As we near the end of Revelation, we’re going to see a lot of people get destroyed. In this section, it is WHAT they are destroyed by that I really want o focus on. You’ve all heard the phrase, “He who lives by the sword will die by the sword.” But let me put a different twist on it- and this is the point of this passage: He who does not live by the Word, will die by the Word.
And this is both true and tragic. We see this played out in many people’s lives today. When you refuse to live by the Word, you will die by the Word. Let’s look at our text:
11 Then I saw heaven opened, and a white horse was standing there. Its rider was named Faithful and True, for he judges fairly and wages a righteous war.
Right off the bat, we see Jesus is a conquering king here. He is victorious, riding on a white horse. This is technical terminology for a cultural event that we miss. It’s called a Triumphal procession, and they were common in the Roman Empire in the first century.
But they’re important to understand how the Biblical writers spoke about the return of Christ, so let me walk you through this technical teaching so you can understand better passages like 1 Thess. 4:17:
17 Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever.
That word, “meet” is the word ἀπάντησις which points directly to a triumphal entry.
In a triumphal procession, an emperor or general would go victorious into the city, and the people from the city would go out, and they would apantēsis him. They would meet him to bring him back into the city. And they would all be wearing white robes, and it was a festival celebrating the victory of a battle that had been won. (after the battle, but interestingly, John places the triumphal entry before the battle, so why would he ride victorious? The cross. Victory was already claimed at the cross).
This marks the beginning of the imagery of the triumphal entry of the Emperor of emperors.
1. Emperor rides in on a white horse. (Rev. 19:11)
2. Emperor wearing a purple toga laced with golden thread draped over his tunic.
3. Wearing a crown on his head and depicting himself as God (Jupiter). (Christ wears many crowns).
4. Citizens are wearing white robes and honoring the victory of the emperor. (Church is wearing white robes).
5. Emperor surrounded by his army, which would wear symbols of their victory.
6. Main attraction is the leader of the enemy bound in chains being led behind the white horse.
7. The emperor would lead the enemy to the steps of the temple of Jupiter and acting as the chief god, would slay the enemy on the temple steps. (Jesus is depicted as God- this is why Satan MUST be released- to partake in his execution- at the feet of the "temple" his people (the Church is the Temple)).
This is the imagery at play in 2 Cor. 2:14-16
14 But thank God! He has made us his captives and continues to lead us along in Christ’s triumphal procession. Now he uses us to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere, like a sweet perfume. 15 Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God. But this fragrance is perceived differently by those who are being saved and by those who are perishing. 16 To those who are perishing, we are a dreadful smell of death and doom. But to those who are being saved, we are a life-giving perfume. And who is adequate for such a task as this?
So we have this picture of Christ's second coming to bring fruition to the victory he attained at the cross over Satan and those who align with him. So that’s going to be the picture going forward, and it will be important for how we see some of the things that are said about Satan later in this book.
And right off the bat, there’s a heavy emphasis on who Jesus is. He has two names: Faithful and True.
This is to be our call as people of Jesus. We are to imitate Jesus, and be faithful truth-tellers in a culture that loves lies. We need to break through the lies that people believe. This is why we don’t compromise on the transgender issue. When the world calls women men and men women, we stand on the inherent truth of creation. This is why we don’t compromise on abortion. It’s a human life, and it’s murder to kill it.
We must faithfully live by the Word of Truth and constantly remind our culture of their exchange of Truth for lies. Because He who does not live by the Word, will die by the Word. We need to be faithful people, not careful people.
Douglas Wilson, a reformed and evangelical theologian in Idaho said this:
"Desperate times call for faithful men, and not for careful men. The careful men come later and write the biographies of the faithful men, lauding them for their courage.”
Which kind are you? He who does not live by the Word, will die by the Word.
12 His eyes were like flames of fire, and on his head were many crowns. A name was written on him that no one understood except himself.
That name means no one has any power over him. Many people in the 1st century believed that if someone knew your name, they had power over you.
13 He wore a robe dipped in blood, and his title was the Word of God.
14 The armies of heaven, dressed in the finest of pure white linen, followed him on white horses.
15 From his mouth came a sharp sword to strike down the nations. He will rule them with an iron rod. He will release the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty, like juice flowing from a winepress.
His robe is white, but it’s dipped in blood! Whose blood? Is it the blood of the saints? The blood of his enemies? Or his own blood? It’s his own blood on the robe. Because this victory was secured at the cross. Remember, I keep making this analogy: we exist between D-Day and V-Day. The Cross is D-Day.
And he’s called the Word of God!!! Do you see what John is doing here? This is the same author who wrote:
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God.
14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
He IS the Word of God, so truly, He who does not live by the Word, will die by the Word. If you don’t live by the grace of Christ, you will be condemned by the word of Christ! Jesus is the very word of Yahweh! When he speaks, it is with all the authority of the Godhead. In fact, we see this in Genesis 1. God the Father is giving the intent, Jesus is speaking, and the Spirit is hovering over the waters. Read back through Genesis with Jesus’ identity firmly in mind, and you will see Genesis 1 as a beautiful picture of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit working in unity to carry out their purposes!
This is Jesus’ third name in this passage: Faithful, True, and now, “Word of God”.
16 On his robe at his thigh was written this title: King of all kings and Lord of all lords.
As an aside: (whispering):
“I thought tattoos were bad. How can Jesus have a tattoo?” Now, obviously, Revelation is highly symbolic, but if you have an issue with tattoos, I’m happy to discuss that with you.
But there’s Jesus’ fourth name. This section communicates power. Jesus’ name means power. He is faithful, true, the Word of God, and the King of kings, and the Lord of lords. No one has power over him. And he has given us his Word. Not just the Bible, but also himself. And it is Jesus alone for salvation. He who does not live by the Word, will die by the Word. And Scripture reveals him to us.
16 All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.
His word leads us to life. If we reject it, we will die. If we refuse to submit to it, we will die.
10 Whoever abandons the right path will be severely disciplined; whoever hates correction will die.
He who does not live by the Word, will die by the Word.
13 “You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. 14 But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it.
Jesus is the narrow gate. Live by the Word, so you don’t die by the word.
17 Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, shouting to the vultures flying high in the sky: “Come! Gather together for the great banquet God has prepared. 18 Come and eat the flesh of kings, generals, and strong warriors; of horses and their riders; and of all humanity, both free and slave, small and great.” 19 Then I saw the beast and the kings of the world and their armies gathered together to fight against the one sitting on the horse and his army. 20 And the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who did mighty miracles on behalf of the beast—miracles that deceived all who had accepted the mark of the beast and who worshiped his statue. Both the beast and his false prophet were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur. 21 Their entire army was killed by the sharp sword that came from the mouth of the one riding the white horse. And the vultures all gorged themselves on the dead bodies.
This banquet doesn't sound so good. I'm not sure about the menu. Remember those in Christ are invited to the wedding supper. This ain’t it. You get to come to one of two feats. Eat or be eaten, right? He who does not live by the Word, will die by the Word.
This is Armageddon part 2. Remember Revelation 16:16? They gathered for battle, but the battle never happens. And we see this happening here. They gather for battle, and Jesus destroys them with a word. There's no war, it's an execution. Because the battle is already won. That's why Jesus already rides victorious on the white horse- the battle is already won. They won't wage war, they will be executed with a word from the Word. He who does not live by the Word, will die by the Word.
12 For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.
The man of lawlessness the Paul talks about in 2 Thessalonians is destroyed with the breath of Jesus (2 Thess. 2:8). Do you think there might be some significance to that?
8 Then the man of lawlessness will be revealed, but the Lord Jesus will slay him with the breath of his mouth and destroy him by the splendor of his coming.
It's not bad breath. It's the word of God. That the same voice that brought everything into creation is the same voice that destroys rebellious humanity, the beasts, and Satan. And that’s what we’ve seen so far, the destruction of Babylon, and now the beasts. John’s audience in the first century would be expecting the destruction of Satan next. And for us, this should be a passage of hope because we are in the word, and we live by the word.
You’ve heard it said that he who lives by the sword will die by the sword. But this passage is a warning that He who does not live by the Word, will die by the Word.