Posted by: stpowen | April 16, 2016

Revelation 22. The Consummation

Isaiah 65:17-19. ‘For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; and the former shall not be remembered or come to mind.’
1 Thes. 4:17. ‘And thus we shall always be with the Lord.’

Finally, we have come to the end of this wonderful book. The prophecy closes with the conclusion of the depiction of Paradise from Chapter 21, and final comments and warnings.

Verse 1. ‘And He showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb.’
Here we see the consummation of a number of prophecies. ‘A river went out of Eden’ (Gen. 2:10); in the new Jerusalem, Eden is restored. Ezekiel saw a river flowing out from the Temple (Ezek. 47:7ff); Zechariah saw living waters flowing from Jerusalem (Zech. 14:8); here, they flow from the throne of the new Jerusalem. God and the Lamb personify the Temple (21:22). Jesus is the One from whom the living waters flow (John 4:13-14; 7:37ff).

Vs. 2-3a. ‘In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river, was the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. And there shall be no more curse.’
The tree of life, of course, was in the Garden of Eden, but Man was cut off from it because of sin (Genesis 2:9; 3:24) and access denied. It was part of the curse on creation pronounced by God in Gen. 3:17. ‘For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope’ (Rom. 8:20). Now, in verse 3, hope has become reality; the curse is lifted. Christ has undone the work of Satan. ‘For this reason the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the evil one’ (1 John 3:8).

The Tree of Life is in constant flowering. It pictures the eternal and abundant life of those who enter into the New Jerusalem. The mention of the ‘healing of the nations’ does not signify that there will be sickness. The reference is to Ezek. 47:12. The curse brought about sickness, Pain and death. The Tree symbolizes that all these things are healed and are seen no more.

V.3b-4. ‘But the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve Him. They shall see His face, and His name shall be on their forehead.’
In the Bible and in ancient times, to see someone’s face meant that one was in his presence. We shall enjoy the very presence of God (1 John 3:2b) and ‘serve’ Him with our praise and adoration. Note that we shall serve ‘Him,’ not ‘Them.’ There is only one God to serve.
Bob Dylan once sang, ‘It may be the devil or it may be the Lord, but you’re gonna serve somebody’ (cf. Rom.6:16). In Rev. 13:16 we read that the beast from the earth, also called the false prophet, required his servants to have his mark either on their right hands or their foreheads, indicating that they were serving Satan with their actions or their thoughts. God’s servants have their Master’s name on their foreheads (Rev. 14:1), indicating that their minds and their wills are subject to God.
V.5. ‘There shall be no night there; they need no lamp nor light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them light. And they shall reign forever and ever.’
In the New Jerusalem, everything is light. ‘This is the message that we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all’ (1 John 1:5). We are reminded of the first three days of creation, when light came directly from God. There will be no end to our time in God’s presence: no partings, no grief; only joy unlimited and unending, and although we shall serve our Lord, we shall also reign with Him (Dan. 7:18, 27; 1 Cor. 6:2-3; 2 Tim. 2:12a).

Vs. 6-7. ‘Then he said to me, “These words are faithful and true. And the Lord God of the holy prophets sent His angel to show His servants the things which must shortly take place.”
“Behold, I am coming quickly! Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.”’
In verse 6, it is still the angel who is speaking, but in v.7, the speaker must be the Lord Jesus Christ. The angel reiterates 21:5; we can rely completely upon God’s promises. It is the God of prophecy who has unveiled the future to His people in this book. Some people have difficulty with the words ‘shortly’ and ‘quickly,’ asking how these words can be used for an event that has been delayed for 2,000 years. Well ‘shortly’ is not limited to our Lord’s Return but to the whole of Revelation. If the interpretation that I have been giving throughout these articles is correct, then many of the events described have been occurring all through the centuries. With regard to the Return of Christ coming ‘quickly,’ we need to interpret this in line with 2 Peter 3:8. ‘But, beloved, do not forget one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as a day’ (cf. also Hab. 2:2-3). God is not tied to time as we are; everything to Him is a boundless ‘now.’ But we are told in several places that Christ will return quickly in the sense of ‘suddenly’- ‘like a thief in the night’ (16:15; 1 Thes. 5:2; Matt. 24:43). His people are to be ready: ‘watch therefore, for you do not know at what hour your Lord will come’ (Matt. 24:42). It is in this context that we are told to keep the words of Revelation in our hearts.

Vs. 8-9. ‘Now I, John, saw and heard these things. And when I heard and saw, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed me these things. Then he said to me, “See that you do not do that. For I am your fellow-servant, and of your brethren the prophets, and of those who keep the words of this book. Worship God.”’

John appends, as it were, his signature to this book as Paul does five times in his letters (1 Cor. 16:21; Gal. 6:11; Col. 4:18; 2 Thes. 3:17; Philem. 19). He is so overwhelmed by the vision that, as in 19:10, he falls at the feet of the angel and is firmly rebuked. We are not to worship leaders, angels, dead saints or the Virgin Mary, but God alone.

Vs. 10-11. ‘And he said to me, “Do not seal the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is at hand. He who is unjust, let him be unjust still; he who is filthy, let him be filthy still; he who is righteous, let him be righteous still; he who is holy, let him be holy still.”’
Daniel was told (Dan. 12:4) to seal up his prophecy because it related far into the future. The book of Revelation has continuing relevance for all Christians from John’s day to ours. Therefore the book is left unsealed so that all may read it and learn from it. Then the contrast is stressed between evil and righteousness, filthiness and holiness. The wicked will not repent of their own volition (cf. 9:20-21; 16:9) unless God gives them new birth, because of the hardness of their hearts (Ezek. 36:25-27). Outside of that, one either grows as a Christian or regresses as a sinner (Matt. 7:17-18).

Vs. 12-13. “And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to His work. I am the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last.”
The speaker here is the Lord Jesus Christ. On the Day that He returns, there will be a reward for the holy and righteous, and a reward for the filthy and evil. Salvation is by grace alone through faith alone, but our deeds will show whether we have indeed been saved in that way. ‘For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them’ (Eph. 2:10). If anyone has been born again of the Spirit of God, his life will surely reflect his new parentage. It is interesting to compare v.12 with Isaiah 40:10. Jesus is Jehovah, as we may clearly see when we compare 1:7 and 1:17 with v.22:13.

In vs. 14-15, the contrast between the saved and the unsaved is continued and reinforced. One group will enter into the New Jerusalem and one will not. Those who enter are they whose new birth is proved by their actions. “If you love Me,” says Jesus, “Keep My commandments” (John 14:15). No one is saved by keeping the commandments (Luke 17:10), but they are the evidence that we are the Lord’s. Those who enter the Holy City are those whose sins have been washed away by the blood of Christ and who have been renewed by the Holy Spirit (Ezek.36:25-28; Titus 3:3-7).

V.16. Jesus is both Root and Offspring of David (cf. Isaiah 11:1, 10). He is David’s offspring according to the flesh (Rom. 1:3), but as Almighty God He is also his Creator. He is also “The Bright and Morning Star” because He is the fulfilment of all Biblical prophecy and of the hopes of God’s people down the ages. ‘I see Him, but not now; I behold Him but not near; a Star shall come out of Jacob; a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel’ (Num. 24:17).

V.17. ‘And the Spirit and the Bride say, “Come!”’ The bride is of course the Church which, in the power of the Sprit, is to call a perishing world to the Saviour. The preaching of the Gospel is absolutely free. ‘And let him who hears say, “Come!”’ Every Christian has the right and the responsibility to reach out to his neighbours with the Gospel. ‘And let him who hears come. Whoever desires, let him take of the water of life freely.’ No one should think that he is beyond salvation. The gates of heaven are wide open and the Lord Jesus Christ declares, “The one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out” (John 6:37). The sad fact is that sinners will not come to Christ unless the Spirit opens their hearts to receive Him (John 3:19; Acts 16:14), but that does not mean that sinners may not be assured that if they will repent and turn to Christ, He will receive them (Isaiah 55:1).

Vs. 18-19. ‘For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of this book, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.’

These very serious warnings reflect those given in Deut. 4:2; 12:32, and Prov. 30:5. ‘All Scripture is given by inspiration of God (or ‘God-breathed’)…….’ Christians are not to play fast and loose with God’s word, but to observe and preach His ‘Whole counsel’ (Acts 20:27).

V.20. The Lord Jesus may be coming sooner than any of us think. After all, ‘Now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed’ (Rom. 13:11). We should be living in the light of our Lord’s return. ‘Therefore, since all these [worldly] things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness?’ (2 Peter 3:11).

V.21. ‘The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.’ And so it will be to all who have placed their trust in Him.’

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