The Bible declares that Jesus is both “Lamb” and “King of Kings,” present tense, and it is he who reigns supreme over the earth.
In Revelation, from the start, Jesus is the Lord and King who reigns over the earth and, indeed, the entire Creation. His present status as the “King of kings” is depicted in numerous ways, and it is based on his past death and resurrection. His royal role and supreme authority are inseparable from his identity as the “Lamb who was slain.”
Looking at the present world, it is easy to understand why anyone would conclude that Jesus is not yet sovereign over all things.
Nevertheless, in Revelation, he defeats his enemies and delivers his people by the end of the book, and he does so precisely because he “IS,” present tense, king – “These shall war against the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them, for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings” – (Revelation 17:14).
LAMB IS KING
What is noteworthy in the preceding passage is that it is the “Lamb” who “overcomes” his enemies, and it is the “Lamb” who is declared the “King of kings.”
And the grammar of the Greek sentence is clear. He defeats his enemies BECAUSE (hoti) he “IS” (esti) the “King of kings.” The Greek verb represents a progressive present tense – present action in progress – an ongoing act or status. He does not overcome his enemies when he becomes king, he does so because he is king.
Similarly, when he is pictured as the “rider on a white horse” who ventures forth to defeat the beastly army arrayed against him, he has on his thigh the name already written, “King of kings and Lord of lords” – (Revelation 19:16).
In the opening salutation, Jesus is called the “ruler of the kings of the earth,” a position he holds because of his death and resurrection. He is the “faithful witness” (his death) and the “firstborn of the dead” (his resurrection), and therefore he is sovereign over the political rulers of this age – (Revelation 1:4-6).
As he proclaimed to John “I am the Living one, and I was dead, and behold, I am alive for evermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades.” Even the realm of the dead is under his authority, and the death of anyone is no impediment to his redemptive plans. Just as God raised him from the dead, so he will resurrect his martyrs and all men whose “name is written in the Book of Life” – (Revelation 1:17-18).
LAMB IS WORTHY
When the Creation was searched for someone worthy to open the “sealed scroll,” only Jesus was qualified to do so, but not as the “lion of the tribe of Judah.” Instead, it was as the slain “Lamb.” And upon his arrival at the “throne,” he immediately took the scroll and began to break open its “seven seals” – (Revelation 5:1-14).
This understanding is confirmed by the cry of the four “living creatures” and the twenty-four “elders” who declared him “worthy to take and open the scroll BECAUSE you were slain and purchased for God with your blood men from every tribe, and tongue, and people, and nation.”
This was followed by a myriad of angelic voices that proclaimed the slain “Lamb” worthy “to receive the power, and riches, and wisdom, and might, and honor, and glory, and blessing.” The sevenfold formula stresses the completeness of his power and authority – (Revelation 5:11-14).
HIS REIGN BEGINS
Following his enthronement, the “Lamb” immediately breaks the “seven seals.” It is the “Lamb” who opens the first four seals that release the four “riders” who unleash destructive forces on the earth. But they cannot do so until they are ordered to “ride” by the four “living creatures,” and they can only inflict harm within the limits allowed by the “Lamb” (e.g., “a fourth of the earth”) – (Revelation 6:1-8).
Thus, Jesus, the “Lamb,” is in full control as events unfold on the earth. He also opens the fifth seal that reveals the martyrs under the altar. Their deaths are part of his plan and not contrary to it. And he opens the sixth seal that ushers in the Day of the Lord – (Revelation 6:12-17).
Later, when the “woman clothed with the sun” gives birth to the “son,” the latter is immediately taken to the throne of God. This points to the same reality as the arrival of the “Lamb” before the throne following his death. Thus, the “son” is none other than Jesus, the one “who is to shepherd the nations with a rod of iron.” He ascends the throne after his death and resurrection.
It is at this moment that Satan is defeated and expelled from heaven, and that is why the “great voice in heaven” declares the “salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ, for the accuser of our brethren is cast down.”
Once again, his victory and enthronement are portrayed as the result of his death and resurrection, therefore, his brethren now overcome the Devil “because of the blood of the Lamb” – (Revelation 12:5-11).
Since that point, though Satan is still very much alive and capable of causing mischief, neither he nor his earthly agents can act without the authorization of the “Lamb.” The “beast from the sea,” for example, cannot launch his “war” against the saints until he is authorized to do so, and only for the “short season” allowed by Jesus:
- “There was given him authority to continue forty and two months… And it was given him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them. And there was given him authority over every tribe and people and tongue and nation” – (Revelation 13:5-10).
And just prior to the final judgment, the “Dragon” cannot “deceive the nations” and launch his final attempt to annihilate the church until he is released from the “Abyss” by an “angel of heaven.”
And that satanic effort fails when fire falls from heaven to consume the forces assembled by Satan from the “four corners of the earth” against the “camp of the saints.” Satan may gather his forces, but the “Lamb” turns the tables by destroying them – (Revelation 16:12-16, 20:1-10).
But Jesus does not reign alone. By his death and resurrection, he has constituted his church a “kingdom of priests.” His disciples “overcome” in the same manner that he did, and therefore, they also “sit down with him, just as I also overcame and sat down with my Father in His throne.”
During the entire time that Satan is bound in the “Abyss,” the saints reign with the “Lamb.” But they do so as “priests” and thus in paradoxical ways. They execute his will on the earth by bearing faithful witness and persevering through trials and tribulations – (Revelation 3:21-22, 20:4-6).
But even after the final victory and the arrival of the “city of New Jerusalem,” Jesus still reigns as the slain “Lamb.” In the city, there is no temple, “for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb, are its temple.” And there is no longer any need for the sun or moon, for “its lamp is the Lamb.” And only those whose names “are written in the Lamb’s book of life” dwell in the holy city.
The ultimate defeat of God’s enemies occurred on Calvary. There certainly is work left to be done, but it will reach its inevitable conclusion because of the past death and resurrection of Jesus, and because the “Lamb” is now sovereign over the Creation and History.