The Lamb Reigns

Jesus is called the “Ruler of the Kings of the Earth” in the present tense in the Book of Revelation. His sovereignty is based on his past death and resurrection, NOT on hereditary rights or military might, and he reigns on the Throne at the center of the Universe. Though at times the “Kings of the Earth” do Satan’s bidding, the slain “Lamb” even uses their plots to achieve his own redemptive purposes for humanity and the Creation itself.

Throne - Photo by Willian B. on Unsplash
[Throne - Photo by Willian B. on Unsplash]

His enemies cannot move against him without his consent, and by the end of the Book, the “
Kings of the Earth” are found in “New Jerusalem” giving honor to the “Lamb.”

  • John to the seven churches in Asia: Grace to you and peace from…Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. Unto him who loves us and loosed us from our sins by his blood; and he made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father” - (Revelation 1:4-6).

Jesus is the “Faithful Witness” and the “Firstborn of the Dead.” The former title refers to his death, and the latter to his resurrection. All three designations - “Faithful Witness,” “Firstborn of the Dead,” and “Ruler f the Kings of the Earth” – are derived from the eighty-ninth psalm:

  • (Psalm 89:27, 37) - “I also will make him my first-born, the higher than the kings of the earth His seed shall endure forever, and his throne as the sun before me. It shall be established forever as the moon and as a faithful witness in heaven.”

He gave “faithful testimony” in his death, consequently, God made him the “Firstborn” and the “Highest of the Kings of the Earth.” In this way, Revelation anchors his sovereignty on his death and resurrection.

In the Hebrew text, the Psalm uses the noun ‘elyôn for “higher.” It is used comparatively to denote that which is “supreme, lofty, highest.” Revelation combines this passage with words from the second Psalm. The verbal link for doing so is the clause, “Kings of the Earth.”

In the second Psalm, the “kings of the Earth” conspire against the anointed Son. But their plot backfires since God gave the “nations” to him for “his inheritance,” and the “ends of the Earth” for his “possession.” Thus, the Messiah “rules over them with his iron scepter” - (Psalm 2:1-11).

In Revelation, rather than use the Greek comparative adjective for “highest,” the text calls him the archôn or “RULER” over the "Kings of the Earth." The term does not mean “king,” though kings certainly do “rule.” The point is that he holds a far higher rank than any king or other sovereign.


The noun archôn often denotes someone who is a “prince,” a “chief magistrate,” or the supreme sovereign. The purpose is to highlight just how much higher Jesus is than any king or the political rulers of this age. The extent of his sovereignty is stressed in the first vision where he is identified as the “living one who was dead and lives forevermore.” He now holds the “Keys of death and Hades” since not even the realm of the dead is beyond his reach.

His sovereignty extends even over his mortal enemies. For example, Satan is bound from “deceiving the nations” until he is “released from the Abyss.” The “Beast from the Sea” is unable to wage “war” against the saints until he is authorized to do so – Revelation 13:7, 20:1-3).

His reign does not immediately negate the hostility of the “Kings of the Earth.” For example, when the “Sixth Bowl of Wrath” is emptied, the “Kings of the Earth” are gathered for the “great day of God Almighty” at the “place called Armageddon,” where they and their “armies” are gathered along with the “Beast” and the “False Prophet” to wage war against the “Lamb” - (Revelation 16:12-16. 17:10-18, 19:19-21).

At the end of the last battle, the “Beast” and the “False Prophet” are “cast alive into the lake of fire.” But that is NOT the final fate of the “Kings of the Earth.”


The second Psalm is alluded to in three passages where the original Hebrew verb that means “rule” is changed to the Greek word for “shepherd.” Thus, the messianic “son” is destined to “shepherd the nations.”

What this means is demonstrated in the vision of the “innumerable multitude” where the “Lamb shepherds” the men who have been redeemed from every nation to the “living waters” in New Jerusalem. In the vision of the “rider on the white horse,” the rider uses his “iron scepter” to “shepherd the nations,” not to grind them to dust – (Revelation 2:27, 7:17, 12:5, 19:15).

The change from the image of a conqueror to that of a benevolent ruler who “shepherds” his flock is unexpected and paradoxical. While he still wields an “iron scepter” and a “great sword,” he uses them to guide the nations and the “Kings of the Earth” to something other than their destruction.

The idea of a more benign end for the “Kings of the Earth” is hinted at in the second Psalm. After warning of the dire consequences of rebelling against the Messiah, the Psalmist exhorts them to fear Yahweh and “kiss His son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way” – (Psalm 2:9-11).

The presentation of Jesus as the “Lamb” who now “shepherds the nations” begins to explain how the “Kings of the Earth” are found enjoying the glories of “New Jerusalem.” What kind of sovereign and shepherd would he be if he only led his subjects to their destruction?

In the Holy City, the “nations walk amidst its light, the kings of the earth bring their glory into it.” There, the “Tree of Life… heals the nations.” Thus, the “slain Lamb” shepherds the nations to receive life in the “New Heavens and New Earth.” His present reign on the Throne is so that he may bring salvation and healing to the nations, not their destruction.



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