Monday, February 20, 2017

Jesus Is Coming Soon

1 Then the angel showed me (John) a (pure) river with the water of life, clear (bright) as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb. 2 It flowed down the center (middle) of the main (great) street. On each side of the river grew a tree of life, bearing twelve crops (kinds, varieties) of fruit, with a fresh crop each month. The leaves were used for medicine to heal (restore) the nations. 3 No longer will there be a curse upon anything. For the throne of God and of the Lamb will be there, and His servants will worship (honor, serve) Him. 4 And they (God’s servants) will see His face, and His Name will be written on their foreheads. 5 And there will be no night there—no need for lamps or sun—for the Lord God will shine on them. And they (God’s people) will reign forever and ever.

6 Then the angel (messenger) said to me (John), “Everything you have heard and seen is trustworthy and true. The Lord God, who inspires His prophets, has sent His angel to tell His servants what will happen soon.” 7Look, I (Jesus) am coming soon! Blessed are those who obey the words of prophecy written in this book.” 8 I, John, am the one who heard and saw (witnessed) all these things. And when I heard and saw them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed them to me. 9 But he (angel) said, “No, do not worship me. I am a servant of God, just like you and your brothers the prophets, as well as all who obey what is written in this book. Worship only God!” 10 Then he (angel) instructed me (John), “Do not seal up the prophetic words in this book, for the time is near (soon). 11 Let the one who is doing harm (wicked) continue to do harm; let the one who is vile (impure) continue to be vile; let the one who is righteous continue to live righteously; let the one who is holy continue to be holy.” 12Look, I (Jesus) am coming soon, bringing My reward with Me to repay all people according to their deeds. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. 14 Blessed are those who wash their robes. They will be permitted to enter through the gates of the city and eat the fruit from the tree of life. 15 Outside the city are the dogs—the sorcerers (magic arts), the sexually immoral (adulterers, fornicators), the murderers, the idol worshipers, and all who love to live a lie (falsehood, deception, trickery). 16 “I, Jesus, have sent My angel to give you this message for the churches. I am both the source of David and the Heir (Offspring) to his throne. I am the Bright Morning Star.” 17 The Spirit and the bride (church, the true believers) say, “Come.” Let anyone who hears this say, “Come.” Let anyone who is thirsty come. Let anyone who desires drink freely from the water of life. 18 And I solemnly declare to everyone who hears the words of prophecy written in this book: If anyone adds anything to what is written here, God will add to that person the plagues (affiliations, calamities) described in this book. 19 And if anyone removes (takes away) any of the words from this book of prophecy, God will remove that person’s share in the tree of life and in the holy city that are described in this book. 20 He who is the faithful witness to all these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon!” Amen! Come, Lord Jesus! 21 May the grace (blessing, favor) of the Lord Jesus be with (all) God’s holy people (saints). Revelation 22:1-21 (NLT)

Revelation chapters 21 and 22 return God’s faithful people back to the Garden of Eden. Amazingly, the final chapters of Revelation reflect the subjects and themes of the first three chapters of Genesis (see Genesis 1-3). The wording of Revelation chapters 21 and 22 pictures the New Jerusalem as also the new and permanent Garden of Eden. Thus, the Garden of Eden found in Genesis and Revelation is the bookend of God’s story of redemption.

In the new Garden of Eden, there will no longer be a curse and no evil (see Revelation 22:3). As previously revealed, Revelation describes God and His Son Jesus the Lamb’s final victory over evil – the unholy trinity (Satan the dragon, the beast (antichrist), and the false prophet), their wicked woman, and people who follow the ways of evil (see Revelation 17:15-18; Revelation 19:19-21; Revelation 20:7-10). The destruction of all sin and evil, including death, finally lead to the renewal of all – new heavens and a new earth (see Revelation 21:1, see also Isaiah 65:17; Isaiah 66:22; 2 Peter 3:10-13). Now, the true and living God comes and make His home with His faithful people (Revelation 21:3). God’s faithful people can see God face to face and experience eternal fellowship with Him (see Revelation 22:4).

Revelation 22 begins with a heavenly angel showing John, the human author of Revelation, the river of the water of life (Revelation 22:1). Similar to the Garden of Eden with one river (see Genesis 2:10), the holy city has only one river. It was the hope of the Old Testament prophets and writers that living water would flow from Jerusalem in the age to come (see Psalm 46:4; Ezekiel 47:1-12; Zechariah 14:8). This pure river was clear as crystal and flowed from the throne of God and the Lamb and streamed down the center of the holy Jerusalem’s great street (Revelation 22:1-2). Revelation 22 reveals God’s people living in the source of a life-giving stream that comes from the very presence of God and Jesus the Lamb. Interestingly, some biblical commentaries find in the imagery of the flowing water a reference to the Holy Spirit (Revelation 22:1, 17; see also John 4:10, 14; John 7:38-39; Revelation 21:6).

On each side of the pure river grew the tree of life, bearing twelve varieties of abundant fresh fruit each month (Revelation 22:2; see also Genesis 2:9). Importantly, the leaves of the tree of life are used for healing or restoring the nations (Revelation 22:2). The Old Testament book of Ezekiel also pictures healing water flowing from the temple to form a river along whose banks are trees that bring forth new fruit each month and whose leaves are for healing (see Ezekiel 47:12). In the Garden of Eden, God prohibited Adam and Eve from eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and the tree of life (see Genesis 2:15-17; Genesis 3:22-24). In the New Jerusalem, God’s faithful people will have full access to the bountiful tree of life (see Revelation 22:1-2). Thus, the description of the New Jerusalem’s pure river and the tree of life combine elements taken from the Garden of Eden (Revelation 22:1-2; see also Genesis 2:9-10; Genesis 3:22).

Further, no longer will there be a curse upon anything (Revelation 22:3). Sadly, the earth was cursed with thorns and thistles because of Adam and Eve’s disobedience to God in the Garden of Eden (see Genesis 3:17-18; see also Romans 5:12, 17-19; Romans 8:19-21). Guilt, strife, struggle, sickness, sorrow, and death resulted (see Genesis 3:14-19). In the new heavens and the new earth, the New Jerusalem will have no more death or sorrow or crying or pain as all these former things are gone forever (Revelation 21:4; see also 1 Corinthians 15:26; Revelation 20:14). The throne of God and of the Lamb will be there, and His people will worship Him (Revelation 22:3; see also Zechariah 14:21; Revelation 21:3). God’s faithful and righteous people will see God face to face, and God will graciously write His name on their foreheads (Revelation 22:4; see also Psalm 17:15; 1 Corinthians 3:2). In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus declared that the pure in heart would see God (Matthew 5:8; see also Hebrews 12:14; 1 John 3:2). Revelation chapters 21 and 22 see Jesus’ promises fulfilled as God’s faithful people will eternally live in God and Jesus the Lamb’s presence. There will be no night in the holy city for the Lord God will be their light (Revelation 22:5; see also Isaiah 60:19-20; Zechariah 14:7; 1 Timothy 6:16; Revelation 21:23-25). God’s people will reign with God and Jesus the Lamb forever and ever (Revelation 22:5; see also Daniel 7:18, 27; Revelation 5:10; Revelation 20:6). Accordingly, there will be no curse and no darkness in the New Jerusalem, and worship, fellowship, and reigning will be the believers' privileges.

Then, the angel said to John, “These words are trustworthy and true. And the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, has sent His angel to show His servants what must soon take place” (Revelation 22:6, ESV). All true prophecy originates with the true and living God and comes through people moved by the Holy Spirit (see 2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:20-21). At that time, the glorified and resurrected Jesus declared to John, “And behold, I am coming soon. Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book” (Revelation 22:7, ESV). This exchange echoes the beginning of Revelation announcing God’s sending His angel to His servant John and pronouncement of blessings on those who keeps the words of Revelation (see Revelation 1:1, 7). Even more, Jesus’ declaration recalls His earlier teaching during His public ministry on earth when He taught every generation to be on continual alert for His return because His return will come suddenly (Matthew 24:42-44; Matthew 25:1-13; see also 1 Thessalonians 5:2-4, 6).

When John saw and heard all these amazing things from the heavenly angel, he fell down to worship the angel (Revelation 22:8). Once again, the angel said to John, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers the prophets, and with those who keep the words of this book” (Revelation 22:9, ESV). The angel reminded John to worship God alone (Revelation 22:9; see also Deuteronomy 6:4-6; Revelation 19:10). Then the angel instructed John, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near. Let the evildoer still do evil, and the filthy still be filthy, and the righteous still do right, and the holy still be holy” (Revelation 22:10-11, ESV). In sharp contrast to the Old Testament prophet Daniel, who was told to seal up the record of his vision “until the time of the end” (Daniel 12:4, 9), John is commanded, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near” (Revelation 22:10; see also Revelation 22:6-7, 12, 20). The book of Revelation is to be read aloud and proclaimed to the church (see Revelation 1:3).

Then the resurrected and glorified Jesus the Lamb declared to John once again,

12 “Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with Me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. 14 “Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. 15 Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood. 16 “I, Jesus, have sent My angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.” Revelation 22:12-16 (NIV2011)[1]

Jesus wanted everyone to know that He was coming soon (Revelation 22:12). Even more, Jesus declared that when He returns He will bring His reward will be with Him to give to every one according to his or her deeds and work (Revelation 22:12). Amazingly, during Jesus’ public ministry on earth, Jesus also declared He will return in His Father’s glory with His angels, and He will reward each person according to what they have done – their deeds (Matthew 16:27; Matthew 25:31-46; John 5:28-29; Revelation 20:12). Interestingly, the apostle Paul also reaffirmed Jesus’ teaching (see also e.g., Romans 2:6; Romans 14:10; 1 Corinthians 3:12-15; 2 Corinthians 5:10; Ephesians 6:8). The Holy Scriptures promises to reward everyone according to one’s earthly deeds (see e.g., Psalm 62:12; Proverbs 24:12; Isaiah 40:10; Isaiah 62:11; Jeremiah 17:10; 1 Peter 1:17). Indeed, God’s blessings and rewards come to those who obediently live a godly and righteous life (see also Matthew 5:3-12)! Then, Jesus declared a blessing to everyone who washes their robes as they will have the right to enter in through the gates of the city and to eat the fruit from the tree of life (Revelation 22:14; see also Revelation 7:14). Outside the holy city will be all those have disobeyed and strayed away from God’s faithful love as well as sorcerers, adulterers, fornicators, murderers, idol worshippers, and all liars and deceivers (Revelation 22:15; see also Romans 1:29-31; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10; Galatians 5:19-21; Philippians 3:2; Colossians 3:5-6; Revelation 21:8, 27). In Revelation, the unrepentant evildoers must now face the consequences of their sins! “The soul who sins shall die” (Ezekiel 18:20, ESV; see also Romans 6:23). However, the true and living God has given everyone an opportunity to receive salvation. If we repent and confess our sins to God, our gracious God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness (1 John 1:9). So, let everyone turn from sin and wickedness and sin no more (see John 5:14; John 8:11; 1 Corinthians 15:34).

Throughout the Holy Scriptures both the Old Testament and the New Testament, the true and living God has repeatedly warned everyone to turn away from sin, wickedness, and rebellion, and to walk holy, humbly, and faithfully with Him as their God and obey His ways (see e.g., 1 Samuel 15:22-23; Psalm 51:16-17; Isaiah 1:11-15; Jeremiah 7:22; Micah 6:6-8; Mark 12:28-33). Then, finally God sent His only begotten Son Jesus the Lamb to instruct the people to turn to God and love God with all their hearts and to love one another (see e.g., Matthew 22:34-40; John 13:34-35; Romans 13:9-21).

Furthermore, Jesus declared His Name as the “Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last” (Revelation 22:12-13, NKJV). As God’s only begotten Son, Jesus is identified by the same title as His Father (Revelation 21:6; see also Revelation 1:8, 17; Revelation 2:8). As previously mentioned, God the Father and His Son Jesus the Lamb are One (see Deuteronomy 6:4; John 10:30; John 14:9; John 17:11, 22). Jesus is also Man. From a human standpoint, Jesus is the Root and the Offspring of King David, Israel’s most famous king (Revelation 22:16; see also e.g., Isaiah 11:1, 10; Matthew 1:1; Romans 1:3; 2 Timothy 2:8; Revelation 5:5). Even more, Jesus is the bright Morning Star predicted by the Old Testament (Revelation 22:16; see also Numbers 24:17).

Then, John concludes Revelation with an invitation. First, John records the Holy Spirit and the Bride of Christ proclaiming, “Come” (Revelation 22:17; see also Revelation 21:2, 9). John also declared, “And let the one who hears say, ‘Come!’ Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life” (Revelation 22:17, NIV2011). As the human author of Revelation, John wants everyone to know that God offers EVERYONE the free gift of salvation and His eternal love (see also Isaiah 55:1; Revelation 21:6).

Even more, John solemnly warns everyone who reads the book of Revelation: “If anyone adds anything to what is written here, God will add to that person the plagues described in this book. And if anyone removes any of the words from this book of prophecy, God will remove that person’s share in the tree of life and in the holy city that are described in this book” (Revelation 22:18-19, NLT). Similarly, Moses of the Old Testament gave similar warnings against adding and subtracting from God’s Holy Word (see Deuteronomy 4:1-4; Deuteronomy 12:32). Everyone must handle God’s Holy Scriptures with care and great respect so that we do not distort God’s eternal message (see e.g., Isaiah 40:8; Matthew 24:35; Galatians 1:6-7; 1 Peter 1:24-25).  

Then, John ends the book of Revelation by announcing Jesus’ declaration: “Yes, I am coming soon!” (Revelation 22:20, NLT). John declared, Amen! Come, Lord Jesus! Finally, John gives the benediction by declaring “May the grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s holy people” (Revelation 22:21, NLT).  

The book of Revelation closes human history as Genesis began—in paradise! Revelation chapters 21 and 22 reveal God’s original plan of fellowship with His faithful people. In the new Garden of Even, sin and evil are gone forever. Thus, many biblical scholars agree that Revelation is, above all, a book of hope. The book of Revelation shows that no matter what happens on earth, God is fully in control. Revelation promises that evil will be defeated and an eternal blessing awaits everyone who walks faithfully with God.

Three times in Revelation’s closing chapter John wrote of Jesus’ soon return (see Revelation 22:7, 10, 12, 20). When will Jesus return? Many generations have asked that question about Jesus’ second coming. As Jesus returned to heaven in the glory cloud, two angels told Jesus’ disciples who was watching Jesus return to heaven that Jesus will return in the same way as they saw Him go into heaven (see Acts 1:10-11; see also Mark 13:26-27; Mark 14:62; Revelation 1:7).

However, NO ONE KNOWS when Jesus Christ will return (Acts 1:6-7; see also Mark 13:32-37; 1 Thessalonians 5:1-2). God sent Jesus at the right time for His first coming (Galatians 4:4), and GOD ALONE will decide Jesus’ second coming to earth (Matthew 24:36). In fact, Jesus warns against speculating and calculating His second coming because God the Father alone will determine His second coming (see e.g., Matthew 24:36; Mark 13:32-37; Acts 1:6-7; 1 Thessalonians 5:1-2). Even more, the Apostle Paul warned the church not to become careless and lazy just because we believe Jesus is coming soon (see 2 Thessalonians 3). God the Father has delayed Jesus return for nearly 2,000 years and the Apostle Peter tells us why: God wants to give this sinful world opportunity to repent and be saved (see 2 Peter 3:9). REPENT AND BE SAVED! The true and living God does not want anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance (see John 3:16-17; Luke 15; 2 Peter 3:9).

Amen! Come, Lord Jesus! Revelation 22:20 (NLT)

ESV Study Bible, English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2008).
Life Application Study Bible (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Pub., 2005).
Zondervan NIV Study Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2008).
Dr. Loyd Melton, Ph.D., Senior Professor of New Testament (Due West, SC: Erskine Theological Seminary, 2016).
Metzger, Bruce. Breaking the Code: Understanding the Book of Revelation (Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 1993).
Mounce, Robert H. The Book of Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1998).
Wiersbe, Warren W. Bible Exposition Commentary –New Testament (Victor Books, 1989).

[1] Revelation 22:12-16 consists of statements that some Bible translations assigned to John, the human author of Revelation, or the angel while some translations assign verses 12 through 16 to Jesus.  

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