POST OVERVIEW. This post compares the rider on the white horse of Rev. 6:2 with the Rider on the white horse of Rev. 19:11 to reveal how to interpret these two passages.
THE CONTEXT OF THE RIDERS
In Revelation 5, the victorious Lamb is given a scroll sealed with seven seals, and the Lamb is the only one worthy to open the scroll and to break its seals. He breaks the first seal and a rider on a white horse rides out “conquering and to conquer” (Rev. 6:2). Then later, in Rev. 19:11, we encounter another Rider on a white horse who “judges and wages war.” In this post, by comparing these two riders, we will show what these two symbols represent and how beautifully they relate to one another.
As is evident from this chart, the parallels between the riders are both profound and intentional. The first rider of Rev. 6:2 represents the commissioned church as it rides out at the very start of the gospel age conquering the nations with the bow of the gospel. Then on the last day, at the very end of the gospel age the Lord Jesus comes from heaven to judge the rebellious nations and to pour out God’s wrath on all those who oppose Him. The first rider (6:2) goes out to proclaim the gospel message, a message which is able to bring the dead to life, but the second rider (19:11-21) goes out with a sharp sword, a sword which will put the living to death.
“Behold, a white horse!” But the appearance of the different horses produces very different responses. The white horse in Rev. 6:2 carries a rider who is proclaiming the good news of the gospel, so when the shout “Behold!” is heard for this white horse and rider, joy begins to spread. Armed with the bow of the gospel, this rider is conquering the nations to bring many into the King’s army. This rider is welcome because he brings good news. This is the proclamation of the favorable year of the Lord (Luke 4:18-19), the announcement of “the acceptable time” and “the day of salvation” (2 Cor. 6:1-2). This is the opening of the gospel age, the time of the great ingathering of the elect as the Gentiles are called from every tribe and tongue to repent and believe in Jesus.
By contrast, when the nations hear “Behold, a white horse!” for this second Rider (Rev. 19:11), it will be a time of horror and despair. The Rider on this white horse “judges and wages war.” “From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations” (Rev. 19:15). The second sounding of “Behold!” announces the end of the gospel age and declares that the time for mercy is forever past. Now there is only “a terrifying expectation of judgment and THE FURY OF A FIRE WHICH WILL CONSUME THE ADVERSARIES” (Heb. 10:27). When the shout “Behold!” is heard to warn of this Rider’s approach, it is only a notice that all hope is to be abandoned, for “there will be delay no longer” (Rev. 10:6).
SUMMARY AND INTERPRETATION
We have shown that there is an obvious parallel between the two riders on white horses who are located at the beginning and the end of the gospel age. The rider sent out at the breaking of the first seal in Rev. 6:1-2 represents the commissioned church going out to proclaim the gospel message to the nations. The Rider who rides out in Rev. 19:11-21 is the Lord Jesus coming “to judge the living and the dead” (2 Tim. 4:1) on the last day as He “strikes down the nations” (Rev. 19:15).
The interpretation that we have proposed emerges entirely from these two texts, but there are other passages in Revelation which connect with these riders and which strengthen and clarify other points of interpretation. A future post will explore those connections.
Soli Deo gloria rmb 2/25/2023 #628