What do we know about it? Well. Let's see. It's a place prepared for us, we know that. We also know that we will be like Jesus. We will have new bodies. Well, I know some of us are looking forward to that. I'll be glad to give up this old body for a new one. We also know that it will be a wonderful experience. We will have a new environment. We will have an experience with Jesus Christ in the body. We will have new emotions. And we will have no more death.
Chapter 22 has several subjects. The first one is
the river of water of life.
Then there is the tree of life
The third one is the promise of Christ’s return repeated.
And then the last is the final invitation of the Bible.
The point that this chapter makes is the final invitation of the Bible. Jesus speaks His final word to the church in these last verses. The Bible opens with God on the scene. With the first verse of Genesis which reads, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” It ends with Him on the scene, and in full control. He suffered. He paid a price. He died. But victory and glory are His, and He is satisfied with the outcome.
Now, how do we know this?
Isaiah chapter 53:11 tells us: “He shall see of the travail of His soul and shall be satisfied. By His knowledge shall my Righteous Servant justify many. For He shall bear their iniquities.”
Let's begin by explaining. Isaiah 53:11. Who is the “Righteous Servant”? None other than Jesus, Himself. He was the only one who was without sin. He is the only righteous one. And He is God’s servant. And then it say’s “by His knowledge shall many be justified?” You see, Jesus knew that His death would bring justification to the lost world.
Let me back up for just a moment and give you a little bit of Old Testament history. Before Jesus came, the Jews were God's chosen people in the sense that He would choose a young Jewish girl to give birth to the Messiah, which the Jews did through His mother, Mary. One of the things that God taught them was that, for sin to be forgiven, something had to die. That's why they initiated the animal sacrifices. as part of their worship. The only problem with that was that it was for a one time only sin. And it had to be done over and over again. Because every time they sinned, something else had to die. Because that sacrifice was not satisfactory in the long run but only for the moment. Now they understood that. But when Jesus came. They held on to their old traditions, not realizing that Jesus would be “the spotless lamb’ that was slain for many.
Now let us look at our scripture passage for today. Turn to Revelation 22
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. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing 12 crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.
Up to now, we have seen the New Jerusalem in all its splendor, like a giant display of fabulous jewels, gold and gems of every color and brilliant. But have you noticed to this point, there are no flowers, no green grass, no trees, no water to drink or food to eat.? Even though the city was beautiful beyond belief, there was an element of softness missing. Here that element is added. Remember in Genesis 3, that there was a river in Eden which branched off into four rivers, one in each direction. There was also a forest of trees in Eden. Right in the middle of the forest was the tree of life. In the New Jerusalem there is also a river, called the Water of Life. This river is constantly fed by the living fountain out of the throne of God, which supplies an abundance of water. The river in Eden was never called the water of life.
This tree of life is like the Tree of life in the Garden of Eden. After Adam and Eve sinned, they were forbidden to eat from the tree of life because they could not have eternal life as long as they were under sin’s control. But because of the forgiveness of sin through the blood of Jesus, there will be no evil or sin in the city. We will be able to eat freely from the tree of life when sin’s control over us is destroyed and our eternity with God is secure.
Question? Now, if there is perfect health and no sickness, no diseases in heaven, why do we need the leaves for healing? The Greek word for healing here actually is translated as health giving. With the idea carried with it of serving or ministering. Very much like we would refer to a vaccine or vitamins as healing or giving a boost to good health practices.
Here in the New Jerusalem is that same tree of life, only this time we will eat its fruit, and we will drink from the water of the river freely. Look at this tree for a moment. It is quite a unique tree because it bears 12 different kinds of fruits every month. A continuous abundance of variety. Your tongue will not get bored.!! The menu is varied, but is restricted to fruit, just as it was in the Garden of Eden. Looks like you will have to learn to like fruit in the afterlife after all.
I don’t understand how a tree can grow on either side of the same river. But that's what it says, and TREE is singular, ONLY ONE TREE is implied here... Maybe the tree of life is like the giant sequoias in the forest in the West. The ones which you can drive a car through. Except that this time. It's a river. Not a road.
Let's look, again at Genesis 1:29 and 30. “And God said, behold, I have given you every herb bearing fruit seed., which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of the tree, yielding seed. To you it shall be for meat. And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to everything that creeps upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat. And it was so.”
Uh,OH, Now someone has gone to meddling. Do you see what that says?? It said the fruit will be as meat for us. And not only us, but every beast of the earth and every fowl of the air and everything that creeps upon the earth wherein there is life. He has given” every green herb for meat. And it was so.” Now I don't know about you. But I love meat. There's nothing better than a good juicy steak, or a nice rack of ribs, barbecued on a spit grill. Texas is famous for that. And nobody likes it any better than me. But it looks like, in the new Jerusalem, I'm going to learn to like fruit as if it were a big, juicy steak. Why do you suppose there will be no meat on the menu? Well, that's one easy question to answer. Because there won't be any death in heaven, not even among the animal kingdom. None! Or any sacrifices? No Need! Because even the animals will not eat each other for food. They will all be vegetarians. And so will we. I'm not very fond of vegetables. But it looks like that's what I'll be eating in heaven. And guess what? I will love it.
Do you realize what that scripture implies? We were never meant to eat meat for food. The first creation and the Earth that we now live on, is scarred by the curse of sin. The new creation will never be marred by sin. Sin will never be permitted to enter. Not even the potential will be allowed. In the Garden of Eden, sin was potential. Remember the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Remember that it was during the absence of God in the Garden of Eden that the tempter came to the first people. The very presence of God and the lamb will be adequate to prevent it from happening again.
The first creation and the Earth that we now live on, is scarred by the curse of sin. The new creation will never be marred by sin. Sin will never be permitted to enter. Not even the potential will be allowed. In the Garden of Eden, sin was potential. Remember the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Remember that it was during the absence of God in the Garden of Eden that the tempter came to the first people. The very presence of God and the lamb will be adequate to prevent it from happening again.
I'm so looking forward to seeing the face of Jesus. My wonderful husband, Bill, when he found out that he only had a couple of weeks to live., I was concerned about what his thoughts were; What he was going to say? But you know what the first words out of his mouth were? I get to see Jesus. And, oh, how he meant those words. I could see it by the look on his face. He would get to stand face to face with Jesus. And look on His face; look in his eye; and see pure love.
(for references. See Ezekiel 47:12. And Zachariah 14:11 and also Genesis 1;29, 30)
LET’S GO ON, NOW TO: Revelation 22:3-5
3. 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.
4. They will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads.
5. There will be no night. They will not need the lamp for light, or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign forever and ever.
Have you noticed that there is no reference to the third person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit, to this point? Why do you suppose that is? In Genesis the work of the Holy Spirit was renewal and reconstruction. The first creation and the Earth we now live on is scarred by the curse of sin. The new creation will never be marred by sin. Sin will never be permitted to enter. Not even the potential will be allowed. In the garden, sin was potential. Remember the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Remember that it was during the absence of God in the Garden of Eden that the tempter came to the first people. The very presence of God and the lamb will be adequate to prevent it from happening again.
Hebrews.9:1, 6. Says this, “Then, verily, the first covenant had also ordinances of divine service, and a worldly sanctuary”…….”Now, when these things were thus ordained, the priests went always into the first Tabernacle, accompanying the service of God.” It will be a peculiar service to God that we will perform in heaven. What is it, I do not know.
Then, man will look at last upon the face of God. This was the highest desire of the Old Testament prophets and of the New Testament Saints. It should be our highest expectation as well. His name shall be on our foreheads. Each person will bear the name of Christ. Each will be like him while at the same time, maintaining his own peculiar personality.
It is interesting that the false prophet and the Antichrist cause all to receive his mark on their foreheads, imitating God. Here.
Then our attention is called again to the fact that God is the source of light here in the New Jerusalem.
Revelation 22: 6-7.
6. 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.
7, “Behold, I am coming soon! Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy in this book.”
The important thing to note here is that when he says I come quickly, He means rapidly. This is repeated again in verses 12. And verse 20. This does not mean shortly or immediately or even soon. The events that we have been looking at here in this Book of Revelation, takes place in a period of not more than seven years, and most of it confined to the last 3 1/2 years. The encouragement here is that, when we get to this period of judgment, it will not last long.
The New Testament believers were mistaken in their interpretation of this phrase and were misled into thinking that Jesus would return very soon. Then Jesus Christ, himself, put his own seal of approval upon this book. These words were “faithful and true”. No man is to mess with them by trying to explain spiritualize them and reducing them to mere symbols. Jesus is talking about reality here.
In the beginning of this book, there was a blessing promised to everyone who would hear these words. Here at the end, that blessing is repeated. This book is not one to merely satisfy our curiosity, but to live by it and to act upon it.
John, again, repeats his statement that he both saw and heard these things. He was so impressed that his spontaneous reaction was to fall down and worship the angel who had showed him all these things.
The angel’s reaction is impressive. He was very quick to let John know that He was NOT to do that. He is merely a messenger to communicate God's word to man. And he directs all worship to God.
“Seal not up the words of the prophecy of this book.” Remember, Daniel was told to seal up the words of his prophecy because of the long interval before the fulfillment of it. Even we here in the 20th century have not seen the fulfillment of Daniels 70th week yet. Contrast that with John's prophecy. In the beginning of the book is the prophecy of the Seven churches which were a bird's eye view of the church age. It was in the process of being fulfilled as John was writing it. For 1900 years, the church has been passing through the time period of the seven churches in Chapters 2 and 3……..how far have we come since John wrote these words? And how far do we have left to go? 1900 year have passed and yet, we're still waiting. How much longer do we have left to wait? We find the answer to that question by asking another question. What is the condition of the Lord's church today? Certainly, we can find churches today which are on fire for the Lord. They are growing and producing fruit for the Kingdom, doing everything right. Then again, we can find churches that are dead. They're not growing. They're not producing fruit. They seem to be existing for their own glory, just existing out of habit.
The sinful condition of the lost is a permanent and eternal thing. Unrighteous. Filthy. That's what the scripture says. The condition of the loss gets worse. Not better. Just as the condition of the servants of God continue to grow in righteousness and holiness. What a glorious prospect this is to think that we will have all eternity to grow in knowledge.
Then in verse 8, John. concludes his vision. He first testifies that he actually saw and heard these things. He says this.” I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things.
12. Behold, I am coming soon. My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done.
13. I am the alpha and 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.
John is told who will resides in the gates of the city. Next, he is told who is outside the gates who does not have permission to enter.
15. Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehoods.
In case anyone wonders who the dogs are outside the gates, he tells us. Those who practice magic arts. (this would be magicians, palm readers psyics , those who call themselves fortune tellers), the sexually immoral. The murderers. The adulterers, and those habitual liars.
I have to say here that dogs. Have get a bomb rap. Apparently dogs were scavengers in the Old Testament days rather than pets. And they were considered unclean and impure. Gentiles were called dogs in Matthew, and then in Philippians. Paul called the Judaizers dogs.
If you need a personal guarantee from Jesus that He is coming again, all you need do is look at verse 16.
16. I. Jesus, have sent my Angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David. The bright and Morning Star.
Make no mistake about it. This is His guarantee He is coming again. This is His personal promise. He will personally reward each believer, individually, the church at the rapture, and those of Israel, and the Gentiles at His return. Again, He tells of His deity when He says “I am the alpha and the Omega.” He proclaims this at the beginning of Revelation, and He says it here at the end.
If there is still any doubt in your mind that only the born-again believers in Jesus Christ will have a right to the tree of life or have access to the Holy City, Read Ephesians 1:7-12.
Jesus Has sent his Angel with the very personal message to the church. He is called the root and offspring of David. This connects Him with the Old Testament. He is also the bright and Morning star which connects Him to the church in the New Testament.
Have you ever noticed that the bright morning star always appears during the darkest time of the night, just before Dawn? Its appearance indicates that the Sun will soon be coming up. The Old Testament ends with the promise that the Son of righteousness will rise with healing in His wings. Read Malachi 4:2. He will come at a very dark moment for the church. A time when the church is under grave persecution. Already, in many parts of the world, the church is being persecuted, Christians slaughtered, church buildings burned to the ground and Bibles confiscated. Think it can’t happen in America? Think again. Just this week a bill has passed the floor of the House of Representatives which limits the use of any mention of opposition to gay unions. If this passes the senate, this means that pastors or forbidden to preach or teach is any way, whatsoever, that gay unions are sinful or against the Christian belief. It has been tried before and will continue to be brought up until it becomes law and pastors and Christian leaders will be forced to make a stand.
This last book of the Bible leaves us with an invitation. I want to leave you with the same Invitation.
17. 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 first free gift of the water of life.
18. I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book.
19. 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.
20. He who testifies to these things says. “Yes, I am coming soon” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.
21 the grace of the Lord Jesus be with God's people. Amen.
The bride is the church. This is a two-fold invitation. One an invitation to Christ to come. And two, an invitation to sinners to come to Christ before He returns. What a wonderful invitation this is to come to Him. Then we see a warning that we are not to add anything to God's word, and we are not to leave anything out of His word. I fear for those people who distort His word with new revelations. I wonder what the Mormons do with this passage when they introduce another testament of Jesus Christ. I fear for those people who write the new translations of the Bible and leave out key phrases and passages which change the meaning.
“I COME QUICKLY”, not soon but when these things began to come to pass. This should be the cry of every true believer. The Old Testament ends with a curse. The New Testament ends with the benediction of grace upon the believers. Grace is offered to all, but if any man, regardless of his merit, refuses the offer, he must bear the judgment written in this book. Grace is still offered to man. It is God's method for saving sinners. Sin drove man from the first garden. Grace brings man to another garden, one of eternal paradise.
May I ask you a personal question? Do you know Jesus? I mean REALLY know Him? Do you talk to Him like you would your best friend? Believing in Jesus is not a religion. It is a relationship. We have a relationship with Jesus Christ. A relationship of fathers to sons and daughter. Brother to brother and sister. He loves you. And he wants you in his family. Many people have asked what must I do to be saved? Won’t you bow your knee or your head. Or even just sitting in a chair. Or stand before him. And tell him you are a Sinner. That you can't save yourself from sin. But he died on a cross. For those very sins. And he waits to forgive you when you ask. Tell him. You want him in your life., to be Lord of your life. And to direct your paths. Then surrender your life to him. Let him guide you and direct you. In the way he wants you to go. And the things he wants you to do. And he will answer. Come into my heaven. Those will be the most beautiful words you will ever. Here. Won't you do that today? The time is short. None of us knows when our days are over. But we know he's coming Quickly. So, when you see Him coming in all His glory, there will be no more time. Your destiny is set.
What will it be? Eternity in heaven with Jesus. Or eternity in torment with Satan.