Messianic Reign in Revelation

OVERVIEWIn Revelation, Jesus began his Messianic Reign on the Throne of God following his Death and ResurrectionRevelation 5:6-10

Photo by Fernando @cferdo on Unsplash
book of Revelation assures beleaguered congregations that Jesus is indeed reigning and has events firmly under control, despite appearances and hostility from the surrounding society. His kingly authority is based on his past Death and Resurrection, which marked the commencement of his reign from the messianic “Throne.” Already, the kingdom of God is progressing on the earth, and its ruler has full authority over life and death - [Photo by Fernando @cferdo on Unsplash].
  • (Revelation 1:17-18) – “And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as one dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying, Fear not; I am the first and the last, and the Living one; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive for evermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades.”
Several times the messianic prophecy from the second Psalm is applied to Jesus, the slain “Lamb” who reigns from the “Throne,” especially the promise that the “kings of the earth” are now subjected to the “Son”:
  • (Psalm 2:1-9) – “Wherefore have nations assembled in tumult? Or should peoples mutter an empty thing? The kings of 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 is sitting 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, 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 earthYou shall shepherd them with a scepter of iron, as a potter’s vessel shall you dash them in pieces.
In this passage, the “churches of Asia would detect allusions to the groups in their respective cities that were pressuring them to compromise their allegiance to Jesus, hostile acts typified in the words of the psalmist – “The nations rage against Yahweh and against his Anointed One.”

The book identifies Jesus as 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” in his resurrection. Consequently, God appointed him the “ruler over the kings of the earth,” the Messiah who has reigned ever since on the Throne of David – (Revelation 1:4-6).

His death “loosed us from our sins” and constituted us a “kingdom of priests,” a role assigned originally to Israel. Overcoming believers participate in his reign as they carry out “priestly” functions, mediating his light in the world. Because they “overcame,” they, too, are seated with Jesus on his Throne. However, they participate in that rule in the same manner he did – By faithful witness, even to the point of martyrdom:
  • (Exodus 19:5-6) – “Now, therefore, if you will hearken to my voice and keep my covenant, then you will be my treasure beyond all the peoples. For mine is all the earth. But you will be mine As a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. These are the words which you will speak to the sons of Israel.
  • (Revelation 3:21) – “He that overcomes, I will give to him to take his seat with me on my throne, as I also overcame and took my seat with my Father on his throne.
  • (Revelation 5:6-10) – “And I saw in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders, a Lamb standing, showing that it had been slain…and they sing a new song, saying, Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain and redeemed unto God by your blood men out of every tribe, and tongue, and people, and nation, And made them for our God a kingdom and priests — and they are reigning on the earth.
  • (Revelation 12:11) – “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony, and they loved not their life, even unto death.
In the vision of the “sealed scroll,” John wept because no one was found worthy to open it. One of the “elders” commanded him to cease weeping, for the “Lion from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, overcame to open the scroll and its seals.” John looked, but instead of a “lion” he saw a slain “Lamb.” Jesus is the “lion of Judah” but fulfills that role as the “Lamb.” What John saw interprets what he first heard.

In the vision, the “Lamb” was standing “in the middle of the Throne,” a picture of his enthronement. His first act was to take the scroll and begin to open its seals. He had “seven eyes, the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth” - His authority extended to “the uttermost parts of the earth.” Again, his present reign is based on his past sacrificial death, as confirmed by the heavenly chorus:
  • Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for 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 reign upon earth.” – (Revelation 5:9-11).
Not only does he reign, but those purchased “by his blood” reign with him. And it is Jesus who opens each seal to release its contents; he is in firm control:
  • I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seven seals, and I heard one of the four living creatures saying as with a voice of thunder, Come” - (Revelation 6:1-8).
The second Psalm is applied again in the vision of the “woman clothed with the sun.” Jesus is the “son, the male” born from the woman.
  • (Revelation 12:1-5) – “And a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman arrayed with the sun, and the moon beneath her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars; and she was with child and cries out, being in pangs and in anguish to bring forth. And there appeared another sign in heaven, a great red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his heads seven diadems; and his tail is drawing the third part of the stars of heaven and did cast them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to bring forth, that as soon as she should bring forth, he might devour her child. And she brought forth a son, a male child, who was about to shepherd all the nations with a sceptre of iron; and her child was caught away unto God and to his throne.
The “great red Dragon” was poised to destroy the child as soon as he was delivered. He was none other than the “son who is to shepherd all the nations with a rod of iron,” that is, Jesus, the promised Messiah.

Consistently, Revelation follows the Greek Septuagint version of the second Psalm, which translated the Hebrew verb into Greek as “shepherd” rather than the original sense “rule.” This suggests something more than the forced subjugation of the “nations.”

The “son” was “caught up to God and to his throne” before the “Dragon” could destroy him. The same reality was portrayed in chapter 5 when the sacrificial “Lamb” appeared before the Throne after his death. The “Dragon” failed to stop his enthronement, therefore, a great voice declared:
  • 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 Messiah. Now, there is no limit to his present to the authority. His enemies cannot act without his consent. The authority of the “beast from the sea” is derived, not absolute. It cannot launch its “war” against the “saintsuntil authorized to do so - By the “Lamb”:
  • It opened its mouth to slander God and his tabernacle, even them that dwell in the heaven…And it was given to him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them” – (Revelation 13:5-7).
In a later vision, the “rider on a white horse” sallied forth from heaven with “a 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 Psalm are applied to Jesus, and once more, “rule” is changed to “shepherd.”

Photo by Mita Park on Unsplash
Photo by Mita Park on Unsplash

This figure was called the “
King of kings, and Lord of lords.” His white robe was sprinkled with blood, but John saw the bloodstains BEFORE the “rider” engaged in battle with the “beast and the kings of the earth, who were gathered to make war against him” - (Revelation 19:11-21).

The “kings of the earth appear again after the “thousand years.” Released from the “Abyss,” Satan gathered the nations “from the four corners of the earth to the war.” The same language heard in the vision of the “rider on a white horse” is employed again; the same battle is in view. The “saints” who followed the “Lamb” were the targets of the final assault, but God intervened on their behalf, and “fire came down out of heaven and consumed them” - (Revelation 20:6-10).

The final “battle of God and Magog” was followed by a judgment scene. The enemies of the “Lamb” were tossed into the “lake of fire,” including the Devil himself. All men were judged before the “Great White Throne of judgment,” and death itself was terminated - “Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire.”

In the next vision, John saw “New Jerusalem” descending to the earth, and the “kings of the earth appeared in the city:
  • The nations shall walk in the midst of its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it… and they shall bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it” - (Revelation 21:1-24).
In the New Creation, the leaves of the tree of life provide “healing for the nations.” The reign of the “Lamb” means something more than the destruction of his human enemies. Through most of the book, the “nations” and the “kings of the earth are hostile to the “Lamb,” yet both groups also participate in the New Creation.

All this the result of the “Lamb” who “shepherds” the nations from the messianic Throne. The only “weapon” he wields is the “sword” that proceeds out of his mouth - the word of God. With it, he defeats all his enemies. Considering the stress in the book on saints giving faithful “testimony,” this “sword” must portray the proclamation of the gospel to the nations by the “saints,” the “kingdom of priests” founded and ruled by the “Lamb.”


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