Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Revelation 22

Provisions from God (vs. 1-5)--The final resting place of the redeemed, as noted in the post on Revelation 21, is pictured from three angles, fellowship with God (21:1-8), protection by God (vs. 9-26), and here in 22:1-5, provisioned by God. John sees a "pure river of water of life, clear as crystal" flowing from the throne--note the source, directly from God and the Lamb. (v. 1). The tree of life is in the middle of the street, next to that river, yielding sustenance the year round (v. 2). There will be no "years" in heaven, of course, but this is apocalyptic literature where anything can happen. "There shall be no more curse" (v. 3). The tree of life and the curse remind us of Genesis 3, and the Bible comes full circle. What was lost in Genesis 3 is finally and completely restored in Revelation 22. The Bible tells one tale and the unity of 66 books written over a period of 1600 years by 40-odd different men can only be explained by divine inspiration. We will serve Him (as we ought, though the particulars of how are not noted) and we shall see His face (v. 4)--something that could not happen before. "His name shall be on their foreheads" (v. 4), showing possession by God. Again, "there shall be no night there" (v. 5); the Lord God will be sufficient light and the victory shall be "forever and ever." How long is "forever"? Well, add an "ever" to it for emphasis. Never an end to the beautiful home of the righteous soul. We will be with Him forever, protected within the four walls of His city, and provided for from the very throne upon which He sits. What more could we want?

Epilogue (vs. 6-21)--The Redeemer issues the final words of the book, pressing upon the readers the importance of the message. What John has been given is "faithful and true"--it is assured to happen, for it comes from "the Lord God" (v. 6). The quick coming of the Lord doesn't mean immediately; it references the swiftness of His judgment. Thus, "Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book" (v. 7). John again is so overcome by the visions he has seen that he worships the angel who delivered them to him, but is told not to do that . Angels are servants, too, as are the prophets and all who obey the Lord (v. 9). The "words of the prophecy of this book" would come to pass soon, "for the time is at hand" (v. 10), not 2,000 years in the future. Again, the message is designed to provide comfort to the beleaguered saints in the Roman Empire who needed to know their great enemy would be judged. People must make a choice as to how they will live (v. 11).

One more time, Jesus comforts the readers with a "behold, I am coming quickly." He will reward everyone "according to his work" (v. 12). The surety of the message is once again re-affirmed because it came from the everlasting God (v. 13). A reminder of the necessity of obedience follows: "Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city." Only the righteous have access to that tree which provides eternal sustenance. Outside the city are all manner of scavengers and immoral people (v. 15), and we do not want to be with them because of their eternal destiny. Remember, protection is found only in the city. Jesus testifies that He is the author of the book, the looked-for descendant of David, "the Bright and Morning Star" (v. 16). I like Clarke's comment on that phrase: "I am splendor and glory to my kingdom; as the morning star ushers in the sun, so shall I usher in the unclouded and eternal glories of the everlasting kingdom." All are invited, if they thirst for spiritual drink (v. 17). The shame is that so few accept the invitation. The book--and the Bible--conclude with a very strict warning against adding to or taking away from what has been written within its pages (vs. 18-19). While this warning is directed especially towards the book of Revelation, it is a warning found elsewhare in God's word (Deut. 4:2; Prov. 30:6; Gal. 1:8-9). It is presumption of the highest order to think we can improve upon what a perfect God has written. This warning is in this case directed towards Christians, who would be the main readers of the book, of course, for those who pervert the message would have their part "taken away...from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book" (v. 19). Such could only apply to those who already had those things promised to them.

And, one more time, there is a promise of the Lord of the quickness and surety of judgment (v. 20). John longs for that coming. I wonder if we do. The book closes with the only hope we have--"the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ" (v. 22). That's the source of our hope; it must be coupled with our obedience to Him (v. 14).

Revelation is a marvelously beautiful book. It teaches nothing, however, that is not found elsewhere, without figures and symbols, in the Bible. Unfailing devotion to Christ is demanded (Luke 14:33); "if we deny Him, He also will deny us" (II Tim. 2:12). Such is the reminder of the final book of the Bible.

Stand up, stand up for Jesus, the strife will not be long;
     This day the noise of battle, the next the victor's song.
To him that overcometh a crown of life shall be;
     He with the King of Glory shall reign eternally.

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