Redemption of the Nations

The nations and the kings of the earth are found in the city of New Jerusalem because of the redeeming work of the Lamb.

Revelation presents images that are jarring and paradoxical, visions that do not conform to popular expectations about how God works. His plans to subjugate His enemies and judge the nations differ radically from traditional notions. Just as his contemporaries did not understand Jesus, so we also fail to comprehend the “slain Lamb” who reigns from God’s throne.

For example, in the vision of the “rider on a white horse,” the figure’s robe is “sprinkled with blood” BEFORE he engages in “combat” with the “Beast” and its allies. Whose blood was it, and how did it get there?

World Map - Photo by Nicola Nuttall on Unsplash
[Photo by Nicola Nuttall on Unsplash]

The rider’s only weapon is the great “
sword” that “proceeds out of his mouth.” Rather than a bloodstained blade hanging from his belt, on his thigh, it is written - “King of kings and Lord of lords.”

THE LAMB’S WAR


He is the “Word of God” sent to “judge and make war IN RIGHTEOUSNESS,” NOT in rage. The men of his “army” are “clothed with fine linen, white and pure” with no weapon in sight. And his “sword” is used “to shepherd the nations,” not to crush or behead them.

At first glance, this “war” appears to result in the destruction of the “nations” and the “kings of the earth.” However, both groups reappear in the vision of New Jerusalem where the “nations” walk in the Lamb’s light, and the “kings of the earth bring their glory into” the city.

Rather than the aftermath of a great slaughter, the life-giving river flows from the throne. It is bordered on either side by the “tree of life,” and “its leaves are for the HEALING OF THE NATIONS” - (Revelation 21:24-26, 22:1-4).

In the book’s prologue, Jesus is identified as the “ruler of the kings of the earth,” the one who has redeemed us and made us a “kingdom of priests.”  This statement uses past tense verbs to describe things achieved already by his death and resurrection.

Thus, already, the “saints” reign with him, and they do so as “priests,” not soldiers or conquerors. Instead, they mediate his light to a dark world. And they “overcome” and reign in the same manner as he did - by self-sacrificial service, perseverance, and yes, even martyrdom - (Revelation 1:4-6, 3:21, 12:11).

RULER OF NATIONS


If Jesus is the “ruler of the kings of the earth,” what kind of king would he be if he allowed Satan to deceive and conquer the “nations” for all time? After all, is he not the Messiah who overcame to “shepherd the nations”? What kind of shepherd allows a predatory beast to slaughter his sheep? - (Revelation 12:5, 19:15).

In the book, the term “nation” is fluid in its application. It is used both negatively and positively. For example, the “Beast” is granted authority over men from every “nation, people, tongue, and tribe.”

But far more often, it is the “Lamb” who is the one that purchased “men from every nation, people, tribe and tongue.” He is the king over his redeemed people, and they belong to him - (Revelation 5:6-10, 7:9-17, 13:7-10).

At times, the “nations” are victimized by the “Dragon” and his vassals. “Babylon” is condemned because “she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.” She, “by her sorceries, deceived all the nations.”

Ultimately, it is Satan who “deceives all the nations.” How can Jesus “overcome” to “shepherd the nations” if he allows the Devil to keep his ill-gotten gains? - (Revelation 14:8, 18:3, 18:23, 20:3-8).

Blossoms by Lake - Photo by Catherine Kay Greenup on Unsplash
[Photo by Catherine Kay Greenup on Unsplash]

In the end, both the “
nations” and their “kings” are found in “New Jerusalem” where they give honor and glory to the “Lamb” and the One who “sits on the Throne.” This happy result is predicted in the book:

  • (Revelation 15:4) - “Who shall in any way not be put in fear, O Lord, and glorify your name, alone, full of lovingkindness; because all the nations will come and do homage before you, because your righteous deeds were made manifest?

And this last prediction finds its fulfillment in the city of “New Jerusalem” - “The nations of them which are saved will walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honor into it…And they will bring the glory and honor of the nations into it” - (Revelation 21:24-22:4).

This is not to say that the “Lamb” has no human enemies. There are men and women whose “names are not written in the Lamb’s book of life.” Unrepentant sinners find themselves cast into the “Lake of Fire.”

LAMB’S ENEMIES


And the “Lamb” has four “cosmic” enemies that oppose him at every turn - the “Dragon,” the “Beast,” the “False Prophet,” and “the Great Whore, Babylon.” Human beings that ally with the “Dragon” and give their allegiance to his “Beast” have their names excluded from the “book of life.”

The term applied most often to human opponents of the “Lamb” is the “inhabitants of the earth.” This group will face the final “hour of trial, which is going to come…to try the inhabitants of the earth.” The martyrs that John sees “underneath the altar” plead with God to avenge their blood on the “inhabitants of the earth,” the same group that rejoices over the deaths of the “two witnesses” - (Revelation 3:10, 6:9-11, 8:7-13).

The group known as the “inhabitants of the earth” is composed of unrepentant men who submit to the “Beast” and embrace its “mark.” They are identified explicitly as the ones “whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world.

This group does not represent all humanity, but only those men who consciously oppose the “Lamb,” refuse to repent, and reject the redemption offered by Jesus - (Revelation 3:10, 6:10, 8:13, 11:10).

Thus, the “inhabitants of the earth” are never presented in a positive light, and no member of the group is found in “New Jerusalem,” although the “kings of the earth” and the “nations” do become inhabitants of the city.

New Jerusalem” will descend to the earth, not to become the home of a tiny “remnant” that make it to the city by the “skin of their teeth,” but instead, to be inhabited by a multitude of men and women from “every nation and tribe and people and tongue” - All standing in worship before the “throne and before the Lamb” – A multitude of redeemed men and women so vast, “no man can number them” - (Revelation 7:9-17).

Finally, the “Lamb” does not redeem the “nations” by military conquest, but through the perseverance, priestly service, and testimony of his “saints,” the very ones who overcome the Devil by “the blood of the Lamb, the word of their testimony, and because they loved not their lives even unto death.”



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