Long Island Conference: What WAS the Purpose of the End Times? (Part 2)


Yesterday I posted a video of a presentation I gave at Blue Point Bible Church last weekend as part of a conference on “the end times.” The theme of the conference was two-fold:

  1. What was the purpose of the end times?
  2. How do we walk worthy of the kingdom of God?

Yesterday’s post (Part 1) included my notes on the first half of the video where I addressed the first question, tracing John’s pattern of referencing the imagery of Mount Sinai (Exodus 19) throughout the book of Revelation (e.g. 4:5, 8:5, 11:19, and 16:18; 1:6 and 12:14). John did this to show that “the end times” and “the last days” were bringing about the final transition from the old covenant age to the new covenant age during the first century AD.

This post (Part 2) includes the notes I used in the second half of my presentation, where I looked at Revelation 21:1 – 22:5 as a blueprint for how to walk worthy of God’s kingdom in the New Jerusalem. This part of the presentation begins around the 29:30 mark of the video.

[Revelation 21:2] New Jerusalem is God’s holy city, pictured as a bride.

  • This is not the first time that the people of God in Christ are pictured as a city.
  • Jesus said His people are a city set on a hill, the light of the world (Matthew 5:14).
  • The author of Hebrews told his readers that they had already “come to Mount Zion, and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem…” (Heb. 12:22).
  • This was Isaiah’s prediction as well: “Also the sons of those who afflicted you shall come bowing to you, and all those who despised you shall fall prostrate at the soles of your feet; and they shall call you The City of the Lord, Zion of the Holy One of Israel” (Isaiah 60:14).

[Rev. 21:3] God dwells with His people, He’s with them, and He’s their God.

  • This fulfills a prophecy made by Ezekiel: “Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them, and it shall be an everlasting covenant with them; I will establish them and multiply them, and I will set My sanctuary in their midst forevermore. My tabernacle also shall be with them; indeed I will be their God, and they shall be My people” (Ezekiel 37:26-27).
    • Don’t let anyone tell you that this isn’t true for the followers of Christ right now just because this was addressed to “the house of Israel.” We are the house of Israel, the Israel of God (Galatians 6:16), because Jesus is true Israel and we are Israel with Him (Galatians 3:16, 29).
  • These truths are also repeated in Ezekiel 43:7, 48:35; II Corinthians 6:16, and elsewhere.

[Rev. 21:9] John sees the New Jerusalem as a bride, the Lamb’s wife.

  • He contrasts the bride with the harlot of Rev. 17, old covenant Jerusalem (Rev. 11:8).
  • Paul also contrasted two women in Galatians 4:21-31, where he portrayed one woman in slavery representing the old covenant and a free woman representing the new covenant.
  • Note the comparisons and contrasts in the following passages:
  1. Revelation 17:1: “Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and said to me, ‘Come, I will show you the judgment of the great prostitute who is seated on many waters.’”
  2. Revelation 21:9: “Then came one of the seven angels which had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues and spoke to me, saying, ‘Come, I will show you the Bride, the wife of the Lamb.’
  1. Revelation 17:3: “And he carried me away in the Spirit into a wildernessand I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that was full of blasphemous names.”
  2. Revelation 21:10: “And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great, high mountainand showed me the holy Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God.”

In Rev. 17:3, it’s likely that John was taken to a wilderness because it was in a wilderness that God established the old covenant with the Israelites. In Rev. 21:10, perhaps John was taken to a great, high mountain because of what God said He would do in the last days of the old covenant age:

Now it shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow to it” (Isaiah 2:2, Micah 4:1).

[Rev. 21:12-13] The new Jerusalem has a high wall with 12 gates, bearing the names of the 12 tribes of Israel; three gates each on the east, north, south, and west sides.

  • Isaiah 60:18, Ezekiel 48:30-35, Matthew 8:11, and Luke 13:29 depict the kingdom of God as a city with walls facing each direction, or with people entering in from all directions.
  • Sam Storms once made these comparisons between the writings of Ezekiel and John on this subject:

Ezekiel is taken to a high mountain by angel and sees a city (40.1-3). John is taken to a high mountain by an angel and sees a city (21.10). The first thing Ezekiel sees is the wall (40.5) that surrounds the city. The first thing John sees is the wall surrounding the city (21.12). The first gate Ezekiel sees is the ‘east gate’ (40.6). The first gate for John is the ‘east gate’ (21.13)… The City has ‘living waters’ in Ezekiel 47.1-ff. So does John (22.1-ff)…

 -Sam Storms, “A Reconstruction of the Millennium”

[Rev. 21:14] The city’s foundations bear the names of the 12 apostles.

  • This is strikingly similar to what Paul wrote to believers in Ephesus: “Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a habitation of God in the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:19-22).

[Rev. 21:15-18] The new Jerusalem in John’s vision is cube-shaped, as was the holy of holies in Solomon’s temple (I Kings 6:20). The holy of holies was overlaid with pure gold, and the holy city in John’s vision is also entirely made of pure gold.

[Rev. 21:19-21] The foundations of the city walls are covered in precious gems.

  • This fulfills Isaiah 54:11-12 (“O you afflicted one, tossed with tempest, and not comforted, behold, I will lay your stones with colorful gems, and lay your foundations with sapphires. I will make your pinnacles of rubies, your gates of crystal, and all your walls of precious stones”).
    • Paul clearly affirms that Isaiah 54 is about the church (Galatians 4:27).
  • These precious stones may represent all the spiritual blessings we are equipped with and enjoy today in Christ.

[Rev. 21:22-23] Jesus is the temple and the light of this city.

  • There is again evidence that John is drawing heavily from Isaiah 60, or at least receiving identical revelation to what Isaiah received, as they both describe the body of Christ: “The sun shall no longer be your light by day, nor for brightness shall the moon give light to you; but the Lord will be to you an everlasting light, and your God your glory” (Isaiah 60:19).

[Rev. 21:24] The nations of those who are saved walk in the light of this city.

  • “The Gentiles shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising” (Isaiah 60:3).
  • “The sons of foreigners shall build up your walls, and their kings shall minister to you…” (Isaiah 60:10).
  • The body of Christ is richer when we fellowship with believers from various nations, cultures, races, and backgrounds.
  • It’s never been easier to do that than now, with instant, worldwide communication through Facebook, with the ability to travel halfway around the world in one day, with a melting pot of cultures here in our cities, etc.
  • The walls of the city of God are built up and strengthened as the people of God from different nations mingle, share with, help, and bless one another.

[Rev. 21:25-26] The gates of the city are never shut; the glory and honor of the nations come in.

  • “Then you shall see and become radiant, and your heart shall swell with joy; because the abundance of the sea shall be turned to you, the wealth of the Gentiles shall come to you… Therefore your gates shall be open continually; they shall not be shut day or night, that men may bring to you the wealth of the Gentiles” (Isaiah 60:5, 11).

[Rev. 21:27] Only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life enter this city.

  • “Also your people shall all be righteous; they shall inherit the land forever, the branch of My planting, the work of My hands, that I may be glorified” (Isaiah 60:21).

[Rev. 22:1] A pure, clear river of water of life flows from the throne of God and of the Lamb.

  • “And in that day it shall be that living waters shall flow from Jerusalem, half of them toward the eastern sea and half of them toward the western sea; in both summer and winter it shall occur” (Zechariah 14:8).
  • “Jesus answered and said to [the Samaritan woman at the well], ‘Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life’” (John 4:13-14).
  • “On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, ‘If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water’” (John 7:37-38).
  • “And the Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ And let him who hears say, ‘Come!’ And let him who thirsts come. And whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely” (Revelation 22:17).

[Rev. 22:2] On both sides of the river is the tree of life, which bears different fruit each month. The leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. See Ezekiel 47:1-12.

  • Futurist eschatology says that Jesus will return in our future and there will be no more sin, suffering, etc., and that’s when Rev. 21-22 is fulfilled.
  • This picture in Rev. 22:2 shows the nations in need of healing. That time is right now, and we are the channels for that healing.

Recent Article in the Gospel Herald

Here is an example of Christ’s followers using leaves from the tree of life to heal the nations:

“Syrian refugees who fled predominantly Muslim countries amid ongoing war and terrorism are embracing Christianity and teaching their children about Jesus after experiencing firsthand the love and compassion of believers in Greece…

The ministry leader shared one particularly compelling story of how one refugee, who will go by the name of Saddam for security reasons, embraced Christianity after witnessing the kindness of the Christian aid workers. Saddam appeared to have been a man of authority and wealth in Syria, and told the ministry that he found out about them because everyone at the hotel where he was staying was talking about it. When he first arrived, he asked a ministry worker if he was a Christian or a Muslim. Uncertain of why he was asked such a question, the worker asked him why he wanted to know.

With tears streaming from his eyes, Saddam said, ‘I need someone to talk with me about Jesus.’ The workers summoned the ministry co-directors, and the Muslim man told them, ‘All the Muslim countries have turned their back to us. The Muslim nations have ripped us from our treasures. They taught us not to trust the Christians, and that they are liars. I come to Greece and I find myself in the best place with the best food for me and my children. I find love that I have never seen. Please teach me.'”

Leah Marieann Klett, Syrian Refugees Embracing Christ, Teaching Children About Jesus after Witnessing Love of Christians, Gospel Herald, March 15, 2016, http://www.gospelherald.com/articles/62914/20160315/syrian-refugees-embracing-christ-teaching-children-jesus-witnessing-love-christians.htm

  • Contrast this with what a seemingly popular preterist individual said on Facebook a few months ago: “There’s only one way to deal with the Muslim problem. Nuke them all! Nothing less than that will work.”
  • God is doing awesome things in the Muslim world right now, with amazing movements to Christ happening in various places. It’s been said that more Muslims have come to Christ in the last 15 years than in the previous 1400 years. What if God has brought Muslims to our cities on purpose so that we can build relationships with them and invite them to drink of the living waters of Christ?
  • Fulfilled eschatology might be the only school of thought that consistently believes that the healing of the nations is for right now. We should “own this message,” so to speak. How can we work together to see the nations of this world healed?

[Rev. 22:5] There’s no night in the city, and no need for a lamp. The people in the city will reign forever.

  • “Arise, shine; For your light has come! And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you… Your sun shall no longer go down, nor shall your moon withdraw itself; for the Lord will be your everlasting light, and the days of your mourning shall be ended” (Isaiah 60:1, 20).
  • “Then those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the firmament, and those who turn many to righteousness like the stars forever and ever” (Daniel 12:3).
  • “Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father…” (Matthew 13:43).
  • “Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, ‘I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life’” (John 8:12).
  • “For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder and His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this” (Isaiah 9:6-7).
  • “And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end” (Luke 1:33).
  • “…and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father…” (Rev. 1:6).
  • We’re not waiting for a future millennium to start. We are called and equipped to rule and reign right now.

——————————————————

I referenced three other speakers during my presentation. Here are two of those videos:

[1] Daniel Colon – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=49c-hecPH6c

[2] Johnny Ova – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zr8IZnj4yk0

(Jason’s presentation is not yet available.)

There was also a debate on the second night of the conference which you may be interested in viewing. It was between Michael Miano (a preterist) and Stephen Whitsett (a futurist): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tPtYL76KbZs

On the last day of the conference, there was a roundtable discussion where members of the audience were able to ask questions for us to answer. I participated in that roundtable and here is that video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bsnEooTpP78

All of the videos from this conference will soon be made available at this link: http://www.powerofpreterism.com/preterism-.html

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To Seal or Not to Seal the Book? (Daniel 12 Versus Revelation 22)


Series: “Little Gems from Our Study of the Book of Revelation”

The following study was published earlier today in The Fulfilled Connection (TFC) Magazine, and was adapted from our study of Revelation 22 (Part 2):

What a difference 600 years can make. It certainly made a difference when it came to the visions shown to Daniel (605 – 536 BC) and to John (around 65 AD*). As we will see, one prophet (Daniel) was told to seal his book, and about 600 years later the other (John) was told to keep his book unsealed. Daniel was told that the fulfillment of his visions was a long way off, and about 600 years later John was told that fulfillment was right around the corner.

Many have observed the parallels between what Daniel and John saw in their respective visions. For example:

(a) Daniel foresaw a king, arising from the fourth beast (kingdom), who would “persecute the saints of the Most High.” The saints would “be given into his hand for a time and times and half a time,” i.e. 3.5 years (Daniel 7:25).

(b) Very similarly, John saw a beast who “was given authority to continue for forty-two months” (i.e. 3.5 years), and “it was granted to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them” (Revelation 13:4-7).

Without a doubt, Daniel and John were granted visions of the same event, future to both of them. Or, in John’s case, had it already begun? “I, John, both your brother and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was on the island that is called Patmos for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ” (Revelation 1:9).**

One group of Bible teachers, whose eschatology differs from my own, has created the following chart to demonstrate how Daniel and John both repeatedly spoke of a 3.5 year time period:

Different Descriptions of a 3 ½ Year Period

Bible References

42 months

Rev. 11:2,13:5

1260 days

Rev. 11:3,12:6

3.5 years

Dan. 9:27

Time, times & ½ a time

Dan. 7:25, Dan. 12:7, Rev. 12:4

At the end of John’s visions, he recorded a very significant instruction given to him by an angel:

Then he said to me, ‘These words are faithful and true.’ And the Lord God of the holy prophets sent His angel to show His servants the things which must shortly take place. ‘Behold, I am coming quickly! Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book’And he said to me, ‘Do not seal the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is at hand‘” (Revelation 22:6-10). 

Interestingly, Daniel was given opposite instructions. He was told to seal his book:

But you, Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book until the time of the end… it shall be for a time, times, and half a time; and when the power of the holy people has been completely shattered, all these things shall be finished… And he said, ‘Go your way, Daniel, for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end’” (Daniel 12:4-9)

Daniel was told to seal his book because “the time of the end” for his people was in the distant future. However, John was told that what he saw was about to take place and therefore he should not seal his book. The contrasts between these two sets of instructions can be seen in this chart:

DATE

Around 540 BC

Around 65 AD

PROPHET

Daniel

John (Revelation)

SEAL or DON’T SEAL?

But you, Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book until the time of the end” (Daniel 12:4); “And he said, ‘Go your way, Daniel, for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end” (Daniel 12:9).

And he said to me, ‘Do not seal the words of the prophecy of this book…’” (Rev. 22:10).

FAR AWAY or AT HAND?

Therefore seal up the vision, for it refers to many days in the future” (Daniel 8:26); “Now I have come to make you understand what will happen to your people in the latter days, for the vision refers to many days yet to come” (Daniel 10:14).

“…for the time is at hand” (Rev. 22:10).

Around 540 BC, Daniel was told that the time of the fulfillment of his book was still far away, but around 65 AD John was told that the time of the fulfillment of his book was near. This makes no sense if Daniel and John were prophesying about events in the 21st century or beyond, as both would be far away, and about 2600 years in Daniel’s case and about 2000 years away in John’s case. It does makes sense, however, if both Daniel and John were prophesying of events in John’s time. Here’s what the difference looks like:

Time Frame if These Prophecies Remain Unfulfilled

Time Frame if These Prophecies Were Fulfilled in John’s Day

To be fulfilled in the 21st century or beyond

Fulfilled around 70 AD

Daniel: “many days to come” = 2600 years later and not yet fulfilled

John: “at hand” = 2000 years later and still not fulfilled

Daniel: “many days to come” = fulfilled 600 years later

John: “at hand” = fulfilled a few years later

Daniel was told that his prophecies concerned “the time of the end” for his people in Israel, and the complete shattering of their power (Daniel 12:7). That “time of the end” had come in John’s day, and therefore he wrote that “the time” was “at hand.” It was the end of the old covenant age, and the time for judgment upon adulterous, unfaithful Israel – a judgment which Jesus had so often predicted (e.g. Matthew 21:43-44, 22:7, 23:34-36, 24:1-51; Mark 13:1-37; Luke 17:20-37, 19:41-44, 21:5-36). This judgment was made complete during the Roman-Jewish War of 67-73 AD, and Josephus graphically recorded the shattering of national Israel in his book,The Wars of the Jews, published in 75 AD.

That time of judgment was 600 years in Daniel’s future, but it took place in John’s generation. This is why Daniel’s book was sealed, but John’s book remained unsealed.

—————————————————————————

*The following articles contain a wealth of evidence that the book of Revelation was written prior to Jerusalem’s destruction in 70 AD:

[1] External Evidence for An Early Date
[2] Internal Evidence for An Early Date (Part 1)
[3] Internal Evidence for An Early Date (Part 2)
[4] Internal Evidence for An Early Date (Part 3)
[5] Internal Evidence for An Early Date (Part 4)
[
6] The Book of Revelation Written Before 70 AD (An Illustration)

**According to the church father, Tertullian, John was exiled to Patmos by Nero after John miraculously survived Nero’s attempt to boil him in oil.

Revelation 22 (Part 2: Verses 6-21)


In the previous post, Revelation 22 (Part 1: Verses 1-5), we looked at the first five verses of Revelation 22, where John concluded his description of New Jerusalem, the city of God. We saw that a river of life runs through the city, proceeding from God’s throne and from the Lamb, with the tree of life on both sides of the river, whose leaves provide healing for the nations. We saw how John’s account parallels the account in Ezekiel 47. We saw that in New Jerusalem there is no curse and no night, but Jesus is there and He lights up the city. We also discussed how John’s descriptions, parallel to many others in the New Testament, concern this present age and the spiritual realities and the mandate given to the body of Christ. We now turn to the rest of the chapter.

Scripture text for this study: Revelation 22

Verse 6: John writes, “Then he said to me, ‘These words are faithful and true.’ And the Lord God of the holy prophets sent His angel to show His servants the things which must shortly take place.”

The angel repeats what Jesus said in the previous chapter (Rev. 21:5), affirming that these words about New Jerusalem “are faithful and true.” God would carry out all that He promised to do.

Here John also repeats what he said at the beginning of the book: “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants—things which must shortly take place… Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near” (Rev. 1:1-3). John’s letter was distributed to seven first century churches concerning events that they were about to experience, and it pleased God to “show His servants” those things ahead of time. In our study of Revelation 1, we noted that “the Greek word used for “shortly” here is the same one Jesus used when He said His time to be crucified was ‘at hand (Matthew 26:18), and when John said ‘the Jews’ Feast of Booths was at hand‘ (John 7:2), events that no doubt were literally near.”

Verse 7: John writes, “Behold, I am coming quickly! Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.” It’s obvious that this statement comes directly from Jesus, which is a switch from verse 6 where John is the speaker reporting what the angel had said to him. Steve Gregg makes the following observation on page 500 of his book, “Revelation: Four Views (A Parallel Commentary)”: “In these closing paragraphs, the identity of the speakers of various statements becomes somewhat confusing. At times (e.g. vv. 6, 9-11), the words seem to be those of the angel-guide — still one of the seven who poured out the bowls (cf. 21:9) — and at others (e.g. vv. 7, 12, 16), the speaker is clearly Jesus.”

Jesus here repeats what He and John have already said several times in this book:

Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen” (Rev. 1:7).

Remember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent. Therefore if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you” (Rev. 3:3; see also Rev. 2:5, 16).

Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown” (Rev. 3:11).

Behold, I am coming as a thief. Blessed is he who watches, and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked and they see his shame” (Rev. 16:15).

Before this chapter comes to a close, Jesus repeats this promise two more times (22:12, 22:20). Consistently, He says that His coming would take place quickly, and that His coming could take some of John’s readers by surprise. This language is consistent with other statements that John was prophesying of things which would soon take place, and of events that were near in their time. How would John’s readers have understood these statements?

Verses 8-9: John writes, “Now I, John, saw and heard these things. And when I heard and saw, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel who showed me these things.  Then he said to me, ‘See that you do not do that. For I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren the prophets, and of those who keep the words of this book. Worship God.’” John affirms that he was a firsthand witness to all that he reported. He also candidly admits his mistake and reveals that he was rebuked by the angel. John had made the same mistake before:

Then he said to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!’” And he said to me, “These are the true sayings of God.” And I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, “See that you do not do that! I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren who have the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” (Rev. 19:9-10).

Verse 10: John writes, “And he said to me, ‘Do not seal the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is at hand.'” Interestingly, Daniel, who was given similar visions to what John saw and heard, was given opposite instructions. He was told to seal his book (Daniel 12:4, 12:9) because what he saw was still far off (Daniel 8:26, 10:14). However, John was told that what he saw was soon to take place and therefore he should not seal his book. The contrasts between these two sets of instructions can be seen in this chart:

PROPHET DATE SEAL or DON’T SEAL? FAR AWAY or AT HAND?
Daniel Around 600 BC But you, Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book until the time of the end” (Daniel 12:4)“And he said, ‘Go your way, Daniel, for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end’” (Daniel 12:9). 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).“Now I have come to make you understand what will happen to your people in the latter days, for the vision refers to many days yet to come” (Daniel 10:14).
John (Revelation) Around 65 AD And he said to me, ‘Do not seal the words of the prophecy of this book…’” (Rev. 22:10). “…for the time is at hand” (Rev. 22:10).

Around 600 BC, Daniel was told to seal his book and his words, but around 65 AD John was told not to seal his book or his words. Around 600 BC, Daniel was told that the time of the fulfillment of his book was still far away, but around 65 AD John was told that the time of the fulfillment of his book was near. This makes no sense if Daniel and/or John were prophesying about events in the 21st century or beyond, as both would be far away, but it does makes sense if both Daniel and John were prophesying of events in John’s time.

Daniel was told that his prophecies concerned “the time of the end” for his people in Israel. The end had come in John’s day, and therefore he wrote that “the time” was “at hand.” It was the end of the old covenant age, and the time for judgment upon faithless Israel which Jesus had so often predicted in the gospel accounts. That time came in the form of the Roman-Jewish War of 67-73 AD.

Verse 11: John writes, “He who is unjust, let him be unjust still; he who is filthy, let him be filthy still; he who is righteous, let him be righteous still; he who is holy, let him be holy still.” The idea of imminence is clearly found in these words. Steve Gregg comments (p. 501):

Verse 11 underscores the nearness of the events just mentioned, as if so little time remains that one could hardly hope to repent before the judgment falls… Alford writes: “The saying has solemn irony in it (compare Matt. 26:45), the idea being that the time is so short that there is hardly any room for any change, but down in its depths the lesson conveyed is, ‘Change while yet there is time.'” …Farrer, on the other hand, suggests that it constitutes a prayer “that the world may come out black and white, so as to be ripe for judgment.”

Kurt Simmons gives his view:

“These words are given to punctuate the imminence of Christ’s return.  His coming would be like a thief and would take men as it found them, to give to every man according as his works should be (cf. Matt. 16:2728).”

Kurt Simmons, “Exposition of Revelation 20-22,” source

Verse 12: John writes, And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work.” These are again words spoken directly by Jesus, and they are virtually identical to the words He spoke to His disciples:

For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works. Assuredly, I say to you, there are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom” (Matthew 16:27-28).

In John’s account, Jesus said He would come quickly. In Matthew’s account, Jesus said He would come while some of His disciples were still alive. In both accounts He said He would reward everyone according to their works at His coming.

In Matthew’s account, Jesus said He would come with His angels. As my friend, Mark Church, points out, all throughout the book of Revelation we see God’s angels pouring out judgment upon “the great city” where the Lord was crucified (Revelation 11:8) – that is, Jerusalem, the same city which was marked as a harlot because of its shedding of the blood of the saints and martyrs (Rev. 17:1-6), apostles, and prophets (Rev. 18:20-24). For a deeper study of Jesus’ statement that He would come [a] in His kingdom [b] with His angels [c] in the glory of His Father and [d] in judgment, see our studies on Matthew 24:3 and on Matthew 24:30.

Verse 13: John writes, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last.” These are also direct words from Jesus, and He repeats titles that He had given Himself in Rev. 1:8 and Rev. 21:6, and which an angel ascribed to Him in Rev. 2:8. The Father spoke similarly of Himself through the prophet Isaiah (41:4, 43:10, 44:6, 48:12). Jesus is everything and all-sufficient.

Verses 14-15: John writes, “Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city. But outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie.” John reiterates what he had already said earlier, making a contrast between who could reside in the city of God (new Jerusalem), and who would always remain outside of its gates:

Its gates shall not be shut at all by day (there shall be no night there). And they shall bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it. But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life” (Rev. 21:25-27).

Steve Gregg discusses (p. 502) the significance of the first type of person mentioned by John, who would remain outside of the gates, i.e. “dogs”:

Those excluded from the City of God are characterized as dogs (a term the Jews used to characterize Gentiles, but which Paul applied to the Judaizers — Phil. 3:2), and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie (v. 15). That such behavior effectively bars one’s entrance into the kingdom of God is also clearly declared by Paul (cf. I Cor. 6:9-10; Gal. 5:19-21). 

A number of translations render Rev. 22:14 as, “Blessed are those who wash their robes…” My Facebook friend, Robert Woodrow, noted that Rev. 22:14-15 and I Corinthians 6:9-11 form a chiastic structure, where the two passages are patterned after one another in a reverse layout:

A – Blessed are those who wash their robes (Rev. 22:14)
B – that they may have the right to the tree of life and may enter through the gates into the city (Rev. 22:14)
C – Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral…etc. (Rev. 22:15)
C – Neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers…etc. will inherit the kingdom of God. (I Cor. 6:9-10)
B – you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God (I Cor. 6:11)
A – But you were washed (I Cor. 6:11)

I Corinthians 6 is a present reality, as are these parallel truths in Revelation 22. Paul speaks of inheriting the kingdom, but doesn’t mention a city, while John speaks of entrance into the city, but doesn’t mention a kingdom. Hebrews 12 equates both ideas in one passage: But you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem” (verse 22)… “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken…” (verse 28).

Verse 16: John writes, “I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things in the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star.” Here Jesus repeats what John had said in the very first verse of Revelation: “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants—things which must shortly take place. And He sent and signified it by His angel to His servant John” (Rev. 1:1). Jesus intended for the message of the entire book to be distributed “in the churches.” The church in Sardis, for example, didn’t only receive the message specifically addressed to that church in Revelation 3:1-6. They were to take heed to the entire book, chapters 1-22. This underscores the truth that Revelation was not written first and foremost for believers in the 21st century, but that it was written for a first century audience, concerning things they were about to experience at that time. 

In Rev. 5:5, Jesus was also given the title “the Root of David,” along with the title “the Lion of the tribe of Judah.” See Genesis 49:9; Isaiah 11:1, 10; Mark 12:35-37; and Acts 13:23. Here Jesus is also called “the Bright and Morning Star.” In Rev. 2, the church at Thyatira was told that those who would hold fast until He came, and who would overcome and keep His works “until the end,” would be given power over the nations and also be given “the morning star” (verses 24-27; see also Numbers 24:17, Daniel 12:3, Malachi 4:2, Ephesians 5:8, Colossians 1:12-13). In speaking about the gospel and Jesus’ first coming, Peter wrote:

And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts” (II Peter 1:19).

As we have seen in our study of Revelation and of Isaiah 60, this appears to be covenantal language, referring to the fading of the darkness of the old covenant age, and the dawning of the light of the new covenant age (established at the cross, and standing alone at the fall of the old covenant system in 70 AD; see Hebrews 8:13). This was also the understanding of John Gill (1746):

Christ is compared to a “star”, as in Numbers 24:17 for its light, the light of nature, and of grace, and of the new Jerusalem state being from him; and for its glory, his glory being the glory of the only begotten of the Father, and he having a glory, as Mediator, which his saints will ever behold, and be delighted with; and for its influence, all the blessings of grace, life, and righteousness, being from him; and to a “bright” star, because he is the brightness of his Father’s glory, and so splendid, shining, and illustrious, that he is light itself, and in him is no darkness at all; and to a bright “morning” star, which shows the night is going off and the day is coming on, and is the phosphorus, or bringer of light; as Christ by his first coming, who was then the dayspring from on high, put an end to the night of Jewish darkness, and sprung the great Gospel day, so often spoken of by the prophets, and brought life and immortality to light by the Gospel, and showed the way to eternal life by himself…

Verse 17: John writes, “And the Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ And let him who hears say, ‘Come!’ And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.” This cry of the Spirit and the bride appears to be in response to Jesus’ promise that He would come quickly (verse 12). The second half of this verse echoes the offer made by Jesus in Rev. 21:6 (“I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts“). It also reflects what Jesus said to the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4:10-14) and what He cried out at the Feast of Tabernacles (John 7:37-39).

“…Whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life…”

On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, ‘If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’ But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive…”

Verses 18-19: John writes, “For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that 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 Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.” 

Different opinions have been given concerning this warning. Clearly it was important that “the words of the prophecy of this book” be delivered with accuracy and without tampering to the seven churches. The plagues took place soon after this was written, so the danger of being targeted by those plagues also passed at that time. Steve Gregg (pp. 503-504) offers these thoughts:

“The severe curse…has been invoked by some expositors against those who differ from them in the interpretation of the apocalyptic vision, though it is hard to believe that any sincere attempt to interpret the symbols of the book would incur such wrath from God as these words suggest. It is possible that the strict safeguards are intended less for the interpreter of the book than the integrity of its transmission by copyists… There are similar warnings not to add to God’s word all the way back to Deuteronomy and in Proverbs.”

David Lowman, a Presbyterian pastor, agrees:

“Most likely this was written to the scribes who would be responsible for transcribing the letter as it was passed around the Christian church community. Be careful! That’s what is being said.”

Verses 20-21: John concludes, “He who testifies to these things says, ‘Surely I am coming quickly.’ Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus! The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.” Jesus again repeats His promise to come quickly, and John is clearly eager, as he closes his book, to see that promise come to pass. It was a promise that Jesus kept. Eusebius, the father of church history (263-339 AD), confirmed the same in his commentary on Matthew 24:

“And when those that believed in Christ had come thither [out] from Jerusalem [in obedience to Matthew 24:15-16], then, as if the royal city of the Jews and the whole land of Judea were entirely destitute of holy men, the judgment of God at length overtook those who had committed such outrages against Christ and his apostles, and totally destroyed that generation of impious men (Proof of the Gospel, Book III, Ch. 5)… [When] the lamentation and wailing that was predicted for the Jews, and the burning of the Temple and its utter desolation, can also be seen even now to have occurred according to the prediction, surely we must also agree that the King who was prophesied, the Christ of God, has come, since the signs of His coming have been shewn in each instance I have treated to have been clearly fulfilled” (Proof of the Gospel, Book VIII).

John ends his book with the same blessing that Paul and others spoke over the church in their epistles, demonstrating that God’s grace was of great importance to the early church: “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.”

All of our Revelation chapter-by-chapter studies, and any other posts related to the book of Revelation, can be found here.

Revelation Chapter 22 (Part 1: Verses 1-5)


Scripture text for this study: Revelation 22

Review of Revelation 21

Our two posts on Revelation 21 (Part 1 and Part 2) were written in 2010, so this post is very much overdue. In our study of Rev. 21, we saw how John drew heavily on the Old Testament to depict with rich symbolism the glories of this present, everlasting new covenant age. John also echoed many spiritual truths taught elsewhere in the New Testament, which the writers of those epistles proclaimed to be existing realities in their own day. Revelation 21 is not as much about prophecies fulfilled in the past, as it is about ongoing spiritual realities that are being lived out by God’s people to this very day.

For the body of Christ, Revelation 21 is a beautiful portrayal of God’s relationship with His new covenant people. It’s also part of our manual on how the Church is to walk in spiritual victory and advance God’s ever-expanding kingdom on this earth. When John was told that he would be shown “the bride, the Lamb’s wife,” he is actually shown a city called New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:9-10), which John vividly describes for his readers, lacing his words with all kinds of Biblical symbolism. Unlike the Jerusalem that went up in flames (Matthew 22:7; Rev. 17:16, 18:8-9, 18:18), New Jerusalem is a city with no temple, “for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple” (verse 22). It’s a city illuminated by the glory of God, where “the Lamb is its light” (verse 23; see also John 8:12).

New Jerusalem is not a cube-shaped city that God’s people will one day live in, but God’s people are New Jerusalem. This is not the only passage of Scripture where a physical structure is used to describe God’s people.  God’s people are also described as a holy structure in Ephesians 2:19-22, and both structures are built on the foundation of the apostles (Ephesians 2:20; Revelation 21:14).

Introduction to Revelation 22

These themes continue as we move into Revelation 22, the final chapter of this book. The beginning of the chapter continues John’s description of the city of God, the new Jerusalem. After that Jesus recaps, through John, what He had already promised earlier in the book, particularly the nearness of His promise to come in judgment. Before we get into a verse-by-verse study of this chapter, let’s review again the very helpful structural outline that Steve Gregg presents on page 492 of his book, “Revelation: Four Views (A Parallel Commentary).” He shows that Revelation 21:1-8 outlines the remainder of the book of Revelation (21:9 – 22:19):

CONTENT In Verses 1-8 In the Remainder
New Jerusalem Verse 2 21:9-21
God dwells among men Verse 3 21:22-27
Renewal of the world Verse 5a 22:1-5
“These words are true and faithful” Verse 5b 22:6-10
Work completed: “I am Alpha and Omega” Verse 6a 22:11-15
Final blessing: water of life to all who thirst Verses 6b – verse 7 22:16-17
Final curse upon the rebellious Verse 8 22:18-19


Verse 1:
In the first five verses of Revelation 22John’s vision of the city of God, New Jerusalem, comes to a conclusion. In verse 1, John sees “a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb.”

Who is the angel who shows John this river? This question takes us back to Revelation 21:9 where the one speaking to John is “one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues.” This same angel takes John to see “the Bride, the wife of the Lamb.” In Revelation 17:1, we saw that an angel, fitting the exact same description, took John to see “the judgment of the great prostitute who is seated on many waters.” According to Steve Gregg (p. 493), this connection “provides a structural link, deliberately placing the harlot in juxtaposition with the bride,” New Jerusalem. In this way, John contrasts two women in the same way that the apostle Paul does in Galatians 4:21-31, where he portrays one woman in slavery representing the old covenant and another free woman representing the new covenant.

John’s vision of the river of life flowing through the new Jerusalem is very similar to Zechariah’s vision at the time of the day of the Lord: “And in that day it shall be that living waters shall flow from Jerusalem, half of them toward the eastern sea and half of them toward the western sea; In both summer and winter it shall occur” (Zechariah 14:8). While some teach that this is future and will literally occur in Jerusalem (i.e. in the Middle East), it’s also possible — and I believe correct — to see that Zechariah received a vision of New Jerusalem, Christ’s bride. John’s vision here is also reminiscent of statements that Jesus made about Himself:

Jesus answered and said to [the woman at the well], ‘Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life‘” (John 4:13-14).

On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, ‘If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water” (John 7:37-38).

Verse 2: John is told that “the leaves of the tree” of life were “for the healing of the nations“:

In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river, was the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.”

John’s vision is remarkably similar to Ezekiel’s vision of a river flowing from the threshold of the temple (Ezekiel 47:1-12).

When I returned, there, along the bank of the river, were very many trees on one side and the other. Then he said to me: ‘This water flows toward the eastern region, goes down into the valley, and enters the sea. When it reaches the sea, its waters are healed. And it shall be that every living thing that moves, wherever the rivers go, will live...’ Along the bank of the river, on this side and that, will grow all kinds of trees used for food; their leaves will not wither, and their fruit will not fail. They will bear fruit every month, because their water flows from the sanctuary. Their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for medicine” (Ezekiel 47:7-9, 12).

Duncan McKenzie, author of “The Antichrist and the Second Coming,” makes the following observation about these passages and their parallel nature (Duncan’s entire article is very much worth reading):

“In Ezekiel, the prophet is told that the city is the dwelling place of God with his people (43:7; 48:35), which parallels what John is told about the New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:3). The respective cities both have twelve gates with the names of the twelve tribes of Israel inscribed on them (Ezek. 48:30-34; Rev. 21:12-13). The Temple in Ezekiel has healing waters that flow out of it (Ezek. 47:1-11); there are trees on both sides of the river that have leaves for food and healing (v. 12). This parallels Revelation where the river of life flows from the throne of God and the Lamb in the New Jerusalem; the tree of life is on both sides of the river, it has leaves for the healing of the nations (Rev. 22:1-2).”

Duncan McKenzie, “Revelation’s Parallel Use of the Sequence of Ezekiel: Part Two”

This picture, and this language, speaks to our present setting here on earth, where the nations of the world are in need of healing and where all kinds of immorality still exists outside of God’s city (verse 15). So one way of applying this text is to ask questions like these: Is Syria in need of healing today? Is Nigeria in need of healing today? Is Indonesia in need of healing today? Is America in need of healing today? The church, the body of Christ, is a channel of the living waters of Christ, and we are equipped with the healing that the nations need. As members of the body of Christ, we have been given the responsibility and the grace to link arms with one another and work together to see the nations healed by the living water of our Savior, Jesus Christ. 

Steve Gregg (p. 499) discusses the various ways that this text is understood:

The purpose of the leaves of the tree is…said to be for the healing of the nations (verse 2), but the question intrudes itself, what nations? If we take this to mean that humanity in the new creation will be organized into discreet political nations, then these are matters of which we have little or no additional information.

On the other hand, if nations be understood simply in the sense of “the Gentiles,” then it may simply be a reference to the church saints of Gentile extraction in the holy city. Weidner considers the reference to be to “the converted Gentiles who are among the glorified saints.” This view seems to enjoy the favor of most expositors, including Milligan:

“It is impossible to think that the nations here spoken of have yet to be converted. They have already entered the New Jerusalem, and that they are healed can signify no more than this, than they are kept in constant soundness of health by what is here administered to them.”

Taken, however, as a symbolic picture of the New Covenant blessings in the present age, the leaves of the tree could refer simply to the fact that as the gospel advances, the kingdom, like a mustard tree (Matthew 13:31-32), or a cedar tree (Ezekiel 17:22-23), spreads its branches, providing all nations a place of refuge and healing under the shadow of its leaves (cf. Ezekiel 31:4-6; Daniel 4:11-12).

John’s reference to “the tree of life” takes us back to Adam and Eve, the Garden of Eden, and to the tree of life that was there (Genesis 2:9, 3:22-24):

And out of the ground the Lord God made every tree grow that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” (Genesis 2:9).

Then the Lord God said, ‘Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil. And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever’— therefore the Lord God sent him out of the garden of Eden to till the ground from which he was taken. So He drove out the man; and He placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life” (Genesis 3:22-24).

The outcome of eating from the tree of life would be eternal life. In Jesus, eternal life is freely available for those who trust in Him. In Revelation 22, in New Jerusalem, the tree of life is available for everyone in the city of God, bearing fruit 12 months each year. In the Garden of Eden there was one tree of life, but in New Jerusalem there is a tree of life “on either side of the river.” The Jamieson-Fausett-Brown Bible Commentary (1882) said this about the correlation between Genesis 2-3 and Revelation 22:

“How striking it is that, as in the beginning we found Adam and Eve, his bride, in innocence in Paradise, then tempted by the serpent, and driven from the tree of life, and from the pleasant waters of Eden, yet not without a promise of a Redeemer who should crush the serpent; so at the close, the old serpent cast out for ever by the second Adam, the Lord from heaven, who appears with His Bride, the Church, in a better Paradise, and amidst better waters (Rev. 22:1): the tree of life also is there with all its healing properties, not guarded with a flaming sword, but open to all who overcome (Rev. 2:7), and there is no more curse.”

Verse 3: John writes, “And there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve Him.” Is this another reference to the Garden of Eden, and the curses spoken over the serpent and over humanity (Genesis 3:14-24)? Is this a reference to the curse of the law, which was removed in Christ (Galatians 3:10-13)? Kenneth Gentry points out that many Bible scholars see Zechariah 14:11 (“The people shall dwell in [Jerusalem]; and no longer shall there be utter destruction, but Jerusalem shall be safely inhabited“) as the background for John’s statement, and says “we see John’s backdrop from correspondences within the two passages:

Zechariah 14 Contextual Correspondences Revelation 21-22
14:2, 4, 8, 10-12, 14, 16-17, 21 “Jerusalem” 21:2, 10, 14-15, 18-19, 21, 23; 22:14, 19
14:6-7 Alteration of patterns of light, day, night 21:24-25; 22:5
14:8a Living water source in Jerusalem 22:1, 17
14:8b No problem of seasons causing death 22:2
14:11 Absence of anathema; katathema 22:3
14:14 Glory of nations received within 21:24, 26; see also Isaiah 60:5-14
14:16 Nations positively influenced 21:24
14:17-18 Outsiders in negative condition 21:27; 22:15

Gentry goes on to say:

Note the strong similarity between the two statements in Greek:

Zec 14:11: kai anathema ouk estai eti
Rev 22:3: kai pan katathema ouk estai eti

…We should note that John immediately parallels with his katathema statement a comment that intentionally contrasts with it. And by doing so he underscores the objective, concrete matters involved. I will provide a woodenly literal translation of 22:3, then the Greek text, to show the parallel:

And every cursed person will not be [there] any longer (22:3a)
And the throne of God and of the Lamb in it will be (22:3b)

Note the parallel in Greek:

kai pan katathema ouk estai eti (22:3a)
kai ho thronos tou theou kai tou arniou en autç estai (22:3b)

Clearly 22:3b speaks of location, not existence; the same should be true of 22:3a. John means that accursed persons are absent, not that the curse no longer exists… 

Consider that at the end of his external tour of the new Jerusalem he learns that certain persons will forever be excluded from the new Jerusalem: “and nothing unclean and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life” (21:27). Thus, now as he looks inside the new Jerusalem, he can happily report that this is true: “every cursed person will not be there” (22:3a). This truth is so important that he states it once again at 22:15: “Outside are the dogs and the sorcerers and the immoral persons and the murderers and the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices lying.”

…In Rev 22:3 John is encouraging the followers of the Lamb who have been abused by the religious leadership of Israel — either directly at their hands or at the hands of their compatriot minions, or indirectly by their influence with the Romans to spark persecution of the Christians. They must understand that those who have tormented them and cast them out of their communion (Mt 10:16–18, 21; 23:34; Jn 9:22, 34–35; 12:42; 16:2; 1Th 2:15) or brought charges against them to the Roman authorities (Ac 17:7; Rev 2:9–10) are themselves “accursed” and will not be allowed into the new Jerusalem. Christianity will not be extinguished through the efforts of the Jews (or the Romans). In fact, the tables will be turned against the [unbelieving] Jews: “the sons of the kingdom shall be cast out” (Mt 8:12; cp. 22:13) as God establishes the new, final redemptive order. Rather than rule by the corrupt “kings of the land,”  the new Jerusalem will be ruled from the throne of the Lamb (22:1, 3).

Kenneth Gentry, Supplement #18 – Absence of Curse  in the New Creation, Revelation 22

Verse 4: John writes, “They shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads.” This is a fulfillment of the promise Jesus made to the church in Philadelphia: “Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown. He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more. I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God. And I will write on him My new name” (Revelation 3:11-12). In our studies of Revelation 7 and Revelation 14, we also saw that God sealed the foreheads of His servants with His name. In contrast, those who followed the beast had his mark, his name, or the number of his name on their right hands or foreheads (Rev. 13:15-17). 

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus also promised that it would be the pure in heart who would see God (Matthew 5:8). Kurt Simmons gives his take on the significance of Rev. 22:4.

“The fall brought man’s banishment from the presence and fellowship of his Creator; man was driven from the garden; he was estranged from God and became an exile in the earth…  Even in the temple, God was in the Holy of Holies, separate and removed from the worshipper.  None could approach except through the sprinkling of blood and the appointed mediator.  The stranger that drew nigh was put to death.  However, the veil of separation was rent in twain in the cross of Christ (Matt. 27:51); man can now boldly enter into that which is within the veil, made faultless before his presence by the blood of Christ (Heb. 6:1910:19-22; Jude 24).  We are no longer servants, but have attained the adoption of sons, are become heirs of the King, and enjoy a ‘face to face’ relationship with God through Christ.”

Kurt Simmons, “Exposition of Revelation 20-22,” source

Verse 5: John writes, “There shall be no night there: They need no lamp nor light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them light. And they shall reign forever and ever.” In Rev. 21 we already saw that Jesus is the light in New Jerusalem, the city of God: “The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light”  (verse 23). This also lines up with other statements made by the prophets, as well as those made by the writers of the gospel accounts and epistles in the New Testament:

Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD rises upon you… The sun shall no longer be your light by day, nor for brightness shall the moon give light to you; But the Lord will be to you an everlasting light, and your God your glory. Your sun shall no longer go down, nor shall your moon withdraw itself; For the Lord will be your everlasting light, and the days of your mourning shall be ended” (Isaiah 60:1, 19-20).

Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the firmament, and those who turn many to righteousness like the stars forever and ever” (Daniel 12:3).

In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darknessand the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:4-5).

Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, ‘I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life‘” (John 8:12).

And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light (Romans 13:11-12).

But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night… But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness” (I Thessalonians 5:1-5).

In part 2, we will continue examining Revelation 22, beginning with verse 6.

All of our Revelation chapter-by-chapter studies, and any other posts related to the book of Revelation, can be found here.

God’s People Bring the Leaves of Healing to Detroit


Last month I reflected on the incredible needs and opportunities in our cities here in the US. We focused a lot on how God is intentionally bringing the nations to our doorstep, and we heard Ray Bakke’s challenge for God’s people to respond accordingly. This post will highlight some significant efforts by a growing number of people in Detroit to do just that.

Now those who know me fairly well are aware that I’ve joyfully abandoned my dispensationalist upbringing, a futurist eschatology which featured [1] an escapist mentality (i.e. “we’re going to be raptured out of here at any moment”) and [2] the idea that the crumbling of the world around us is a good and/or necessary thing because it means Jesus is about to return.

I now believe that we live in the everlasting new covenant age and that God’s kingdom was fully established in the first century. As “the light of the world” and “a city built on a hill” (Matthew 5:15-16), and as a people who have been camped at Mount Zion/God’s city/the heavenly Jerusalem for centuries (Hebrews 12:22), I am convinced that we possess the leaves of the tree of life that are for the healing of the nations (Revelation 22:1-2). It’s our mandate and our calling to seek healing for all nations, including our own. (Yes, I do believe that warped eschatology is one key factor that has too often kept the church from living out this calling.) This calling is not at all divorced from our calling to proclaim the message of the cross and the gospel.

That’s why I’m thrilled to learn about what is happening in the city of Detroit, Michigan. In 2010 it was ranked the 18th most populous city in the US, with over 700,000 people. About 82% of the city’s population is African-American, and thousands of Iraqi and Hmong refugees have also made their home there. Less than 10 miles away is another key city, Dearborn, with a population of about 100,000 that is 33% Arab. The greater metro area including and surrounding Detroit features about 5.2 million people.

As reported by the Northville Patch (Northville is located about 28 miles northwest of downtown Detroit), a community-impacting initiative that began in the spring of 2011 now includes representatives from more than 560 different churches and para-church organizations, and it’s bringing new life to a crippled city:

For the second year, Southeast Michigan residents are coming together from hundreds of churches and organizations to share their faith and offer free medical and dental services, food, housing construction and renovations to tens of thousands of residents in need. It’s a continuation of the EACH (Everyone a Chance to Hear) movement that launched last spring.

EACH is guided by a steering committee with church leaders from both city and suburbs. The EACH effort started in 2011 and focused on a 40-day period starting Easter Sunday, but the hope that the impact and continued effort to help the community would continue into the future came to fruition. Most of the local church-based projects and actions will be determined by individual congregations and Christian organizations.

Thousands of individuals from approximately 560 churches and para-church organizations from all over the city of Detroit and suburbs have become active members of EACH in the last year. The movement kicked off again on Easter Sunday.

“EACH was designed to be a one-year initiative, but something special happened,” said Pastor Bob Shirock, senior pastor of Oak Pointe Church in Novi. “We went from being a group of individual churches to really being one church with one purpose…to share and show the love of Jesus to our communities through prayer, Good News and good deeds. We decided to keep doing it, while finding more ways to share and show Christ’s love to people in our communities.”

The Detroit Prayer Walk, which last year attracted about 25,000 followers of Jesus to downtown Detroit, will be the first event where all churches will gather together. This year it will be on Saturday, April 28 at Comerica Park. New for this year, the walk will also include no-cost community medical assistance at a neighboring church. The Detroit Prayer Walk will feature the theme, “1 Church Coming Together for One Purpose.”

Since April 2011, the EACH movement has provided thousands of free meals and 3,500 hours of medical and dental service and repaired or refurbished more than 100 houses in the Detroit area.

The EACH movement will significantly increase community assistance in 2012 through expanded deployment of mobile medical and dental trailers that provide no cost services to uninsured or underinsured people. They will also be expanding the housing construction and renovation effort and creating a community resource event called Lovin’ The D on Saturday, May 19 in midtown Detroit on the Wayne State University campus.

“The impact that we have had on this region as believers of Jesus has been incredible when you look at all the people in need we have helped,” said Pastor Christopher Brooks of Evangel Ministries in Detroit. “We’re talking about thousands of people in need who have been helped by their neighbors, co-workers, friends and family. It’s a very powerful message.”

The coalition will continue to use the 2WordStory social media and personal testimony campaign that was launched as part of the movement in 2011 to show examples of changed lives.

“There is Good News all around us – here in the Detroit area because people have experienced the life changing love of Jesus and have made this a great place to live and work,” said Pastor Doug Schmidt, senior pastor for Woodside Bible Church. “As a community we are listening to Jesus’ words and sharing His message with those around us. And there is no better way to share such a message of love than living it out.”

Other programs that started from the EACH movement in the past year include Handyman Ministries, a faith-based non-profit community revitalization organization dedicated to helping low-income individuals and families by providing free maintenance and repair services, energy audits and other upgrades; and Life Remodeled, a non-profit organization that builds houses and provides other resources to transform lives in troubled communities.

A 2009 CNN Money article shows that some Detroit-area churches were already at that time “taking a hands-on approach to saving their neighborhoods, plowing millions into buying and redeveloping local housing and businesses.” The author noted that Detroit was known for “its ever-increasing pockets of barren land and abandoned housing,” and that it “may be the most financially devastated city in the country.” To read more of this article, see here.

In the midst of such ruin, it’s exciting and encouraging to see God’s people rise up with the power of God’s kingdom that is in our midst and within us (Luke 17:20-21), and work together to see large-scale transformation take place throughout a city, and in many hearts and lives. Pastor Bob Shirock, the founder of the EACH initiative, says “he got the idea to mobilize churches after traveling overseas and witnessing Christians uniting to serve the disadvantaged. Shirock yearned to replicate the outreach coalition in Detroit.” May it be that God’s people living in other cities soon have even greater stories to tell.

You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:14-15).

But you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the Judge of all, to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel” (Hebrews 12:22-24).

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 twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations” (Revelation 22:1-2).