw heaven opened, and a white horse was standing there. And the one sitting on the horse was named Faithful and True. For he judges fairly and then goes to war.

…He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and his title was the Word of God.

…On his robe and thigh was written this title: King of kings and Lord of lords.” — Revelation 19:111316

Countless armies have marched through the land of Israel down through the centuries. But not all armies have come to fight.

When Palestine was a British protectorate, before the modern state of Israel was founded in 1948, British troops were stationed there to maintain law and order. General Gordon, their commanding officer, was also a committed Christian. On the day that he led his troops into Jerusalem, on reaching the gate of the ancient city, he dismounted from the white horse he was riding and walked through the gate leading the horse.

He explained to his troops, “The only person entitled to enter Jerusalem riding a white horse is ‘the King of kings and the Lord of lords.’”

General Gordon was referring to today’s passage in Revelation 19. In John’s symbolic language, the rider on the white horse was “named Faithful and True,” “his title was the Word of God,” and “on his robe and thigh was written this title: King of kings and Lord of lords” (Revelation 19:111316).

These descriptions may seem strange to modern ears, but these titles and names express symbolically the following truths: His power and authority surpasses all the powers of the rulers of this world; His status as the one who makes known the purposes and plans of God Himself is overwhelming; and His character, unlike that of the kings and lords of this world, is totally reliable, without deviousness or chicanery. “He judges fairly and then goes to war” (19:11).

But who is this awesome, mysterious figure? John identified “the Word” as Jesus when he wrote, “In the beginning the Word already existed. He was with God and he was God… and we have seen his glory” (John 1:114). Then in his vision of the “Son of Man,” John noted that “a sharp two-edged sword came from his mouth” (Revelation 1:16).

He is Jesus, the risen, triumphant Lord, whose kingdom will not pass away. John sees Him in the role of a warrior-king about to exercise judgment on His enemies—something that will take place at the end of time.

This is a dimension of Christ’s ministry that is often overlooked, ignored, or even rejected. But it should be remembered that His judgment will be just—“He judges fairly.” Moreover, He is “clothed with a robe dipped in blood” (19:13)—a vivid reminder that He who will ultimately judge came first to be our Savior.

Judgment will be reserved for those who reject His saving grace and repudiate His righteous rule. He rides an awesome white horse—but for the humbly repentant He will graciously dismount.

For further study: Revelation 19:1-21

Content taken from The One Year Book of Devotions for Men by Stuart Briscoe. Copyright ©2000. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers. All rights reserved.