Revelation #38 Revelation 22:6-1 (MSG) End Times: Prepared for the Return

 


Revelation #38 Revelation 22:6-1  (MSG) End Times: Prepared for the Return

 

In our previous teaching, we suggested that John’s description of Holy Jerusalem is a description of the believer's resurrected and glorified body.  I haven’t yet found a scholar who would agree with me.  I would still like for this speculation to be examined.  Would John’s original audience have understood that he was writing about a new body?  Given the tendency in the Old Testament visions, Jerusalem is the City of God, and in the End, the City of God is upon the Earth, God dwells within that City, His saints serve as priests and kings, and the nations flood into the City to worship.  The original hearers of the Revelation most likely understood John to mean that Rome and its Babylon would be replaced with the rule of God. Rome would be replaced with New Jerusalem as the center of the world.

 

What God started in the “Beginning,” but went in so many wrong directions, is returned to its original intent and design.    That return includes people living in an intimate relationship with God, in rich fellowship with one another, and living in harmony with the Earth.  This is salvation.

 

John’s vision has come to an end.  Now he is establishing the authority of what has been written.  He again encourages us that Jesus is coming soon, and therefore we must remain loyal and steadfast, growing in our faith, with the hope that soon, is indeed very soon.  We pick up John’s narrative, Chapter 22:6

 

Revelation 22:6-7 (MSG)

The Angel said to me, "These are dependable and accurate words, every one. The God and Master of the spirits of the prophets sent his Angel to show his servants what must take place, and soon. And tell them, 'Yes, I'm on my way!' Blessed be the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book."

 

Remember angels are messengers, speaking what God tells them to speak.  The angel assures John that what he has seen and what he has heard is Truth. The angel reassures John that God has sent him. Recall the 7th event is the consummation of the Kingdom.  This vision has been how God’s plan of redemption unfolded in Christ.

 

Once again modern ears are troubled by the angel’s instance that all this must take place soon.   To the original audience, there would have been an expectancy that soon meant they would live to see it come to pass. Realizing that this document is almost 2 millennia old, the idea of soon can be hard to grasp. Soon means a certainty, a certainty with a sense of expectancy. Expectancy urges believers to have their house in order, for we do not know when the Lord will return (Matthew 24:42). It is a certainty that Jesus will return, the Kingdom will be consummated, and life will become righteous.

 

Then it seems as if the angel stops speaking and Jesus Himself tells John that He is coming soon.  If believers keep the words of the prophecy will be blessed.  This is the 6th of the 7 blessings bestowed on those who are faithful to the end. Once again we are tempted to think prophecy to mean foretelling of a future event. We need to remember that prophecy is speaking forth the word of God, not necessarily predicting the future. It is a fine intellectual line between understanding that this prophecy is about Jesus and the result of His ministry and in the light of Jesus’ victory how those who have bent their knee to His Lordship are to live more than it is about what is to come.  John has confronted us with spiritual realities, and an understanding of what is going on behind the daily news. The consummation of the Kingdon has not yet come and in this sense, we can say that to reveal that it certainly will, is what in popular thinking is called prophecy.  The Consummation is a future certainty that requires a response right now.  To keep the words of this prophecy is a call to fidelity. Those who are faithful to the end, aligning themselves with the commands of God and the teaching of Christ will discover that they are blessed.

 

Revelation  22:8-11 (MSG)

I, John, saw all these things with my own eyes, heard them with my ears. Immediately when I heard and saw, I fell on my face to worship at the feet of the Angel who laid it all out before me. He objected, "No you don't! I'm a servant just like you and your companions, the prophets, and all who keep the words of this book. Worship God!" The Angel continued, "Don't seal the words of the prophecy of this book; don't put it away on the shelf. Time is just about up. Let evildoers do their worst and the dirty-minded go all out in pollution, but let the righteous maintain a straight course and the holy continue in holiness."

 

The 7 Churches are assured that it is the John that they know who has received and transmitted this Revelation of Jesus. He is communicating that what he has written is not some flight of fantasy and wishful thinking but rather communicated from Jesus through intermediaries. Once again John reminds his readers to avoid the common practice of worshiping angels. Angels are powerful beings but God alone is to be worshipped, we don’t pray to angels for guidance, provision, or protection, we pray to the Father.  

 

The angel tells John not to seal up the prophecy, this means that the message is not for those in some distant future, the message is for the Christians of those 7 churches to whom this letter is addressed. “Time is just about up” is again a way of speaking of the certainty of the consummation of the Kingdom.  Don’t stumble over “soon.” The message of encouragement is timeless.  It spoke to the original audience giving them hope to endure in expectation of what is to come.  That same message applies to believers today.  Today those who have bent their knee to Jesus feel the oppression of the Beast, and the temptation of the propaganda of the False Prophet and have to fight the seduction of Babylon.  Christ through John urges us to be overcomers.

 

John reinterprets Daniel for his audience

Daniel 12:10 (MSG)

The populace will be washed clean and made like new. But the wicked will just keep on being wicked, without a clue about what is happening. Those who live wisely and well will understand what's going on.

 

Pagans will do what pagans do, and because they do not know what they do, they will continue to do it.  It is a fruitless task to tell those who have rejected God that they are doing wrong.  Believers are called to live a holy life, and in doing so shine by speaking the Truth in love and by deeds that manifest the glory of God in the community. I think we judge when we tell people their choices that have created the lifestyle they are living are wrong, better to live a life before them that displays the blessings of God. Let the pagans do what pagans do while you are so much like Christ they see the difference in your character, in your compassion, in your empathy, in your inner contentment, that they want what you want. Make them thirst for holiness. Paul wrote that it is God’s kindness that leads to repentance. (Romans 2:4).

 

John now has Jesus speaking to us directly and reveals to us a mystery.

 

Revelation 22:12-15 (MSG)

 "Yes, I'm on my way! I'll be there soon! I'm bringing my payroll with me. I'll pay all people in full for their life's work. I'm A to Z, the First and the Final, Beginning and Conclusion. "How blessed are those who wash their robes! The Tree of Life is theirs for good, and they'll walk through the gates to the City. But outside for good are the filthy curs: sorcerers, fornicators, murderers, idolaters—all who love and live lies.

 

Jesus rewards His followers for their faithfulness.  It is a person’s deeds that demonstrate what he or she believes. Your sacrifices will be compensated, Jesus is bringing a payday for your labor of love.  Genesis 15:1 hints at exactly what that payday looks like.  Abraham in an encounter with God is told that God Himself is Abraham’s great reward (Genesis 15:1). Jesus’ great reward is to allow full access to the One He called Father.  If God is in you and you are in God, there are no greater rewards. 

 

That Jesus is the bringer of rewards is a task that in both Old and New Testaments is reserved for God, the Sovereign Strong. The testimony of scripture is that God repays according to your deeds, what you do matters (Psalms 62:13, Jeremiah 17:10, Romans 2:6).  The lines of differentiation between Jesus and the One Jesus called Father are blurred.  Further, Jesus identifies Himself as the Alpha and Omega, that title was previously ascribed to God the Sovereign Strong (Revelation 1:8, 21:6). The mystery that is being revealed is that the Father and the Son are One. The great reward for believers:

John 17:21 (MSG)

“…is for all of them to become one heart and mind— Just as you, Father, are in me and I in you, So they might be one heart and mind with us.” 

Jesus is in the Father, the Father is in Jesus and if Jesus is in you, you are in the Father (Galatians 2:20). This is the relationship that you share with the Creator and because of that you are blessed.

 

Revelation 22:14 (MSG)

"How blessed are those who wash their robes! The Tree of Life is theirs for good, and they'll walk through the gates to the City.”

 

This is the seventh blessing bestowed.  The blessings are the rewards for living a life worthy of the gospel of Christ (Philippians 1:27-30).  The Tree of Life represents healing and life eternal and walking through the City gates represents your intimate relationship with God.  You wash your robes as you daily choose to be faithful to your high calling, discharging the duties of the office of ambassador, using your gifts and graces to shine the gospel by loving others, and others includes the pagans, the heathen, the sinners, maybe especially those who religious people tend to reject. You wash your robes by saying “Yes” to God, doing as He directs, and living life according to Kingdom values.  You wash your robes by bending your knee to the Lordship of Christ and remaining steadfast and true in your faith.

 

Then Jesus describes that kind of behavior that will prevent a person from entering the City of God.

Revelation 22:15 (MSG)

But outside for good are the filthy curs: sorcerers, fornicators, murderers, idolaters—all who love and live lies.

 

Sorcerers can mean those who practice witchcraft, casting spells, divination, and consulting the dead (Deuteronomy 18:10-12). Symbolically, sorcerers are people whose teachings lead others astray. Fornicators include all sexually immoral behavior. The scripture makes a big deal about your sexuality and how to express it. Behaviors like premarital sex, adultery, prostitution, and according to traditional interpretations homosexuality, are all condemned in scripture as activities inconsistent with the character of the godly. Murderer refers to the unlawful killing of another person but also can mean someone who has a basic disregard for the sanctity of human life.   Idolaters have something in their lives that they value more than their relationship with God.  Living and loving lies is believing the propaganda of Babylon. Psalms 101:7 (NIV): “No one who practices deceit will dwell in my house; no one who speaks falsely will stand in my presence.

 

What Jesus is communicating to believers is that certain behaviors are unacceptable for those who have been made new creations in Christ. Those who persist in behavior that is inconsistent with holiness are in jeopardy of being barred from the Kingdom. What you do matters. 

 

Six verses remain, our time is short, so next time we will conclude Revelation.

 

In this teaching, we again have been confronted with coming to grips with “coming soon” and what is meant by “prophecy.” The question is Revelation about the future or current spiritual realities, and the question “does soon mean like soon or certainty,” the ambiguous answer is YES. This calls for contemplation and the request of the Holy Spirit to help us discern the matter.  But there is no question that Jesus sits upon the Throne of the Father. Jesus is indistinguishable from the Father in authority.  There is no question as to how we are to live. Every follower of Jesus is to live a holy life, one that does not compromise with Babylon, or gets swept away in the lies of the False Prophet, or worships the images of the Beast. The Christian is charged with continually washing their robes, partnering with the Holy Spirit in the daily process of sanctification.  Use these words as a mirror.  Look long and hard at the reflection, if something needs to be changed, know that God gives grace to change. If something needs to be adopted into your lifestyle, know that God provides everything you need to align with His will.

 

Choose to be blessed by keeping the words of this prophecy and by washing your robes. Be prepared for the return, the second coming of Jesus. 

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