The Triumph of the Saints.
A. D. 95.
11 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. 12 His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. 13 And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. 14 And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. 15 And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. 16 And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS. 17 And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, Come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the great God; 18 That ye may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses, and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all men, both free and bond, both small and great. 19 And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army. 20 And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone. 21 And the remnant were slain with the sword of him that sat upon the horse, which sword proceeded out of his mouth: and all the fowls were filled with their flesh.
No sooner was the marriage solemnized between Christ and his church by the conversion of the Jews than the glorious head and husband of the church is called out to a new expedition, which seems to be the great battle that was to be fought at Armageddon, foretold ch. xvi. 16. And here observe,
I. The description of the great Commander,
1. By the seat of his empire; and that is heaven; his throne is there, and his power and authority are heavenly and divine.
2. His equipage: he is again described as sitting on a white horse, to show the equity of the cause, and certainty of success.
3. His attributes: he is faithful and true to his covenant and promise, he is righteous in all his judicial and military proceedings, he has a penetrating insight into all the strength and stratagems of his enemies, he has a large and extensive dominion, many crowns, for he is King of kings, and Lord of lords.
4. His armour; and that is a vesture dipped in blood, either his own blood, by which he purchased this mediatorial power, or the blood of his enemies, over whom he has always prevailed.
5. His name: The Word of God, a name that none fully knows but himself, only this we know, that this Word was God manifest in the flesh; but his perfections are incomprehensible by any creature.
II. The army which he commands (v. 14), a very large one, made up of many armies; angels and saints followed his conduct, and resembled him in their equipage, and in their armour of purity and righteousness–chosen, and called, and faithful.
III. The weapons of his warfare–A sharp sword proceeding from his mouth (v. 15), with which he smites the nations, either the threatenings of the written word, which now he is going to execute, or rather his word of command calling on his followers to take a just revenge on his and their enemies, who are now put into the wine-press of the wrath of God, to be trodden under foot by him.
IV. The ensigns of his authority, his coat of arms–a name written on his vesture and thigh, King of kings, and Lord of lords, asserting his authority and power, and the cause of the quarrel, v. 16.
V. An invitation given to the fowls of heaven, that they should come and see the battle, and share in the spoil and pillage of the field (v. 17, 18), intimating that this great decisive engagement should leave the enemies of the church a feast for the birds of prey, and that all the world should have cause to rejoice in the issue of it.
VI. The battle joined. The enemy falls on with great fury, headed by the beast, and the kings of the earth; the powers of earth and hell gathered, to make their utmost effort, v. 19.
VII. The victory gained by the great and glorious head of the church: The beast and the false prophet, the leaders of the army, are taken prisoners, both he who led them by power and he who led them by policy and falsehood; these are taken and cast into the burning lake, made incapable of molesting the church of God any more; and their followers, whether officers or common soldiers, are given up to military execution, and made a feast for the fowls of heaven. Though the divine vengeance will chiefly fall upon the beast, and the false prophet, yet it will be no excuse to those who fight under their banner that they only followed their leaders and obeyed their command; since they would fight for them, they must fall and perish with them. Be wise now therefore, O you kings, be instructed, you rulers of the earth; kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish from the way, Ps. ii. 10, 12.
– Matthew Henry Commentary