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.
First, an overview of the verse, and then an exposition and an
expansion of the text and topics related to the text.
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.
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.
This rider is called Faithful and True. This has to be the Lord
Jesus Christ. No one else fits these two titles properly.
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.”
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.”
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
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.
saw heaven opened”
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:
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.”
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.
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:
lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well
Now when all the people were baptized, it came to
pass, that Jesus also being baptized, and praying, the heaven was opened,
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
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
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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).”
“and behold a white horse”
“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).”
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
when they drew nigh unto Jerusalem, and were come to Bethphage, unto the
mount of Olives, then sent Jesus two disciples,
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.
if any man say ought unto you,
ye shall say, The Lord hath need of them; and straightway he will send
this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet,
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.
the disciples went, and did as Jesus commanded them,
brought the ass, and the colt, and put on them their clothes, and they set
a very great multitude spread their garments in the way; others cut down
branches from the trees, and strawed them in the way.
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.
when he was come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, Who is
the multitude said, This is Jesus the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee.
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:
made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant,
and was made in the likeness of men:
being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient
unto death, even the death of the cross.
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.
“and he that sat upon him was
called Faithful and True”
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
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.
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
“and in righteousness he doth judge and make war.”
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.
Listen to Jude 14-15, which speaks of Enoch’s preaching some
5,000 years ago:
Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold,
the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints,
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.
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.
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.
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!