The Shepherd King

The Book of Revelation presents two contrasting characters – the “Lamb” and the “Beast from the Sea.” The “Beast” awes the “inhabitants of the Earth” with its political power, and it employs its economic might to coerce men to give their allegiance to it and to punish anyone who refuses to render homage to the “Beast.”

Jesus is the Lamb who became the “Ruler of the Kings of the Earth” through his self-sacrificial death. He is the Messianic “son” who uses his authority to “shepherd the nations” rather than tyrannize or destroy them. Submitting to the “Beast” results in death in the “Lake of Fire.” Following “the Lamb wherever he leads” brings men, peoples, and nations to the City of New Jerusalem.

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

The Kingdom of God is now progressing across the Earth. Jesus possesses full authority over history, life, and death. However, the manner of his rule does not correspond with human expectations - (Revelation 1:17-18).

The Second Psalm is applied to him several times, especially its promise that the Messiah would “shepherd” the “Kings of the Earth”:

  • (Psalm 2:2-9) – “The KINGS OF THE EARTH take their station, and grave men have met by appointment together, against Yahweh and against his Anointed One… Yet I have installed my king on Zion, my holy mountain… 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 earth. YOU SHALL SHEPHERD THEM WITH A SCEPTER OF IRON, as a potter’s vessel shall you dash them in pieces.

Jesus is the “Faithful Witness, the Firstborn of the Dead, and the Ruler of the Kings of the Earth.” He gave “faithful testimony” in his Death and became the “Firstborn of the Dead” through his Resurrection – (Revelation 1:4-6, 14:1-5).

When John saw the “Sealed Scroll,” he wept because no one could be found worthy to open it. However, 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.”

When he looked, rather than the “Lion of Judah” he saw the slain “Lamb.” Jesus is the “Lion,” but unexpectedly, he fulfills that role as the sacrificial “Lamb.” He did not come to slay his enemies but to save as many as he could, and his authority extends to the “ends 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 was the “son, the male” born of the Woman who, according to the Psalmist, was destined to “Shepherd 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.

Revelation follows the text of the Greek Septuagint version of the Psalm by translating the Hebrew verb for “rule” with the Greek term for “shepherd.” Something other than the forced subjugation of the nations was underway.


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

The “Dragon” failed to stop his enthronement. 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.”

The “Dragon” was defeated by the Death and Resurrection of the “Son,” therefore, there is no limit to the Son’s authority. For example, the “Beast” could not launch its “war” against the “saints” until it WAS authorized to do so. The “Dragon” can only act when and as far as the “Lamb” allows - (Revelation 13:5-7).

In the vision of the “Rider on a White Horse,” Jesus brandished “the sharp sword that proceeds from his mouth with which he smites the nations. He will SHEPHERD them with a rod of iron.” The same words from the Second Psalm were applied once more, and the term “rule” was changed to “shepherd.”

In the final vision of the Book, John saw “New Jerusalem” descending to Earth, and the “Kings of the Earth” and the “nations” dwelt in it. Revelation does not teach a form of “universalism.” Not all men found themselves in the “Holy City.” Those whose names were “not written in the Book of Life” were cast into the “Lake of Fire.”

The “Inhabitants of the Earth” were not found in the city. This group was comprised of men irredeemably hostile to the “Lamb.” Nevertheless, the dimensions of “New Jerusalem” were enormous since it would be inhabited by the “Innumerable Multitude” of men redeemed from every nation.

All this raises the question:  How will the “Kings” and “nations” gain entrance to the “Holy City” since so often they seem hostile to the “Lamb”? They were included because Jesus guided them to the Holy City where they worshipped before him and the “Throne.” He “shepherds” the nations through the testimony of his saints, including the martyrdom of many - (“They overcame the Dragon by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony” – Revelation 12:11).

Jesus of Nazareth is the King who “shepherds” the nations. His only “weapon” is the “sword” that proceeds out of his mouth, the “Word of God.” With it, he defeats his enemies and rescues countless men, women, and children from the “Dragon.” His “sword” represents the proclamation of the Gospel to the nations by his priestly company. That is how he “shepherds the nations” to “New Jerusalem.”

  • For All Nations - (The Good News announced by Jesus offers salvation and life to men and women of every nation and people)
  • Sovereign over all - (Imperial arrogance is the legacy of the Tower of Babel, humanity’s first but not last attempt to establish a World Empire)
  • Kings and 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)