The Shepherd King

The Book of Revelation assures the beleaguered congregations of Asia that Jesus reigns and has events firmly in hand despite appearances and the hostility of neighbors and even local magistrates. His sovereignty is based on his past death and resurrection, and therefore absolute, extending even over “Death and Hades.” His resurrection from the dead marked the start of his reign from the Throne at the center of the Universe.

Ever since his resurrection, the Kingdom of God has been progressing across the Earth. As the “Ruler of the Kings of the Earth,” Jesus possesses full authority over history, life, and death. But the manner of his rule does not correspond with human expectations - (Revelation 1:17-18).

Shepherd - Photo by Alberto Bigoni on Unsplash
[Photo by Alberto Bigoni on Unsplash]

The Second Psalm is applied to him several times in the Book, especially its promise that the “
Kings of the Earth” would be “shepherded” by the “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.

He 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” through his resurrection – (Revelation 1:4-6, 14:1-5).

Moreover, his followers consequently became a “Kingdom of Priests.” They participate in his reign as they carry out “priestly” functions for his Kingdom. Because they “overcame,” they are seated with him on his “Throne.” Moreover, they participate in his rule in the same manner that he did - Through faithful witness even “unto death” - (Revelation 3:21, 5:6-10, 12:11).

In the Vision of the “Sealed Scroll,” John is found weeping because no one worthy was found to open it. But he was commanded to cease weeping since 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 a “lion” he saw a slain “Lamb.” - Jesus is the “Lion of Judah,” BUT UNEXPECTEDLY, he fulfills that role as the “Lamb.” He has not come to slay his enemies, but to redeem as many as he can, and his authority extends to the “UTTERMOST PARTS OF THE EARTH” as promised in the Second Psalm - (Revelation 6:1-8).

The same passage is applied to Jesus in the Vision of the “Woman clothed with the sun.” He is the “son, the male” born from the Woman who, according to the Psalmist, was 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.

This “Son” is the one “who shepherds the nations.” Here, the Book of Revelation follows the text of the Greek Septuagint version of the Second Psalm by translating the Hebrew verb for “rule” with the Greek term for “shepherd.” Something other than the forced subjugation of the nations is underway.

THE REIGNING LAMB


In Chapter 12, the “Son” was “caught up to God and his Throne” before the “Dragon” could devour 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, and 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 “Son,” and therefore there is no limit to his authority. For example, the “Beast” 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 rides forth brandishing “the sharp sword that proceeds from his mouth with which he smites the nations. He will SHEPHERD THEM WITH A ROD OF IRON.” Once again, the same words from the Second Psalm are applied, and once more, the term “rule” is changed to “shepherd.”

In the Book’s final vision, John saw “New Jerusalem” descending to Earth, and the “Kings of the Earth” and the “nations” were residents of it. The Book does not teach a form of “universalism.” Not all men end up in the “Holy City,” and those whose names are “not written in the Book of Life” are cast into the “Lake of Fire.”

The group called the “Inhabitants of the Earth” is not found in the city; it is comprised of men who are irredeemably hostile to the “Lamb.” Nevertheless, the dimensions of “New Jerusalem” are enormous since it will be inhabited by the “innumerable multitude” of men and women redeemed from every nation and corner of the Earth.

Universe - Photo by Jesse Sewell on Unsplash
[Photo by Jesse Sewell on Unsplash]

All this raises the question:  How will the “
Kings” and “nations” gain entrance to the “Holy City” since so often they seem opposed to the “Lamb?” Their inclusion will be the result of the “Lamb’s shepherding of the nations.” Many will be redeemed and found worshipping Jesus in “New Jerusalem” because his priestly envoys have persevered in the “Testimony of Jesus” before the courts of this world.

Hence, Jesus is the King who “shepherds” the nations from the Messianic Throne. His only “weapon” is the “sword” that proceeds out of his mouth, the “Word of God.” With it, he defeats his enemies, but he also “purchases by his blood” for his realm countless men, women, and children from every “nation, people, tribe, and tongue.”

His “sword” represents the proclamation of the Gospel by the “saints” to the “nations of the Earth,” namely, the “Kingdom of Priests” that reign with him. This is how he is now “shepherding the nations” along their way to the “City of New Jerusalem.” Paradoxical? Yes, but then, Jesus is the Messiah who is the “slain Lamb” rather than the roaring “Lion of the Tribe of Judah.”



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