Jesus as* the sacrificial Lamb began his messianic reign following his death and resurrection, and now he is shepherding the nations.
The book of Revelation assures beleaguered congregations that Jesus does reign and has events firmly under his control despite appearances and hostility from the surrounding society. His kingly authority is based on his past death and resurrection, and the latter marked the commencement of his reign from the messianic throne.
Ever since his resurrection, the kingdom of God has been progressing on the earth, and Jesus, the “ruler of the kings of the earth,” has possessed full authority over events, life, and even death, but the manner of his rule does not always fit comfortably with human expectations – (Revelation 1:17-18).
In Revelation, several times the second Psalm is applied to Jesus, especially its promise that the “kings of the earth” would be “shepherded” by the anointed “Son” of Yahweh:
- (Psalm 2:2-9) – “The kings of the earth take their station, and grave men have met by appointment together, against Yahweh and against his Anointed One… Yet I have installed my king on Zion, my holy mountain… You are My son. I, this day, have begotten you. Ask of me and let me give nations as your inheritance and as your possession the ends of the earth. You shall shepherd them with a scepter of iron, as a potter’s vessel shall you dash them in pieces.”
Christ is the “faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the KINGS OF THE EARTH.” He gave “faithful testimony” in his sacrificial death and became the “firstborn of the dead” in his resurrection, and therefore, God has appointed him the “ruler over the kings of the earth,” indeed, over the Cosmos – (Revelation 1:4-6, 14:1-5).
And due to his sacrificial death, his followers are now a “kingdom of priests.” Overcoming believers participate in his reign as they carry out “priestly” functions for the kingdom, and because they “overcame,” they are seated with Jesus on his “throne,” but they participate in his rule in the same manner that he did – by their faithful witness even to the point of martyrdom – (Revelation 3:21, 5:6-10, 12:11).
- “He that overcomes, I will give to him to sit down with me in my throne, just as I also overcame, and sat down with my Father in his throne.”
In the vision of the “sealed scroll,” John wept because no one worthy was found to open it. But he was commanded to cease weeping, for the “Lion from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, overcame to open the scroll and its seals.” However, when he looked, instead of the “lion” he saw the slain “Lamb.” That is, Jesus is the “lion of Judah, but unexpectedly, he fulfills that role as the “Lamb.”
The “Lamb” was standing “in the middle of the Throne,” which is a picture of his enthronement. His first act was to take the “sealed scroll” and open its “seven seals.” The “Lamb” had “seven eyes, the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth.” That image signifies that his authority extends to “the UTTERMOST PARTS OF THE EARTH.” And the heavenly choir confirmed that his exaltation to the “throne” was based on his sacrificial death:
- “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain and purchased for God with your blood men from every tribe, tongue, people, and nation, and MADE THEM A KINGDOM AND PRIESTS; and they reign upon the earth” – (Revelation 5:9-11).
Not only does the “Lamb” reign supreme, but those purchased “by his blood” reign with him as his priestly kings. And HE opens each “seal” to release its contents because HE is in firm control of events – (Revelation 6:1-8).
The second Psalm is applied also in the vision of the “woman clothed with the sun.” Jesus is the “son, the male” born from the woman, the one who is destined to “rule the nations”:
- (Revelation 12:2-5) – “And she brought forth a son, a male child, who was about TO SHEPHERD ALL THE NATIONS WITH A SCEPTER OF IRON; and her child was caught away unto God and to his throne.”
Her “Son” is none other than the anointed figure “who is to shepherd the nations.” Here, Revelation follows the Greek Septuagint version of the Psalm in which the Hebrew verb for “rule” is translated into the Greek term for “shepherd.” Something other than the forced subjugation of the “nations” is in view.
The “Son” was “caught up to God and his throne” before the “Dragon” could destroy him. The same reality was portrayed in chapter 5, where the “Lamb” appeared before the “throne” after his death. The “Dragon” failed to stop his enthronement, therefore, a great voice declared that “now is come the salvation, the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ, for the accuser of our brethren is cast down.”
Thus, the “Dragon” was defeated by the death of the Messiah, and there is no limit to the latter’s authority, and his enemies cannot act without his consent.
For example, the “beast from the sea” cannot launch its “war” against the “saints” until it is authorized to do so – (Revelation 13:5-7).
In the vision of the “rider on a white horse,” the messianic figure rode forth brandishing “the sharp sword proceeding from his mouth with which HE SHOULD SMITE THE NATIONS. He will SHEPHERD THEM WITH A ROD OF IRON.” Once again, the same words from the second Psalm are applied to Jesus, and once more, “rule” is changed to “shepherd.”
In the final vision, John saw “New Jerusalem” descending to the earth, and the “kings of the earth” and the “nations” were residents of the “city.” This begs the question: How did the “kings” and “nations” gain entrance to the “holy city” since so often in the book they are seen in opposition to the “Lamb?”
In fact, the inclusion of the “nations” and “kings” in the “holy city” is the result of the “Lamb shepherding the nations.” His reign means something more than the destruction of his human enemies; in fact, many of them are redeemed in the end and found in the holy city.
In fulfillment of the Psalm, Jesus is “shepherding” the nations from his messianic throne. His only “weapon” is the “sword” that proceeds out of his mouth, the “word of God,” and with it, he defeats all his enemies. All who submit to his “faithful testimony” find themselves in “New Jerusalem,” while all who reject it are cast into the “lake of fire,” the “second death.”
Considering the stress throughout the book on “overcoming” believers remaining steadfast in their “testimony,” the “sword” represents the proclamation of the gospel by the “saints,” the “kingdom of priests” inaugurated by the “blood of the Lamb” that now rules and reigns with him on the earth.
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