Ruler of the Kings of the Earth

OVERVIEW - Jesus is the present “ruler of the kings of the earth” in fulfillment of the promise to David of an anointed King – Revelation 1:4-6

Throne - Photo by Willian B. on Unsplash
From the very start, 
Jesus is declared the “ruler over the kings of the earth,” and in the present tense – Even his enemies cannot move against him without his knowledge or consent. His exaltation is based on his past death and resurrection – It is an accomplished factHe is the anointed king promised by Yahweh, and he now reigns over the earth from the Throne, indeed, over the Cosmos - [Photo by Willian B. on Unsplash].

In Revelation, often the “kings of the earth” are allied with the "beast from the sea," yet Jesus manipulates their plots to achieve his own purposes. Yes, at the end of the book, the same group is found in the "New Jerusalemwhere they give honor to the “slain Lamb.” In the letters to the seven churches, already we see the suffering church participating in his reign as  “kingdom of priests” - (Revelation 21:22-24).
  • John to the seven churches in Asia, grace to you and peace, from him who is and who was and who is to come; and from the seven Spirits that are before his throne; and 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; to him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen” - (Revelation 1:4-6).
Jesus is not waiting for any future event to receive his messianic authority or throne.  He is the “lion of Judah”; already, the sacrificial Lamb has been elevated to the Throne of David. The book declares him to be the “ruler over the kings of the earth,” using verbs in the present tense. And it bases his sovereignty on his Death and Resurrection.

Jesus bore the “faithful witness” in his death, thereby, he became the “firstborn of the dead” when God raised him from the dead. By his death, he constituted his followers a priestly company that now reigns with him, and in the same manner:
  • (Revelation 3:21-22) – “He that overcomes, I will give to him to take his seat with me in my throne, as I also overcame and took my seat with my Father in his throne.”
In the vision of the Sealed Scroll, no one was found worthy to open the scroll. John then began to weep bitterly until one of the twenty-four elders commanded him to cease, declaring, “For the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David overcame to open the scroll!” When John looked, he saw a freshly slain LambNOT a predatory lion. What he “saw” interpreted what he “heard.” Thus, Jesus fulfills the role of the messianic “Lion” as the slain “Lamb.”

This understanding was confirmed when a myriad of heavenly voices declared the “Lamb worthy to open the scroll”:
  • 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 are reigning upon the earth” - (Revelation 5:5-10).
Yet, the victory of the “Lamb” does not negate the hostility of the “kings of the earth.” Later, when the “sixth seal was opened,” they were among the groups that attempted to "hide in caves and under rocks" to escape the “wrath of the Lamb,” or at least some of them - (Revelation 6:15-17).

At the end of the age, the “kings of the earth” were gathered to the battle of Armageddon. The verb rendered “gathered” is in the passive voice - Demonic spirits “gathered” the group but only after the sixth angel had poured out his vial to prepare the way. The “Lamb” remained in firm control, not the “Dragon.” Satan may work his evil designs, but only within the limits set by the “Lamb” - (Revelation 16:12-14).

In another vision, the “kings of the earth” allied with “beast” were gathered to “the war” against the “Lamb,” along with the “beast and False Prophet.” But the “Lamb” overcame them - “For he is Lord of lords and King of kings” – A declaration made in the present tense - He “is” King of ALL kings - (Revelation 17:10-18).

When Jesus appeared as the “Rider on a White Horse,” his only weapon was the sword he wielded “out of his mouth” - The “word of God.” With it, he “shepherds the nations with a rod of iron.” But his robe was sprinkled with blood BEFORE he began to do “battle” with the “kings of the earth.” Whose blood was it? How did it get on his robe? - (Revelation 19:11-21).

The second Psalm is a key passage in Revelation used to portray the reign of the Messiah and the hostility to him by the “kings of the earth.” It is the literary source for the title given to Jesus in the prologue to the book – The “Ruler of the kings of the earth.” Yahweh appointed His son to rule over the earth and gave him the “nations for an inheritance”:
  • (Psalm 2:1-11) – “Wherefore have nations assembled in tumult? Or should peoples mutter an empty thing? The kings of the earth take their station, and grave men have met by appointment together, against Yahweh and against his Anointed One, saying, Let us break asunder their bonds, and cast from us their cords! He that sits in the heavens will laugh, My Lord will mock at them: Then will he speak to them in his anger, and in his wrath confound them: Yet I have installed my king on Zion, my holy mountain. Let me tell of a decree, Yahweh said to me, My son, you are; I, today, have begotten you: Ask of me and let me give nations as your inheritance and as your possession the ends of the earth: You will shepherd them with a scepter of iron, as a potter’s vessel will you dash them in pieces.
In the original text, the Messiah was said to “break the kings of the earth with a rod of iron.” Yet the psalmist exhorted these kings to serve Yahweh and to pay homage to His son - “Lest he be angry, and you perish in the way.” A glimmer of hope was offered even to the political forces of the earth that were hostile to the Messiah.

World Map - Photo by Andrew Stutesman on Unsplash
Photo by Andrew Stutesman on Unsplash

In the Greek 
Septuagint, the verb rendered “break” is translated by the Greek verb for “shepherd” – According to Revelation, rather than “break” the nations, the “Lamb” will “shepherd” them:
  • (Revelation 2:27) – “He shall shepherd them with a rod of iron, as the vessels of the potter are broken to shivers; as I also have received of my Father.”
  • (Revelation 7:17) – “For the Lamb that is in the midst of the throne shall shepherd them and guide them unto fountains of waters of life.”
  • (Revelation 12:5) – “And she was delivered of a son, a man child, who is to shepherd all the nations with a rod of iron.”
  • (Revelation 19:15) – “And out of his mouth proceeds a sharp sword, that with it he should shepherd the nations.”
The “Son” received his sovereignty after his resurrection. In the first vision, Jesus was declared the “Living one: I was dead, and I am alive forevermore, therefore, I have the keys of death and of Hades.” The saint who “overcomes” is seated with the “Lamb” on his throne - “Just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his.”
Thus, the authority of the “Lamb” - and of his reigning saints - is based on faithful endurance through tribulation and death, not force. “Overcoming saints” reign as “priests,” NOT tyrants.
The rule of the “Lamb” is paradoxical. He has all power but uses it for redemptive purposes, NOT for destruction. Salvation is the goal, NOT retaliation - (Revelation 1:183:21, 5:9-10, 12:11, 20:4-6).

At times, the “kings of the earth” are hostile to the “Lamb” and their opposition prompts judicial actions by God. Nevertheless, in the city of “New Jerusalem,” the nations and the “kings of the earth” are found before the Throne where they honor the “Lamb.” How is this complete reversal achieved? Certainly not through the employment of coercive force and acts of vengeance - (Revelation 21:24).

Jesus was installed as the king who reigns over the Cosmos because of his Death and Resurrection. It is the "Lamb" clothed in the bloodstained robe who defeats the forces of the “Beast” armed only with the “sword” of his “testimony.” He fulfills the messianic role as the "slain Lamb" and uses his authority “to shepherd the nations,” NOT to butcher them.

Already, Jesus sits on the Throne of David where he rules over the nations, although in unexpected and paradoxical ways. As his servants bear witness, the “Lamb” expands and adds “territory” to his realm. It is the "Dragon" who imposes his rule by shedding the blood of all who resist him. In contrast, Jesus allows his blood to be shed to purchase men and women from every nation for his kingdom.


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