The Royal Shepherd

The Book of Revelation assures the beleaguered congregations of Asia that Jesus reigns and has events firmly in hand despite appearances and the hostility from their neighbors and even local governments. His sovereignty is based on his past death and resurrection, and the latter marked the commencement of his reign from the messianic Throne at the center of the Cosmos.

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

Shepherd Mountains - Photo by Patrick Schneider on Unsplash
[Shepherd Photo by Patrick Schneider on Unsplash]

The second Psalm is applied to Jesus several times in the Book, 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.

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).

RULING AND REIGNING


Due to his death, his followers now constitute a “kingdom of priests.” Overcoming believers participate in his reign as they carry out “priestly” functions for the kingdom.

And because they “overcame,” the “saints” are seated with him on his “Throne,” but they participate in his rule in the same manner that he did - by their faithful witness even “unto death” - (Revelation 3:21, 5:6-10, 12:11).

In the vision of the “Sealed Scroll,” John weeps because no one worthy is found to open it. But he is 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 looks, instead of a “lion” he sees the 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 of them as he can.

The “Lamb” had “seven eyes, the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the Earth.” This portrays his authority that extends to “the UTTERMOST PARTS OF THE EARTH.” And not only does the “Lamb” now reign supreme over the Earth, but those purchased “by his blood” reign with him as his priestly kings. And HE opens each of the seven seals to release their contents because HE is in firm control of events - (Revelation 6:1-8).

The second Psalm is applied to Jesus also in the vision of the “woman clothed with the sun.” Jesus is the “son, the male” born from the woman, the one who, according to the Psalmist, 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.

This “Son” is the anointed figure “who is to shepherd the nations.” And here, the Book of Revelation follows the text of the Greek Septuagint version of the Psalm by translating the Hebrew verb for “rule” with the Greek term for “shepherd.” Something other than the forced subjugation of the “nations” is in view.

RULING ENEMIES


In Chapter 12 of the Book, the “Son” is “caught up to God and his Throne” before the “Dragon” can devour him. The same reality is portrayed in Chapter 5 when the “Lamb” appears 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 anointed “Son,” and there is now no limit to the latter’s 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 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, the term “rule” is changed to “shepherd.”

In the book’s final vision, John sees “New Jerusalem” descending to Earth, and the “Kings of the Earth” and the “nations” are residents of the “city.” This begs the question:  How do the “Kings” and “nations” gain entrance to the “holy city” since so often in the Book they are hostile to the “Lamb?

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. Many are redeemed and found in “New Jerusalem.”

Jesus is the ruler who “shepherds” the nations from his 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 also saves many men and women from the nations.

Moreover, his “sword” represents the proclamation of the Gospel by the “saints,” the “kingdom of priests” that reign with him on Earth. This is how he is “shepherding the nations.”



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