Our "Rod of Iron": A User's Guide

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Our "Rod of Iron"

A User's Guide

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Many of Christ’s followers are familiar with the scriptures that reveal their destiny to rule with Jesus Christ after His return to this world. In Revelation 5:10 Revelation 5:10And have made us to our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.
American King James Version×
Christians are described as being made “kings and priests to our God, and we shall reign on the earth.”

The prophecies of Daniel describe the time when “the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people, the saints of the Most High” (Daniel 7:27 Daniel 7:27And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him.
American King James Version×
). Jesus indicated to His disciples in the parable of the pounds that some are to have rule over 10 cities, some five, etc. (Luke 19:17 Luke 19:17And he said to him, Well, you good servant: because you have been faithful in a very little, have you authority over ten cities.
American King James Version×
, 19).
One of the most dramatic scriptures, however, is that found in the message to the Thyatiran church. “And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations—‘He shall rule them with a rod of iron; they shall be dashed to pieces like the potter’s vessels’—as I also have received from My Father” (Revelation 2:26-27 Revelation 2:26-27 [26] And he that overcomes, and keeps my works to the end, to him will I give power over the nations: [27] And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father.
American King James Version×
, emphasis added).

Is the Kingdom of God to be a time when those still living out physical lives on the earth will be kept in subjection by a divine dictatorship of terrifying and brutal power?

A shepherd’s rod

Let’s examine a few descriptions of the Kingdom of God to see if we have an accurate picture of how Jesus Christ and those assisting Him will wield authority in the coming age. First notice an interesting point from the Greek text. The verb translated “rule” in Revelation 2:27 Revelation 2:27And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father.
American King James Version×
is poimanei, derived from the word for a shepherd (poimen). It is the same word used by the apostle Paul in Acts 20:28 Acts 20:28Take heed therefore to yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost has made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he has purchased with his own blood.
American King James Version×
to describe the care that overseers are to show toward the Church of God.

A literal translation of the Greek word for “rule” is shepherd. Several Bible versions translate it that way. The Concordant Literal Translation renders Revelation 2:27 Revelation 2:27And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father.
American King James Version×
as: “He shall shepherd them with an iron club.” The rod or club carried by a shepherd was, of course, primarily for the protection of his sheep, not to frighten or punish them. It could be used to fight predators or to guide and rescue sheep.

Part of Revelation 2:27 Revelation 2:27And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father.
American King James Version×
is a quote from Psalm 2, a psalm about how God’s all-powerful Son will one day be on earth to conquer the rebellious nations and establish His firm rule as King of all the earth. Christ’s future reign—especially the initial establishment of His reign—is referred to in this way in Revelation 12:5 Revelation 12:5And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up to God, and to his throne.
American King James Version×
and 19:15.

Psalms 2:9 Psalms 2:9You shall break them with a rod of iron; you shall dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel.
American King James Version×
is correctly translated in the New King James Version as “You shall break them with a rod of iron; You shall dash them [the opposing armies of the nations] to pieces like a potter’s vessel.” This is referring to how the Messiah will break the violent rebellion of the world’s nations in order to bring about under His peaceful millennial government.

A key lesson of Revelation 2:26-27 Revelation 2:26-27 [26] And he that overcomes, and keeps my works to the end, to him will I give power over the nations: [27] And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father.
American King James Version×
is that the glorified saints are linked with the above scriptures. They will assist and share in Christ’s rule over the earth, as shown in Revelation 20:4 Revelation 20:4And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark on their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.
American King James Version×
, 6.

Once rebellious opposition to Christ’s return is put down, Christ and the saints can then proceed to patiently teach and gently enforce His laws and teachings.

In Zechariah 14:16 Zechariah 14:16And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles.
American King James Version×
we read that God will issue an edict commanding all nations to send representatives to Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles. What if a nation refuses to heed the command? Is such disobedience conceivable or even possible in a world of immortal saints each armed with an iron rod? The answer may be surprising.

“And it shall be that whichever of the families of the earth do not come up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD of Hosts, on them there will be no rain” (Zechariah 14:17 Zechariah 14:17And it shall be, that whoever will not come up of all the families of the earth to Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, even on them shall be no rain.
American King James Version×
). There will be a response from Jesus Christ and His saints to this stubbornness, but it will be a measured and merciful response that will allow time for carnal attitudes to change.

Jesus Christ wants us to welcome Him into our lives (Revelation 3:20 Revelation 3:20Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.
American King James Version×
). He wants the obedience that comes from our love and gratitude for what He has done for us and from our unshakable conviction that He knows what is best for us—not from the fear of punishment if we do not obey. And He wants just the same from all the billions on the face of this earth who have yet to experience the opportunity given to us.

Although the Kingdom of God will certainly have to be ushered in with a terrifying show of divine power, this is not how God intends to rule the earth for the next thousand years. In the Millennium, the new world leader, Jesus Christ, “will feed His flock like a shepherd; He will gather the lambs in His arm, and carry them in His bosom, and gently lead those who are with young” (Isaiah 40:11 Isaiah 40:11He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.
American King James Version×
).

He says of the people living at that time: “I will make with them a covenant of peace and banish wild beasts from the land, so that they may dwell securely in the wilderness and sleep in the woods… They shall dwell securely, and none shall make them afraid” (Ezekiel 34:25 Ezekiel 34:25And I will make with them a covenant of peace, and will cause the evil beasts to cease out of the land: and they shall dwell safely in the wilderness, and sleep in the woods.
American King James Version×
, 28, Revised Standard Version).

If God just needed people to wield iron rods, He would have no need of His saints. There is no shortage of thugs and bullies—people accustomed to dominating and terrorizing others—who would qualify for that job.

What He needs are those who have spent their lives developing the character of Jesus Christ—those who can be trusted to exercise great power with love and mercy as well as firmness and justice. “And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, This is the way, walk you in it, when you turn to the right hand, and when you turn to the left” (Isaiah 30:21 Isaiah 30:21And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, This is the way, walk you in it, when you turn to the right hand, and when you turn to the left.
American King James Version×
).

Our “rod of iron” will come with a warning label: “Use only as directed by the Holy Spirit.”