Revelation 22.6-21 – An ending of contrasts

So to the last chapter of the last book of the Bible, and it is one of contrasts; we see old and new, concealed and revealed, bringing and taking, cursing and blessing.

6 And he said to me,

“These words are trustworthy and true. And the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, has sent his angel to show his servants what must soon take place.”

7 “And behold, I am coming soon. Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.”

8 I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I heard and saw them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed them to me, 9 but he said to me,

“You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers the prophets, and with those who keep the words of this book. Worship God.”

10 And he said to me,

“Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near. 11 Let the evildoer still do evil, and the filthy still be filthy, and the righteous still do right, and the holy still be holy.”

12 “Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”

14 Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates. 15 Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.

16 “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.”

17 The Spirit and the Bride say,

“Come.”

And let the one who hears say,

“Come.”

And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price. 18 I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, 19 and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book. 20 He who testifies to these things says,

“Surely I am coming soon.”

Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!

21 The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.

In Daniel 8.26 we read that the vision he received was to be sealed for the future, but the words of Revelation are not to be sealed, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near.”. This tells us that Revelation is a word for today, 11 Let the evildoer still do evil, and the filthy still be filthy, and the righteous still do right, and the holy still be holy.”

John falls to worship the angel, again, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel, as in 19.10, but, as there, John is told to worship God. God and God alone, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, our triune Godhead alone is to be the object of our worship, never the created, only the creator.

We read And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price, and this stands in stark contrast to every other world religion around today, or that ever was around, or that ever will be around.

Religions say bring, Jesus says take.

Religions say do, Jesus says done.

Then, the bigger picture contrast.

The last verse of the Old Testament, God dealing with His people under the old covenant, ends in a curse with things being stored up for destruction;

6 And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction.” (Malachi 4.6).

The last verse of the New Testament, God dealing with His people under the new covenant of grace by faith, speaks of this very grace, a huge blessing to us, isn’t it, when we get what we don’t deserve, when we get rich at Christ’s expense;

21 The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.

What a huge contrast, and what a huge privilege we have to be living now, under the new covenant of grace.

Jesus authenticates the whole book in v.16, and it is now our wonderful opportunity, and serious responsibility to live in the light of the truths, both present and future, of this book…because, in His own words, He is coming soon.

To which we say, Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!

Revelation 22.1-5 – The great restoration

Over the summer we spent time at my parents house in the U.K., and they were in the middle of watching a tv series about a couple who bought a French Chateau (a big old castle) and were renovating and restoring it room by room. It was fascinating to see how the old building came back to life, almost, and how things looked and worked so much better when they were just as they were intended to be. The hydraulic lift/elevator was a 21st century addition though!

Here in the last chapter of the last book of the Bible we see a great restoration…

1 Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb 2 through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. 3 No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. 4 They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. 5 And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.

The river of the water of life flows from the throne of God and of the Lamb right through the middle of the street, and this was prophesied in Psalm 46,

4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High. 5 God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns.

The tree of life is there for all to eat of, a complete restoration of Genesis 3.22-24. We read that no longer will there be anything accursed, again a complete restoration of Genesis 3.16-19, where in relationships, the ground, its produce, even our lives are now subject to conclusions they were never meant for. Restoration indeed!

The tree produced fruit which literally gives health, we read for the healing of the nations, but this tree produces fruit and leaves that give us health in the new city, so nothing is accursed, and there is no need for a throne and an altar, God simply dwells with and received worship from His people.

In possibly the most dramatic restoration we will see his face. Think back to Exodus 33.20-23, wherein Moses was denied the wondrous experience of seeing the face of God, but now we are told we will have the privilege, the honour, and the absolute pleasure of seeing his face.

Things work so much better when they are used for their intended purpose. We are made for fellowship with God, for relationship with God, to honour God, to be with God, to worship God, and for all eternity. These few verses show us that God’s intended purpose for us all will one day become our reality.  

Revelation 21.22-27 – No need

Think about the basic facilities and civic amenities you use every day; supermarket, petrol station, school, church, coffee shop, restaurant…things like that. Now, imagine if I told you that you were moving to a town that didn’t have, for example, a supermarket…would you want to go there? Would you think it was strange?

22 And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. 23 And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. 24 By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, 25 and its gates will never be shut by day–and there will be no night there. 26 They will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations. 27 But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

Here in this passage we see what the heavenly city is missing; no temple in the city…no need of sun or moon…there will be no night there…nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false.

For John to write, and to see, that the new heavenly city had no temple would have been unimaginable at the time to a first century Jew-turned Christian, kind of like us moving to a town with no supermarket…you just can’t imagine how the place would function without it.

The same goes for no sun, moon, no night; how does this new place work without these things? The fact there is nothing unclean is fairly straightforward, isn’t it, this is heaven, this is all things new, this is God living with His people, of course there is nothing unclean there but for no sun or moon, again we think, what?!

But all is explained in a wonderful few words, the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. There is no need for sun, moon, night, day, or temple because God dwells in this new heavenly city and His glory is so great it lights everything. The same goes for Jesus, it’s lamp is the Lamb. God glorifies and shines through the person of Jesus in heaven as He does now and as He always has done.

So there may be some things missing that were considered a basic necessity at the time, but what is unique about the heavenly city far outweighs this. For us, when we come to a place of accepting the glorious gift of Jesus, when we surrender and submit ourselves to His ways, will, and Word, we have the opportunity to start living like this now! He becomes the light shining out of us, His joy becomes our strength, and we have a new-found lease of life, life abundant.

If you are reading this, you most likely are living the life I am talking about, but, if you’re not, why not? God wants you to live like this! If you live this life, go and tell someone about it, model it, witness it to others!

Revelation 21.9-21 – A Sovereign alternative

Today John sees the Bride, the wife of the Lamb, the glorified church in all its glorious glory!

9 Then came one of the seven angels who 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.”

10 And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great, high mountain, and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, 11 having the glory of God, its radiance like a most rare jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. 12 It had a great, high wall, with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and on the gates the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel were inscribed– 13 on the east three gates, on the north three gates, on the south three gates, and on the west three gates. 14 And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

15 And the one who spoke with me had a measuring rod of gold to measure the city and its gates and walls. 16 The city lies foursquare, its length the same as its width. And he measured the city with his rod, 12,000 stadia. Its length and width and height are equal. 17 He also measured its wall, 144 cubits by human measurement, which is also an angel’s measurement.

18 The wall was built of jasper, while the city was pure gold, like clear glass. 19 The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with every kind of jewel. The first was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald, 20 the fifth onyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, the twelfth amethyst.

21 And the twelve gates were twelve pearls, each of the gates made of a single pearl, and the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass.

There is beauty and awe, as when you see a bride adorned for marriage (v.9), there is radiance that reflects God’s glory as Moses did having spent time in His presence (v.11), there is history and heritage (v.12b), and there is acknowledgement of those Jesus sent out to continue the work He began (v.14). Quite an awe-inspiring descent to watch.

The scale of the the beauty of this city is unimaginable, over a thousand miles each way of sheer breathtaking beauty…but what else would we expect from the city that God Himself has designed? (Hebrews 11.10).

Then the stones…are they symbolic of the indescribable majesty of the place, or, are they a literal description of the heavenly city and the glorified church?

This short five minute video, sent to me by a great friend when he knew we were working through Revelation, offers a Sovereign alternative…enjoy!

Revelation 21.1-8 – Replace don’t renew

1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.

2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.

3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying,

“Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

5 And he who was seated on the throne said,

“Behold, I am making all things new.”

Also he said,

“Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

6 And he said to me,

“It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. 7 The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. 8 But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”

We own a car that is pretty old and beat up, it’s done almost enough kilometres to get to the moon and it is falling apart, literally…there are pieces missing on the inside, there are pieces falling off the outside, and it usually takes two or three ‘encouragements’ to start. We have reached the point where this car is not going to sell for any real sum of money (plus, morally how can we sell a car we know is falling apart), so for now, it’s our big old tank. It’s still big and safe, and we can strap the boys in with a clear conscience. But, it will never sell, we can never renew it to be like it ever was because it is so old, so beat up, so broken (in parts) that when it drives its last KM we will need to find a new car rather than renew the old one.

This is exactly what we see here, or what John saw here and was commanded to write; it must have been pretty cool as he evidently was so overawed that he stopped writing, Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

We read of new heaven and a new earth, and the original language guides our understanding of this to mean something fresh, not a renewal of existing thing, or just the next in line. We are replacing old with new, not renovating or simply looking at the already-prepared next earth, no, this is a fresh, new thing! Bible commentator David Guzik puts it this way,

“The ancient Greek word translated new here means “new in character, ‘fresh’.” It doesn’t mean…new in time.” This isn’t just the next heaven and the next earth; this is the better heaven and better earth replacing the old.”

This new heaven and new earth are characterised by what is missing; death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”, and by what is now available; Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God…To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment…

So the first heaven and the first earth will pass away, making way for a fresh, new, better heaven and earth. If we choose self over Christ we will never experience this, shown by the list at the end of this passage in v.8, but if we choose Christ over self each and every day He tells us that we will.

Randy Alcorn puts it this way,

“Jesus Christ, the Son of God, loved us so much that he left the riches of heaven to become a man and deliver us from our sin.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3.16).”

So, decision time, are we going to experience the new heaven and new earth? Are we going to experience the special relationship of “I will be his God and he will be my son”? Are we going to experience the fresh, new, better life that Jesus died to provide?


Pause, think, and pray; is there anything in my life that needs to be replaced with the fresh, new, and better life that Jesus died to provide?

Is there anything in my life that is preventing me from having my eternal destination be as a child of God in His presence?

If there is, it is time to replace those things.

Revelation 20.11-15 – Motivation to share

Today the second resurrection takes place one thousand years after the resurrection of believers in the Lord Jesus, and it takes place before the great white throne. It is a judgement for every unbeliever regardless of rank or file (great and small), and, in as few words as possible, those part of the second resurrection and judgement are brought before God in what is essentially a sentencing, not a trial.

11 Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them.

12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done.

13 And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. 14 Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. 15 And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

Often times we hear people say

‘Oh, when I get to heaven God has some explaining to do!’, or

‘I’ve got some questions for God and He is going to have to be ready for me when I get there!’. The same kind of person also, usually, believes that all good people go to heaven and it will be settled at the pearly gates by sweet talking your way past St. Peter after ascending up an escalator through the clouds…

The reality is very different; believers have been raised to life with Christ and brought before His judgement (2 Corinthians 5.10), and those who rejected the way, will, words, and work of Jesus are brought before the great white throne for sentencing…and it’s not pretty.

The second resurrection and attached judgement are so final and eternal in consequence (v.10), and this is hell – eternal separation from God’s presence. It is not one big party led by a guy with hoofs, a pitchfork, and a bad beard…it is eternal separation from the presence of God with no chance of return. It is final.

Scaring people into being a believer is never the best way forward, is it, ‘Do this or else…’, think how you see a manic street preacher shouting about hell and you shudder because they are probably pushing people away from Christ not drawing them in. But, for those of us who know the love of the Saviour, for those of us who know with assured confidence that we will stand before our Lord and Master at the first resurrection and reign with Him for a thousand years before watching Him bring about a new heaven and a new earth in which we will dwell with Him for eternity, for us, we need to know the alternative. Not to scare unbelievers into believing, but to motivate ourselves to go and share the love and the life of Christ.

I read recently that there is no more selfish person that he or she who is willing to go to heaven alone.

So, time to share the love and life of Christ with those whom God has put you in the midst of. Don’t shout about hell, but live like you are going to heaven.

Revelation 20.7-10 – Over before it starts

When I was younger I played a lot of rugby and the team I follow, Castleford Tigers, were a bit of a yo-yo team for a few seasons. By this I mean that one year they were promoted, the next year relegated. This carried on for much of the mid-2000s and in 2007 they were cruising towards promotion as the season ended. The last game was away at Rochdale who, incidentally, had already been relegated.

So we had the league champions visiting the basement dwellers, both leaving the league next year; one via promotion and one via relegation. In rugby, unlike football (soccer), an unlikely result or upset is far less likely due to the physical nature of the game, and, as you may have guessed, the Tigers cantered to a 106-0 victory that day with my Dad and brother in attendance…can’t remember where I was. The point is, basically, the game was a foregone conclusion, over before it started as a contest.

REGULAR PATTERN ... Mark Leafa crashes over for Castleford Tigers during their record-breaking victory over Hornets at Spotland on Sunday.

Picture from the Manchester Evening News

Did that stop Rochdale turning up that day? No.

Did they approach the game with hope for a victory? Possibly.

Did the Rochdale fans still believe in their team and leaders? Yes.

Was the result ever in doubt? No.

We see the same here in Revelation 20.7-10,

7 And when the thousand years are ended, Satan will be released from his prison 8 and will come out to deceive the nations that are at the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them for battle; their number is like the sand of the sea. 9 And they marched up over the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, but fire came down from heaven and consumed them, 10 and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

After a thousand years of a near-perfect environment, fallen mankind still rebels against God and His ways, and this is really a final demonstration of man’s rebellion and depravity. Satan is released and gathers a huge number of people (their number is like the sand of the sea), who go to surround the camp of the saints and the beloved city.

Then, it’s over before it starts, they marched up over the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, but fire came down from heaven and consumed them. The fight never even gets going and the enemies of God are defeated (again), and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. Again, no annihilation, in the original language forever and ever is literal…the torment and punishment is forever and ever.

So, if we listen to the deception of the devil, the slander of Satan, we will find ourselves on a team that may well believe it is heading for victory but that in reality has no chance of victory.

This won’t be like a game of rugby; over after 80 minutes and everybody is friends and shares a meal together to chat…the consequences of being on the wrong team here are egregious and eternal.

Which team do we want to be on?