Who is the Rider on the White Horse?
When Jesus Christ, the rightful heir of all things (Hebrews 1:2) opens the first seal of the title deed to the earth, we behold one going forth on a “white horse”. In reading commentaries, almost all expositors, that is, those who do not hold to the Preterist View of the Revelation, but believe that we are living prior to the millennial reign of Christ (Premillenial View), describe the one sitting on this “white horse” as the Antichrist. Most believe Antichrist arrives on the scene to “confirm the covenant” (Daniel 9:27) with Israel at the beginning of the seven year tribulation (Daniel's Seventieth Week), and in the midst of those years he betrays the Jews with his abomination of desolation, causing their sacrifices to cease. In this writers mind there is no question that all of these things will take place, but is Antichrist the rider on the white horse mentioned in Revelation 6:2?
Those who advocate for this interpretation say the rider has a bow, but no arrows, and that this signifies that he comes in peace with military might behind him. They would say, he has a crown, signifying his dominion over the kingdoms of the world, as he goes forth conquering and to conquer.
Now these things, as they interpret it are true of the Antichrist. The Bible tells us, that he enters in “peaceably” (Daniel 11:21, 24). He shall be a politician without equal. “And through his policy also he shall cause craft to prosper in his hand; and he shall magnify himself in his heart, and by peace shall destroy many” (Daniel 8:25). The word “craft” is usually translated “deceit”. He is a proud deceiver (Revelation 20:3) and by his quasi peace pacts he shall destroy many. This is how the Day of the Lord starts. “For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.” (1 Thessalonians 5:2-3). He shall be like the false prophets of old who “have seduced my people, saying, Peace; and there was no peace” (Ezekiel 13:10), for right on the heels of the white horse “went out another horse that was red: and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another: and there was given unto him a great sword.” (Revelation 6:3-4)
But we still ask, does the rider on the white horse signify the Antichrist?
Now this being yet future, I believe we have some liberality when seeking to understand those things that the Lord has told us concerning the end times, but it may not always be crystal clear, and perhaps it is designed this way, as in many of the Scriptures, to encourage us to be diligent in our “study” of His Word (2 Timothy 2:15, Proverbs 15:28). Although Daniel was given great understanding in dreams and visions, he still had to search “for the meaning” (Daniel 8:15) and did “set thine heart to understand” (Daniel 10:12). But some of the visions he was told, “shut thou up the vision; for it shall be for many days”. They were amazed at the “vision, but none understood it” (Daniel 8:26-27). Daniel was told of great and mighty things concerning the “time of the end”, but of these he said, “I heard, but I understood not: then said I, O my Lord, what shall be the end of these things? And he said, Go thy way, Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end.” (Daniel 12:4, 8-9)
The fact of the matter is, some of the things pertaining to the “time of the end” are not clearly understood before they take place, but as we study, things do become more obvious as the Holy Spirit reveals them to us (John 16:13; 1 Corinthians 2:9-10), and when these things begin to come to pass, we know it shall be much clearer as the day dawns (1 Corinthians 13:12; 1 Peter 1:10-12). In that day, “none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand” (Daniel 12:10). Today, many Biblical expositors are quite certain that we are living in the shadow of the last days, and that we are that “generation” that is witnessing things that no other generation has observed. But when certain things have not yet clearly come to pass, we need to be careful in our “dogmatism”.
So that brings us to the topic of this article. What we would like to put forth, is that there may be another interpretation of the rider on the “white horse”. We must understand that when Christ is given the scroll by His Father, it is the title deed to the earth. The Lord is in control and He is the One opening its seals who begins executing His Word on a Christ rejecting world. The judgments therein are designed to “destroy sinners out of the earth” (Isaiah 13:9), “For the indignation of the LORD is upon all nations” (Isaiah 34:2, Zephaniah 3:8), and that day is when the “times of the Gentiles” (Luke 21:24) will find its end. He says, “I will overthrow the throne of kingdoms, and I will destroy the strength of the kingdoms of the heathen; and I will overthrow the chariots, and those that ride in them; and the horses and their riders shall come down” (Haggai 2:22). Before Christ returns to reign on the throne of His father David, the invaders must be expelled. The judgments are poured out on the wicked including the Antichrist, the most Wicked of them all, and his kingdom (Revelation 16:10-11).
In Daniel's prophecy of the Seventy Weeks (Daniel 9:24-27) God had determined a timeframe where He would be dealing specifically with the Jew's and Jerusalem. This was equivalent to 490 years, but after 483 years, the Messiah would come and be cut off for the sins of the world. Jerusalem would then be destroyed and the Jews scattered to the four corners of the world, because they did not know the time of their visitation. God would now turn to the Gentiles (Romans 11:25) to take out of them a people for His name (Acts 15:14-16), and begin to build the Church which is His body, a mystery that was not revealed in the Old Testament (Colossians 1:24-27, Ephesians 3:2-9). Albeit, seven years were left hanging in the balance, Daniel's Seventieth Week, where He would turn back to His dealings with the Jew's and Jerusalem. This seven years, at the end of the age, many have commonly referred to as the “tribulation” whereas the last 3-1/2 years was referred by Christ as, “the great tribulation”.
During this same time that Christ is building His Church, God would be restraining evil in the world, shining the Light of Christ through His Body. The nations were being called “out of darkness into His marvelous Light” (1 Peter 2:9, Ephesians 5:8, Acts 26:18, John 12:46), but at the end of the age, the Light would wax dim as many would “depart from the faith” (1 Timothy 4:1) and “evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived” (2 Timothy 3:1, 13). It would be like in the days of Noah (Luke 17:26, Genesis 6:5, 11-12), just like in the days of Lot (Luke 17:28-29, Genesis 13:13; 18:20; 19:4-7), until the believers were taken out of the way of judgment, and then God destroyed the wicked. Wars, racism, corruption, wickedness and violence would increase like the pangs of childbirth before Christ returns to save those who turn to Him from annihilation (Matthew 24:22).
In the end, when Christ takes the Scroll, it is the beginning of the war to end all wars. It is the final battle for the throne of the universe which Satan has usurped. The “throne of David” was promised to his heir, God's Son, whom shall rule the nations with a rod of iron. But Satan had said in his heart, “I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.” (Isaiah 14:13-14) But this is the location where Christ shall have His throne (Psalm 48:1-2).
Though the heathen rage and the people imagine a vain thing, taking council against the Lord and His Anointed, God has set forth His decree. He says He will “set my king upon my holy hill of Zion. I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee. Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel.” (Psalm 2:6-9)
The inhabitants of the earth had foolishly thought they could kill the Prince of Life and seize on His inheritance (Acts 3:15, Matthew 21:38-39), but God raised Him from the dead, whom He “declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead” (Romans 1:3-4, Acts 13:33). When Christ takes the Scroll, He is going forth to smash and break to pieces His enemies with a rod of iron. He is not going forth as the Lamb of God to suffer and take away the sins of the World, no, He is coming as the Lion of the tribe of Judah. “The LORD is a man of war: the LORD is his name.” (Exodus 15:3)
When John saw that there was none to take the scroll, and put an end to the madness, He wept (Revelation 5:1-4). The Bible tells us a madness would overtake the nations at the end of the age, like a drunken stupor (Jeremiah 51:7), and we are seeing it before our very eyes. But then, a Word of consolation and rejoicing came to him. “Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.” (Revelation 5:5) And great rejoicing breaks out in heaven as He, who is seen as a Lamb as it had been slain, ALIVE and sitting on the throne, go forth and take the scroll from His Father.
The Lord had died for our sins and rose from the dead, and is now ascended to heaven. Having finished the work His Father gave Him to do on the Cross of Calvary, He sat down at the right hand of His Father and has been there interceding for His people (Romans 8:34). But now, at this point in the Revelation, we must understand that the Lord is no longer sitting at the right hand of His Father, He has risen up to take the Scroll from the right hand of His Father and to begin opening its seals. Listen to the majestic Psalm 110 in its context. “The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool. The LORD shall send the rod of thy strength out of Zion: rule thou in the midst of thine enemies. Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power... The Lord at thy right hand shall strike through kings in the day of his wrath. He shall judge among the heathen, he shall fill the places with the dead bodies; he shall wound the heads over many countries.” (Psalm 110: 1-7)
This is when the great Day of the Lord begins. Let me tell you, from this point in time, He is the One who is going forth, “conquering and to conquer”. He is the One going to take back the kingdoms of this world from Satan to Himself. He is the One who is going forth with a “bow”, riding the “white horse”. And what is this “bow”? We believe there is an enigmatic reference to it in the third chapter of Habakkuk.
“Thy bow was made quite naked, according to the oaths of the tribes, even thy word. Selah.” (Habakkuk 3:9)
During the tribulation His Word will accomplish two things, new children will be born via the gospel (1 Peter 1:23-25, Matthew 24:14) as great multitudes come to Christ (Revelation 7:9-10, 13-14), but first and foremost, “he cometh to judge the earth: he shall judge the world with righteousness, and the people with his truth.” (Psalm 96:13) His Word is Truth (John 17:17). He is going to judge the world in righteousness, He is going forth to conquer His enemies. At any rate, “when thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness.” (Isaiah 26:9)
His bow is taken out of the quiver, no longer sheathed. His bow is made very naked, ready to execute judgment on the enemies of His people, even His “Word”. When He rises up, He “he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked.” (Isaiah 11:4) And this according to the “oaths of the tribes”. God had made covenant with His people, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and to the Twelve Tribes of Israel. When the Lord Jesus Christ came in human flesh and was presented in the Temple, when the prophet Simeon beheld His Salvation, he declared:
“Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people,
And hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David;
As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began:
That we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us;
To perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant;
The oath which he sware to our father Abraham,
That he would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve him without fear,
In holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life.” (Luke 1:68-75)
God, who “cannot lie”, He “promised”, He made “covenant”, “The oath which He sware”, “To perform the mercy”, “That He WOULD grant unto” them, that they would “be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us”. He will “deliver”, guaranteed, that they “might serve him without fear, In holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life.” Nevertheless, holiness and righteousness is something that the Tribes of Israel do not yet posses, but when He comes to deliver them from their enemies, He shall take away their sins (Daniel 9:24).
When Christ rises up, He is coming to perform His oaths, and to fulfill that which He has promised, to destroy His enemies and that of His people, and He is going to reign on the throne of His father David, and His people shall serve Him without fear, in the beauty of holiness. He is coming to perform that which “He spake by the mouth of His holy prophets”, and Habakkuk is one of them. And in the context of his third chapter there are the rumblings of judgment. “O LORD, I have heard thy speech, and was afraid: O LORD, revive thy work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make known; in wrath remember mercy.” (Habakkuk 3:2) When the Lord rises up, the “dispensation of the grace of God” (Ephesians 3:2-6) shall have come to the end. He has removed His Bride, the Church which is His Body, and raptured them up to be with Him out of harm's way. And now, He shall no longer be speaking to the inhabitants of the earth in the manifold graces of the gospel. Now He “shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure.” (Psalm 2:5)
Habakkuk prays, “O LORD, revive thy work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make known; in wrath remember mercy.” The dispensation of grace may be over, but our God is still a God of grace and mercy, even in the Day of His wrath. “In the midst of the years”, is that in the midst of the seven years of Daniel's Seventieth Week? When He protects His people Israel from the wrath of Satan (Revelation 12:12-17)?
But there are more revelations of tribulation, which is too much to comment on, but here is some of what Habakkuk had to say. “Before him went the pestilence, and burning coals went forth at his feet. He stood, and measured the earth: he beheld, and drove asunder the nations; and the everlasting mountains were scattered, the perpetual hills did bow: his ways are everlasting... I saw the tents of Cushan in affliction: and the curtains of the land of Midian did tremble. Was the LORD displeased against the rivers? was thine anger against the rivers? was thy wrath against the sea, that thou didst ride upon thine horses and thy chariots of salvation? Thy bow was made quite naked, according to the oaths of the tribes, even thy word. Selah. Thou didst cleave the earth with rivers. The mountains saw thee, and they trembled: the overflowing of the water passed by: the deep uttered his voice, and lifted up his hands on high. The sun and moon stood still in their habitation: at the light of thine arrows they went, and at the shining of thy glittering spear. Thou didst march through the land in indignation, thou didst thresh the heathen in anger. Thou wentest forth for the salvation of thy people, even for salvation with thine anointed; thou woundedst the head out of the house of the wicked [Genesis 3:15], by discovering the foundation unto the neck. Selah. Thou didst strike through with his staves the head of his villages: they came out as a whirlwind to scatter me: their rejoicing was as to devour the poor secretly. Thou didst walk through the sea with thine horses, through the heap of great waters. When I heard, my belly trembled; my lips quivered at the voice: rottenness entered into my bones, and I trembled in myself, that I might rest in the day of trouble: when he cometh up unto the people, he will invade them with his troops.” (Habakkuk 3:5-16)
The first rider I believe to be Jesus. He is riding a white horse. He has a “bow... even thy Word”. The Word of God is powerful as He goes forth uttering His voice. “The heathen raged, the kingdoms were moved: he uttered his voice, the earth melted.” (Psalm 46:6) Listen, “The LORD shall roar from on high, and utter his voice from his holy habitation; he shall mightily roar upon his habitation; he shall give a shout, as they that tread the grapes, against all the inhabitants of the earth.” (Jeremiah 25:30) The prophet David said, “The LORD thundered from heaven, and the most High uttered his voice. And he sent out arrows...” (2 Samuel 22:14-15). Zechariah says that out of Judah shall come the Messiah, "the battle bow" (Zechariah 10:4). The Psalmist said, "Thine arrows are sharp in the heart of the king’s enemies; whereby the people fall under thee." (Psalm 45:5)
“He had a bow; And a crown was given to Him”. Most expositors say this crown is given to Antichrist, and indeed, Antichrist is a king and receives power to rule for a short season. They say that this “crown” (Gr. stephanos; Revelation 6:2) is not the same “crown” (Gr. diadema) that the rider on the white horse is wearing in Revelation 19:11-12. First of all, that “crown” (Gr. diadema), that Christ is wearing in Revelation 19 is only mentioned 3 times in the Bible. The other two times it is the “crowns” that the Dragon is wearing, on his “heads” and “horns” (Revelation 12:3; 13:1), which signify the kingdoms and kings of the earth. But understand, when Christ returns, He is coming to take back the kingdoms of this world that have been usurped by Satan (Luke 4:5-7), and we hear of Christ's great victory over the world when the angel with the seventh trumpet sounds, “The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.” (Revelation 11:15) Hallelujah! When He returns, the stone which the builders rejected is going to smash the kingdoms of this earth (Daniel 2:34-35) and they shall become our Lord's and He shall reign forever.
But what of the “crown” (Gr. stephanos) that the rider of the white horse in Revelation 6:2 is wearing? In the Revelation we find elsewhere One wearing this same crown. “And I looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat like unto the Son of man, having on his head a golden crown (Gr. stephanos), and in his hand a sharp sickle.” (Revelation 14:14) When the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of man, returns, He is coming to execute judgment. But just what is this “crown” He is wearing? The very first time this “crown” (Gr. stephanos) is mentioned in the Bible is in the book of Matthew. “And when they had platted a crown (Gr. stephanos) of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand: and they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews!” (Matthew 27:29) And Pilate said to the people “Behold the man!” (John 19:5)
Oh, and they shall behold Him again. “Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.” (Revelation 1:7) “And then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory.” (Mark 13:26)
But for the believer, this crown of thorns that the mockers had given Him, has become a “golden crown” (Revelation 4:4), it has become our crown of salvation. It has become a “crown of rejoicing”. “For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming?” (1 Thessalonians 2:19) It has become a “crown of righteousness”. “Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.” (2 Timothy 4:8) It has become “a crown of life”. “Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.” (James 1:12) And a “crown of glory”. “And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.” (1 Peter 5:4)
We pray you behold Him today, the One who was crowned with thorns, crucified for sinners and risen from the dead, who is now “crowned with glory and honor” (Hebrews 2:9). One day SOON He will return to earth, but it shall be with a bow and sickle in hand. With a sharp sword proceeding out of His mouth.
“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. 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. And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. 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. And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS... And the remnant were slain with the sword of him that sat upon the horse, which sword proceeded out of his mouth” (Revelation 19:11-16, 21)
The victory is His, He shall conquer all His enemies, He is the One coming, “conquering and to conquer”. Christ is the One sending forth the judgments throughout the Revelation. He is the One who is conquering as each judgment goes forth from Revelation 6 right up to Revelation 19 where He ultimately conquers at the Battle of Armageddon. The Antichrist may try to conquer, but ultimately, in the end, he shall be conquered. Whose side are you on?
Many have wondered how God can tolerate all the suffering and evils that go on today, but this answers to His longsuffering, not willing that any should perish but come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9, 15). When the great DAY of His wrath comes, we find that most will not repent (Revelation 9:20-21; 16:9-11), so TODAY is the day of Salvation. If you hear His voice, harden not your hearts.