Our study this time takes us to Revelation chapter 22. This is of course the final chapter of this great book. In this chapter John continues his description of the New Jerusalem and of the period of time we have been referring to as the Perfect Age. John opens this chapter,
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. 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. [Rev. 22:1, 2] Here John takes us inside, if you will, the New Jerusalem. Up until this time it seemed that perhaps the New Jerusalem was all mineral, and no vegetable. It seemed as though as beautiful as Chapter 21 describes it, where was a cool stream or soft grass to sit on? Here John shows us this element will be present as well. We see a river here. In the first Eden there was a river too if you will recall. It branched out to four different rivers. Although there was an abundance of water then, that water was not referred to as the water of life. Eden was a garden of trees, among which was the Tree of Life. The way was left open for man to the tree through the shedding of blood. [See Gen. 3:24]
In the New Jerusalem there is a river of the water of life, and the Throne of God is the supply source for it. It issues out from it. The “Tree of Life” is a fruit tree, bearing twelve kinds of fruit each month. There is an abundant supply in both abundance and variety. The question is often asked whether we will eat and drink in eternity. I am happy to announce in the affirmative on both counts! The menu is varied, but it seems it will be restricted to fruits as it was in the Garden of Eden. And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat. And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so. [Gen. 1:29, 30]
Some have wanted to spiritualize this section of Revelation making the fruit on the tree the Fruit of the Spirit. By law of double of reference I suppose one could get that from this passage. However, I believe we can hold to the literal interpretation throughout this section. Even though it does seem highly symbolic, I believe we are dealing with quite real things here as John sees them from the perspective of the spirit world. Since the River of Life comes out of the Throne of God, I believe this to mean that the Throne sits at the very top or apex of this city, which means it is 1,500 miles in the air. The river winds its way down the various levels of the city, possibly dividing into twelve streams going to each gate, or possibly throughout the rest of the world. The water will have healing properties, as will the fruit of the tree of life. Why will this be needed? It must be remembered that there will be literally millions of people who will enter the Millennium in natural bodies. They will enter the Perfect Age still in natural bodies. They will have eternal life, but not be living in glorified bodies as the redeemed will be. The water and fruit will sustain them in their natural bodies for eternity.
The leaves of the tree will be for the healing of the nations. They will have definite healing properties. This water and these leaves will be unlike anything we know on this planet at this time. The Greek word translated, healing here is, therepia. It is found four times in the New Testament, two times it is translated healing, twice it is household. We get of course the word, therapy from it. So we know they will have definite therapeutic qualities to them.
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: And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads. 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. [Rev. 22:3 – 5] The earth we live in today has the blight of sin in and on it. This will not be the case in the Perfect Age. There will not even be the potential for sin to ever enter it. In the original garden the potential for sin existed in the presence of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Such will not be the case in the Perfect Age to come. The presence of the Father and the Lamb will be sufficient to assure this to be the case. The absence of the Father in the Garden is when the tempter came to our first parents.
The Throne of God and the Lamb are in the New Jerusalem. It is the general headquarters of the Father and the Lamb. Some have thought that eternity would be a state of blissful nothingness where we would sit on billowy clouds playing harps. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The New Jerusalem and the earth during the Perfect Age to come will be a place of ceaseless activity. It will not be necessary to rest to give the body a chance to recuperate. Notice, his servants shall serve him. The Greek word, latreuo, is a bit unusual in this context. It is found a total of 22 times in the New Testament, and is translated, “serve” 13 of those times. It is, “worship” 3 times. The word originally meant, “To serve for hire.” It came to be used in the NT era of the service or worship of God. It is a loving, willful service, not compulsory in any way. It seems to be a picture of the voluntary service of a loved master a sevant could enter into under the Old Covenant. [See Ex. 21:2 – 6]
In the perfect Age to come man will finally look on the face of God. This was the supreme desire of Moses under the Old Covenant and Philip under the New. Not only will we look on the face of God, but we will bear His Name throughout eternity! We will each be like Him, yet it would seem without disturbing our own personalities. John continues,
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. Behold, I come quickly: blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book. [Rev. 22:5, 6] In the midst of this wonderful description of the Perfect Age to come, is a great promise of His Coming. The important thing to understand when the Lord says, Behold, I come quickly, is that He means rapidly. The Greek again is, tachu. It is rapidly, readily, without delay. It does not carry with it the meaning of shortly or immediately, or even soon. We must remember that most of the events of the book of Revelation from chapter 4 on, occur in a period of not more than seven years, with most of them being confined to a period of three and one half years. The encouragement is that Jesus says it will not be a long period: “I am Coming quickly, I will soon be there!” However, that means when we get to this period. We are not there as yet, but I believe we are nearer now than at any point in history.
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. 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. And he saith unto me, Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book: for the time is at hand. 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. [Rev. 22:8 – 11] One final time John lets us know that he was the auditor and spectator of these events. This is the second time that John is so overwhelmed at those things he was seeing and hearing that he fell down to worship the one bringing the message. Even though this man is different than the one in 19:10, he is still just the messenger. The focus of this book is Jesus, He is the centerpiece of all of it. We must never lose sight of Him.
Although the books of Daniel and Revelation are “sister” books, there is a marked difference in them right here. In Daniel 12:9 Daniel is told, Go thy way, Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end. This is probably due to the long interval before their fulfillment. In fact, in the 21st Century we are not even to the 70th Week of Daniel as yet. In contrast, the prophecy given to John was even then in the process of being fulfilled. For almost two thousand years the Church has been moving through the time periods of the seven churches in chapters 2 and 3.
Here too we see a marked contrast between the saved and the lost, the righteous and the unrighteous. The condition of the lost is a permanent and eternal thing, but it is not static. In other words, the unrighteous will increase in unrighteousness. The filthy will increase in filthiness. This increase will continue until it is a monster sin! It is quite a frightful thought! In contrast, the condition of the righteous is not static either. We will continue to grow in righteousness and holiness. Heaven is not static. The Millennium is not static as the Word says, “Of the increase of His kingdom there will be no end.”
And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last. 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. For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie. 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. [Rev. 22:12 – 16] There can be no doubt, Jesus promises that He is indeed Coming again. Of this truth there can be no doubt. He will also personally reward every believer. Those in the Church at the rapture, and those of Israel and the Gentiles at His Return to set up His kingdom. Again, the Lord asserts His deity: I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last. He begins the Revelation with this declaration and now ends with it.
Only blood-washed believers have access to the Tree of Life and access to the Holy City. [See Eph. 1:7 – 12]
A list is given of those who will face eternal damnation in the Lake of Fire. I take no delight in sharing this. Hell is a real place. Although it was never the intention of God for any human being to ever go there, untold multitudes will as a result of them rejecting God’s one and only way to salvation. Contrary to the beliefs of my Universalist friends, there is no such thing as ultimate reconciliation where all will be saved in the end. No, there are many who will persist in their sin and will face a Christ-less eternity. John gives us a partial list here. It is a, “Who’s who in Hell”, if you will. 1) Dogs – While this was a term applied to Gentiles during the ministry of Jesus, it has reference here I submit to you to its Old Testament meaning, and that is homosexuals. I know that is not a PC statement, but it is biblically accurate. The Bible says, Thou shalt not bring the hire of a whore, or the price of a dog, into the house of the LORD thy God for any vow: for even both these are abomination unto the LORD thy God. [Deut. 23:18] “Dog” here is the Hebrew, keleb which is a male prostitute or homosexual. Lets be clear here, no practicing homosexual can be saved and make heaven their home. That is not to say that someone who has been saved and yet continues to struggle in areas of sin cannot be saved. I speak of those who think they can defiantly keep their sinful lifestyle and yet claim salvation. 2) Sorcerers – This would be all types of witchcraft, incantations, fortunetelling, necromancy, etc. 3) Whoremongers – This really pertains to all types of sexual immorality. 4) Muderers – This could be applied not only to those who murder in cold blood, but also to those who murder the reputations of others through gossip. 5) Idolaters – Any worship offered to any one or thing other than the one true God. Some make an idol out of their denomination or church teachings. If a person looks to anything other than Christ and Him Crucified for salvation, that is idolatry. 5) Liars – This would be anything untrue. The bottom line is, you and I cannot hold on to our sin and claim salvation.
Our Lord sends this angel with a very special message here. He says, “I Jesus”. He takes the Name of His Savior-hood, the Name He took upon Himself in His humanity, and the Name that know one knows other than He Himself. We are going to spend eternity just centering on Him and His person.
He is called the, “Root and offspring of David.” This connects Him with the Old Testament. He is the “Bright and morning star” to the Church.
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. 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: 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. [Rev. 22:17 – 19] Here we come to two finals. A final invitation, and a final warning. First, the invitation. The Holy Spirit and Christ’s Bride, the Church offer a wonderful invitation. It is really a three-fold invitation. It is extended first to all who hear. Then to anyone who is thirsty. Lastly, to whoever will. All are invited to partake of the water of life without cost. A similar invitation is made in Isaiah 55:1.
Then the final warning. This is a solemn warning from Christ Himself. It pertains to the sacred character and nature of the prophecy given. There are other scriptural warnings concerning perverting and tampering with the Word of God, [See Deut. 4:2; 12:32; Prov. 30:6; Rev. 1:3] this one however is the most solemn of any. When we come to the study of the Bible, we must remember that we are dealing with the very Word of God. We do not have the liberty to pick and choose the portions we believe and the ones we don’t. We either accept and believe the Word or we reject it. This warning primarily pertains to the prophecy of the book of Revelation, however in a more general sense it can apply to all of scripture. We are solemnly warned not add to or take away from that which was given by the Holy Spirit. There are approximately 92 what would be considered complete English translations of the Bible. Of that number a very small handful would be considered literal, or word- for- word translations. The vast majority would be thought – for -thought, or even paraphrases.
Now, most people cannot read Hebrew and Greek, so they have to have an English translation of the Bible. When selecting one, may I say always stick with a word – for – word translation. Avoid the thought – for – thought translations and paraphrases unless you are going to get them strictly for study or commentary purposes. The best example that we have of a word – for – word translation is the King James Version, while there are others, such as the New American Standard Bible (NASB), the English Standard Verizon (ESV), and the Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB). I personally use the KJV almost exclusively, although I am doing my devotional Bible reading this year in the NASB. The New International Version (NIV), is an example of a thought – for – thought translation. I advise Christians to avoid the NIV, and all other thought – for – thought translations. I know there are those who will not like that which I have just shared with regard to Bible translations, but it is the truth. I invite you to do the research with an open mind, I think you will be surprised with what you discover.
He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen. [Rev. 22:20, 21] He comes quickly not necessarily soon. When these things begin to come to pass, which they have, then His Return is very near. I find it interesting that the Old Testament ends with a curse, while the New Testament ends with a benediction and a blessing. Revelation is the presentation in the Word of God of what the saints will witness and experience in the glorious consummation of the ages.
With John we can pray, “Come, Lord Jesus!”
With this post we conclude our series through the book of Revelation. I pray it has been enlightening to you. I am sure there are still questions in the minds of many that were not addressed or to which not enough detail was given. If you have additional questions, or comments, please feel free to e-mail me at: firstname.lastname@example.org.