Please note that the thoughts in this post on Revelation 22 build directly on the information from the previous post on Revelation 21. John did not have a chapter break.
The next thing that catches John’s attention is a “pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb.” On either side of the river is the tree of life that produces twelve different fruits. It either produces a different fruit each month or a new supply of all twelve fruits each month. The leaves of the tree are for the “healing” of the nations. This didn’t make sense in light of the perfection that will characterize our surroundings, so I looked at the Greek, and it includes a reference to adoration and worship. That makes me think that we will use them in some way to honor God. The next verse actually emphasizes that there will be no more curse and that His servants will serve Him (in reference to both God and the Lamb).
John then reveals that we, His servants, will be able to see His face—without danger, with intimacy. We will proudly have His name etched in some way in our foreheads. This reminds me of the seal of the 144,000.
Revelation 7:3–4 “Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads. And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel.”
Revelation 14:1 “And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father’s name written in their foreheads.”
In verse six the angel tells John that this revelation has been given him to show God’s servants the things that they can expect to happen “shortly,” in a fixed place in time. Point is made that everything he has been shown is true and will be fulfilled. I am reminded again of the unchanging character of God. He always prepares His people and tells them what to expect in light of coming judgment.
Jesus suddenly speaks up and declares that He is coming “quickly”—shortly, i.e. without delay, soon, or (by surprise) suddenly. The Greek gives a full understanding according to scripture. He is coming soon according to God’s reckoning of time, and He will come suddenly by surprise.
2 Peter 3:8 “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.”
Revelation 3:3 “Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.”
With the reminder of His soon return, the Lord declares that those who keep or hold fast to the “sayings of the prophecy of this book” will be blessed. This is a powerful rebuke to those that declare the study of prophecy to be unimportant and a waste of time. Sadly, there are many recognized leaders in the church today who hold that view. Whatever their motive, it is self-serving and/or in disobedience to the will of God for His people.
Right after recording the words of Jesus, John immediately confirms that He witnessed all that He recorded. The voice of Jesus prompted John to fall down in a position of worship before his angelic guide. As every true servant of God should always do, he quickly rebukes John; he identifies himself as a fellowservant, a prophet of God and one who also holds fast to the truth revealed in this book. Though it can be confusing at times, we must remember that the word for “angel” simply means “messenger.” It would seem that there is a likelihood that some of God’s prophets will get to participate in the events about which they prophesied; this angel was originally identified as one that had poured out one of the seven vials of judgment. The angel then rightly declares that our worship is to be directed to God. There are many pastors and leaders in the church today that need to be reminded of that truth.
Unlike Daniel, whose message was directed towards those who would live at the time of the end, John is told not to seal the message of this book; its truth is applicable even now—at the time John received it (around 90 AD).
Verse 11 is a hard verse.
Revelation 22:11 “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.”
I think it is a statement of man’s free will. Those who have chosen to be unjust and filthy have that choice; those who have chosen to be righteous and holy also have that choice. It could, however, be a statement of the finality and eternal condition resulting from the choices of men as revealed to John.
Once again John hears Jesus declare that He is coming quickly to reward every person according to his/her works. Once again Jesus declares Himself to be the “Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.”
John begins to close the book with a reminder that to “do” the will of God gives proof to our position in Christ, one who has the right to partake of the fruit of the tree of life and enter the gates of the New Jerusalem. This takes us back to the Garden of Eden. I am reminded that it was only the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil that was forbidden to Adam and Eve. It was after they disobeyed God and died spiritually that they were sent out of the garden and no longer allowed access to the tree of life. It seems that the fruit of this tree is only intended for the consumption of those who are indwelt by the Spirit of God.
(to be continued…)