Sunday, July 15, 2012

Understanding the Book of Revelation: The River of Life

                Now we will look at the final chapter of Revelation: The River of Life and the Coming of Jesus.

                In the Garden of Eden man became like God knowing good and evil, but he was cut off from the tree of life. He became his own God and his source of life was within himself rather than coming from God resulting in futility and emptiness. As a result of this emptiness people fill their lives with things, pleasures and idols. Here in Rev 22 we now find God and the Lamb as the source of life for man, man is no longer cut off from the life of God as Adam and Eve were. Man could eat from the tree of life and live forever because God lives forever.

                There is so much life in this one river. The water of life is a symbol of the Spirit flowing into the redeemed people to be their life supply. Instead of water being used for judgment it is used as a source of life. The water saturates the city, filling it with the divine power of God. The water purifies us since it is bright as crystal, having no dimness. It’s a source of nourishment and is similar to the river that was in the Garden of Eden mentioned in Genesis 2:10. In verse 2 we see the tree of life mentioned, the same tree that was in the Garden of Eden. In saying that the tree of life was on both sides of the river indicates that it spreads for all of God’s people to enjoy. The redeemed can have access to this tree now, unlike pre-Christ. 

                There will be no more Adamic curse on God’s people. The curse is now revoked so that mankind can take hold of the fruit of the tree of life and live forever. The throne of God and of the Lamb is not remote in heaven but on earth in the New Jerusalem, God's dwelling place is with man, heaven has moved to the earth. Instead of painful toil His servants will serve him as they also served him on the former earth. To have His name on their forehead in verse 4 means that they will be His people, loyal to Him. We will reap the benefits of following the prophecies of Revelation. 

                John uses the phrase 'I John' also at the start of the book, in Revelation 1:9. John once again emphasizes the fact that he heard and saw these things; he did not make them up. The first time that John fell at the angel’s feet to worship him was after the scene of the great multitude singing Hallelujah to God, and blessing on those invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb and the angels confirmation that these are the true words of God (Revelation 19:1-10). Again John sees stunning visions of heaven and again the angel confirms that these words are trustworthy and true, Jesus announces that he is coming soon and John is so overwhelmed by these visions that he attempts to worship the angel who brought the visions to him. On both occasions he is rebuked because the angel is a fellow servant and John is told to worship God. 

                Verse 10 warns John to not keep the prophecies of Revelation a secret. Although some parts of the book may be hard to understand, we are meant to know these words because the time is near. Compare to Daniel 12:4 where he is told to keep the words of the scroll hidden because the time is distant. At the point that the New Heaven, Earth, and Jerusalem are completed, everything is set into eternity. That is why verse 11 says to let everything stay as it is. There is no room for repentance or change now. In verse 12, Jesus once again announces his coming himself. His reward for believers is everlasting life and the rewards that are foretold in Isaiah 40:10 and 62:11-12. This expresses personal responsibility. 

                The only answer to man's sin is to find forgiveness through the blood, which is through the sacrificial death of Christ on the cross. Each person who wants to enter the city must enter through the gate (Jesus) and have eternal life must first wash their robes in the blood of the Lamb. The robes symbolize the conduct of the believers. To wash their robes is to keep their conduct clean through the washing of the blood of the Lamb. When verse 15 says outside, it means outside of the kingdom and the New Jerusalem of God. Both the Spirit and the church are involved in the gospel invitation, the Church speaks and the Spirit makes it effective. This is a final offer of salvation.

                Verses 18-19 warn us not to tamper with these words. The words of the book are of God and we have no place in altering them. Jesus once again announces His coming which indicates that the coming is near and we need to heed the warnings. Verse 21 is a final reminder to us that it is only by grace that we are able to have eternal life with Jesus and God.

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