Lamb and King

In the Book of Revelation, Jesus is called the “Faithful Witness” and the “Ruler of the Kings of the Earth,” and the two designations are inextricably linked. The first title establishes HOW he obtained the second and established his sovereignty over the Earth. It was by his sacrificial death that he made the saints into a “Kingdom of Priests,” and because of his redemptive act for them, God exalted him to reign over all things as the “Lamb.”

At the end of his letters to the “Seven Assemblies of Asia,” Jesus promised that those who “overcame” would reign with him, “just as I overcame and took my seat on my Father’s Throne.” Moreover, he “overcame” by his sacrificial death - (Revelation 3:21).

Pastoral scene - Photo by Claudio Testa on Unsplash
[Pastoral Photo by Claudio Testa on Unsplash]

The passage in Chapter 3 sets the stage for what is the pivotal vision of the Book. After describing the “
Throne,” John saw a “Scroll sealed with Seven Seals” held in the right hand of the “one who sits on the Throne.” When no one could be found who was “worthy” to open it, he began to weep bitterly - (Revelation 5:1-4).

However, one of the “Twenty-Four Elders” ordered him to cease weeping, “for the lion from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David has overcome to open the Scroll and its Seven Seals.” That is what John HEARD.  When he looked, instead of a lion he “saw” a “Lamb standing, as though slain.” What he “saw” interpreted what he first “heard.” Jesus is the Lion of Judah destined to rule the Nations, but he fulfills that role as the “slain Lamb” - (Revelation 5:5-5).

The Greek term rendered “overcome” can also mean “conquer,” yet Jesus “conquered” and qualified to reign by sacrificing his own life rather than taking the lives of his enemies.

He is called “Lamb” for the first time in Chapter 5. In the Book, the name “Jesus” occurs fourteen times (7 x 2) and the title “Christ” seven times (7 x 1). Both numbers are multiples of seven. From this point forward, “Lamb” becomes the primary designation for Jesus, appearing a total of twenty-eight times (7 x 4).

The number ‘7’ points to completion and the number ‘4’ to that which is universal (e.g., the “four corners of the Earth”). The use of “Lamb” twenty-eight times points to his sovereignty over all things. In contrast, neither the term “lion” nor his descent from “David” is mentioned again in the Book.


Upon his arrival at the “Throne,” the “Lamb” took the Scroll and began to “open its Seven Seals.” That his exaltation was based on his sacrificial death was confirmed when the “Four Living Creatures” and the “Twenty-Four Elders” sang a “song” declaring him “worthy” because “you were slain and purchased for God with your blood men from every tribe, tongue, people, and nation” - (Revelation 5:11-14).

As he began to reign, Jesus did not cease to be the “Lamb” or transform himself into an all-powerful tyrant. In Chapter 6, it is the “Lamb” who breaks open the first six “Seals,” not the “Lion of Judah.”

In Chapter 7, the “servants of God” are “sealed,” twelve thousand males from each of the “twelve tribes of Israel.” However, that is the “number” that John “heard,” a total of 144,000 Israelite men. Yet when he looked, he “saw” a multitude so vast that “no man could number them.” It was comprised of men redeemed from EVERY nation and people. As before, what John “saw” interpreted what he “heard” - (Revelation 7:1-8).

In the interpretation in Chapter 7, the image of the 144,000 males from the “tribes of Israel” is transformed into an innumerable multitude of people from every nation who have “washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb” - (Revelation 7:9-17).

Later, this same group is found “standing with the Lamb on Mount Zion” and singing a “new song before the Throne.” No one else could learn the song except the men who had been “redeemed from the Earth” by the blood of the “Lamb” - (Revelation 14:1-5).

When Satan was expelled from heaven, a great voice declared victory, and this was accomplished when the messianic “Son” was caught up to the “Throne.” This image represents the same reality as that of the “slain Lamb” who was reigning on the Divine “Throne.” Furthermore, the “brethren” overcame the Dragon “by the blood of the Lamb,” not through political power or violent revolution – (Revelation 12:1-11).

The “Lamb” is certainly the Davidic Messiah promised to Israel. As the Psalmist predicted, and Revelation confirms, he is the one destined to “SHEPHERD the Nations with a scepter of iron.” Here, the passage follows the Greek Septuagint translation of the Hebrew Bible which changed the original verb for “rule” to the Greek term for “shepherd.” Thus, the “Lamb” does not tyrannize the Nations by shattering them with his “scepter.” Instead, he uses it to “shepherd” or guide them to life in the city of “New Jerusalem.”

The imagery of this sort begins to explain how the “Nations” and the “Kings of the Earth” were found in the Book’s final vision residing in “New Jerusalem” where they offered worship to the “Lamb” and God.


The Lamb’s “shepherding” work is seen again in the vision of the “Rider on the White Horse.” He was riding across the heavens with his army, “judging and making war.”

The members of his army were all clothed in priestly robes made from “fine linen, white and pure.” This identified them as the saints who were redeemed by the “blood of the Lamb” and as his “Kingdom of Priests” - (Revelation 19:11-21).

The “Rider” was called “Faithful and True,” leaving no doubt that he represents Jesus. Yet the only “weapon” carried by him was the “Sword” that flashed from his mouth which was identified as the “Word of God.” With it, he was “shepherding” the Nations. Rather than a sword on his thigh was the name written, “King of kings and Lord of lords.”

What is most striking is that the Rider’s robe was stained with blood BEFORE he engaged in “combat” with the “Beast” and his allies. The blood did not belong to any of the enemies he was poised to slay with his “sharp Sword.” Yes, he would “tread the Winepress of the Wrath of God,” but he had not done so yet. So, whose blood had stained his Robe, and just as importantly, how did it get there?

The appellation “King of kings” was applied previously to him in Chapter 17. The Kings of the Earth allied themselves with the “Beast from the Sea” and waged war against Jesus, but it was the “Lamb” who conquered them - “Because he is Lord of lords and King of kings.” He is the Ruler over all things because he is and is the “slain Lamb.”

Farm Fields - Photo by Andreas Weilguny on Unsplash
[Photo by Andreas Weilguny on Unsplash]

Finally, in the vision of “
New Jerusalem,” Jesus is never called “Lion,” “Messiah,” or even “Jesus.” The city is first represented as the “Bride of the LAMB.” It was built on twelve foundation stones that bore the names of the “twelve apostles of the LAMB.” There was no Sanctuary in it for the “Lord God the Almighty and the LAMB were its Sanctuary.” Neither was there any need for outside illumination since the “lamp of the city was the LAMB.” The “Nations” and the “Kings of the Earth” inhabited the Holy City, everyone whose name was “written in the LAMB 's Book of Life.”

Moreover, the “river of water of life” flowed from the “Throne” and from the “LAMB,” and the “Tree of Life” brought “healing to the Nations.” The “curse” caused by Adam’s sin was no more, and the “Throne of God and of the LAMB” was in “New Jerusalem.”

The term “Lamb” occurs SEVEN times in the vision of “New Jerusalem.” Jesus did not cease to be the “slain Lamb.” It is in that role that he now governs the Nations of the Earth and redeems men.

By transforming the traditional image of the Davidic Messiah into the “slain Lamb,” the Book of Revelation undermines every concept of Jesus as a militaristic conqueror who coerces the Nations into submission and crushes his enemies. He was and remains the Great Shepherd who uses his “iron scepter” to redeem the Nations, not to pound them into dust.



Destruction of Babylon

Gog and Magog