After several months of study, this morning we will finish our study through Revelation. I have presented the messages in this series from a futuristic perspective, believing that most of the events described in the book have yet to come. Let’s briefly review:
Chapter 1: John on the island of Patmos as the vision begins
Chapters 2-3: A Representative Picture of the Church Age
Chapters 4-5: The Rapture and Prelude to the Tribulation
Chapters 6-19: The Tribulation & Second Coming (with emphasis on the Great Tribulation)
Chapter 20: The Prelude to the Millennium and the Millennium
Chapters 21-22: The New Creation and Eternal State
In this final sermon, as the Revelation comes to an end, the Lord Jesus begins to speak. He delivers a final message to John and to all who would read this book. His words make a fitting conclusion, not just for Revelation, but for the Bible as a whole.
I. THE PROPHECY (Revelation 22:7b, 10, 18-19)
The message of Revelation is prophetic. Its primary purpose isn’t to provide instructions for moral, godly living. Nor does it seek to teach or explain deep theological doctrines or truths. Rather, it simply lays out a vivid presentation of future events so that its readers might have a confident expectation of things to come.
God revealed this vision to John with the intention that it be openly and freely shared with others. It was not to be kept secret or hidden. Furthermore, the Revelation was not to be edited from its original form - either added to or taken away from. God warned that those who alter the message would suffer from the plagues described in the book and lose their part from the tree of life in the New Jerusalem. However, those who faithfully “keep”, or place their trust in, the prophecies of Revelation as it is written will be blessed.
In these verses we see (1) the call to share this message, (2) the urgency of the Lord’s soon return, and (3) the promise of blessing to those who keep it. These 3 themes are also found in the opening verses of this book (Revelation 1:1-3).
II. THE ANGEL (Revelation 22:8-9, 16)
Jesus sent an angel to communicate the message of Revelation to John. This angel was present with and regularly spoke to John throughout his apocalyptic vision. Earlier in the book, John started to worship this angel but was quickly cut short (Revelation 19:10). Perhaps he was so enamored by what he saw that he had a momentary lapse of judgment.
In this last chapter, John falls down a second time to worship this angel. By this point Jesus Himself is speaking, which may have led John to mistake the angel for Christ. Like before, the angel quickly stopped him and stated that he, too, was simply a fellow servant of God. He exhorted John to worship God only. Jesus alone is worthy of worship - He is the son of David and the bright morning star.
III. THE PEOPLE (Revelation 22:11, 14-15)
Jesus, not the aforementioned angel, delivers the final message of Revelation. He describes 2 distinct groups of people - those who still do wrong and are still filthy and those who still practice righteousness and are still holy. The operative word is “still”. Jesus states that if, after hearing the warnings of Revelation, people continue to wallow in their sin and depravity then so be it. Such wretchedness is their free choice, though it is certainly not God’s desire.
On the other hand, those who “wash their robes” and are cleansed of sin through their faith in Jesus will have access to the tree of life and free entry into the gates of New Jerusalem. Meanwhile, all manners of sinners - including sorcerers, the sexually immoral, murders, idolaters, and habitual liars - will be kept outside, condemned eternally to the lake of fire.
IV. THE PROMISE (Revelation 22:7a, 12-13, 20a)
In His final discourse, Jesus repeats the words, “I am coming quickly” 3 times. Obviously, this is the main point of emphasis. Jesus is coming again, and His return will be soon. When He comes, He will bring His reward with Him and give to each one as their work deserves. Jesus is the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, and He will be with His people in the end as He was in the beginning.
God’s timing is not the same as ours. In fact, God exists outside of time, as He was the One who created and initiated it. To Him, one day is like 1,000 years and 1,000 years like one day (2 Peter 3:8). Therefore, our understanding of “soon” differs from His and we cannot know for certain how far off His return will be. That said, we can be sure that Jesus is coming again, and seeing that His return could occur at any moment, we must always be ready and on watch.
V. THE ANTICIPATION (Revelation 22:17, 20b-21)
We are currently living in the Church Age, which began centuries ago at Pentecost (Acts 2). The Holy Spirit currently indwells believers on the earth and they are called Christians. But, as we have discussed previously in this series, when Jesus returns in the air at the Rapture the Church will be caught up to Heaven. In addition, the presence of the Holy Spirit will be withdrawn from the earth (2 Thessalonians 2:6-7).
Knowing that at any moment we could be taken into Heaven to be with Jesus, our attitude about His second coming should be that of eager expectation. We as the bride of Christ, together with the Holy Spirit within, cry out in anticipation, “Come!” as we long for Christ’s return. In fact, all who hear the saving message of the gospel, who thirst and desire the living water, should embrace this same attitude of anticipation.
After seeing the magnificent vision of Revelation, with all its glory and wonder, John expressed his final plea. It is our plea also. “Come, Lord Jesus.” We want to see You and be with You. Would You come and call us to Yourself today? And as we wait, may your grace be upon us all.
As I have stated several times over the past few months, there are several Biblically sound interpretations of Revelation. My interpretation may differ from yours, and that’s fine. We are not dogmatic or rigid in our beliefs about the End Times. That said, I want to conclude this series by quoting the Baptist Faith & Message 2000, which is the denominational statement of faith for Southern Baptists. It expresses central truths, upon which we all agree…
“God, in His own time and in His own way, will bring the world to its appropriate end. According to His promise, Jesus Christ will return personally and visibly in glory to the earth; the dead will be raised; and Christ will judge all men in righteousness. The unrighteous will be consigned to Hell, the place of everlasting punishment. The righteous in their resurrected and glorified bodies will receive their reward and will dwell forever in Heaven with the Lord.”