Revelation #39 Revelation 22:16-21 (MSG) End Times: The Assurance and The Hope

 


Revelation #39 Revelation 22:16-21 (MSG) End Times: The Assurance and The Hope

 

As we come to the close of John’s letter to the churches, what has been written is authenticated by Jesus, there is a call to enter into a right relationship with God, and there is a warning not to tamper with the truth that has been revealed, and finally, there is the assurance that all that has been revealed will come to pass. Let’s dig in.

 

Revelation 22:16 (MSG)

"I, Jesus, sent my Angel to testify to these things for the churches. I'm the Root and Branch of David, the Bright Morning Star."

 

The very first sentence of Revelation reports that what follows is from Jesus, we suggested that Revelation is about Jesus and contains the Truth Jesus wanted to be revealed to the 7 Churches. All the angelic utterances were authorized by Jesus.  The original audience is assured that what has been written is not cleverly made up, rather, it is the very word of God. Here at the end of the letter, this is reaffirmed.

 

Jesus introduces Himself as the Root and Branch of David. You can’t miss the Jewish roots with that title. The prophet Isaiah proclaimed that the Messiah would come from the descendants of King David. “A green Shoot will sprout from Jesse's stump, from his roots a budding Branch” (Isaiah 11:1 (MSG).  At times I wish the prophets were just straightforward with their utterances.  Jesse was David’s father, the stump refers to what remained of the Davidic lineage, the roots refer to the Covenants, and the budding Branch is the Messiah who restores the kingdom.  The morning star, in ancient times the planet Venus was called the morning star for you could see it just before dawn.  That Jesus calls himself the Bright Morning star means that He is the one who brings light to the world (Numbers 24:17). That light directs us into the loving arms of the Creator. When we bend our knee to the Lordship of Christ, declaring our allegiance to Him, we walk in His light, loyal and obedient, aligning ourselves with righteousness and therefore we are purified from all sin (1 John 1:7). Let’s not forget what light does to darkness, when the light shines darkness is no more, and this is exactly what we have read happens with the consummation of the Kingdom, no more night with the evil and opposition it represents. Jesus is guaranteeing what John has written is Truth.

 

Based on that Truth, yet another invitation comes. 

 

Rev 22:17 (MSG)
17 "Come!" say the Spirit and the Bride. Whoever hears, echo, "Come!" Is anyone thirsty? Come! All who will, come and drink, Drink freely of the Water of Life!

 

The Spirit and the Bride invite you to enter into a right relationship with God.  Within our Wesleyan understanding, the Spirit brings prevenient grace to the world.  Prevenient grace is God’s empowerment to awaken people spiritually, evaluate the condition of their souls, and turn to Him for redemption.  The Spirit’s prevenient grace pricks our conscience and informs us that something is missing from our lives.  What is missing is fellowship with God. Jesus said that when the Spirit comes, “ he'll expose the error of the godless world's view of sin, righteousness, and judgment: He'll show them that their refusal to believe in me is their basic sin; that righteousness comes from above, where I am with the Father…(John 16:8-10). One aspect of the Holy Spirit’s ministry to humanity is to shine the light of Christ in the hearts of the people so that they would seek out a right relationship with God.

 

The Bride is the Church (Ephesians 5:25-27; 2 Corinthians 11:2; Revelation 19:7-8). The Church is believers. It is through your witness to the life-changing power of God that the invitation to salvation comes. Even in the rough, intense, and catastrophic times how you live your life, how you deal with the circumstances of life, the words you say, and the things you do, are an invitation for others to enter into the blessings that have been bestowed upon you. You shine with the presence of God and the Lamb when you intend to obey and your goal is to love. It is your love, your compassion, and your kindness that issues the invitation.  Being witnesses, and proclaiming the gospel, is what believers are called to do; it is part of your spiritual job description as a Christian.

 

Together the Spirit and the Bride work in harmony to invite people into the Kingdom.  Notice that the invitation is for anyone who wants it.  God does not determine who will partake of the water of life, which is salvation, which is life eternal, which is knowing God.  The invitation goes out to all, it goes out to anyone who will receive it and act upon it (Luke 14:23). There are many ways to act upon the invitation, one way that we have frequently explained to act upon the invitation to come and to drink, is to acknowledge your thirst, your need for forgiveness of sin, for reconciliation with God, for rescue from the ache inside.  Just a little aside here:  Many people don’t realize that sin is anything that deters, damages, or destroys a right relationship.  All you have to do is look for a relationship that started well but is now, not so good, maybe even ruined, and realize that such is sin, and having participated, makes you a sinner. Acknowledge, then believe that Jesus is the Lord and giver of life, whose self-sacrificial love created an atonement for you making it possible for you to be made right with God (1 John 2:2). Acknowledge, believe, and then commit to being a disciple of Jesus (Matthew 16:24).  This commitment is what bending the knee to the Lordship of Christ is all about, not a one-time act but a continuing commitment to learn of and to be like Jesus. Acknowledge, believe, commit, and then ask God to accept you as one of His own (Romans 10:13).  With your sincere acknowledgment, belief, commitment, and request, God will give you access to the water of life. Do you hear what the Spirit is saying to the world, to you? Is now the time for you to respond to God's invitation? 

 

What John has written is Truth about the ministry of Jesus and how all things will conclude because of that ministry.  We are given a warning not to tamper with the Truth.

 

Revelation 22:18-19 (MSG)

I give fair warning to all who hear the words of the prophecy of this book: If you add to the words of this prophecy, God will add to your life the disasters written in this book; if you subtract from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will subtract your part from the Tree of Life and the Holy City that are written in this book.

 

We are not doomed if we change a literal word in what John has written.  If so we are all in trouble because every translation of the original language has changed a word. Worse, scholars report that the original document has been lost in antiquity, and due to the condition of surviving manuscripts, we cannot be sure that the words that the scribes copied are the exact words that John actually wrote.  What we are being warned of is distorting the teachings the book contains. Of course, this begs the question, “What are the teachings of this letter?” Dare I summarize the teachings? Sure.  The teachings that are not to be tampered with are

1.     The Supremacy of Christ: Revelation emphasizes the sovereignty and lordship of Jesus Christ over all creation. Any alteration that diminishes or distorts this central theme is to tamper with the message.

 

2.     The Final Judgment: Revelation proclaims the ultimate victory of Christ over evil. With that victory comes warnings and promises regarding the final judgment and the consequences of one's actions. Humanity is held accountable.

 

 

3.     The Call to Endurance and Faithfulness: Believers are to remain faithful to Christ amidst persecution and trials. The rough, intense, and catastrophic times require perseverance, endurance, and unwavering faith to be overcome.

 

4.     The Hope of the New Creation: Revelation concludes with the vision of a new heaven and a new earth, where God dwells with his people in perfect harmony. The promise of this future hope and the invitation to partake in it are central to the message of Revelation.

 

It is the truth, the central message, and not the words that are used to express that truth which must not be changed (William Barclay). But that doesn’t mean we can be careless with the words.  We must strive to use words that convey the meaning John intended.

Once again, we must consider what is meant by prophecy. This letter is a form of prophecy, but not in the strict sense of predicting future events. It's important to remember that prophecy can be both foretelling and forth-telling. Foretelling involves predicting what is going to happen. The prophet states events that will occur in the future. "For instance, my medical doctor gave me a sort of 'prophecy' when he said, 'Mike, even though you are in great shape and all your labs, MRIs, CT scans, and x-rays look good, you are eventually going to die.' I summarized, 'So Doc, you’re telling me I am in pretty good shape for someone who is going to die?' This was meant to be humorous.

 

Consider this example: a prophet predicts that on October 15, 2024, there will be a market crash that rivals all previous corrections, leading to economic chaos in the US. If this prediction does not come true, traditionally, the prophet could face severe consequences. In contrast, a preacher delivering forth telling might say: 'If current trends and economic stressors, along with ineffective policies, continue, there will likely be an economic correction that could be extremely difficult to overcome.' This is based on current and past observations, making it a probable outcome. Do you see the subtle difference?  The first is very exact.  The second is much more general, giving room for things to unfold.

 

The four key points within Revelation—The Supremacy of Christ, The Final Judgment, The Call to Endurance and Faithfulness, and The Hope of the New Creation—are examples of forth-telling rather than foretelling. As forth telling, they are still considered prophetic. Even with forth-telling there is a sense of expectancy that what has been written will come to pass.

 

Revelation 22:20-21

 

 He who testifies to all these things says it again: "I'm on my way! I'll be there soon!" Yes! Come, Master Jesus! The grace of the Master Jesus be with all of you. Oh, Yes!

 

For me, I suspect that John and his original audience believed that the consummation of the Kingdom would occur within their lifetime.  I think having read the Revelation believers are to live with the expectation that the consummation will occur within their lifetime.  So for me, soon, means inevitable.

Believers are to remain faithful and endure, for soon the supremacy of Christ will become irrefutable, judgment will be made according to what each one has done resulting in eternal consequences, and then everything will be made new.   This is our hope. To that end, we say AMEN, come, Lord Jesus.

 

As we end this study of Revelation, we are assured that the vision is a message authorized by Jesus to encourage believers who are enduring rough, intense, and catastrophic times. We know that God extends His invitation to enter into a right relationship with Him through you.  The Holy Spirit empowers you to testify, to witness, to shine, so that people see the difference in you, and get thirsty for the salvation you are experiencing. We know that when Jesus returns the Kingdom will be consummated and that we are living in a time in which this is happening, the King is coming.  We are assured that His arrival is inevitable. We have been given a message of hope and encouragement. With instructions to stay true, and overcome evil we are to make our stand for the Kingdom and Christ and not be moved. 

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