Ruler of the Kings of the Earth

Already, Jesus is the “ruler of the kings of the earth” in fulfillment of the Psalmist’s promise of an anointed King – Revelation 1:4-6

Lamb Sitting - Photo by Sulthan Auliya on Unsplash
From the start of 
Revelation, Jesus is the “ruler over the kings of the earth,” and in the present tense. Even his enemies are unable to move against him without his knowledge or consent. His exaltation is based on his sacrificial Death and Resurrection, NOT on hereditary rights or military might. He is the anointed king promised by Yahweh, who now reigns from the messianic throne - [Photo by Sulthan Auliya on Unsplash].

At times, the “kings of the earth” are allied with the “beast from the sea,” yet Jesus manipulates their plots to achieve his purposes. By the end of the book, the same group is found in “New Jerusalem,” where they give honor to the “slain Lamb.” And in his letters to the “seven churches,” we see the suffering church participating in his reign as the “kingdom of priests.”
  • 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” - (Revelation 1:4-6).
In Revelation, Jesus is not waiting for any future event to receive his royal authority; already, the sacrificial “Lamb has been elevated to the messianic throne. The book declares him the “ruler over the kings of the earth” using verbs in the present tense, and it bases his sovereignty on his past Death and Resurrection.

He gave “faithful testimony” in his death, thereby, becoming the “firstborn of the dead” when God resurrected him. And 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,” when no one was found worthy to open it, John wept bitterly until one of the twenty-four elders commanded him to cease, “for the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David overcame to open the scroll!” When John looked, he saw the freshly slain Lamb, not the “lion.” What he “saw” interpreted what he first “heard.” Jesus fulfills the role of the messianic “Lion” as the slain “Lamb.” This understanding is confirmed by the declaration of the heavenly choir:
  • 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).
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.” At the end of the age, the “kings of the earth” are gathered to the last battle at Armageddon - (Revelation 6:15-17, 16:12-14).

In another vision, the “kings of the earth” are gathered to “the war” against the “Lamb,” along with the “beast and the False Prophet.” But the “Lamb” will overcome them, “for he is Lord of lords and King of kings,” a declaration made in the present tense - He “is” Lord and King - (Revelation 17:10-18).

When Jesus appears as the “rider on a white horse,” his only weapon is the sword that he wields “out of his mouth,” the “word of God.” And with it, he “shepherds the nations with a rod of iron.” But his robe is sprinkled with blood BEFORE he begins to do “battle” with the “kings of the earth.” Whose blood is it? How did it get on his robe? - (Revelation 19:11-21).

Crown of Thorns - Photo by Samuel Lopes on Unsplash
Crown of Thorns - Photo by Samuel Lopes on Unsplash

The second Psalm is the key messianic prophecy, employed multiple times in Revelation for the 
reign of the Messiah and the hostility of the “kings of the earth.” It is the literary source for the title given to Jesus, the “ruler of the kings of the earth.” As the Psalmist declared, 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… 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, 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 Hebrew text, the Messiah “smashes the kings of the earth with a rod of iron.” Yet, the psalmist exhorted them to serve Yahweh and to pay homage to His son, “lest he be angry, and you perish in the way,” offering them a glimmer of hope. In the Greek Septuagint version, the verb rendered “smash” becomes “shepherd.” Rather than “smash” the nations, the “Lamb” will “shepherd” them, a change reflected in the book to great effect:
  • (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.” – (Also, Revelation 7:17. 12:5, 19:15).
The “Son” received his sovereignty following his Death and Resurrection. In the first vision, he is declared the “Living one; I was dead, and I am alive forevermore, THEREFORE, I have the keys of death and of Hades.” Likewise, “overcoming” saints are seated with him on his throne: “Just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his” – (Revelation 1:18-20, 3:21).
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, not destructive, purposes. Redemption is the goal, not vengeance - (Revelation 1:183:21, 5:9-10, 12:11, 20:4-6).

At times, the “kings of the earth” are hostile to the “Lamb.” Nevertheless, in “New Jerusalem,” both 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 acts of vengeance against them - (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,” and armed only with the “sword” of his “testimony.” He fulfills the messianic role as the “slain Lamb,” and he uses his authority “to shepherd the nations,” NOT to butcher them.

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

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