Friday 18th June 2021
Revelation 19: 11 – 16
Then I saw heaven opened, and there was a white horse! Its rider is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems; and he has a name inscribed that no one knows but himself. He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is called The Word of God. And the armies of heaven, wearing fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron; he will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has a name inscribed, ‘King of kings and Lord of lords’.
From an earthly perspective, the Seer witnesses the heavens opened, and a divine warrior riding out on a white horse leading the heavenly armies. Although we are told that only the Rider knows his name (v.12), we are left in no doubt that this is Christ, known as the Word of God (v.13) and ‘King of kings and Lord of lords’ (v.16). This seeming contradiction reinforces the mystery surrounding Christ’s return.
But we know that Christ will return, and that the return will bring judgement, as powerfully portrayed in v.15. The ‘sharp sword’ protruding from the Rider’s mouth recalls the ‘sword of the Lord’ familiar from various Old Testament passages (e.g. Deut. 32:41; Isa. 34:5-6; Ezek. 21:3-5; 30:24; 32:10), a potent symbol of eschatological judgement. The ‘rod of iron’ which the Rider wields to rule the nations offers a messianic interpretation of Psalm 2:9. ‘Treading the winepress’ is a further metaphor for divine judgement (Isa. 63:2-3).
During this time when nations seem to be increasingly divided, and our world more fragmented than ever, the Seer reminds us that ultimately all will be accountable to Christ. National identity will be irrelevant when we are confronted by the Christ whose robe is stained with the blood he shed for the whole of errant humankind.
Forgive us our complacency:
our cowardly desire to shy away from your fiery gaze
which illuminates our failures and wrongdoing.
Forgive us our divisiveness,
when we distinguish between ‘them’ and ‘us’
and fail to recognize our responsibilities
towards one another in our fractured world.
Forgive us, and help us
to overcome the dividing barriers
as one people united
in the Christ who died for all. Amen.