God’s Final Message
All the purposes of God, from the inception of creation to the close of human history, have been completed. Christ has assumed His sovereign rule and reign over creation and has restored creation to the original holy state for which it was intended. Mankind, redeemed from its fallen state through the shed blood of Jesus Christ, has been resurrected to enjoy God’s perfect creation in all its beauty and holiness.
No other words in the Bible carry more significance than Revelation 22:6–21. Herein lies the testimony of angels, of God the Father, of the Lord Jesus Christ, and of John himself to the validity and genuineness of this prophecy and the imminent return of Jesus Christ.
The angel reminded John of four truths concerning Revelation. First, he affirmed its veracity: “These words are faithful and true” (v. 6). This emphasizes the completeness and certainty of all that had been revealed to John: “faithful” in the sense of its accuracy, reliability, and trustworthiness; “true” in the sense of being the whole truth from God. The reader should have complete confidence in this revelation and in no way try to reduce it to allegory or meaningless symbols.
Second, the angel verified that the revelation was from “the Lord God of the holy prophets [who] sent his angel to show unto his servants the things which must shortly be done” (v. 6). This directly contradicts the position held by many scholars that the Book of the Revelation is an imponderable mystery for which no key is available to unlock its true teaching today. To the contrary, the writing is God’s Word, not John’s vague imagination.
Third, the angel affirmed Christ’s imminent return: “Behold, I come quickly” (v. 7). The word quickly means soon. This is according to God’s reckoning of time, not mankind’s (see 2 Pet. 3:9). The context would indicate that Christ is speaking concerning the Rapture—His coming for the church—rather than the Second Coming, although both are in the larger context.
Fourth, the angel affirmed that Christ promised a special blessing to all who read and heed the words of this prophecy: “Blessed is he that keepeth the words of the prophecy of this book” (v. 7; cp. 1:3). This is the sixth of seven beatitudes given in Revelation to faithful believers. Those who keep the promises of this book—that is, exalt Christ—will find inner peace, happiness, and, above all, spiritual contentment.
Christ to be Worshiped
This revelation totally overwhelmed John. He wrote, “And when I had heard and seen, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel who showed me these things” (v. 8). Earlier, the apostle had responded to the angel’s revelation in the same way (19:10) and was rebuked in like manner. Here the angel quickly responded, “See thou do it not; for I am thy fellow servant, and of thy brethren, the prophets, and of them who keep the words of this book” (v. 9). Sad to say, many who hear God’s Word proclaimed today focus on the ability and delivery of the messenger rather than on the content of Scripture. The angel minced no words in his response to John. Tersely he commanded, “Worship God” (v. 9). God alone, and no other, is the focal point of worship.
If people are to be blessed by reading this book, it must be open to them. Indeed, this is the case. The angel told John, “Seal not the words of the prophecy of this book” (v. 10). The opposite was true of Daniel; he was instructed to seal up his prophecy. The revelation he received was to be “sealed till the time of the end” (Dan. 12:4, 9) because people would not understand his prophecy until the end times. But the prophecy given to John was in the process of being fulfilled in his day, and in ours as well, because it concerned the church and those living on the earth after the church has been raptured. This was emphasized by the angel: “for the time is at hand” (v. 10). It is mandatory that people be properly prepared for the Lord’s return—they must live with eternal values in view.
Comments to the Wicked and the Worthy
Abruptly, John gave a frightful and fatal warning to those who refuse to become faithful followers of Jesus Christ. At this period in history, the time and opportunity to receive Christ are running out because of His soon return. “He that is unjust, let him be unjust still; and he that 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” (v. 11). This verse has baffled some interpreters because it seems to encourage those who are unjust and filthy to continue these practices. Scripture confirms that God would never condone or encourage people to do evil (see 2 Pet. 3:9; Jas. 1:13). This is not a promotion of evil. It is a warning to the wicked. First, people will continue doing evil until the end of this present earth. Second, the unjust will become more wicked because of their ungodly character. Third, the wicked must immediately read and heed the warning of this prophecy and come to Christ while there is still time. Fourth, those who refuse to forsake their wickedness will be sealed in a state of sinfulness for eternity. Thus, the wicked have sealed their own destiny by personally rejecting Christ.
On the other hand, the same rule applies to the righteous. The implication of this verse is to make the right choice now, before it is too late, for Christ’s return is imminent: “And, behold, I come quickly, and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be” (v. 12). Thus, judgment for both groups is certain. The ungodly will stand before the Great White Throne Judgment, be condemned, and be cast into the lake of fire. The righteous will stand before the Bema Judgment, be given rewards according to their works, and enter into the Kingdom age, which will eventually merge into the eternal state.
The one making this pronouncement is none other than Christ Himself. He alone is qualified to judge both the wicked and the righteous. What are His qualifications?
He is the “Alpha and Omega” (v. 13; cp. 1:8, 11, 17; 2:8; 21:6); there is nothing before or after Jesus Christ. He is “the beginning and end” (v. 13)—the one who created, controls, and will consummate all things. He is “the first and the last” (v. 13). He was before creation in eternity past and will be present in eternity future.
Christ then pronounced the seventh and final beatitude in Revelation, which is for those who put their faith in Him as Savior and Lord: “Blessed are they that wash their robes, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city” (v. 14). The blessed ones are blood-washed believers (cp. 3:5; 7:14) who do God’s bidding. They alone will have access to the holy city (21:27) and the tree of life (22:2). In contrast, unbelievers will have no access to the holy city or the tree of life (v. 15).
Jesus attests to, affirms, and authenticates that the content of this book was inspired and revealed by Him: “I, Jesus, have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches” (v. 16). This strong personal testimony from Jesus leaves no doubt that He is the one who authored Revelation. He “sent” (commissioned) His “angel” to deliver the contents of Revelation to John and “the churches.” This is the first occurrence of the word church since chapter 3. The church was not mentioned or alluded to in chapters 4 through 18, indicating that the church will not be involved in the time of the Tribulation.
Jesus certified His claim by providing credentials of His Messiahship with the right to inaugurate the Kingdom promised to David: “I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star” (v. 16).
The Lord referred to Himself as the “I am,” a term first used of God the Father (Ex. 3:14) to proclaim Himself as the self-existent and sufficient sovereign of the universe. Jesus called Himself the “I am” seven times in John’s Gospel and ten times in Revelation. He is the “root” or source of David’s life and line of descendants. He is the “offspring of David,” or a descendant from the line of David that established His humanity. He is the “bright and morning star,” the brightest star that shines just before dawn. He is the star that shatters the spiritual darkness and signals the bright and glorious day mentioned in chapters 21 and 22.
Call to Watchfulness
In response, Jesus said, “the Sprit and the bride say, Come” (v. 17). This is an invitation from the Holy Spirit and the church for Christ to come for His church, which awaits redemption and the consummation of the marriage of the Lamb. A second petition was made: “And let him that heareth say, Come” (v. 17). Those in the first-century churches, where the Book of the Revelation was read, were to repeat the call for Christ’s return (cp. 1:3; 22:7, 12). The third petition is an invitation for the unsaved to receive Christ: “And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely” (v. 17). Time is running out to receive Christ in this age of grace because His return and judgment are imminent. All who come will receive the “water of life freely” (cp. Isa. 55:1; Jn. 6:35; 7:37). The word come is a present imperative meaning come now or come today.
Christ then gave a warning to anyone who would tamper with the prophecy presented in this book: “For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book” (v. 18). The warning was twofold.
To those who add to the book: “If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book” (v. 18). The penalty for doing so will be to suffer the seal, trumpet, and/or bowl judgments of the Tribulation.
Second, and of equal severity, is the judgment upon those who take away from God’s Word: “if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the tree of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book” (v. 19). This verse does not teach the loss of salvation, thus denying a person a part in the new Jerusalem and eternity. This pronouncement is to the unsaved who deny the Scripture in this book regarding the Lord Jesus Christ. It is assured that those who deliberately add to or take away from this book despise the Word of God, indicating that they are not saved.
Jesus, who testified of this solemn warning, closed His revelation with the words, “Surely, I come quickly” (v. 20). He affirmed and confirmed that His return is certain.
John responded, “Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus” (v. 20). Today, this is the heart cry of so many believers who often utter, “Maranatha!” They begin each day with the thought, Perhaps today, looking expectantly for Christ’s return.
Christ began His message to the church with a prayer of grace (1:4) and closed it with the same: “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen” (v. 21). The Old Testament closes with a curse (Mal. 4:6). The New Testament closes, as it begins, with grace. The Book of the Revelation does pronounce a curse on all who reject God’s love and salvation provided through Christ, but it also sets forth the blessing of God on all who put their faith in Him for salvation. No more fitting conclusion can be given to this volume than John’s closing words in the Book of the Revelation: “Even so, come, Lord Jesus.”