Fragment on Revelation 22

Revelation 22  •  11 min. read  •  grade level: 6
The prophetic part of the Book of Revelation closes at chapter 21: 8. Then we get from verse 9 a description of the heavenly city, in that shape and form: as to what it is, what cannot enter into it, and what it reveals. This chapter gives more the outgoings of it, the river of the water of life, [the tree of life, and the leaves of the] tree for healing of the nations, etc. This closes at verse 5, and ends entirely at verse 7. Then it was; " I, John, saw these things," and certain addresses are given which I desire to speak about; also a general truth, bringing down the light of the heavenly city on us now.
The Lord put Israel under the law, and there was complete failure; but still He will accomplish, in infallible power, what He had promised to Israel, for He will write His law on their hearts, He will accomplish in power to Israel what He had given in responsibility. It is the same in regard to the church- He has set it in responsibility among men now.
The practical application we should derive from these promises is, that there is nothing here morally that we ought not now to be looking for. By the power of the Holy Ghost we should have a present anticipation or realization. Of course, when there is the full result, there will be a great difference-the body freed from sin and death, etc.; but still more, " The river of the water of life "; for it is said now, " He that believeth, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water." The tree of life was the manifestation of grace, the leaves being for the healing of the nations-a beautiful character of the church, to be ministering the healing power of grace. In Israel will be seen, when righteousness is reigning, " the sinner, being a hundred years old, shall be accursed." But here I find, even in the glory, the blessed principle of divine grace through which we came there. The earnest is given us now, " Christ having been made a curse for us." " The throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it ": the immediate throne of God is now within the church. Do we not judge those who are within? The Holy Ghost also sets up His throne in the heart of the saint, because it is the witness that there is no curse; he is not judged for sin-the word of God being the judge, a discerner between good and evil according to God. When this is not accomplished, it is a testimony against the saint.
" His servants shall serve him." Now there are many hindrances and conflicts with the enemy in service; but still, what I am called on to do now will then be fully accomplished; now, as far as we are spiritual, we enter into the anticipation of it. " His name shall be on their forehead." By-and-by there will be a perfect display of Him whom we serve; but now all men ought to see the display of Christ's name in us- to speak, and walk, and meditate as He did. In the glory it will be Christ reflected in everything; so now it ought to be. The more we search into the details of the glory in this blessed book, the more shall we learn the higher blessings to enjoy. The Holy Ghost brings it out for us to anticipate now, learning the grace that comes in, and the life that flows out. God will accomplish the highest desires that now we have for our comfort and joy to anticipate; all will be accomplished. God produces desires within us that nothing but the glory can satisfy. The Holy Ghost produces the power now to enter into these things. This shows the importance of our minds dwelling there. The lovely fruit then is seen, " Whatsoever is lovely " or " of good report, think on these things." How bright the heart would be! What growing up to the knowledge and preciousness of Christ, if accustomed to be where God dwells! Christ was one over whom circumstances had no power, except to draw out God's grace; and so should we be, for He is our example. Mark the outgoings of His grace to those in need. Christ was not governed, though of course acted upon, by circumstances to show grace, the power of His affections being drawn up to His Father: there was no effect in Christ, only expressive of what was in Him-the very fountain of life, the source of all He did.
" He that testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly." Three times it is repeated. What has the Spirit of God declared? Two things have been shown in this book. The terrible history of man's pride, and God's judgment against it. Then He takes the saint out of that scene, and sets his heart at the end of these things, even bringing before him the heavenly Jerusalem. This has always a sanctifying effect, it stops many a haughty word. In the former part of the book I see God knowing everything. This I might not be able to explain, but I see the result of all. We are called on to " keep the sayings of the book." The soul has been given a sort of gravity in the world, not to be meddling with what will be judged. The next thing-He goes a step further when addressing us, on what has been before, or going on now, or is to be hereafter: whoever receives these things may find this stay for his soul-" I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last." There is the rest, as to all that has been performed, and what is unaccomplished: the heavenly Bringer-in of the light that is to shine in the world-the Star of heaven to arise on this benighted world.
What is the spiritual feeling of the church after all has been gone through—after the terrible schism between light and darkness? What does the church say? " The Spirit and the bride say, Come." Those who have the place of the bride desire the Bridegroom, having the blessed fellowship together. Look at chapters 1 and 3; there you see the full expression of this. As the Faithful Witness He was seen on earth; for no man could see Christ on earth, but saw God in Him. Whether He took the little child in His arms, or comforted the poor widow whose son was stretched on the bier, all exhibited God, and I know Him as such. He is also " the First-begotten from the dead," witness to God for us, hereafter as " Prince of the kings of the earth." What does the church cry at this contemplation? The Spirit of God in her breaks forth at this revelation of joy, and says, " Unto him that loveth us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood." She testifies to the world, " Behold, he cometh ": the church's own position is of the testimony for Christ. The Spirit cannot speak to the saint's heart without that saint giving a response. Now we get the result of all the testimony, closing with what Christ is in Himself. It turns from the city to Him who is the center. Why am I in the golden street? Because Christ is in the midst of the city, not now washing my feet, for the place I walk on cannot defile, for it is righteousness and holiness of truth.
In the whole scene all is summed up—" I, Jesus." He must have the heart of the church, He may tell the church many things, open to them His mind: as to Abraham, it was said, " Shall I hide from Abraham the thing that I do? " Also says Christ, " Ye are my friends." After He has communicated what He was going to do, and done all, He says, " I, Jesus." He Himself comes and addresses the church. Beloved brethren, when the Spirit of Christ works in the heart, it says to Christ, ' It is You I want-come and bring in the glory.' " The Spirit and the bride say, Come." Not merely the bride, but the Spirit. The source and substance of what is in the heart is the Bridegroom. What is the next desire? " Let him that heareth say, Come." He calls on the saint to join and say, " Come." Those who have entered into the full apprehension say to others, " Come." This is the next step. The church at the same time has the blessing in itself, that is, the water of life, and turns round and says, " Let him that is athirst come," because we have the waters of life-not yet in all the blessed fullness, but we are sure the river of life is flowing in the heart of each saint, however feeble. Christ said this first, in John 7, " If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink," and now sets the church in the very same place of invitation, because it has got eternal life. See here the blessed consciousness of what the church has got: salvation-no uncertainty, though many may pass through trial in getting it; but I speak of the portion of the church. " He that believeth not God hath made him a liar, because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son." But what is the record? Not one of uncertainty, " and this is the record, that God has given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son." There is the gospel, the answer of peace given by God to those whose souls are working in this way. Peter, in his address to the Jews, shows this: the gospel, the revelation of what is in Christ, is the answer of peace to the conscience under all the anxieties produced by having neglected Him. " He that is joined to the Lord is one spirit," so the Christians can say, " Let him that is athirst come "not merely say it, but go and testify to Christ as hard as ever he can.
" Whosoever will, let him come," is another step. There is the same certainty of having life. It comes fresh from the throne of God and the Lamb. Having the water of life, I am looking for the glory in saying all this. " Behold, I come quickly." Mark the way in which, both importunate and solemn, Jesus presses it on the hearts of His saints, to say, "Come": "I come quickly," as much as to express, ' I leave on your hearts these last words '-with which He closes the book, and solemnly adds, " Amen." The Christian again breaks out, " Even so, come, Lord Jesus." Whatever has been testified about, this is to be laid on the heart of the church. Could your heart say, " Even so, come, Lord Jesus "? Having heard this word of comfort and encouragement, can you say this? If you are not at peace, you cannot say so, but would rather the Lord would come and take you to-morrow, and not to-day. If I look for Him as a Judge, I cannot say, " Come." If the conscience is at peace, it does not enter into the question of sin: having blessed me with every spiritual blessing, Christ comes without sin to receive me to Himself. In practice the affections enter in. You may see a person truly in Christ, and not happy in God, not before God; the conscience active, but the affections not right there. I must have my affections in my conscience. The effect of His work is to bring me to God. The Holy Ghost sets up His throne in the heart, and judges what we are not to be judged for. If, by careless walking in the flesh, or having my interest in the world, I cannot disown my state, the Holy Ghost takes these things that are in my heart, and makes me see what I have allowed, and I get exercised, troubled, and ashamed. I doubt not of being saved, but have lost the fountain of joy. My heart cannot be in this state, if I am doing things in His house that are not pleasing to Him: I shall not like for Him to come and see I am neglecting Him. Any one of these things, contrary to His mind, will hinder our looking to God. There ought to be that sifting in the heart, that the desire of our souls may rest in confidence in the work done for us; and the desire too, that the Holy Ghost may drive away everything from our affections that is not of God, and that our affections may be so brought into our conscience, that we may say, Come, Lord Jesus; even so, come.
There is peculiar graciousness in this invitation to the world to come and take of the river of the water of life. Here is the authority of the church for considering herself as the bride before she really is so manifested. The angel (in verse 16, and other passages) is the representative of the Lord; even though declared to be an angel, he stands as the distinct messenger of the Lord Jesus, and speaks as His representative.