Yet It Is Only The Beginning
“And he showed me a river of the water of life,
clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb, in the middle of its street.
And on either side of the river was the tree of life,
bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month;
and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.
And there shall no longer be any curse;
and the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it,
and His bond-servants shall serve Him; and they shall see His face, and
His name shall be on their foreheads.
And there shall no longer be any night;
and they shall not have need of the light of a lamp nor the light of the sun,
because the Lord God shall illumine them;
and they shall reign forever and ever.
And he said to me, “These words are faithful and true”;
and the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets,
sent His angel to show to His bond-servants
the things which must shortly take place.
“And behold, I am coming quickly.
Blessed is he who heeds the words of the prophecy of this book.”
And I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things.
And when I heard and saw,
I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed me these things.
And he said to me, “Do not do that;
I am a fellow servant of yours
and of your brethren the prophets
and of those who heed the words of this book;
And he said to me, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book,
for the time is near.
“Let the one who does wrong, still do wrong;
and let the one who is filthy, still be filthy;
and let the one who is righteous, still practice righteousness;
and let the one who is holy, still keep himself holy.”
“Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me,
to render to every man according to what he has done.
“I am the Alpha and the Omega,
the first and the last,
the beginning and the end.”
Blessed are those who wash their robes,
that they may have the right to the tree of life,
and may enter by the gates into the city.
Outside are the dogs
and the sorcerers
and the immoral persons
and the murderers
and the idolaters,
and everyone who loves and practices lying.
“I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things for the churches.
I am the root and the offspring of David,
the bright morning star.”
And the Spirit and the bride say, “Come.”
And let the one who hears say, “Come.”
And let the one who is thirsty come;
let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost.
I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book:
if anyone adds to them, God shall add to him the plagues which are written in this book;
and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy,
God shall take away his part from the tree of life
and from the holy city,
which are written in this book.
He who testifies to these things says,
“Yes, I am coming quickly.”
Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.”
Foolishness alert! John really takes a literal approach to the “two witnesses.” That is everything must be confirmed by two or three witnesses. Everything in Revelation is told at least twice and many things, three times. Do we think that John was foolish enough to worship the angel twice? Once again, we see another recapitulation.
We have come to the end of Revelation. If you have read every word of my missives thus far, congratulations, you’ve read Revelation. I heeded the warning and have not left out one (translated) word. Nor have I added anything to the text. I have highlighted and brought attention to certain words or phrases at times, but I haven’t even tinkered with the text. I have tinkered with the translation though, to demonstrate the context more clearly. However, that was few and far between. My hats off to the translators, I salute you.
Speaking of metaphor, let’s look at the context while considering the genre. What is John’s aspiration to his audience? He is still using metaphor for the New Heavens and Earth in the beginning of this chapter but is now zooming in. I can understand the translators placing the chapter break here. He is still in the same act, but it is a different scene. We have seen the scene changes in similar situations throughout Revelation. “And he showed me,” indicates a continuation of the vision yet a separate scene. He’s not looking at the city itself, but the New Heavens and New Earth. The city is present, but it is not represented by the tree of life nor the waters of life, though the city benefits from them. They are in the city but they are not the city. Do you see what John is seeing, because I am not stating it very well. The city is represented by the imagery of the pearly gates and the precious stones but the waters and the tree of life don’t represent the city, they represent what happens in the city, or, for the people who are the city. As I have muddied the waters of life, John presents clearly the metaphor of the tree. He shows us that the tree is for the people, and not representative of the people themselves. “And the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.”
“And the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it…” The throne, like the river and tree, is in the city but not representative of the city. The language used demonstrates this. The city is the people and the throne is for the people. Also notice that it is written, throne and not thrones, it is indeed in the singular, not plural. Foolishness alert! This doesn’t indicate that Jesus sits on the Father’s lap and that the Spirit hovers around. It is one throne for one God. Yet the Lamb and Father are clearly seen. We see God’s plurality but also his oneness. Now for some super foolishness! Do we really think God created a city of people, by paying for the purchase of said people on the cross, to sit around on a throne for all eternity? We read last time; “And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He shall dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be among them.” We’ve heard a talking altar before and now we are hearing a speaking throne. We also have read, “I will also rejoice in Jerusalem, and be glad in My people,” in Isaiah. Not that God can’t rejoice with his people whilst sitting on his throne but it is not what the imagery and context suggest. We may think of Esther when we consider the throne. While she was the queen, she still needed permission to approach the throne. We will not and do not need permission to approach the throne of God once eternal permission is granted. We read about Eliakim, son of Hilkiah in Isaiah and discussed his role briefly. He was the administrator to the King. If anyone aspired to approach the throne, they had to go through Eliakim–a type of Jesus. Through Jesus our permission is granted, and he is one that sits on the throne. We should notice something else in the context, Jesus states, “I am the root and the offspring of David,” We’re reminded of the way in which King David ruled, when he ruled well. With a few glaring exceptions, David was a king of the people. He got his hands dirty, he was a working king and his servants served him.
“And His bond-servants shall serve Him; and they shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads.” This is a tattoo, a bar-code or a microchip. It’s interesting the things people will take literally and in similar situations see the figurative. When I write that the name of God will be tattooed on foreheads in the New Heavens and Earth, I am sure no one believes that. But many misguided men write that the mark of the beast is a microchip, people pound the pavement to go purchase their books. The name is the mark. It identifies his people, it always has, it always will. I love that we serve in the New Heavens and Earth, do you? Honestly I believe a majority of christians believe that we’ll be resting on clouds all day long sipping fruity drinks from the tree of life. But the life-to-come most resembles the life-lost. Sin scattered man from Eden–the son gathers sinners to return to the ultimate Eden. Back to the throne–remember how God would walk in the garden and talk with Adam in Genesis? The throne represents God’s majesty, not how he spends his time. Notice; “and they shall see His face.” God and the Lamb are amongst the people. They’re part of the city.
And what a part! The city is illuminated by the Lamb and his glory. The people are lit up with the light from the Lamb. Now back to the throne. The city reigns over the city. The Lord is central but the city reigns with him. This is mind-boggling. It has been tried on earth, and never works. But in the New Earth, the people will reign with God forever.
Now we see shifting gears again. “And he said to me, “These words are faithful and true…” Verses 6 and 7 are a recapitulation of chapter 1, verses 1-3. Verse 3 of chapter 1 reads, “Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it; for the time is near.” The time of what is near? An Antichrist that rules the world? A rapture of which a thousand books have been written yet no one repents when they see that 1/3 of the world disappeared without a trace? A beast from the sea? Yes, there it is, Rome and Nero in particularly. It’s difficult to digest, but if one takes Revelation literally, I assume they would translate near; as, close; and not; more than 1,930 years. But I digress. The contextual recapitulation reminds the reader of Revelation of the introduction in Revelation. I would call it, figuratively, “book-ending” the content. It’s pure and powerful literary prowess. I hope you have seen the scope of literary genius in Revelation, many don’t, including a young Martin Luther. Nobody’s perfect. More on this later.
The recapitulation continues; John once again confirms that he is the one who saw and wrote, and that he attempted to worship the angel. Nobody’s perfect. But I think, don’t know but think, John repeats this to explain the power of the angel. Thus, God’s power is even more magnificent. Also, it is a warning to all. While what we see may cause us to worship things and stuff and sights and sounds, Revelation reveals God is behind it all; worship God.
“Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near.” The time of what is near? Foolishness alert: Those poor foolish churches to which John wrote, all they had to read was what was relevant to them. They could have stopped at the end of chapter 3! I never know what to write to change a person’s mind. It’s why I say, the hardest thing for a man to do, is change his mind. Repent literally means to change one’s mind after being with (fill in the blank). I will try to use logic, writing primarily, pragmatically. Then I will shift gears and go after emotions. As in this case, I will attempt at humor, using a pinch of sarcasm, because most people won’t buy into the CAGED method, which is free. You don’t have to buy in–steal it, borrow it, rename it, but use it. Daniel was told to seal up some of his prophecy because the time was far off. John is told not to seal it up because the time is near. We are reminded of this multiple times in Revelation. It must be taking place soon in regards to the time of the vision. Probably around late 67 AD. Now, don’t go embarrassing yourself by stopping me in the streets, saying, “but John was told to seal up a vision too, in Revelation 10.” True, but, he wasn’t told to seal it because the time was not near. Context is King! Figuratively speaking of course.
Revelation closes with a summation, like any good book or research paper. Which is actually ironic to me. To this day, scholars suggest that Revelation is primitive and improper. Most of them need to take their Vitamin G, because they don’t consider the genre. It also escapes their inflated egos that Revelation zooms in and out, doubles back, recapitulates events and scenes. But most importantly, it has a conclusion and summary. It isn’t a cliffhanger, it wraps things up beautifully. Don’t read Revelation like them, consider the context, ask what the author’s aspirations were to his audience, remember the genre, examine examples using our old testament tutor and a proper exegesis, and divide rightly the word of truth. To those without the Spirit, the context is caged, don’t let it be that way for you. Notice here, at the end of the book and the end of the Bible, what Jesus says and also notice the grace afforded to John as Jesus gives him the last word.
“Yes, I am coming quickly.”
“Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.”