The Tree of Life

TREE OF LIFEOn each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. (Revelation 22:2b)

History of the Tree – The Tree of Life, with all its healing properties, is there. It is no longer guarded by an angel with a flaming sword, but is open to all who have overcome (Revelation 2:7).(1) Genesis 3:22 said that “man had not yet taken of the tree.” If he had done so he would have Continue reading “The Tree of Life”

River of the Water of Life

Screenshot (358)RIVER OF THE WATER OF LIFE… 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. (Revelation 22:1b-2a)

The river that watered the Garden of Eden separated into four as it flowed out of the garden. “The name of the first is the Pishon; it winds through the entire land of Havilah. The name of the second river is the Gihon; it winds through the entire land of Cush. The name of the third river is the Tigris; it runs along the east side of Asshur. And the fourth river is the Euphrates” (Genesis 2:10–14).(1) Josephus claimed (Antiquities 1.1.3, 38) that the garden in Eden was watered by one earth-encircling river that divided into four parts: Ganges, Euphrates, Tigris and Nile.(2)

There is only one river in the New Jerusalem. Ezekiel was also shown a purifying river flowing from the temple (Ezekiel 47). But that was most likely a Millennial scene since there will be no temple in the New Jerusalem, “because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.(3) The river in the New Jerusalem is described by:

Its Source (“from the throne of God and the Lamb”) – All the grace, comfort, and glory that we experience are in God, streaming from Him through the mediation of the Lamb.

Its Quality (“as clear as crystal”) – Even the purest streams on earth today have some degree of contamination. In contrast, this stream is clear, refreshing, life-giving, and life-preserving.(4)

While this may be a literal river, its it full of symbolism as well. Out of the throne of God will flow pure water (“living water”), symbolic of the holiness and purity of God and the city. The water flows down the middle of the great street (the Greek word refers to a major broad street)(5) of the city. Thus, it apparently refers to a main thoroughfare in the New Jerusalem coming from the throne of God.(6)

The waters of New Jerusalem can also represent the glory of the Gospel. Its continuous flow from God symbolizes the uninterrupted continuance of living water derived that is forever fresh and satisfying (we shall never thirst). It is symbolic of life that is full of joy and that is perpetually vital. Like pure crystal, it is free from any kind of taint.(7)

Up Next – The Tree of Life.

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References

  1. Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 2, p. 624). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  2. Keener, C. S. (1993). The IVP Bible background commentary: New Testament (Re 22:1). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
  3. Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 2, p. 624). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  4. Henry, M. (1994). Matthew Henry’s commentary on the whole Bible: complete and unabridged in one volume (p. 2485). Peabody: Hendrickson.
  5. Biblical Studies Press. (2006). The NET Bible First Edition Notes (Re 22:2). Biblical Studies Press.
  6. Walvoord, John F. (1985). Revelation. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 987). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  7. Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Vol. 2, p. 603). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

The Last Vision

THE LAST VISIONThen the angel showed me… (Revelation 22:1a)

As we saw in Revelation 21, the heaven(s) that will be renewed is likely not the Heaven of God’s presence, but the heaven of human experience (the first and perhaps the second heavens). We also learned that the New Jerusalem will Continue reading “The Last Vision”

The Holy City

Screenshot (346)

DESCRIPTION OF THE HOLY CITYOne of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and said to me, “Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.” And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. It had a great, high wall with twelve gates, and with twelve angels at the gates. On the gates were written the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. There were three gates on the east, three on the north, three on the south and three on the west. The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. The angel who talked with me had a measuring rod of gold to measure the city, its gates and its walls. The city was laid out like a square, as long as it was wide. He measured the city with the rod and found it to be 12,000 stadia in length, and as wide and high as it is long. He measured its wall and it was 144 cubits thick, by man’s measurement, which the angel was using. The wall was made of jasper, and the city of pure gold, as pure as glass. The foundations of the city walls were decorated with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third chalcedony, the fourth emerald, the fifth sardonyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst. The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl. The great street of the city was of pure gold, like transparent glass. I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there. The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it. Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life. (Revelation 21:9-27)

Background – Of all the places on earth, Jerusalem is considered the most sacred to both Jews and Christians, as well as Muslims. The city was considered holy because Continue reading “The Holy City”

The Heirs & The Disinherited

THE HEIRSTo him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son. (Revelation 21:6b-7)

Overcomers – The heirs of new earth are the overcomers of the old earth. This includes all those addressed at the end of each of the seven letters to the churches (Revelation Chapters 2 and 3) as well as the martyrs who overcome through the blood of the Lamb (Revelation 12:11).(1) As John pointed out in his first epistle, all true believers are overcomers (1 John 5:4–5). So, this promise is not just for the spiritually elite. Because we are the children of God, we shall inherit all things.(2)

Water of Life – People living in most developed countries do not think much about water. But it was a major concern in John’s day. No doubt John himself, working in the Roman mines, knew the meaning of thirst. Tortured saints throughout the ages would certainly identify with this wonderful promise from the Lord – free and abundant living water for all.(3) As is quite evident, this refers not to physical thirst but to a desire for spiritual blessings,(4) a thirst that will be quenched.

He Will Be My Son – This is the only place in John’s writings where son is used to refer to the relationship of man to God.(5) This expresses the intimate relationship between the saints and God in the eternal state.(6) An intimacy not known since the fall.

THE DISINHERITED“But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.” (Revelation 21:8)

The Overcome –In contrast to those who were overcomers (heirs of the Kingdom), Revelation 21:8 describes the people who were overcome by sin and would not trust the Lord (the disinherited). The worldly consider Christians to be losers, when in reality it is the unbelievers who are the losers.(7)

How They Are Described – Eight epithets (not an exhaustive list) are used to describe the doomed and the damned: the fearful (cowardly); the unbelieving (faithless, untrustworthy); the vile (abominable, polluted); murderers; fornicators; sorcerers (those who practice magic arts, closely connected with idolatry and magic) and; idolaters.(8) This passage is not affirming salvation by works. Rather it refers to works as an indication of whether one is saved or not. Naturally there will be many in Heaven who were once guilty of these sins (as Paul said, as some of you were) before they were converted, but who turned from them when they trusted Christ as their Savior. Though works are the evidence of salvation (good works) or lack of it (evil works), they are not the basis or ground of it. Similar lists of sins are found elsewhere in Revelation (Revelation 21:27; 22:15).(9)

The fearful are the cowardly, people who did not have the courage to stand up for Christ (see Matthew 10:32–33). The word abominable means polluted, and refers to those who indulged in sin and were thus polluted in mind, spirit, and body (2 Corinthians 7:1). The other characteristics mentioned in Revelation 21:8 need no special explanation, except to note that all of them would be true of the beast’s followers (note Revelation 17:4, 6; 18:3, 9; 19:2).(10) Note also that God puts cowards at the head of the list. When people are afraid to take a stand for Christ, they are liable to commit any kind of sin as a result. They are the fearful, or the cowards who would not confess Christ, preferring and choosing to go along with the crowd who practiced sin.(11)

Eternal Thirst – They will be with Satan and the two beasts (the anti-Christ and the false prophet) in the lake of fire and brimstone for all eternity. This is the second death (Revelation 2:11; 20:6, 14). These are those whose names are not written in the book of life (Revelation 20:15).

Up Next – The Holy City.

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References

  1. Cabal, T., Brand, C. O., Clendenen, E. R., Copan, P., Moreland, J. P., & Powell, D. (2007). The Apologetics Study Bible: Real Questions, Straight Answers, Stronger Faith (pp. 1914–1916). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.
  2. Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 2, p. 622). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  3. Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 2, p. 622). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  4. Walvoord, J. F. (1985). Revelation. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 985). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  5. Vincent, M. R. (1887). Word studies in the New Testament (Vol. 2, p. 564). New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons.
  6. Walvoord, John F. (1985). Revelation. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 985). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  7. Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 2, p. 622). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  8. Robertson, A. T. (1933). Word Pictures in the New Testament (Re 21:8). Nashville, TN: Broadman Press.
  9. Walvoord, John F. (1985). Revelation. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 985). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  10. Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 2, p. 622). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  11. Wiersbe, W. W. (1992). Wiersbe’s expository outlines on the New Testament (p. 856). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

It Is Done

IT IS DONEThen he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End.” (Revelation 21:5b-6a)

The truth and certainty of the things to come are ratified by the promise of God Himself. The subject matter of John’s vision is so great, and of such great importance to the Church and people of God that He orders it to be committed to writing as a lasting record. While John and his contemporaries could not know it, many ages would pass between the time when this vision was given and when it would be fulfilled. We are still waiting nearly two thousand years later. During this time, many great trials have intervened, providing yet another reason that God wanted it committed to writing. For the future promise has been an encouragement of His people throughout history.

God personally attests to the nature of the promise (“these words are faithful and true”) and the certainty of its fulfillment (“it is done”). God uses the past tense to assert a future fulfillment as if it were already completed. He then gives us His titles of honor (“Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end”) as a pledge or surety of the full performance.(1) Alpha and Omega are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. The expression is a familiar figure of speech that contrasts opposites to accentuate a unity. God is the beginning and the end, as well as everything in between those two points. He is the inception and consummation of all things.(2)

It was to His glory to begin a good work in the creation of the world and the establishment of His church. It will also be to His glory to finish the work that He began. He will not allow it to remain imperfect and unfinished. As His power and will were the first cause of all things, His pleasure and glory will be the last. Otherwise He would not be the Alpha and Omega.(3)

Up Next – The heirs and the disinherited.

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References

  1. Henry, M. (1994). Matthew Henry’s commentary on the whole Bible: complete and unabridged in one volume (p. 2484). Peabody: Hendrickson.
  2. Barry, J. D., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Mangum, D., & Whitehead, M. M. (2012). Faithlife Study Bible (Re 1:8). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.
  3. Henry, M. (1994). Matthew Henry’s commentary on the whole Bible: complete and unabridged in one volume (p. 2484). Peabody: Hendrickson.

All Things Made New

ALL THINGS MADE NEWHe will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” (Revelation 21:4-5a)

Behold, I make all things new” is the first time since Revelation 1:8 that God is specifically referenced as speaking directly (who else would be sitting on His throne?), though voices have come from the throne (Revelation 21:3) and out of the sanctuary (Revelation 16:1, 17). While these too may be from God himself, they seem more likely to be coming from one of the angels in His Presence. The message here is not addressed to John (contrast Revelation 7:14; 17:7; 21:6; 22:6), but to the entire world of the blessed.(1)

The vision is so wonderful that the best way John found to describe it was by describing what it was not (i.e. “no more”). Ever since John first recorded this revelation, believers have rejoiced to know that, in Heaven, there will be no more pain, tears, sorrow, or death. This blessed hope of Heaven has encouraged God’s people in times of suffering.(2)

Little else is said here in Revelation about the future of mankind, aside from the implication that kings and nations still exist. Humans are still human (albeit with glorified bodies), not angels, and none who enjoy this new and endless existence are tainted by sin. To see more of what the future holds for us, we must look at other New Testament passages.

We Shall Be Like Him – We find that when we stand in God’s presence, we will be transformed into Jesus’ likeness. “We shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is” (1 John 3:2). Paul said that God has predestined us “to be conformed to the likeness of His Son” (Romans 8:29).

Raised Imperishable – Paul told the Corinthians that the believer’s resurrection body will be imperishable in contrast to our present perishable body. It will be marked by power rather than weakness. It will be controlled by the spiritual, rather than subject to the physical. The dead “will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed” (1 Corinthians 15:52, see also verses 35–54). When the mortal becomes immortal, then death itself will be swallowed up in our great victory. In these words of Scripture, we see a glorious promise. But the scene is so far removed from our present situation that it is difficult to fully comprehend. We can perhaps see a bit more in the Gospel’s description of Christ after His resurrection. He could eat with His disciples. He had flesh and bones (Luke 24; John 21). Yet He also could “appear” among them in a locked room (John 20:19). He was recognizable, the same individual, yet at the same time different. These post-resurrection capacities of Jesus will likely be ours as well in resurrection.

Free from Our Sin Nature – The greatest wonder of all is that we shall be like Him, freed from every stain of sin. To be perfected and yet retain our individual self—this is our glorious destiny. “He who overcomes,” God promises, “will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be My son” (Revelation 21:7).(3)

Up Next – It is Done.

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References

  1. Robertson, A. T. (1933). Word Pictures in the New Testament (Re 21:5). Nashville, TN: Broadman Press.
  2. Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 2, p. 622). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  3. Richards, L., & Richards, L. O. (1987). The teacher’s commentary (pp. 1088–1089). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.