The word scepter (or sceptre) means “rod” or “staff” and usually indicates authority. For example, in the book of Esther, the queen could only approach the king’s throne when he held out his royal scepter to her (Esther 8:4). A broken scepter is a symbol of lost authority and position: “The LORD has broken the staff of the wicked, the scepter of rulers, that struck the peoples in wrath with unceasing blows, that ruled the nations in anger with unrelenting persecution” (Isaiah 14:5–6).
The word scepter is also used to symbolize God’s rule, as in Psalm 45:6: “Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever; a scepter of justice will be the scepter of your kingdom” (cf. Hebrews 1:8). In this verse the scepter represents the absolute and eternal supremacy of the Lord’s justice. When the Bible uses the word scepter as it pertains to God, it is talking about His absolute rule over His creation. The scepter of God also shows up in prophetic passages describing the coming Messiah who will rule the nations and restore righteousness. Numbers 24:17 says, “A star shall come out of Jacob, and a scepter shall rise out of Israel”—clearly a prophecy about Jesus Christ, the King of kings. Jesus, from the tribe of Judah, will possess the scepter of God and be given charge over all the nations, in fulfillment of Genesis 49:10. At His second coming, Jesus will take His rightful place over the kingdoms of this world, and “He will rule them with an iron scepter” (Revelation 19:15).
The scepter of God is simply one way the Bible describes the authority of the Lord over kings, peoples, and nations. By describing Jesus Christ as ruling with a scepter (Revelation 12:5), the Bible also establishes His authority as equal with God’s (Philippians 2:5). Hebrews 1:8 quotes Psalm 45:6 and applies it to Jesus. The scepter of God is a fearful thing to His enemies. But to us who know Him through faith in His Son (1 John 3:1), the scepter of God is the most comforting idea in the universe. It tells us that, despite the insanity and evil of this world, our God reigns supreme and His scepter will never be defeated.