Redeeming the Nations

The Book of Revelation presents images that do not conform to popular expectations about how God works. His goals in subjugating His enemies and judging the nations differ radically from traditional ideas and human “wisdom.” Just as his contemporaries did not understand Jesus, so we struggle to understand the “Slain Lamb” and his reign from the Throne of God.

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

Glass Globe at Dawn - Photo by Joshua Woroniecki on Unsplash
[Photo by Joshua Woroniecki on Unsplash]

His only weapon is the great “
sword” that “proceeds out of his mouth,” namely, the “Word of God.” Rather than a bloodstained blade hanging from his belt, on his thigh is written the phrase, “King of kings and Lord of lords.”

Jesus is the “Word of God” sent to “judge and make war in righteousness,” NOT rage. Members of his “army” are “clothed with fine linen, white and pure” with no weapon in sight. His “sword” is used “to SHEPHERD the nations,” not to crush them.

His campaign appears to result in the destruction of the “nations” and the “Kings of the Earth.” However, both groups reappear in 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, a 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).

Jesus is the “Ruler of the Kings of the Earth” who redeemed the saints and made them a “Kingdom of Priests.”  This statement uses past tense verbs to describe things achieved already through his Death and Resurrection. His “saints” are reigning with him, and they do so as “priests,” not conquerors. They mediate his light to a dark world, and they “overcome” and reign in the same manner as he did - (Revelation 1:4-6, 3:21, 12:11).


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? What kind of shepherd allows predatory beasts to slaughter his sheep? - (Revelation 12:5, 19:15).

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

Far more often, it is the “Lamb” who purchases “men from every nation, people, tribe and tongue.” He is the Shepherd-King who reigns lovingly 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.” It is Satan who “deceives all the nations,” but how can Jesus “shepherd the nations” if he allows the Devil to keep his ill-gotten gains? - (Revelation 14:8, 18:3, 18:23, 20:3-8).

In the end, both the “nations” and their “kings” are found in the Holy City, “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?

This is fulfilled in “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 whose “names are not written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.” Unrepentant sinners find themselves cast into the “Lake of Fire,” but this impenitent group is identified as the “Inhabitants of the Earth” rather than the “nations.” Its members will face the final “Hour of Trial, which is going to come…to try the Inhabitants of the Earth.”

The “Lamb” has four “cosmic” enemies that oppose him at every turn - the “Dragon,” the “Beast from the Sea,” 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 martyrs that John saw “underneath the altar” when the Fifth Seal was opened pleaded with God to avenge their blood on the “Inhabitants of the Earth,” not the “nations” - (Revelation 3:10, 6:9-11, 8:7-13).

This wicked group is composed of unrepentant men who submit to the “Beast,” pay homage to its “image,” and embrace its “Mark” and “Number,” 666. They are identified as those “whose names were not written in the Book of Life from the foundation of the world.” Despite everything, they refuse to “repent of their idolatries.”

This group does not represent all humanity, only those men who consciously oppose the “Lamb” and reject the redemption offered by him. The “Inhabitants of the Earth” are never presented in a positive light, and no member of the group is found in the “City of New Jerusalem” - (Revelation 3:10, 6:10, 8:13, 11:10).

New Era - Photo by Johannes Plenio on Unsplash
[Photo by Johannes Plenio on Unsplash]

Thus, “
New Jerusalem” will not be the home of a tiny “remnant” that makes it to the city by the “skin of their teeth.” It will be inhabited by a multitude of men from “every nation and tribe and people and tongue,” one so vast that “no one can number them.” It is the “Inhabitants of the Earth” who will become a small remnant, not the “nations.” The Slain Lamb will be satisfied with nothing less than a fully populated city - (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.” They overcome the Devil by “the blood of the Lamb, the word of their testimony, and because they loved not their lives even unto death.”

  • The Era of Salvation - (The Gospel of the Kingdom announced by Jesus of Nazareth offers salvation and life to men and women of every nation and people)
  • The Sign of the End - (According to Jesus. the End will not come until this Gospel of the Kingdom of God has been proclaimed to all nations – Matthew 24:14)
  • Redemption, not Abandonment - (Salvation includes the bodily resurrection and the New Creation that will take place at the arrival of Jesus)



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