The Time of the End
A Study About the Book of Revelation
Arlen L. Chitwood
Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war.
His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself.
He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God.
And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses.
Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.
And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS. (Revelation 19:11-16)
Christ is seen returning from heaven to earth at the end of the Tribulation, after Israel has been brought to the place of repentance on earth (17:1-19:6), and after the marriage festivities for Christ and His wife have occurred in heaven (19:7-9).
The actual marriage of Christ to His bride — a bride previously revealed at the judgment seat (Revelation 1:10-3:22) — is another matter though. The marriage itself, separate from the festivities, is part and parcel with the judgments brought to pass by and through the breaking of the seals of the seven-sealed scroll, introduced in Revelation chapter five — the redemption of the inheritance (Revelation 6:1ff). And these judgments will not be concluded until after Christ returns, immediately following the marriage festivities (seen in Revelation 19:11ff).
After Christ returns to the earth and deals with Israel and the nations, corresponding marriage festivities to those seen in heaven preceding Christ’s return will occur on earth. And these festivities will have to do with God and Israel.
Because of Israel’s harlotry during Old Testament days, God divorced Israel (Isaiah 50:1; Jeremiah 3:8; Hosea 2:2). And, because a divorce has occurred, a remarriage will have to occur. And, as occurred with Christ and His bride, festivities will accompany this marriage. This is the subject of the first sign in the gospel of John.
This first sign in the gospel of John is preceded by a sequence of events that carries the reader through six days, with the marriage festivities occurring on the seventh day. By and through this means — a sign having to do with marriage festivities, occurring on the seventh day — God reveals who these festivities have to do with and where and when these festivities will occur (John 2:1-11; cf. John 1:29, 35, 43; 2:1; ref. the author’s book, Signs in John’s Gospel, chapter 6).
These festivities have to do with the Jewish people, for the signs in the gospel of John have to do with Israel (1 Corinthians 1:22), with each depicting some aspect of God’s future dealings with His people; and the festivities depicted by the first sign are wedding festivities that will occur on earth at the beginning of the seventh day, the seventh 1,000-year period, the Messianic Era.
(The festivities attendant the marriage of God’s Son to His bride precede the completion of all activities surrounding the marriage itself [the completion of all activities surrounding the redemption of the inheritance]. That though may or may not be the case with festivities attendant God’s remarriage to Israel — a marriage that will occur at the same time and by and through the same means as the marriage of God’s son to His bride.
At the time of Christ’s return, Israel, as a repentant and converted nation, will be re-gathered from a worldwide dispersion. A new covenant will be made with the nation at this time, and the Jewish people will be restored to their land under this new covenant before Christ completes all of His work in connection with the redemption of the inheritance.
This work will be completed when the Gentile armies of the world, under the leadership of Antichrist, come together in the Middle East against a restored Jewish nation, with their King in their midst. And this work will be completed through the destruction of these Gentile armies, as seen in Revelation 19:17-21.
When this work has been completed, the remarriage of God to Israel will have occurred [along with the marriage of Christ to His bride]. And, as previously seen, festivities occur in connection with each marriage. For Christ and His bride, these festivities will occur in heaven preceding the Son’s return; and for God and Israel, these festivities will occur on earth following the Son’s return. The timing of the former in relation to the marriage is given [immediately before the marriage], but not so with the latter [either immediately before, or immediately following]. The subject can only be left open.)
There are several references in the New Testament to heaven (or, the heavens) being opened.
The heavens were opened at the time of Jesus’ baptism, with the Spirit descending upon Him and God announcing, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:16, 17; Luke 3:21, 22; cf. Matthew 17:5).
Then John 1:51, a Messianic passage, points to a future day when the heavens will be opened to provide angelic ministry in relation to Christ’s rule over the earth (cf. Genesis 28:12-14), a rule alluded to by God’s announcement concerning His Son at the time of His baptism (“Sonship” implies rulership [it is Sons who rule in God’s kingdom], with Christ having been born “King of the Jews” [Matthew 2:2]).
The heavens are seen opened two times in the book of Acts — at the time of Stephen’s stoning (7:56), and again when a vessel was let down from heaven to teach Peter a lesson concerning God’s message being carried to the Gentiles (10:11ff).
Then the heavens are seen opened two times in the book of Revelation. The first time pictures a door opened in heaven (4:1), dealing with the removal of Christians preceding the Tribulation. And the second is in 19:11 where the heavens are opened to allow Christ, accompanied by angels, to return to the earth.
Two of the preceding references parallel one another in a respect, though separated in time by about 2,000 years — Acts 7:56 and Revelation 19:11.
In the former reference, Stephen had just finished a lengthy message to the religious leaders in Israel — an address before the council, with Israel’s high priest present (6:15; 7:1). Stephen had dealt with central parts of the history of Israel extending from Abraham to the present time, covering 2,000 years of history (7:2-50). He then called their attention to that which had occurred down through the years, climaxed by recent events (7:51, 52). The Jewish people over the years, covering centuries of time, had rejected, persecuted, and slain the prophets that had been sent to them. And now, in a climactic act, they had done the same thing to God’s Son (cf. Matthew 21:33-39; 23:34-37; Acts 2:23, 36; 3:14, 15).
Stephen’s message was proclaimed very early in the re-offer of the kingdom to Israel, and this message brought matters to a climactic point. Stephen’s message, which dealt solely with the recorded Word as it pertained to the living Word, was so powerful that, at the conclusion of this message, the heavens were opened. And God’s Son, referred to in the passage as “the Son of Man” (a Messianic title [cf. Psalm 8:4-6; Daniel 7:13, 14; Acts 7:55, 56]), was seen standing at God’s right hand.
In the light of related Scripture, the picture is self-explanatory. The religious leaders in Israel had been brought to a decisive place in the re-offer of the kingdom to Israel. They could only do one of two things. There was no alternative. They could either receive the message being proclaimed or they could reject this message.
Receiving the message would result in ultimate blessings for Israel and the nations; rejecting the message would result in exactly the opposite — ultimate dire consequences for Israel and the nations.
Receiving the message, the religious leaders would call for national repentance on Israel’s part, “the Son of Man” would return following Israel’s repentance, and the kingdom would then be established. Note that similar messages had previously been delivered by Peter to individuals in Jerusalem from “every nation under heaven” (Acts 2:14-40) and later to Jews at and near the Temple following a miraculous sign (Acts 3:12-26; also see Acts 4:1-12; 5:12-33).
Rejecting the message, there would be no national repentance. The heavens would close, “the Son of Man” would sit back down at His Father’s right hand (Psalm 110:1; Acts 2:34, 35), the Jewish people would continue in their sins, and the dispensation that had begun on the day of Pentecost in Acts chapter two would be allowed to run its course.
These Jewish religious leaders chose the latter. They rejected the message; and, as the Jewish people had previously done with the Prophets, and last of all with their Messiah, they slew the messenger (vv. 57-60). Thus, these religious leaders (and, consequently, the nation at large) remained in an unrepentant state, a state in which they would continue. The heavens could then only close and remain closed until Israel did repent, with resulting dire consequences for Israel and the nations during the interim.
(Because of Israel’s position as God’s firstborn son — possessing the rights of primogeniture among the nations of the earth — that which occurred, particularly during the first seven chapters of Acts, had far-reaching ramifications. Events in Acts chapter seven form a major turning point in the re-offer of the kingdom to Israel, as events in Matthew chapter twelve had formed a major turning point in the original offer of the kingdom to Israel.
In the original offer of the kingdom, Israel’s rejection of the message and the Messenger was brought to a climactic point by and through events in Matthew chapter twelve. Beyond this time in Matthew, though the offer of the kingdom remained open, matters were markedly different. And this difference began with Christ, the same day, going “out of the house [a reference to the house of Israel]” and down “by the seaside [a reference to the Gentiles]” in Matthew 13:1.
In the re-offer of the kingdom, exactly the same thing is seen by and through events in Acts chapter seven. Beyond this time in Acts, though the re-offer of the kingdom continued, matters were markedly different. And this difference began with the introduction of Paul [referred to by his Hebrew name, “Saul”] immediately before Stephen was stoned [vv. 57-60]. Paul, following his conversion, became the apostle to the Gentiles [Acts 9:15, 16; 26:16-18; Galatians 2:7]. Thus, by and through concluding events in Acts chapter seven, exactly as is previously seen immediately following events in Matthew twelve, the Gentiles are brought into full view.
In both the offer and the re-offer of the kingdom, the direction that Israel would take [rejection] was, for all practical purposes, set at these two times [events in Matthew chapter twelve and Acts chapter seven]. Thus, exactly as the events of Matthew chapter twelve established a base for the course that Middle East history and the history of the world at large would take [the removal of the Kingdom from Israel, the Cross, and the bringing into existence of the Church to be the recipient of that which was taken from Israel (Matthew 16:18, 21; 21:43)], so it is with events in Acts chapter seven. Events in this chapter established a base for the course that Middle East history and the history of the world at large would take for the next 2,000 years. Blessings for Israel and the Gentile nations would be withheld, the nations would continue holding the scepter, and conditions among Israel and the nations in the Middle East would only deteriorate.
As a result, 2,000 years later, Israel finds herself at the center of turmoil among the nations, centered in the Middle East but worldwide in scope — a turmoil that will ultimately tumble completely out of control. According to Scripture, this situation will one day become so dire that divine intervention will be the only thing that will save both Israel and the nations:
And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect's sake those days will be shortened. (Matthew 24:22)
A situation of this nature is what Scripture reveals that it will take to bring Israel to the place of repentance — the repentance called for in the gospel accounts and the book of Acts. And God, yet future, will bring Israel and the nations through that which lies just ahead [the Great Tribulation] for this very purpose — to bring about Israel’s repentance [ref. chapter 29 in this book, “God’s Firstborn Son,” and Appendix 1, “The Intractable Middle East Problem”].)
The time when the heavens will open once again in relation to that which is seen by the opened heavens in Acts 7:56 is not seen again in Scripture until Revelation 19:11ff — after Israel has been brought to the place of repentance (Leviticus 26:40-42; 2 Chronicles 7:14), after Israel has been cleansed of her harlotry (Revelation 17:1-18:24), after the rejoicing in heaven because of Israel’s changed condition (Revelation 19:1-6), and after the marriage festivities in heaven (Revelation 19:7-9).
Israel will have been brought to the place of repentance by through the judgments of the Tribulation, the kingdom will have been delivered to the Son by the Father (Daniel 7:13, 14; Revelation 11:15ff), and Christ will then return through an opened heaven as “King of kings, and Lord of lords,” to complete His dealings with Israel and the nations prior to His reign.
“Israel” is the key. And more particularly, in relation to the subject at hand, the one act by Israel that will turn the lock and open the door is the nation’s repentance.
Until Israel repents, the nation will be left without a Deliverer; but when Israel does repent, God, remaining true to His Word, will then send the Deliverer.
God will send the One of whom Moses was only a type, the One greater than Moses. And as Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt (“Egypt” is always a type of the world in Scripture) with a view to their realizing an inheritance in another land (the land covenanted to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob), the One greater than Moses will lead the Israelites out from a worldwide dispersion, with a view to their realizing an inheritance in the same land (cf. Exodus 3:1-9; Leviticus 26:40-42; 2 Chronicles 7:12-14; Matthew 24:30, 31). And as the former resulted in a theocracy in the land, so will the latter, with the latter theocracy being millennial in its scope of fulfillment.
Christ Comes Forth
One day the heavens will open again, and Christ will come forth as “King of kings, and Lord of lords” to deal with Israel and the nations immediately preceding the establishment of His kingdom. The matter is dealt with in numerous places throughout the Old Testament and is dealt with in a somewhat capsulated and succinct manner in the latter part of Revelation chapter nineteen. The matter need only be dealt with in this concise manner as Scripture is brought to a close, for all the different facets of the matter have been covered in great detail in previous Scripture.
1) A Crowned Rider on a White Horse
In the book of Revelation, at the beginning of the Tribulation, a crowned individual is seen riding forth on a white horse, going forth “conquering and to conquer” (Revelation 6:2). Then, at the end of the Tribulation, another crowned individual is seen riding forth on a white horse, with the same goal in view (Revelation 19:11, 12).
The first rider is from below and rides forth from a part of the earth, with the conquest of the earth in view. He rides forth preceding the redemption of the inheritance, at a time when the inheritance is still under Satan’s dominion and control, still belonging to him.
This rider comes forth wearing a type of crown referred to in the Greek text by the word stephanos, indicating that he has yet to achieve the position to which he aspires — worldwide dominion. But by the middle of the Tribulation he will not only have achieved this position but he will be seated on Satan’s throne, wearing a crown referred to in the Greek text by the word diadema (Revelation 12:3; 13:2).
The second rider is from above and rides forth through an opened heaven to the earth, with a view to taking possession of an inheritance that is about to be redeemed, an inheritance still under Satan’s rule and dominion, but no longer belonging to him. And it is about to be taken from him.
This rider comes forth wearing “many crowns,” the type of crowns referred to in the Greek text by the word diadema. This type of crown, as distinguished from the type of crown referred to by the word stephanos, indicates that Christ is now in possession of the kingdom, previously given to Him by His Father (Daniel 7:13, 14; cf. Revelation 11:15). And, in keeping with that which is now in His possession, Christ is seen coming forth as “King of kings, and Lord of lords.”
(For differences in crowns referred to through the use of stephanos and diadema, see chapters 21 and 29 in this book.)
However, the crowns seen on Christ’s head at this time are not crowns that He will wear during His reign. Christ will wear the crown that Satan, the present world ruler, wears; and Satan will still be wearing his crown at the time Christ returns, though the kingdom will now belong to the One returning through the opened heavens. And Christ, the One whom God will have previously given the kingdom, will, following conquest, wear the crown depicting this royalty — a crown presently worn by Satan, the one whom God had given the kingdom in time past (Ezekiel 28:14; Daniel 4:17, 25; 7:13, 14).
(The whole of the preceding, as it pertains to Satan and Christ, was foreshadowed typically by the account of Saul and David in the books of 1and 2 Samuel.
Saul was anointed king over Israel; but Saul disqualified himself by refusing, as God had commanded, to destroy the Amalekites and all of their possessions [1 Samuel 15:1ff], though Saul continued to reign. And Saul would continue to reign until the one whom God had chosen to replace him was not only on the scene but ready to ascend the throne.
Then note that which the type, thus far, foreshadows:
Satan was anointed king over the earth; but Satan disqualified himself by seeking to extend his rule beyond his God-appointed position [Isaiah 14:13, 14; Ezekiel 28:14], though Satan continued to reign. And Satan would continue to reign until the One whom God had chosen to replace him was not only on the scene but ready to ascend the throne.
In the type, shortly after God rejected Saul as Israel’s ruler, God had Samuel anoint David king over Israel [1 Samuel 16:10-13]. There were then two anointed kings in Israel. But David didn’t immediately ascend the throne. Rather, he eventually found himself in a place out in the hills, separated from Saul and his kingdom. And, during this time, certain faithful men joined themselves to David and remained out in the hills with him.
The day came when David was ready to ascend the throne, possessing a contingent of faithful men ready to rule with him. Then Saul was put down, his crown was taken and given to David; and David and his faithful men moved in and took over the government.
In the antitype, after God had rejected Satan as the earth’s ruler, God anointed His Son King over the earth [Psalm 45:6, 7, 16; Hebrews 1:8, 9]. There were then, and there are today, two anointed Kings over the earth. But God’s Son, as David in the type, didn’t immediately ascend the throne. Rather, as David, Christ finds Himself in a place of exile, separated from the kingdom. And, as in David’s case, certain faithful individuals join themselves to Christ during this time, remaining in the place of exile with Him.
But the day is near at hand when matters will continue exactly as seen in the type. Christ, in that day, as David in his day, will be ready to ascend the throne, possessing a contingent of faithful followers to rule with Him. Then Satan, as was Saul, will be put down, his crown will be taken and given to Christ; and Christ and His faithful followers will move in and take over the government.)
The many crowns (diadems) that Christ will have on His head at this time would almost certainly be the crowns cast before God’s throne by the twenty-four elders in Revelation 4:9-11 (a representative group). These would be crowns worn by those angels ruling with Satan in the beginning who had refused to follow him in his attempt to exalt his throne — an attempt to extend his rule beyond the earth, apart from divine appointment. And since man is to rule the earth during the coming age in the stead of angels, the twenty-four elders are seen relinquishing their crowns to God, for God alone is the One who places and removes rulers (Daniel 4:17, 25; Matthew 20:23; ref. chapter 7 in this book, “Crowns Cast Before God’s Throne”).
Following events at the Judgment seat (Revelation 1-3) and the relinquishment of crowns immediately afterwards (Revelation 4) — immediately following the time certain individuals have been found worthy to occupy regal positions with Christ, but preceding Christ’s return — God will have appointed numerous Christians to positions in the kingdom.
Then — in the light of Revelation 19:12 — their crowns will evidently be given to the Son, He will return with these crowns, overthrow Satan, take His crown, and then give the other crowns in His possession to those whom His Father had designated should wear them (along with crowns worn by angels presently ruling with Satan, following the overthrow of Satan and his angels).
Then, Christ and His faithful co-heirs will move in, take over the government, and rule the earth in the stead of Satan and his angels.
2) Others Accompanying Christ
The “armies which were in heaven” are seen following Christ at the time He returns through an opened heaven (Revelation 19:14). Those comprising these armies could only be identified as angels, not Christians, as is often taught (Matthew 24:29-31; 2 Thessalonians 1:7). “Armies” in heaven are comprised of angels, not men, particularly not Christ’s wife (cf. 2 Kings 6:15-17; Joel 2:11; Matthew 26:53; Revelation 12:7ff).
Christ’s bride, about to become His wife, will not return back to the earth with the One to whom she is betrothed at this time but will be as Asenath, residing in another part of the palace when Joseph dealt with his brethren (Genesis 45:1ff), and/or as Zipporah, only going part way with Moses when he returned to deal with his brethren (Exodus 4:20, 29; 18:2, 3).
Christ’s wife will probably go part way, as Zipporah, remaining in the New Jerusalem above the earth (which would leave her in another part of the palace, as Asenath) while Christ returns to the earth with His angels to deal with Israel and the nations.
Then, as Moses was reunited with his wife following His dealings with Israel and the destruction of the power of Egypt (Exodus 18:1-5), so will Christ be reunited with the one who will then be His wife following His dealings with Israel and the destruction of Gentile world power.