XI. The Source of Life and Conclusion (Revelation 22:1-21)


XI. The Source of Life and Conclusion (22:1-21)

22:1-2 Since there is no sea on the new earth, water will be supplied by the river of the water of life . . . flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb—a single throne shared by God the Father and God the Son (22:1). The new earth also will contain the tree of life (22:2), which first appeared in the garden of Eden (Gen 2:9) and from which humans were barred from eating after Adam and Eve sinned (Gen 3:22-24).

The leaves of the tree are for healing the nations. Why would healing be necessary in the new heaven and new earth? Because there is a group of people who have access to the heavenly Jerusalem but who do not live there (see 21:24-26). There is only one group of people left on earth to go into eternity in their physical bodies—those who were true to Jesus Christ and served him during his millennial reign. They go into eternity after the millennium with physically glorified bodies not spiritually glorified bodies (see 1 Cor 15:38-41)—that is, like Adam and Eve in the garden. These will make up the nations who do not live in the new Jerusalem but who will have access to the city. They will need the leaves of the tree for their continued health and well-being.

22:3-5 In the new heaven and new earth, there will no longer be any curse. Everything will be just as God intended it, and his servants will worship him (22:3). Use of the term “servants” implies that believers will be happily serving and working in the new creation, overseeing the planet to varying degrees corresponding to their rewards. In this environment, God’s people will see his face (22:4), and there will no longer be a need for either the light of a lamp or the light of the sun because God’s radiant presence will provide all necessary illumination.

22:6-7 The speaker in 22:6 is the angel who began guiding John in 21:9. He offers a reminder that every word spoken in Revelation is true. We don’t know when these events will occur, but we are assured they will soon take place (22:6), a truth echoed by Jesus himself in 22:7. In response to the imminence of Christ’s return, readers are commanded to take this book seriously and act on it.

22:8-9 Often, Revelation is portrayed as a book of prophecy, and this is certainly true. But, more fundamentally, it is a book about worship, a theme that recurs from chapters 1-22. Here, as he has before, John falls down to worship at the feet of the angel (22:8). The angel, however, corrects him: Don’t do that! I am a fellow servant with you . . . and those who keep the words of this book. Worship God! (22:9). Worship of God is the appropriate response to the words of Revelation.

22:10-11 The words of the book were not to be sealed up because the time is near (22:10). Rather, they are to be read—which will lead people to one of two responses. Some will not heed the admonitions and continue on a path of rebellion against God. As John puts it, the filthy will still be filthy. Others, however, will heed the warnings and move in the direction God wants them to go, namely, righteousness (22:11).

22:12-14 Jesus—the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end (22:13)—is coming soon to reward each believer according to his work (22:12). The reward will include access to the tree of life and the city (22:14). The greater a person’s faithfulness in earthly life, the greater his or her access will be to special blessings in the eternal state.

22:15 The wicked, those who never received Jesus as their Savior, will remain under the curse and be separated from the blessings described in this chapter. Among them will be those whose base, sensual living made them like dogs, the sorcerers, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.

22:16 Revelation was written specifically for believers. That’s why Jesus declares, I . . . have sent my angel to attest these things to you for the churches. It’s about the future, but it’s for the present-day church. The bright morning star is another way of referring to the sun. In the daytime, it is the one star sufficiently luminous and powerful to light the entire earth. Spiritually speaking, Jesus is “the bright morning star” because he is the most powerful source of spiritual illumination and is the sole source of eternal life.

22:17 John ends the book with an evangelistic invitation. The Holy Spirit, the church, and anyone who hears the message all beckon sinners to come to Christ. Anyone who is spiritually thirsty may have his or her thirst quenched by Jesus. And best of all, this spiritual satisfaction is free. The water of life is a gift. All that is required to possess eternal life in the paradise that has been described is to receive the free gift of salvation by placing your faith in Jesus Christ alone and his substitutionary death. Embrace the agenda of his eternal kingdom. No earthly agenda compares.

22:18-19 Don’t mess with the Word. That’s John’s admonition in these verses, and it applies specifically to the book of Revelation. It has two components. First, do not add to the prophecy of this book. The penalty for doing so will be the plagues that are written in it (22:18). Second, do not take away from the words of the book. Those who do so will have their heavenly rewards taken away, namely, their share of the tree of life and the holy city (21:19).

22:20 Much of Revelation is difficult to understand because of its symbolism, but the book concludes by underscoring with notable simplicity two central themes. First, Jesus is coming soon. You can understand this even if details of the rapture, the tribulation, the second coming of Jesus, the millennium, and the eternal state remain unclear.

Second, the glorious future in store for followers of Jesus should inspire worship. John’s response to all that was revealed to him was an exclamation of worshipful affirmation: Amen! Come, Lord Jesus! There is enough truth stated plainly in Revelation for you to thank God for your salvation, for your eternal future, and for God’s grace. If reading Revelation makes you a better worshiper, it has achieved its goal.

22:21 The wrath to come on all who do not acknowledge Jesus as Savior contrasts with the grace of the Lord Jesus available to everyone during the church era. It is with a prayer for that saving grace to be broadly bestowed that John closes the book.