Oh Pebble pals, we have talked about the heavenly host. Just think of the most sought after invitation you have ever had or yearn for, to the feast that would put all other celebrations in second place by far. The ultimate gala that you could dream up in your Holy Spirit inspired imagination and so much more awaits you in the city of your Father revealed to us in this last chapter of Revelation.
We are moving from the outside of the city inside. Remember, the city is the presence of God; the Holy of Holies accommodating all that belongs to God. It is the ultimate Godly realm, where He reigns in all His splendour and glory.
The River of the water of Life is a very familiar Old Testament image. In the Garden of Eden is a river (Genesis 2:10,18-16). Ezekiel’s temple’s has a river (Ezekiel 47:1-7). In Psalms 46:4 the psalmist praises the river whose streams make glad the city of God. The Fountain from the house of God is part of the beautiful picture that the coming of the Messiah will bring, as is echoed by many prophets.
And in that day the mountains will drip with sweet wine and the hills will flow with milk; and all the brooks and riverbeds of Judah will flow with water, and a fountain will go out from the house of the Lord to water the [desert] Valley of Shittim. (Joel 3:18)
The living water from Jerusalem is mentioned by Zechariah (14:8). The symbolism of water is life giving. It is exactly what God planned His church to be. The church, the New Jerusalem, is the life and hope of the world, bringing the good news of salvation to the people of the earth.
For us the promise rings true through all the ages. We can rest in the fountain of God, the river of life. In the desert Moses struck the rock for the water to gush. The water never stopped flowing. The rock is a type of Jesus, Who has been struck by the Cross and the life giving River of Life has never stopped flowing. In disobedience Moses struck the rock a second time. God’s command was to talk to the rock in the desert for the water to flow. The Cross is once and for all. Jesus has died and lives for evermore. He will never be struck again.
Tremble, O earth, at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the God of Jacob, who turned the rock into a pool of water, the flint into a fountain of waters. (Psalm 114:7,8)
Wisdom is often related to good water as we see in Proverbs 10:11, 13:14,14:27,16:22. God is the source of all wisdom and the fountain of life (Psalm 35:9).
In the words of Jesus, it is the abundant life that God offers to his people for the taking.
He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water. (John 7:38-39)
The Tree of Life is mentioned in Genesis 2:8,9 and 3:6 and stood in the Garden of Eden. The river and the tree in the magnificent description of Ezekiel are nature in God’s hands providing all we need.
And on the banks, on both sides of the river, there will grow all kinds of trees for food. Their leaves will not wither nor their fruit fail, but they will bear fresh fruit every month. Their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for healing. (Ezekiel 47:12)
For us, the church, there is the fruit of the Spirit as discussed in Galatians 5:22. In Jesus, the Tree of Life, we provide the shade to the world and bear the fruit for everyone, every situation and every age for the “healing of the nations”. He is the Source of all goodness.
The beauty of holiness is God in the midst of everything (22:3-5).
There is no more evil to pollute the Christian life. In His presence we shall see God’s face. It is one of the beatitudes spoken over the church of God by Jesus Himself in Matthew 5:8 – a blessing to see God. It comes to the pure of heart.
To Moses God said nobody can see God and live. (Exodus 33:20,23) Only in Christ can man look upon God’s face. To look God in the face is to:
– worship truly – a life of obedience.
– live holy – marked by God on their foreheads showing that they belong to Him exclusively.
Again there is no need for light. God’s presence is the light. Those who belong to God, His servants, will reign with God forever and ever. The fullness of time is emphasized by repetition.
Final words are spoken in (22:6-9). The remainder of the chapter is repetition of some things gone before and some disjointed themes. We have three speakers:
Angels as the interpreters of the divine things, which John have seen. They confirm the truth of everything written. God inspires the prophets therefore the message to John is received in the same manner as the prophets of old.
Jesus himself announces His return and pronounces His blessing on everyone who hears and obeys.
John identifies himself as the author of the book and warns against angel worship exactly as in 19:10. Repeated this way the warning is important. Worship is to be to God alone.
It was the custom to seal scripts in those days. It is no surprise when the command to seal and preserve is given, to preserve the vision as an encouragement to the reader.
And the vision of the evenings and mornings which was told is true; therefore seal up the vision, for it refers to many days in the future. (Daniel 8:26.)
And he said, “Go your way, Daniel, for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end. Many shall be purified, made white, and refined, but the wicked shall do wickedly; and none of the wicked shall understand, but the wise shall understand. (Daniel 12:10. See also Ezekiel 3:27)
Christ is speaking to repeat Who He is and His coming to reward the faithful. His titles (the First and the Last) are given as recognition of the truth. He is the beginning and the end to emphasize completeness, eternity and authority. His power always was and will be in His hands.
The repetition of the entrance requirement – the acceptance of the sacrifice of Christ – underlines the utmost importance of admission into the church. Those debarred are mentioned in 21:8 to remove all doubt about what the church should be and the needs of the sinners it must meet.
Dogs were always a symbol of savageness and uncleanness. The Jews regarded the gentiles as dogs. Stray dogs are usually hungry and will fight for anything to eat, picking up the garbage from the street in desperation for nourishment. They have no shame; they are mostly cruel and selfish. The price of a dog was an abomination to the Lord (Deuteronomy 23:18). The male prostitutes in the ancient temples were called dogs. In this text it could mean a thoroughly immoral person.
No man who practises deceit shall dwell in my house; no man who utters lies shall continue in my presence” (Psalms 101:7)
The vision came from Jesus (22:16) and his titles are confirmed.
Isaiah 11:1, Numbers 24:17. He is the morning star, He heralds the day and chases away the darkness. He is the light of the world. (John 8:12) [Isaiah 11:1, Numbers 24:17]
The great invitation (22:17) that rings clear and true over all the centuries and all the earth is repeated as part of the last words. The last words of a dying man is revered and remembered. Here the last words shout the invitation again and again.
The Spirit and the Bride invite the world to come. To all those who hear and those who thirst, the ultimate sought after invitation for all ages is given, over and over again. Just like the ending of the letters to the churches, the command is to hear and obey. (Isaiah 55:1 and John 6:35)
Then comes the great warning (22:18-19). It is a serious warning against the distortion of the truth.
But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. (Galatians 1:8-9)
We can see the golden thread of the true gospel throughout Scripture. The wording here at the end is a common ending well known in ancient texts. We see similar warnings in Deuteronomy 4:2:
You shall not add to the word, which I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you.
…and Proverbs 30:5,6:
Every word of God is pure;
He is a shield to those who put their trust in Him.
Do not add to His words, lest He rebuke you, and you be found a liar.
The role of the scribe in ancient times was a triumph in precision and perfection.
In these very last verses the refrain of Christ to His church sounds once more (22:20-21).
We hear the glory and compassion, encouragement to and expectation from the church. Amidst all the terrible persecution we can lift up our eyes and look God in the face through Jesus and the Cross.
The very last word of the entire Bible is the GRACE of Jesus.