Today: [Revelation 22:] Peering into Eternity Future: In this final chapter of the apocalypse we glimpse into the glories of eternity without end. God is there, and the Lamb is the light. The tree of life is there and the river of life. Punctuating this scene as the mists of vision lift is the repeated and urgent proclamation “behold I come quickly.”
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[Rev 22:1-21 KJV] 1 And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. 2 In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, [was there] the tree of life, which bare twelve [manner of] fruits, [and] yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree [were] for the healing of the nations. 3 And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him: 4 And they shall see his face; and his name [shall be] in their foreheads. 5 And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever. 6 And he said unto me, These sayings [are] faithful and true: and the Lord God of the holy prophets sent his angel to shew unto his servants the things which must shortly be done. 7 Behold, I come quickly: blessed [is] he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book. 8 And I John saw these things, and heard [them]. And when I had heard and seen, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel which shewed me these things. 9 Then saith he unto me, See [thou do it] not: for I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book: worship God. 10 And he saith unto me, Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book: for the time is at hand. 11 He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still. 12 And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward [is] with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. 13 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last. 14 Blessed [are] they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. 15 For without [are] dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie. 16 I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, [and] the bright and morning star. 17 And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely. 18 For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: 19 And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and [from] the things which are written in this book. 20 He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus. 21 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ [be] with you all. Amen.
In chapter 22 the description of the New Jerusalem and its surroundings continue. Where is that old enemy the devil at this point? He is removed to the Lake of Fire no longer to work his influence among men. Where is death? There is no more death. Where is sickness? Sickness is removed. What of sin and temptation? There is no more sin or temptation. The fallen nature every man is born with is wholly excised from those remaining to live with Jesus for eternity.
One of the angels with the seven vials who showed John the city in chapter 21 now shows him the river of life that flows out of the throne of God. This is very descriptive of the same river reference in Ezekiel 47:1-9:
[Eze 47:1-9 KJV] 1 Afterward he brought me again unto the door of the house; and, behold, waters issued out from under the threshold of the house eastward: for the forefront of the house [stood toward] the east, and the waters came down from under from the right side of the house, at the south [side] of the altar. 2 Then brought he me out of the way of the gate northward, and led me about the way without unto the utter gate by the way that looketh eastward; and, behold, there ran out waters on the right side. 3 And when the man that had the line in his hand went forth eastward, he measured a thousand cubits, and he brought me through the waters; the waters [were] to the ankles. 4 Again he measured a thousand, and brought me through the waters; the waters [were] to the knees. Again he measured a thousand, and brought me through; the waters [were] to the loins. 5 Afterward he measured a thousand; [and it was] a river that I could not pass over: for the waters were risen, waters to swim in, a river that could not be passed over. 6 And he said unto me, Son of man, hast thou seen [this]? Then he brought me, and caused me to return to the brink of the river. 7 Now when I had returned, behold, at the bank of the river [were] very many trees on the one side and on the other. 8 Then said he unto me, These waters issue out toward the east country, and go down into the desert, and go into the sea: [which being] brought forth into the sea, the waters shall be healed. 9 And it shall come to pass, [that] every thing that liveth, which moveth, whithersoever the rivers shall come, shall live: and there shall be a very great multitude of fish, because these waters shall come thither: for they shall be healed; and every thing shall live whither the river cometh.
Whatever this river is in eternity it is somehow a resource that you and I might partake of now on this side of eternity. The tree of life that was initially in the garden is there as well, unguarded, free for all to come and eat from. There are twelve types of fruit on the tree each coming ripe in a different month throughout the year. The leaves are there for healing of the nations apparently being harvested and sent out globally to keep the entire world population in wellness. We can see from this that eternal life is not just a static resource but one that is maintained by interaction with and partaking of the things that God makes available to all who live here in the New Heavens and the New Earth.
There is no curse in the earth any longer for the throne of God, and the Lamb is with men, and we shall see His face and His name shall be in our foreheads. There is no more night here nor need of artificial lighting or light from the sun. All illumination in the New Heavens and the New Earth originates in and from the person of God who has set Himself in the midst of this restored earth to be our life and our light.
Upon seeing all these things, the angel bears witness to John (v. 6) that all of these things that John has seen are faithful and true and all that he has been shown will shortly be done. The declaration of Jesus is “behold I come quickly” and “blessed is he that keeps the sayings of the prophecy of this book.” The word keep there means to “guard against loss.” Why would we lose what this book is saying to us? Prophecy is an overwhelming thing, and it seems so obscure and challenging at times to comprehend thus God puts a special blessing upon the hearts of those who determine to keep these sayings in their hearts as difficult as they are to understand at times.
John falls down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed him these things. The angel stops him with the explanation that he is not only in appearance as an angel but also of John’s fellow prophets and that all worship must go to God Himself. John is told at this point not to seal up the sayings of the book for the time of the fulfillment was not far off but was at hand.
We think about these statements of the immediacy of fulfillment and are puzzled at the passing of 2000 years. Why has God allowed so much time to pass? Peter explains in 2 Peter 3:8-9:
[2Pe 3:8-9 KJV] 8 But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day [is] with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
Why has God stayed His hand? Because He isn’t willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. It may seem as though the waiting has been so long as to create controversy and even contradiction, but we must look at the delay with our hearts and not with our heads knowing that this is about the love of God for the lost. There will come a time, however (v. 10) that there will be no more delay and he that is unjust will be unjust still, and he that is filthy as well as the righteous and the holy.
Again Jesus speaks “behold, I come quickly…” to give to every man according to His work. What work is Jesus looking for in us? Remember what Jesus told those who were seeking Him only for the loaves and fishes:
[Jhn 6:28-29 KJV] 28 Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? 29 Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.
Jesus isn’t looking for us to give our bodies to be burned or to do some great thing by which we distinguish ourselves from others in the kingdom. He is looking for us to be found in faith that He is who He says He is, the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last. Jesus reiterates this in the Gospel of Luke:
[Luk 18:8 KJV] 8 … when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?
What are we to occupy ourselves with? We find the blessing of God upon those who keep His commandments. On that basis, we are then eligible to eat from the tree of life and to enter the city whose gates are always open. There will be examination then as you go in and go out of this city even after your eternity is secured – are you a commandment keeper? What commandments are we talking about? We are to keep the commandments of God the way that Jesus did as our example:
[Jhn 5:19 KJV] 19 Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.
There are only two choices – we are either commandment keepers or dogs, sorcerers, whoremongers, murderers, idolaters and those who love and make a lie. The contrast could not be more stark for us now as it will be then.
Jesus explains to John that He has sent His angel (one of the angels with the seven vials) to testify of these things in the churches. Are these messages being taught in our churches? Are the words of this prophecy being read in our pulpits? What was taught in your church this past Sunday as an alternative to what Jesus testifies here in v. 16? Our choices and ideas about how things should be done and what should be taught are one thing, but it is Jesus who is the root and offspring of David and the Bright and Morning Star. How amazing that the man after God’s own heart still finds mention at this late date in the timeline of God. Jesus is even still identifying Himself with David though David lived and died over 1000 years before Jesus was born. What a man of God! What a man after God’s own heart!
What is the response of heaven to Jesus at this point? The Spirit and the Bride say Come. The Spirit is in the earth, and the Bride is in the Earth, and the heart cry is “even so come quickly Lord Jesus.” John then warns those who read this book to leave it intact and not to deal with it piecemeal. If any adds words or takes words away from what is written here by John as a faithful witness that person will be condemned. It is worth mentioning that this statement only applies to the book of Revelation as the New Testament as we know and the idea of a canon of scripture would not be conceived of till over two centuries later. There have in fact been many books added to our canon and taken away in the early centuries of the church, and even today there are different canons that different groups revere as Holy Writ.
As important as this is the warning is clear that to take away from the words of this prophecy will cause one’s name to be taken out of the book of life. The question is this: how many who would never reject this book openly nonetheless functionally redact it from their scriptures because they never read it, never teach it and never bring it to the light of day among those that they live out their faith with? We are in jeopardy if we neglect this book and should pause and think about this. No other book in the Bible contains such a warning yet Revelation is ranked along with Job and Ecclesiastes as the most ignored in the entire canon.
Again John relays that Jesus in revealing these things for John to write down declared in parting as the clouds and mists of this apocalypse fade leaving John with writing instrument in hand:
“Surely I come quickly.”
To which we respond “Amen, even so, come Lord Jesus.”
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