The Shepherd King

The Book of Revelation assures the beleaguered congregations of Asia that Jesus reigns and has events firmly in hand despite appearances and the hostility of neighbors and local magistrates. His sovereignty is based on his past death and resurrection, and therefore it is absolute, extending even over “Death and Hades.” His resurrection marked the start of his reign from the Divine Throne at the center of the Universe.

Ever since then, the Kingdom of God has been progressing across the Earth. As the “Ruler of the Kings of the Earth,” Jesus possesses full authority over history, life, and death. But the manner of his rule is not according to human expectations - (Revelation 1:17-18).

Shepherd King - Photo by POOYAN ESHTIAGHI on Unsplash
[Photo by POOYAN ESHTIAGHI on Unsplash]

The Second Psalm is applied to him several times in the Book, especially its promise that the nations would be “
shepherded” by the “Son” of Yahweh:

  • (Psalm 2:2-9) – “… Ask of me and let me give nations as your inheritance and as your possession the ends of the earth. YOU SHALL SHEPHERD THEM WITH A SCEPTER OF IRON, as a potter’s vessel shall you dash them in pieces.

He is 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” through his resurrection – (Revelation 1:4-6, 14:1-5).

Consequently, his followers became a “Kingdom of Priests.” They participate in his reign as they carry out “priestly” functions for him on the Earth. Because they “overcame,” they are seated with him on his “Throne,” and they participate in his rule in the same manner that he did - Through faithful witness even “unto death” - (Revelation 3:21, 5:6-10, 12:11).

In the Vision of the “Sealed Scroll,” John is found weeping because no one worthy could be found to open it. But he was commanded to cease weeping since the “Lion from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, overcame to open the scroll and its seals.”

However, when he looked, instead of a “lion” he saw a slain “Lamb.” Jesus is the “Lion of Judah,” but unexpectedly, he fulfills that role as the “Lamb.” He did not come to slay his enemies but to redeem as many as he could, and his authority extended to the “uttermost parts of the Earth” as promised in the Second Psalm - (Revelation 6:1-8).

The same passage is applied to him in the Vision of the “Woman clothed with the sun.” He is the “son, the male” born from the Woman who, according to the Psalmist, was destined to “rule the nations”:

  • (Revelation 12:2-5) – “And she brought forth a son, a male child, who was about TO SHEPHERD ALL THE NATIONS WITH A SCEPTER OF IRON; and her child was caught away unto God and to his throne.

This “Son” is the one “who shepherds the nations.” Here, Revelation follows the text of the Greek Septuagint version of the Second Psalm by translating the Hebrew verb for “rule” with the Greek term for “shepherd.” Something other than the forced subjugation of the nations is underway.


This Messianic “Son” was “caught up to God and his Throne” before the “Dragon” could devour him. The same reality was portrayed in Chapter 5 where the “Lamb” appeared before the “Throne” after his death.

The “Dragon” could not prevent his enthronement, and a great voice declared that “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 “Son,” and therefore there is no limit to his authority. For example, the “Beast” cannot launch its “war” against the “saints” until it is authorized to do so - (Revelation 13:5-7).

In the Vision of the “Rider on a white horse” the Messianic figure rides forth brandishing “the sharp sword that proceeds from his mouth with which he smites the nations. He will SHEPHERD THEM WITH A ROD OF IRON.” Once again, the same words from the Second Psalm are applied, and once more, the term “rule” is changed to “shepherd.”

In the Book’s final vision, John saw “New Jerusalem” descending to Earth, and the “Kings of the Earth” and the “nations” were residents of it. The Book does not teach a form of “universalism.” Not all men end up in the “Holy City,” and those whose names are “not written in the Book of Life” are cast into the “Lake of Fire.” Nevertheless, the dimensions of “New Jerusalem” are enormous since it will be inhabited by the “innumerable multitude” of men and women redeemed from every nation and corner of the Earth.

All this raises the question:  How will the “Kings” and “nations” gain entrance to the “Holy City” since so often they seem opposed to the “Lamb?” Their inclusion will be the result of the “Lamb’s shepherding of the nations.” Many will be redeemed and found worshipping Jesus in “New Jerusalem” because his priestly envoys have persevered in the “Testimony of Jesus” before the courts of this fallen age.

Universe - Photo by Jesse Sewell on Unsplash
[Photo by Jesse Sewell on Unsplash]

Jesus is the King who “s
hepherds” the nations from the Messianic Throne. His only “weapon” is the “sword” that proceeds out of his mouth, the “Word of God.” With it, he defeats his enemies, but he also “purchases by his blood” countless men, women, and children from every “nation, people, tribe, and tongue.”

His “sword” represents the proclamation of the Gospel by the “saints” to the “nations of the Earth.” This is how he “shepherds the nations” along their way to the “City of New Jerusalem.” Paradoxical? Yes, but Jesus is the Messianic King who also is the “slain Lamb” and not the roaring “Lion of the Tribe of Judah.”

  • Why do the Nations Rage? - (The conspiracy by the earth’s kings to unseat God’s Son is applied by the New Testament to the plot to destroy Jesus – Psalm 2:1-6)
  • Sovereign over All - (The New Testament applies messianic promises in the Psalms to the present reign of Jesus who possesses all authority)
  • Shepherd of the Nations - (Jesus is the promised King from the line of David who is shepherding the nations to redemption and residency in New Jerusalem – Revelation 12:5)



The Living Word

The Suffering Servant