e. The Victorious Warrior: Christ, 19:11 to 20: 10
(Below also is: (a) Victory over the First and Second Beasts, 19:19-21
and also (b) Victory over the Allies of the Beasts, 19:21)
The next triumph in the series is that of Christ.
Up to this point He has been pictured as Lion, Judge, and now, He is a victorious Warrior.
There appears to be little doubt that He is the One symbolized here.
The Christians who view the pageant see the curtains drawn to reveal one riding on a white horse,
symbolical of victory.
The rider is called " Faithful and True," " The Word of God,"
and on His garment is written " King of kings, and Lord of lords."
These names identify Him as the Christ.
In the beginning of the book He was called " the faithful and true witness" (1:5; 3:7; 3:14).
One of John's favorite terms for Christ is the " word of God" -- God's utterance to man.
The Lamb is identified in 17:14 as " Lord of lords, and King of kings."
Aside from the names there are other marks which identify Him: " His eyes are a flame of fire." (1:14)
" Out of his mouth proceedeth a sharp sword." (1: 16)
" He shall rule them [the nations with a rod of iron." (12: 5)
" He is arrayed in a garment sprinkled with blood." (Isaiah 63: 3)
The victorious Warrior is not by himself.
He is followed by heavenly armies.
All the riders are upon white horses and they wear pure white linen.
All this is symbolical of victory.
No statement is made as to whether or not they are armed.
Their leader is before them, and He is armed with a sharp sword which proceeded out of His mouth.
With it He is to smite the enemy into subjection, and then rule them with the strength of iron.
The sword is best identified as " a spiritual weapon of resistless might."
Some have called it the Bible, since the Bible is spoken of as the " Sword of the Spirit."
Others call it simply " Judgment," a similar symbol to the sickle of chapter 14.
Whichever or whatever it is, it is a spiritual weapon of resistless might.
With it, He wins the battle.
The victory is announced before the battle begins.
An angel standing in the sun, the direction from which light for a dark world comes,
issues an invitation to the birds of the heavens to come together for a feast which
God would prepare for them.
They were invited to eat the flesh of kings, of military captains, of mighty men, of horses,
of horsemen, of all men, free and slave, small and great.
The carnage of the enemies of God is going to be great.
The scene closes with the birds of prey flocking to the battlefield.
(a) Victory over the First and Second Beasts, 19: 19-21
The battle is soon over.
The beast and his allied kings of the earth and the false prophet were no match f
or the victorious Warrior and his sharp sword.
The beast and the false prophet were cast alive into the " lake that burneth with brimstone."
The rest were killed with the sword which came from the mouth of the victorious Christ.
The destruction was complete.
The battle was over.
Christ is victorious.
As at various other places in Revelation, there has been much dispute as to the correct interpretation here.
The futurists look on this as a literal battle which will usher in the kingdom of God.
One view concludes that both riders and horses are literal.
Another in speaking of the birds of prey invited to the feast are said to be literal vultures
that shall fatten on the bodies of the slain.
Writers of this group look upon the beast as the personal Antichrist of the last days
and expect his army to be a military force, brought to Palestine for warfare against the Jews.
By that time he will have complete possession of the land, and the Lord and His army
will have to overthrow him to set up the millennial kingdom.
Those of the continuous-historical school, and have viewed the beast to as the Roman Catholic Church,
must, to remain consistent, find in this passage of great struggle by which that power is overthrown.
Since the Roman Catholic Church is still in existence, they teach that Armageddon is yet in the future.
A frequent objection to the above methods of interpretation again is what possible meaning
would these ideas have had for the Christians of John's day.
For the proper interpretation of the book, we must always seek for a starting point in the immediate age
and circumstances of the writer, and of those for whose instruction, assurance, and comfort he writes.
This is a book thoroughly suited to the times in which it was produced.
Armageddon is not a place name.
It is a symbolic term for a decisive conflict.
Christ is pictured as coming down from heaven, but this does not picture the second coming of Christ
which we find discussed elsewhere in the New Testament.
This scene symbolically represents His coming to the aid of the persecuted Christians
with heavenly assistance in their spiritual struggles.
If the beast is identified, as it has been in this work, with the emperor as he personified
the pagan persecuting Roman Empire, there is no other explanation of this battle.
It is a vivid symbolical representation of the final victory of the cause of Christ
and people over that pagan Empire.
The beast (Domitian) and the second beast (false prophet, Roman Concilia, state religion priesthood)
were cast into the lake that burns with fire and brimstone.
This is symbolical of their destruction.
Christ overcomes them.
The Christians are bothered with them no more.
The conflict pictured is a spiritual conflict.
(b) Victory over the Allies of the Beasts, 19:21
It is interesting to note that even among those who hold this position there is much division as to detail.
For instance, the scholars are divided over the meaning of the statement
" the rest were killed with a sword of him that sat upon the horse,
even the sword which came forth out of his mouth."
One group holds that this means the conversion of the allies of Rome when they saw Rome fall.
In this way they were numbered as casualties.
Either they were converted or rendered disinclined or unable any longer to lend their support
to the policy of persecution.
Others hold that this is indicative of His power in the judgments when He speaks
-- the death-dealing power of the Messiah uttered against His foes.
Some take no definite stand on this detail of the symbolism, while one man very boldly
takes a position that it means both.
He holds that the sword is that of which Paul speaks in Ephesians 6: 17,
and that in interpreting, room should probably be allowed for punitive as well as restorative operations.
The Word slays by pronouncing judgment as well as by reducing to the obedience of faith.
But, he believes, it is probably the latter process which is chiefly in view.
With such good evidence on both sides of the question, this position affords a convenient solution.
Some scholars have objected to this entire method of interpreting this symbolic battle.
They have done so on the basis that the language is to warlike and severe in character
to allow such an interpretation.
All the details are severe: flaming eyes, drawn sword, rod of iron, wine press of wrath,
These are in better keeping with the destruction of real war than with the idea
of spiritual judgment upon men.
It must not be forgotten, however, that such battle terms are used in Christian songs of today.
For instance: " Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war,"
" Lead on O King Eternal, the day of march has come ... we lift our battle song"
-- all these are phrases representing nothing more than spiritual conflict as the gospel is advanced.
They are very vivid and realistic.
In this chapter of Revelation, the familiar military symbolism is pressed to its limit to create
the proper impression -- certain victory for the cause of righteousness over the beast,
the false prophet, and their allies.
This meant freedom from persecution for the Christians.
The pagan religion and godless governments of Rome were doomed to fall.
And when they fail, God's cause, God's people, God's purposes would go right on living and growing.
It is at such points as these in the book that the philosophy of history school makes its bid for recognition.
Their verdict would be: "This symbolizes the complete victory of the Son of God
over all hosts of wickedness, not just in John's age but in any age of the world's history."
That is true, but the primary emphasis is on the victory over the pagan false religion of Asia Minor about A.D. 95.
Next: (e) Victory over Satan, 20: 1-3)