According to the significance of symbolic language, Christ is here represented as coming personally. The heavens open and he appears in resplendent majesty, in accordance with the predictions respecting his second advent. When the clouds of heaven had received the ascending Saviour, the shining ones who stood by said to the gazing disciples, "This same Jesus which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven," Acts 1:11. "And they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory," Matt.24:30. "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," Rev.1:7.
The white horse of the King, and those of his armies, are symbols of the pomp and grandeur of their descent, and show that they will triumph in victory.
The names ascribed to the descending Monarch are applicable only to Christ. He was "the Faithful and True Witness" who commanded John to write "to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans," (3:14); for he who commanded John to "write in a book and send it unto the seven churches" of Asia (1:11), was the One whom John saw "in the midst of the seven candlesticks, like unto the Son of man" (1:13), and who announced himself as "the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come -- the Almighty," 1:8. "The Word of God," was the "Word" that was "in the beginning," that "was with God," and that "was God," the same that was "in the beginning with God," and which "was made flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth," John 1:1-14. Jesus is "the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world," (Ib., 29); and "the Lamb" "is Lord of lords and King of kings," 17:14. It is "Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the Prince of the kings of the earth," (1:5); and he alone is possessed of that incomprehensible "Name" which no man knoweth, and which he hath promised to write on "him that overcometh," 3:12.
That the visible and personal coming of Christ, and not any providential interposition, is here symbolized, is self-evident. For, while no created object can adequately symbolize Him, it would derogate from the dignity of his character and position to be a symbol of some inferior object. In all mere providential interpositions, foreshown by symbolic imagery, the predicted events are represented by corresponding acts of symbolic agents. War between nations is symbolized by beasts, representatives of the nations, contending with each other. (See Dan.8th chap.) Pestilence and famine are symbolized by analogous results, and not by Christ's appearing. When, therefore, he is seen coming in person, it must symbolize his personal advent.
His eyes "as a flame of fire," show his identity with the one "like unto the Son of man" in the "midst of the seven candlesticks" (1:13), the author of the message to "the church in Thyatira;" which "things saith the Son of God, who hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet like unto fine brass," 2:18.
His "many crowns" are symbols of his sovereignty. Rome undivided and mistress of the world, when symbolized by the seven-headed and ten-horned dragon, is represented with the crowns on the heads, which were the seven successive kinds of government by which its sovereignty was enforced, 12:3, and 17:9, 10. But when its imperial had given place to its decem-regal form, and it is to be shown under the government of ten contemporaneous kingdoms, "the crowns," the symbols of sovereignty, are represented as encircling the "horns" of the beast, 13:1. So, when "the King of kings" cometh, to take to himself his great power, and to reign, and "the kingdoms of this world are become those of our Lord and of his Christ" (11:15, 17), He, "the head of all principality and power" (Col.2:10), at whose name "every knee should bow" (Phil.2:9), is shown the wearer of "many crowns."
"Come, then, and, added to thy many crowns,
His "vesture dipped in blood" is symbolic of his coming to tread "the wine-press of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God" (19:15), when he shall "smite the nations," and "rule them with a rod of iron," (Ib.) Thus Isaiah prophesied: "Who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah? this that is glorious in his apparel, travelling in the greatness of his strength? I that speak in righteousness, mighty to save. Wherefore art thou red in thine apparel, and thy garments like him that treadeth in the wine-fat? I have trodden the wine-press alone; and of the people there was none with me: for I will tread them in mine anger, and trample them in my fury; and their blood shall be sprinkled upon my garments, and I will stain all my raiment. For the day of vengeance is in my heart, and the year of my redeemed is come. And I looked, and there was none to help; and I wondered that there was none to uphold: therefore mine own arm brought salvation unto me; and my fury, it upheld me. And I will tread down the people in mine anger, and make them drunk in my fury, and I will bring down their strength to the earth," Isa.63:1-6.
The "armies" which follow him, symbolize the attending saints and angels who will accompany his advent. They are all "clothed in fine linen, white and clean," which constituted the wedding garments of those who were called to the marriage-supper of the Lamb, and which was worn by those who had washed their robes, and made them white in his blood, (7:14); "for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints," 19:8. The righteous being caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air (1 Thess.4:17), "when Christ, who is our life shall appear," they will "appear with him in glory," (Col.3:4); so that "the Lord my God shall come and all the saints with thee," Zech.14:5. "Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousand of his saints, to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him," Jude 14, 15.
Not only saints, but angels also, will attend his coming. For "when the Son of man shall come in his glory," there will be "all the holy angels with him," Matt.25:31. "He cometh in the glory of his Father, with the holy angels," Mark 8:38. "The Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels," 2 Thess.1:7.
The "sharp sword," going out of his mouth, must be a symbol of his word. He speaks, and it is done, Psa.33:9. "For the word of God is quick and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart," Heb.4:12. As "he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked," (Isa.11:4); and as "the Lord shall consume" "that Wicked" one "with the spirit of his mouth" (2 Thess.2:8), it follows that the sword proceeding out of his mouth is a symbol of the words he shall speak for their destruction; for with it he smites the nations, 19:15. And this he does when he comes to "rule them with a rod of iron" (Ib.) and tread them in "the wine-press" of the wrath of God. This brings us to the object of his coming, which is to "judge and make war," 19:11.
And first, "To judge." This proves, that Christ's second advent is here symbolized; for, as before quoted, he is to "judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and kingdom," 2 Tim.4:1. This is at the sounding of the seventh trumpet, for then is "the time of the dead that they should be judged," 11:18. "With righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth," when he "shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked," Isa.11:4. "Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad; let the sea roar, and the fulness thereof. Let the field be joyful, and all that is therein: then shall all the trees of the wood rejoice before the Lord: for he cometh to judge the earth: he shall judge the world with righteousness, and the people with truth," Psa.96:11-13. He cometh "to execute judgment upon all," Jude 15.
To "make war." That this is another object of his coming, is shown by: