In our study of Revelation chapter twenty two, we will see how the Word of God brings life and maintains life for all who trust in Him.
Revelation 22:1 & 2a
"Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city." NIV translation
In chapter 21, John gave us many details concerning the new city of Jerusalem. That continues here as he describes the river of life. Throughout the Bible, water was a symbol of the Word of God and it brought life to all that heard and trusted in Jesus. Now, we see that this living water still flows from God and maintains life even in this new Jerusalem. If we look around us, today, most of the rivers are polluted or muddy but this river is crystal clear and has no impurities in it.
This also reminds us that we will be with God and His Word and we will continue to grow in our understanding and love for God.
"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 healing of the nations." NIV translation
A tree requires water to live and to bear fruit and so the tree(s) of life is(are) on both sides of the river. They produce a continual crop of fruit to sustain us as we will no longer be killing and eating animals because there will be no bloodshed on the new earth.
"No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him." NIV translation
The new earth will be free from the curse of sin. Man will no longer have to work the ground for food; women will no longer suffer through childbirth. Everything on earth will be freed from the effects of sin and we will live with God and serve Him forever.
"They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads." NIV translation
We will be able to see God face to face and yet live. Since the garden, this has not been possible because of sin but, now, we will once again dwell with our Father.
"There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever." NIV translation
We will no longer grow tired and weary and so there will be no need for sleep and night.
The glory (presence) of God will be our light and it will never fade.
"The angel said to me, 'These words are trustworthy and true. The Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, sent his angel to show his servants the things that must soon take place.'" NIV translation
Everything that has been revealed to John in this book is consistent with what was shown to the Old Testament prophets. We are shown this so that we can understand things that are happening and to prepare others for what is to come.
"'Behold, I am coming soon! Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy in this book.'" NIV translation
The "soon" mentioned here is better translated as quickly. When we think of "soon", we think of tomorrow and, although Jesus could return for us then, people can get discouraged when they expect something tomorrow and it does not come at the expected time. When the verse says "keeps the words", it is talking about not changing them or trying to explain them away. Many of the things that John has seen are hard to imagine but we must remember that, with God, all things are possible.
Revelation 22:8 & 9
"I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I had heard and seen them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who had been showing them to me. But he said to me, 'Do not do it! I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers the prophets and of all who keep the words of this book. Worship God!'" NIV translation
John gives us a look at his human side as he falls down to worship the angel who had been giving him the tour. He was immediately corrected and reminded that we are only to worship God. It is comforting to know that the people that God used were, for the most part, common folks just like you and me. They made mistakes just as we do but God's grace is great enough for all of our sins!
Revelation 22:10 & 11
"Then he told me, 'Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, because the time is near. Let him who does wrong continue to do wrong; let him who is vile continue to be vile; let him who does right continue to do right; and let him who is holy continue to be holy.'" NIV translation
John could have kept all of the things that he had been shown to himself but the angel told him not to. He shared it with the church but, today, it seems that most church leaders will not teach it to their congregations.
Many, in fact, "seal up" the words instead of showing people the hope that is contained in the Book of Revelation.
"'Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done.'" NIV translation
Here, we see a promise from Jesus and that promise is that He will reward His people for what they have done. In Luke 10:7, Jesus told the seventy-two that a "worker deserves his wages" and that is the promise that we see fulfilled in this verse. This is often referred to as "the second judgment" or the "judgment of rewards". Although Jesus does not tell us what those rewards are, we can be sure that they are awesome!
"'I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.'" NIV translation
From the first revelation in Genesis to the final chapter here, Jesus has always been there and in control. Even through the darkest times that John has told us about, He is still God and He is in control.
"'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.'" NIV translation
"Blessed" (without fear) are we who have accepted Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. We do not have to fear the things that we have seen throughout this book because we have the right to be in the presence of God because of Jesus Christ.
"'Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.'" NIV translation
Those who have not accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior will not enter the presence of God.
"'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.'" NIV translation
Jesus lets us know that this book is for us (the church) and we should not be afraid but we should see the hope that it contains. We see in His names that this hope is for both the Jews (Offspring of David) as well as Gentiles (Morning Star). The term "morning star" refers to a star that appears just before the dawn of a new day when the night seems to be the darkest. That star shines on all peoples just as the salvation through Jesus is extended to all peoples.
"The Spirit and the bride say, 'Come!' And let him who hears say, 'Come!' Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life." NIV translation
The Word of God (Jesus) is for everyone and salvation is a gift from Him. This reminds us that our job (until Jesus returns) is to tell others to come to Him for eternal life.
"I warn everyone who hears the words of this prophecy of this book: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book." NIV translation
Jesus warns everyone to keep God's Word pure. There are those that have taken this description of the last days and changed them to fit into their beliefs. God will deal with them and the deception that they spread.
"And if anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book." NIV translation
There are those who want to minimize or even dispute the things that are written in this book. We have to remember that Jesus was the One that was sharing this with John and so they are His words. We either believe Jesus or we call Him a liar by rejecting His words. If we reject His words, we reject Him and the things that He has prepared for us such as the tree of life and the holy city.
"He who testifies to these things says, 'Yes, I am coming soon.'" NIV translation
These words were given to John by angels (messengers) sent from Jesus. These messengers only deliver what they have been given and so are true to the one that sent them.
Therefore, it is Jesus Himself that is the witness testifying to the things contained in this book. His final words are an affirmation of the fact that He is going to come quickly.
"The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God's people. Amen" NIV translation
How fitting it is that the last verse of the Bible points us back to the grace (gift) of God.