Revelation 22:6-21: The Closing Exhortations

Revelation 22:6‑21  •  19 min. read  •  grade level: 8
In the closing verses of the Revelation we have not only the formal conclusion of the prophecy but the fitting conclusion of the whole Word of God. In many Scriptures the principle is asserted that “In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established” (2 Cor. 13:11This is the third time I am coming to you. In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established. (2 Corinthians 13:1)). To strengthen faith, and rebuke unbelief, we have in these closing verses a threefold witness to “the sayings of the prophecy of this book.” The angel says, “These sayings are faithful and true” (vs. 6); the apostle says, “I, John, saw these things and heard them” (vs. 8); the Lord, Himself, says, “I, Jesus, have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches” (vs. 16). How serious then to reject, or neglect, the sayings of this book. It means, not only indifference to angelic testimony and apostolic witness, but that the testimony of Jesus, Himself, is ignored.
If then it is so solemn to neglect the great truths of the Revelation, what, we may ask, will lead to the sayings of this book being treasured in the heart? The answer is plain. It is only as our souls are in the faith and enjoyment of the great truth of the coming of the Lord that we shall value the sayings of this prophecy. None will rightly interpret the Revelation unless they believe in, and cherish, the truth of the second coming of Christ. This great truth is the central fact of the Book of Revelation. The opening verses assert this truth, “Behold, He cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see Him” (Rev. 1:77Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen. (Revelation 1:7)). In the course of the book this great truth is again and again kept before us, and, finally, in these closing verses we have a threefold presentation of the Lord's coming (verses 7, 12, 20). The Revelation unfolds to us events that will precede His coming; it instructs us as to the manner of His coming, and reveals to us the solemn and glorious events that will follow His coming. Cherishing the hope of His return, every event that precedes or follows His coming will have for us the deepest interest. Thus, in verse 7, the coming of Christ and the sayings of the prophecy are closely linked together.
Further, in these concluding verses we see that the proper effect of these prophecies on the soul of the believer is to lead to a spirit of worship. Thus the Apostle says, “I John saw these things, and heard them. And when I had heard and seen, I fell down to worship.” He had seen the Lord in His glory in the midst of the churches in ruin on earth, and he had seen the Lamb in the midst of the glorified saints in heaven. He had been carried into a wilderness to see the judgment of the great city Babylon, and he had been carried to a high mountain to see the glories of the holy city, Jerusalem. He had seen the judgment of the nations at the coming of Christ, and he had seen the judgment of the dead at the great white throne. He had looked into eternity and seen the new heaven and the new earth, where all tears will be wiped away, and there will be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying. He had heard heaven and earth join to celebrate the glories of the Lamb, and he heard all heaven rejoice at the marriage of the Lamb. Can we wonder then that, having seen such sights, and heard such sounds, he should fall down and worship? It is true that he worshipped at the feet of the wrong person, but he did the right thing. The object of worship must ever be, not the angelic messenger that tells us of these wondrous things, but the One who sends the messenger and who alone can bring these mighty events to pass. Thus the word of the angel is, “Worship God.”
A word of warning follows. We are not to seal the sayings of the prophecy of this book, as if the events foretold referred to some far distant age. Already we have been told that the angel was sent by the Lord “to show unto His servants the things which must shortly be done” (vs. 6); now we are told that “The time is at hand” —the time when all these solemnities and glories that John had seen in vision will be fulfilled in fact. When this time comes, the condition of every one will be fixed. The unjust will be unjust still; the filthy will be filthy still; the righteous will be righteous still; the holy will be holy still. The filthy will never become holy; the holy will never become filthy. Now, indeed, it is the day of grace when the filthy can have all their filthiness washed away; but here we look into eternity where the condition of all will be fixed.
The word of warning is followed by a word of encouragement. Not only the “time” is at hand, but the Lord, Himself, is at hand, for His words are, “Behold, I come quickly.” Already, in these closing verses, the Lord's coming has been brought before us to encourage us to cherish the words of this prophecy. Now His coming is presented to encourage us to continue in His blessed service in the midst of the increasing difficulties of the last days. Thus we hear the Lord say, “Behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me.”
It is possible to make a great religious profession with the object of gaining the applause of men. Of such the Lord can say, “They have their reward” (Matt. 6:2,5,162Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. (Matthew 6:2)
5And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. (Matthew 6:5)
16Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. (Matthew 6:16)
); but it is not Christ's reward, and it is a reward without Christ, for, says the Lord, “My reward is with Me.” To enjoy Christ's reward we must wait Christ's return. What an encouragement to quietly continue in the Lord's service, in obscurity, it may be, and unknown by men, and possibly little appreciated by the people of God. Nevertheless, all is under the eye of the Lord. He knows, He will not forget, and when He comes every little act for Him, every little sacrifice for Him, every cup of cold water given for His Name's sake, will have its bright reward; but it will be “with Him.”
As ever, in Scripture, the reward is set before us, not as an object, but as encouragement to endure in the midst of suffering and opposition. When the Lord was here there were those who followed Him for the loaves and fishes; but in the same chapter we read, they “went back and walked no more with Him” (John 6:26,6626Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled. (John 6:26)
66From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. (John 6:66)
). It is Christ alone that can hold our affections and become the object of all true service. As one has said, “Rewards will follow by and by, but saints follow not the rewards but the Lord.”
Further, we are reminded of the glories of the One who is coming, and that we seek to follow and serve. He is One who can say, “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.” As the Alpha and Omega He is the Word—the One who is the full revelation of God. As “the beginning and the end,” He is the Creator by whom “all things were made,” who can dissolve the things that He has made, and bring in the “new heavens and a new earth.” As “the first and the last” He is the eternal God before all created things. So the Lord can say through Isaiah, “I am the first and I am the last, and beside me there is no God” (Isa. 44:66Thus saith the Lord the King of Israel, and his redeemer the Lord of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God. (Isaiah 44:6)).
If, however, every work for the Lord's sake will have its reward, we are reminded that no works that we have done will give any right to the tree of life or entrance into the holy city. To be within the circle of eternal blessing, to enjoy Christ as the tree of life in life's eternal home, the soul must be washed in the blood of the Lamb. Thus the angel can say, “Blessed are they that wash their robes” (JND).
We are then warned that though it is glorious to “enter in through the gates of the city,” it is intensely solemn to be “without.” Those inside the city will be in the presence of the Lamb and have the company of the redeemed who have washed their robes, and “there shall in no wise enter into it anything that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie.” Outside that circle of blessing there will only be the company of “dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.”
The angel has delivered his message, and now at last the Lord, Himself, speaks. The solemn scenes of judgment, the coming glories of the heavenly city, the blessedness of the millennial reign, the perfect bliss of the new heaven and the new earth, have all passed before us, but at last we are left alone with the One upon whom all depends—we are alone with JESUS. The One who can say, “I Jesus” has the last word. Angels have spoken, elders have spoken, trumpets have sounded, the voice of great multitudes have been heard and the sound of mighty thunderings, but at length all give place to the One who is above all—the voice of Jesus is heard.
As the wonders of this book are unrolled we have Christ presented in His glories and dignities, as the Faithful and the True, the Word of God, the King of kings and Lord of lords, as the Alpha and Omega, and the beginning and the end—titles, indeed, that impress us with His worthiness and majesty—but in this closing scene He presents Himself under the Name which thrills our hearts and calls forth our affections—the Name that is above every name, the Name of JESUS. With this name He came into the world, for at His birth we read, “Thou shalt call His name Jesus.” With this name He went out of the world, for over His cross we read, “This is JESUS.” With this name He ascended to glory, for the angels said, “This same Jesus, which is taken up from you to heaven shall so come in like manner.” Under this name we look up to Him in the glory, for, says the apostle, “We see Jesus...crowned with glory and honor.” And under this name He speaks to us from the glory, as He says, “I Jesus.” We have untold glories and blessedness in prospect, but in the present we are in a wilderness scene alone with One who presents Himself so tenderly as “I Jesus.”
Further, this blessed One recalls our hearts to all that He is, as the heavenly Man. What can be more important, or more blessed, than to have a living Person before our souls—Jesus where He is, and Jesus as He is? On earth He was despised and rejected of men, from the glory He can say, “I am the root and offspring of David, and the bright and morning star.”
Firstly, the Lord can say, “I am the root... of David.” Had He been only the offspring of David, then that could have been said of Solomon. But Jesus alone could be the root of David. The root is the hidden source of life. Christ is the source of spiritual life for every saint of God, and the blessing is sure because the root is perfect. Job can say, “There is hope of a tree, if it be cut down, that it will sprout again... though the root thereof wax old in the earth... yet through the scent of water it will bud and bring forth boughs” (Job 14:7-97For there is hope of a tree, if it be cut down, that it will sprout again, and that the tender branch thereof will not cease. 8Though the root thereof wax old in the earth, and the stock thereof die in the ground; 9Yet through the scent of water it will bud, and bring forth boughs like a plant. (Job 14:7‑9)). Israel has indeed failed; the tree has been windswept and tempest—torn amongst the nations, but the root remains, and hence Israel will again bud and bring forth branches. So Scripture can speak of the sure mercies of David, for Christ is the root of David.
Secondly, Jesus is also “the offspring of David.” If He is the source of all as Root, He is the inheritor of all as the Offspring. He is of the royal line and, as the Son of David, He is God's King to establish God's kingdom. The heathen may rage and the people imagine a vain thing. Today we see that in their folly the powers of this world think that they can get rid of God, and God's King, and thus seize the inheritance of this world and set up a kingdom in which man can gratify his own lusts without any restraint from God. To this evil end they may set themselves and take counsel together against the LORD and against His Anointed. Nevertheless God can say, “Yet have I set my King upon my holy hill of Zion.” Men nail Jesus to a cross, God sets Jesus as the King of kings upon the throne, and all who will not submit to God's King will “perish from the way” (Psa. 2).
Thirdly, Jesus is “the bright and morning star.” As such He is presented in relation to the church. Others will know Him in all His kingly glory as the root and offspring of David; the world will know Him as the Sun of righteousness that will arise to chase the darkness away, and bring healing to this sorrow-stricken world, but only the church will know Him as “the bright and morning star.” When the sun shines the stars cannot be seen. He has not yet arisen above the horizon of this dark world as the Sun of righteousness, but while it is yet night He is known in the heart of the believer as the bright and morning star.
Two other Scriptures present Christ as the morning star. The Apostle Peter writes, “We have also a more sure word of prophecy: whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light (or lamp) that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts” (2 Peter 1:1919We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: (2 Peter 1:19)). Prophecy is a light in the darkness; Christ is the star of the day. It is true that both shine in the darkness but there is this difference between the lamp and the morning star: the lamp tells me the darkness is here; the star tells me the day is coming. Prophecy warns us as to the condition of the world around, and the judgments to which it is hastening and, as the apostle says, we do well to take heed to it. Thus the effect of prophecy is to close up all our hopes of this present age and to center our hopes in Christ. He is seen to be the coming One, and when our affections are drawn out to Christ as the center of all our hopes then, indeed, it can be said that the day star has arisen in our hearts.
Then again, in the address to Thyatira, the Lord can say to the overcomer, “I will give him the morning star” (Rev. 2:2828And I will give him the morning star. (Revelation 2:28)). The Lord can also say to the overcomer, “To him will I give power over the nations.” But if He holds out the reward of power in the future, He also gives the overcomer a portion for his heart in the present. Amidst the moral and spiritual darkness of Thyatira the overcomer will enjoy Christ known in his heart as the star of the coming day.
In this closing scene Christ is presented not only as the morning star but as “the bright and morning star.” Everything in the hands of man loses its luster, but Christ, in the heavens, is beyond the touch of man's rude hand. He shines with undimmed luster; He is the bright and morning star. With the day star in our hearts we can watch through the darkness of the night and wait for the coming glory—the morning without clouds.
It is significant that Christ is not revealed as the morning star until the ruin of Christendom had set in. When the Apostle Peter wrote his second epistle the dark shadow of apostasy was already creeping over the Christian profession. False prophets were arising who would deny the Lord that bought them, and many would follow their pernicious ways, and the way of truth would be evil spoken of. The apostle holds out no hope of improvement, no prospect of the restoration of the fallen profession. But the day star had arisen in his heart, and thus he looked beyond the darkness to the coming day. His hopes were centered in Christ.
Immediately after this touching presentation of Christ the church again comes into view as the bride of Christ. The knowledge of the ruin of the church in the hands of men will not make us indifferent to the church according to the counsels of God, under the control of the Spirit. Indifference to the church as the bride would be indifference to that which, in this world, is nearest and dearest to the heart of Christ. In Christ we see that God has purposed to give us an object that can satisfy our hearts; but in the church, as the bride, we see what is yet more wonderful, that He has purposed to present the church to Christ as an object suited to Him, worthy of His love, and for the satisfaction of His heart.
With this great truth the Book of Genesis opens. Before sin came in, God sets forth, in Eve being presented to Adam, the great secret of His heart to have an object suited for the love of Christ. Throughout the ages and all the changing scenes of time, God has never given up His great purpose. In spite of the power of Satan, the evil of man, and the ruin of the Christian profession, God holds on His majestic way, that rising above every opposing power, fulfills His purpose and secures an object for the heart of Christ. Thus at the close of His book the bride of the Lamb rises up before our vision.
How blessed this last view of the bride, for here she is seen at the end of her wilderness journey, wholly under the control of the Spirit, and thus with Christ as her one object. The result is the “Spirit and the bride say, Come.” Led by the Spirit we feel the desolation that sin has caused in the world around, and we groan, and led by the Spirit we look to Christ as the bright and morning star who will usher in the morning without clouds, and hush creation's groan, and we say, “Come.”
Then let us mark what follows. Under the control of the Spirit, and thus in right relations with Christ, the church is ready to bear witness for Christ to others. The desire for His coming will not hinder our witness to the world around. On the contrary, it becomes the most powerful motive for desiring the blessing of others. We are never so morally fitted to stay and bear witness for Christ as when in affection we are longing to go and be with Christ.
This witness will first go out to those who “hear.” To such the testimony is, “Let him that heareth say, Come.” The fact that they “hear” would seem to indicate that they are true believers. The fact that they have to be told to say “come” would show that they are not in the conscious joy of their relationship to Christ as His bride.
Secondly, the witness goes to those who are “athirst.” There are needy souls having some sense of their need longing to have part in the blessings that Christ can bestow, yet, it may be doubting the grace of His heart and His power and willingness to save. But the bride knows the heart of Christ and to such she can say “Come,” you are welcome to Christ; “Let him that is athirst come.”
Lastly, there is the world around careless of its condition and heedless of its doom. But the grace of God carries with it salvation for all, and the church having tasted this grace can say, “Whosoever will let him take the water of life freely.” How touching it is that the last appeal from Christ in the glory is a gospel appeal to a needy world, and let us mark well how full and how wide is the appeal. As one has said, “There is no man in the world to whom Jesus does not appeal. He gave Himself a ransom for all and therefore He has the right to appeal to every man, whoever he may be, ‘Let him take the water of life freely.’ Whoever will may come and drink of living water without money and without price.”
Following upon the solemn warning as to adding to, or taking from, the words of the prophecy of this book, we have, for a third time in these closing verses, the Lord's promise that He is “coming quickly.” The first occasion presents His coming as an incentive to keeping the sayings of this prophecy (vs. 7); the second occasion, His coming is presented in connection with His rewards to encourage us in our service (vs. 12). On this last occasion we lose sight of prophecy, and service, and rewards, and think only of Himself, “Surely I come quickly.” The other occasions call forth no response, but now the bride responds, “Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.” The closing word tells us that, until that blessed moment we can count upon the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ to be with all the saints. Amen.
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