by Sam E. Stone
This lesson concludes our three-month study on the general theme, “We Worship God.” We have considered guidelines for leaders, followed by reasons for praise, and finally John’s vision of worship. Today’s text comes from the portion of Revelation appropriately referred to as the conclusion or epilogue. It balances the foreword of the book (1:1-8). The vision has been revealed; the church is triumphant; the wicked are cut off. Our Lord’s return will transform everything into the ultimate “happy ending” for God’s people.
The Provision/Revelation 22:1-5
In the Garden of Eden, there had been a river (Genesis 2:10). Now in the new Jerusalem, the source of life flows from the Lord’s presence providing free drink (Revelation 22:17) and life (John 4:10) for all. The river of the water of life flows from the throne of God and of the Lamb. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. In contrast to the single tree of Eden (Genesis 3:22), the tree of life in Heaven seems to be available everywhere. The number 12 suggests fullness and completeness—fresh, abundant, unending fruit meeting the needs of all God’s people.
No longer will there be any curse. In contrast to earth, where there is sickness, pain, and death, Heaven will have only what is good. Rather than being a place of inactivity, God’s children will have work to do. They will serve him! They will see his face. Constantly in the Lord’s presence, the pure in heart will see God (Matthew 5:8; Hebrews 12:14). His people are marked as his own. There will be no more night. Just as the sea is no more (Revelation 21:1), so night will be no more. God has provided that we shall reign with Christ, fulfilling the promises of Scripture (5:10; 20:6; Daniel 7:18, 27; Luke 22:30).
The Plan/Revelation 22:6-9
The angel said to me, “These words are trustworthy and true.” Apparently this is the same angel referred to earlier (Revelation 21:9, 15; 22:1). The messenger of God affirms the accuracy and trustworthiness of the preceding visions—to show his servants the things that must soon take place. This purpose was specified at the beginning of the book (1:1). God’s Spirit (who had enlightened the prophets’ own spirits) has now revealed this to John.
Christ’s message to his people is, “Behold, I am coming soon!” We must remember, however, that “soon” may mean something different to us than it does to God (2 Peter 3:8). “Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy in this book.” This beatitude (the sixth in the book) is parallel to the first one (Revelation 1:3).
John then fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who had been giving the information to him. Surprisingly John repeats the mistake he made earlier (19:10). The angel quickly responded, “Do not do it! I am a fellow servant with you. . . . Worship God!” God is to be worshiped, not angels (see Colossians 2:18).
The Promise/Revelation 22:13-17
I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. Christ’s complete rule over all of history is once again affirmed. This is followed by the last of the seven Beatitudes in Revelation, “Blessed are those who wash their robes.” Our robes must be washed in the blood of the Lamb before we can enter Heaven (Revelation 5:9; 7:14). In contrast, outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood. The term “dogs” refers to all who are morally impure.
I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. The message is not only for seven churches (chapters 2-3), but for all of the churches in the world, then and now. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star. This reminds us of Isaiah’s Messianic prophecy (11:1, 10; see also Romans 15:12). The Holy Spirit (through his inspired messengers) and the bride (all who compose Christ’s church) unite in calling the world to him (compare Matthew 11:28). All who thirst can find satisfaction when they come to Jesus (see Matthew 5:6; John 6:35; 7:37).
Sam E. Stone is the former editor of Christian Standard. He continues his writing and speaking ministry from his home in Cincinnati, Ohio.