"Behold, I am coming quickly! Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book."
Revelation 22 - Quick Links
Revelation 22:16 - "I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things in the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star."
The dialogue between John and the angel ends, and Jesus personally interjects a second time to explain why He sent His angel and more about who He is, followed by a final altar call from the Spirit and the bride (Revelation 22:17). John then warns those who might try to pervert God's prophetic word (Revelation 22:18-19), before closing with a benediction (Revelation 22:20-21).
The Lord reiterates that He sent His angel to testify through John to His servants in the churches prophetic events yet to come:
Revelation 1:1-2 - The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants - things which must shortly take place. And He sent and signified it by His angel to His servant John, who bore witness to the word of God, and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, to all things that he saw.
To testify or give one's testimony provides evidence or proof for something (Revelation 11:3). Fulfilled prophecy is the evidence that proves Jesus is who He says He is, which is the essence of the testimony of Jesus being the "spirit of prophecy," as discussed in Revelation 19:10:
Revelation 19:10 - And I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, "See that you do not do that! I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren who have the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy."
The first few chapters of Revelation had prophetic words for the first century churches that came to pass in their day, giving believers assurance that the rest will follow in the future. But one might wonder why Jesus intended for His servants in the Church Age to read Revelation and not those who are left behind who become believers in the Tribulation. First, prophetic Scripture gives credibility to God's Word and He gets the glory when the events come to pass, but it is not a survival guide. The prophecies in Revelation show that God's servants during the Tribulation are not immune to the judgments coming to Earth. In fact, as we will see in later chapters, most believers will become martyrs. Second, God's written word will likely be a scarce item during the Tribulation, which is probably why dreams and visions will be prevalent during that time:
Joel 2:28-31 - "And it shall come to pass afterward that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions. And also on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days. And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth: Blood and fire and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the coming of the great and awesome day of the LORD."
It is not certain which angel Jesus sent to testify to John and the churches, but the one John had the most dialogue with that he recorded was one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls. This angel speaks intermittently to John from chapter 17 until the end of Revelation, when Jesus Himself speaks. Likely, these are not two different angels:
Revelation 17:1 - Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and talked with me, saying to me, "Come, I will show you the judgment of the great harlot who sits on many waters...."
Revelation 21:9 - Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls filled with the seven last plagues came to me and talked with me, saying, "Come, I will show you the bride, the Lamb's wife."
Jesus attributes to Himself titles or descriptions that help us better understand who He is, such as in the letters to the churches in Revelation 2-3. The first title, "I am the Root and Offspring of David" goes back to when Jesus was found worthy to open the seven-sealed scroll, which is the title deed to the earth:
Revelation 5:5 - But one of the elders said to me, "Do not weep. Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the scroll and to loose its seven seals."
A "root" is the source of something. In this case, the "root" of Jesus' genealogy is in the line of David. Jesse was David's father. Therefore, Jesus was also the "Root of Jesse":
Isaiah 11:1-5 - There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots. The Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon Him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD. His delight is in the fear of the LORD, and He shall not judge by the sight of His eyes, nor decide by the hearing of His ears; but with righteousness He shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; He shall strike the earth with the rod of His mouth, and with the breath of His lips He shall slay the wicked. Righteousness shall be the belt of His loins, and faithfulness the belt of His waist.
Isaiah 11:10 - "And in that day there shall be a Root of Jesse, who shall stand as a banner to the people; for the Gentiles shall seek Him, and His resting place shall be glorious."
These prophecies fulfilled by Jesus are in line with the covenant made with David. (Click here for all the passages of the "Davidic Covenant."):
2 Samuel 7:8, 12-14, 16 - Now therefore, thus shall you say to My servant David, 'Thus says the LORD of hosts: "I took you from the sheepfold, from following the sheep, to be ruler over My people, over Israel.... When your days are fulfilled and you rest with your fathers, I will set up your seed after you, who will come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be his Father, and he shall be My son.... And your house and your kingdom shall be established forever before you. Your throne shall be established forever."'
Jeremiah 23:5 - "Behold, the days are coming," says the LORD, "That I will raise to David a Branch of righteousness; a King shall reign and prosper, and execute judgment and righteousness in the earth."
As heir of David through both Mary directly and Joseph by adoption (Luke 3:23-31, Matthew 1:1-16), Jesus has the legal right to the throne of David:
Isaiah 9:6-7 - For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.
As "King of kings," the Messiah will rule over the entire world:
Revelation 19:15-16 - Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: King of kings and Lord of lords.
The Pharisees could not grasp that Jesus was the son and heir of David, but also Lord over David, who will rule over the nations:
Matthew 22:41-46 - While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, saying, "What do you think about the Christ? Whose Son is He?" They said to Him, "The Son of David." He said to them, "How then does David in the Spirit call Him 'LORD,' saying: 'The LORD said to my Lord, "Sit at My right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool?"' If David then calls Him 'LORD,' how is He his Son?" And no one was able to answer Him a word, nor from that day on did anyone dare question Him anymore.
Psalms 110:1-7 - A Psalm of David. The LORD said to my Lord, "Sit at My right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool." The LORD shall send the rod of Your strength out of Zion. Rule in the midst of Your enemies! Your people shall be volunteers in the day of Your power; in the beauties of holiness, from the womb of the morning, You have the dew of Your youth. The LORD has sworn and will not relent, "You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek." The Lord is at Your right hand; He shall execute kings in the day of His wrath. He shall judge among the nations, He shall fill the places with dead bodies, He shall execute the heads of many countries. He shall drink of the brook by the wayside; therefore He shall lift up the head.
Just as Christ is Lord over David, all believers are His servants and spiritual offspring:
Acts 17:26-31 - And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, 'For we are also His offspring.' Therefore, since we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, something shaped by art and man's devising. Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead."
And the Lord gives us assurance through His resurrection that He is going to return to the earth as the rightful heir over the earth to judge the world in righteousness, as both the son of David and the son of God:
Romans 1:3 - ...concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh, and declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.
The Lord's second title of Himself: "I am... the Bright and Morning Star" takes us back to one of His promises to the overcomers:
Revelation 2:26, 28 - And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations... and I will give him the morning star.
The morning star appears during the darkest hour of the night, before the day dawns:
2 Peter 1:17-19 - For He received from God the Father honor and glory when such a voice came to Him from the Excellent Glory: "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." And we heard this voice which came from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain. And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.
Overcomers can have confidence in the promises given by the Lord. They are to watch for Him as they would the morning star in the dark of the night:
Psalms 130:6 - My soul waits for the Lord more than those who watch for the morning - yes, more than those who watch for the morning.
As the morning star appears in the darkest hour of the night, the Lord will return as the "Bright and Morning Star" in all His glory in the darkest moment of human history, at the end of the Tribulation:
Mark 13:24-26 - "But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars of heaven will fall, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and glory."
So, as Jesus closes out the revelation about Him, He reiterates that He is the "King of kings" as the legal heir to the throne of David, and as the "Bright and Morning Star," He gives believers, or overcomers confidence in His promise that He is coming soon to rule over the nations in righteousness and they will reign with Him, even as the darkest of days come upon the earth before His return.
Revelation 22:17 - And the Spirit and the bride say, "Come!" And let him who hears say, "Come!" And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.
The Holy Spirit and the bride invite those who have spiritual ears to hear and who are thirsty for the water of life to come take of it freely. The Church is the bride of Christ, and the heavenly city is the home of the bride is made synonymous with the citizens who comprise the Lamb's wife, as discussed in Revelation 21:9:
Revelation 21:9-11 - Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls filled with the seven last plagues came to me and talked with me, saying, "Come, I will show you the bride, the Lamb's wife." And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, having the glory of God. Her light was like a most precious stone, like a jasper stone, clear as crystal.
Ephesians 5:23-32 - For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. "For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh." This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church.
The saints from the Church Age are special, in that as the bride the Lord gave them the Holy Spirit to permanently indwell them upon salvation as a promise of their future together, like an engagement ring:
2 Corinthians 1:21-22 - Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God, who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.
Ephesians 1:13-14 - In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.
John 14:16-17 - And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever - the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.
Romans 8:1, 8-11 - There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.... So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God. But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.
In the passages below, we see that the Holy Spirit Himself is represented by the same living water that pictures eternal life:
John 7:37-39 - On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, "If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water." But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.
1 Corinthians 12:13 - For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body - whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free - and have all been made to drink into one Spirit.
Recall that the river that proceeds from God's throne in the city flows as pure "water of life." Physical water sustains life, so living waters are a picture of eternal life found in the Lord who is the source of all life and salvation (John 14:6) and is given through the Holy Spirit, as discussed in Revelation 22:1. So, it makes sense that the water of life also represents the Holy Spirit Himself:
Revelation 22:1 - And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb.
Revelation 21:6 - And He said to me, "It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts."
John 4:13-14, 23-24 - Jesus answered and said to her, "Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life...." But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth."
The Lord uses the Holy Spirit to draw people to salvation:
Only those who have been drawn through special revelation - by the power of the Holy Spirit and the grace of God - will come to Christ. There are tangible ways in which those who are being drawn to salvation experience that drawing. First, the Holy Spirit convicts us of our sinful state and our need for a Savior (John 16:8). Second, He awakens in us a previously unknown interest in spiritual things and creates a desire for them that was never there before. Suddenly our ears are open, our hearts are inclined toward Him, and His Word begins to hold a new and exciting fascination for us. Our spirits begin to discern spiritual truth that never made sense to us before: "The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned" (1 Corinthians 2:14). Finally, we begin to have new desires. He places within us a new heart that inclines toward Him, a heart that desires to know Him, obey Him, and walk in the "newness of life" (Romans 6:4) that He has promised.
Source: Got Questions
Because the Holy Spirit indwells the bride of Christ, the bride can have spiritual discernment and understand the will of God if she pursues it:
1 Corinthians 2:9-16 - But as it is written: "Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him." But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. These things we also speak, not in words which man's wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one. For "who has known the mind of the LORD that he may instruct Him?" But we have the mind of Christ.
So, it makes sense to see the Spirit and the bride, who together know the heart and will of God, make a final plea for salvation to all who will come and accept it, because it is the heart of God for all to become saved (1 Timothy 2:3-4):
2 Corinthians 6:1-2 - We then, as workers together with Him also plead with you not to receive the grace of God in vain. For He says: "In an acceptable time I have heard you, and in the day of salvation I have helped you." Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.
The passage below echoes this plea of the Spirit and the bride. Spiritual riches are "bought" by accepting the invitation to come into a covenant relationship with the Lord, as discussed in Revelation 3:18:
Isaiah 55:1-3 - "Ho! Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat. Yes, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, and let your soul delight itself in abundance. Incline your ear, and come to Me. Hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you - the sure mercies of David."
God will quench the thirsty souls who accept His invitation through the Holy Spirit, but those who reject it will be parched for eternity:
Psalms 42:1-2 - ...As the deer pants for the water brooks, so pants my soul for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?
Luke 16:22-24 - So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham's bosom. The rich man also died and was buried. And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. "Then he cried and said, 'Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.'"
Revelation 22:18-19 - For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.
John testifies that everyone who hears the prophetic word in Revelation needs to be careful to receive it as given and not add or take away from it. While believers must take great care with God's word, whether in translating to different languages or even in writing commentary about it, it is clear the people he is warning are unbelievers, because he specifies that they will not take part in any of the things promised to believers in eternal life, but are subject to the plagues of God's wrath.
These plagues, or curses are the opposite of the blessings the Lord promises to His servants who abide in His word (John 8:31) and who are spiritually discerning. Such blessing are not for unbelievers who cannot understand spiritual things (1 Corinthians 2:9-16):
Revelation 1:1-3 - The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants - things which must shortly take place. And He sent and signified it by His angel to His servant John, who bore witness to the word of God, and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, to all things that he saw. Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near.
Revelation 22:6-7 - Then he said to me, "These words are faithful and true." And the Lord God of the holy prophets sent His angel to show His servants the things which must shortly take place. "Behold, I am coming quickly! Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book."
Those who tamper with God's word to change it are liars. Liars are in the list of unbelievers who do not inherit anything. Their place is in the lake of fire and not the heavenly city:
Proverbs 30:5-6 - Every word of God is pure; He is a shield to those who put their trust in Him. Do not add to His words, lest He rebuke you, and you be found a liar.
God warned His people in the Old Testament not to diminish His word, showing that upholding all of God's word is required for all of Scripture, and not just for the book of Revelation:
Jeremiah 26:1-7 - In the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah, this word came from the LORD, saying, "Thus says the LORD: 'Stand in the court of the LORD's house, and speak to all the cities of Judah, which come to worship in the LORD's house, all the words that I command you to speak to them. Do not diminish a word. Perhaps everyone will listen and turn from his evil way, that I may relent concerning the calamity which I purpose to bring on them because of the evil of their doings.' And you shall say to them, 'Thus says the LORD: "If you will not listen to Me, to walk in My law which I have set before you, to heed the words of My servants the prophets whom I sent to you, both rising up early and sending them (but you have not heeded), then I will make this house like Shiloh, and will make this city a curse to all the nations of the earth."'" So the priests and the prophets and all the people heard Jeremiah speaking these words in the house of the LORD.
Jeremiah 26:8-11 - Now it happened, when Jeremiah had made an end of speaking all that the LORD had commanded him to speak to all the people, that the priests and the prophets and all the people seized him, saying, "You will surely die! Why have you prophesied in the name of the LORD, saying, 'This house shall be like Shiloh, and this city shall be desolate, without an inhabitant'?" And all the people were gathered against Jeremiah in the house of the LORD. When the princes of Judah heard these things, they came up from the king's house to the house of the LORD and sat down in the entry of the New Gate of the LORD's house. And the priests and the prophets spoke to the princes and all the people, saying, "This man deserves to die! For he has prophesied against this city, as you have heard with your ears."
Jeremiah 26:12-16 - Then Jeremiah spoke to all the princes and all the people, saying: "The LORD sent me to prophesy against this house and against this city with all the words that you have heard. Now therefore, amend your ways and your doings, and obey the voice of the LORD your God; then the LORD will relent concerning the doom that He has pronounced against you. As for me, here I am, in your hand; do with me as seems good and proper to you. But know for certain that if you put me to death, you will surely bring innocent blood on yourselves, on this city, and on its inhabitants; for truly the LORD has sent me to you to speak all these words in your hearing." So the princes and all the people said to the priests and the prophets, "This man does not deserve to die. For he has spoken to us in the name of the LORD our God."
Jeremiah 26:17-19 - Then certain of the elders of the land rose up and spoke to all the assembly of the people, saying: "Micah of Moresheth prophesied in the days of Hezekiah king of Judah, and spoke to all the people of Judah, saying, 'Thus says the LORD of hosts: "Zion shall be plowed like a field, Jerusalem shall become heaps of ruins, And the mountain of the temple Like the bare hills of the forest." ' Did Hezekiah king of Judah and all Judah ever put him to death? Did he not fear the LORD and seek the LORD's favor? And the LORD - relented concerning the doom which He had pronounced against them. But we are doing great evil against ourselves."
Note that the priests and false prophets left out the part about why God was going to judge the city, and then demanded that Jeremiah be put to death because they did not like what he prophesied. So they tried to get the people to believe he was the false prophet, when they were the ones who did not believe God's word as spoken through Jeremiah. In other words, because the priests and false prophets were not spiritually discerning, they twisted God's word to fit what they wanted to hear. But the people who were discerning of God's word heeded the prophecy and rejected what the priests and false prophets said. God said these false prophets are foolish because they prophesied out of their own heart and did not hear the word of the Lord:
Ezekiel 13:2-3 - "Son of man, prophesy against the prophets of Israel who prophesy, and say to those who prophesy out of their own heart, 'Hear the word of the LORD!'" Thus says the Lord GOD: "Woe to the foolish prophets, who follow their own spirit and have seen nothing!"
After the people persuaded the priests and prophets to not kill Jeremiah for prophesying against Jerusalem, another prophet came along with the same word from the Lord and King Jehoiakim put him to death, but Jeremiah was protected:
Jeremiah 26:20-24 - Now there was also a man who prophesied in the name of the LORD, Urijah the son of Shemaiah of Kirjath Jearim, who prophesied against this city and against this land according to all the words of Jeremiah. And when Jehoiakim the king, with all his mighty men and all the princes, heard his words, the king sought to put him to death; but when Urijah heard it, he was afraid and fled, and went to Egypt. Then Jehoiakim the king sent men to Egypt: Elnathan the son of Achbor, and other men who went with him to Egypt. And they brought Urijah from Egypt and brought him to Jehoiakim the king, who killed him with the sword and cast his dead body into the graves of the common people. Nevertheless the hand of Ahikam the son of Shaphan was with Jeremiah, so that they should not give him into the hand of the people to put him to death.
A few years later, Jeremiah sent King Jehoiakim a scroll with God's prophetic word that destruction was coming to the land if the nation did not turn from their evil ways. The people again received it in fear, but King Jehoiakim cut up the scroll of God's word and burned it:
Jeremiah 36:1-3 - Now it came to pass in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah, that this word came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying: "Take a scroll of a book and write on it all the words that I have spoken to you against Israel, against Judah, and against all the nations, from the day I spoke to you, from the days of Josiah even to this day. It may be that the house of Judah will hear all the adversities which I purpose to bring upon them, that everyone may turn from his evil way, that I may forgive their iniquity and their sin...."
Jeremiah 36:10, 14-16 - Then Baruch read from the book the words of Jeremiah in the house of the LORD, in the chamber of Gemariah the son of Shaphan the scribe, in the upper court at the entry of the New Gate of the LORD's house, in the hearing of all the people.... Therefore all the princes sent Jehudi the son of Nethaniah, the son of Shelemiah, the son of Cushi, to Baruch, saying, "Take in your hand the scroll from which you have read in the hearing of the people, and come." So Baruch the son of Neriah took the scroll in his hand and came to them. And they said to him, "Sit down now, and read it in our hearing." So Baruch read it in their hearing. Now it happened, when they had heard all the words, that they looked in fear from one to another, and said to Baruch, "We will surely tell the king of all these words."
Jeremiah 36:21-26 - So the king sent Jehudi to bring the scroll, and he took it from Elishama the scribe's chamber. And Jehudi read it in the hearing of the king and in the hearing of all the princes who stood beside the king. Now the king was sitting in the winter house in the ninth month, with a fire burning on the hearth before him. And it happened, when Jehudi had read three or four columns, that the king cut it with the scribe's knife and cast it into the fire that was on the hearth, until all the scroll was consumed in the fire that was on the hearth. Yet they were not afraid, nor did they tear their garments, the king nor any of his servants who heard all these words. Nevertheless Elnathan, Delaiah, and Gemariah implored the king not to burn the scroll; but he would not listen to them. And the king commanded Jerahmeel the king's son, Seraiah the son of Azriel, and Shelemiah the son of Abdeel, to seize Baruch the scribe and Jeremiah the prophet, but the LORD hid them.
Jeremiah 36:27-32 - Now after the king had burned the scroll with the words which Baruch had written at the instruction of Jeremiah, the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah, saying: "Take yet another scroll, and write on it all the former words that were in the first scroll which Jehoiakim the king of Judah has burned. And you shall say to Jehoiakim king of Judah, 'Thus says the LORD: "You have burned this scroll, saying, 'Why have you written in it that the king of Babylon will certainly come and destroy this land, and cause man and beast to cease from here?'" Therefore thus says the LORD concerning Jehoiakim king of Judah: "He shall have no one to sit on the throne of David, and his dead body shall be cast out to the heat of the day and the frost of the night. I will punish him, his family, and his servants for their iniquity; and I will bring on them, on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and on the men of Judah all the doom that I have pronounced against them; but they did not heed."'" Then Jeremiah took another scroll and gave it to Baruch the scribe, the son of Neriah, who wrote on it at the instruction of Jeremiah all the words of the book which Jehoiakim king of Judah had burned in the fire. And besides, there were added to them many similar words.
King Johoiakim literally destroyed God's word, so God brought judgment on his dynasty, showing there are severe consequences on the wicked for disregarding, or taking away from God's word and not heeding it:
"Here is the most solemn warning in the whole Bible against tampering with the words of God. If judgment came upon the wicked king Johoiakim (Jeremiah 36) because he cut out with his pen-knife and burnt the predictions of evil uttered by Jeremiah against Jerusalem, how much more awful will be the doom of those who add to or take from a book given by God to the Lord Jesus, who Himself, as it were, with His pierced royal hands, stamps it over and over, with the great seal of high Heaven! And especially when that One whom all judgment has been committed, warns us not to trifle with even its words!"
In the following passage, Moses warned Israel against adding to or taking away from the statutes and judgements of the law that the Lord gave them. The Lord warned the nation to be careful and hold fast to His word and to teach their children and grandchildren to do the same:
Deuteronomy 4:1-5 - "Now, O Israel, listen to the statutes and the judgments which I teach you to observe, that you may live, and go in and possess the land which the LORD God of your fathers is giving you. You shall not add to the word which I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you. Your eyes have seen what the LORD did at Baal Peor; for the LORD your God has destroyed from among you all the men who followed Baal of Peor. But you who held fast to the LORD your God are alive today, every one of you. "Surely I have taught you statutes and judgments, just as the LORD my God commanded me, that you should act according to them in the land which you go to possess."
Deuteronomy 4:6-10 - 'Therefore be careful to observe them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples who will hear all these statutes, and say, 'Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.' "For what great nation is there that has God so near to it, as the LORD our God is to us, for whatever reason we may call upon Him? And what great nation is there that has such statutes and righteous judgments as are in all this law which I set before you this day? Only take heed to yourself, and diligently keep yourself, lest you forget the things your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. And teach them to your children and your grandchildren, especially concerning the day you stood before the LORD your God in Horeb, when the LORD said to me, 'Gather the people to Me, and I will let them hear My words, that they may learn to fear Me all the days they live on the earth, and that they may teach their children.'"
But Moses prophesied that future generations would not heed God's warning to hold fast to His word, and the Lord would bring destruction to the nation to set the people back on the right path:
Deuteronomy 4:25-30 - "When you beget children and grandchildren and have grown old in the land, and act corruptly and make a carved image in the form of anything, and do evil in the sight of the LORD your God to provoke Him to anger, I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that you will soon utterly perish from the land which you cross over the Jordan to possess; you will not prolong your days in it, but will be utterly destroyed. And the LORD will scatter you among the peoples, and you will be left few in number among the nations where the LORD will drive you. And there you will serve gods, the work of men's hands, wood and stone, which neither see nor hear nor eat nor smell. But from there you will seek the LORD your God, and you will find Him if you seek Him with all your heart and with all your soul. When you are in distress, and all these things come upon you in the latter days, when you turn to the LORD your God and obey His voice (for the LORD your God is a merciful God), He will not forsake you nor destroy you, nor forget the covenant of your fathers which He swore to them."
Eventually, this cycle of generations turning toward God, then away from God and His word will end in the "latter days" of the Tribulation when God strikes the whole earth with a curse to turn Israel back to Him as a nation forever:
Malachi 4:1-6 - "For behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven, and all the proud, yes, all who do wickedly will be stubble. And the day which is coming shall burn them up," says the LORD of hosts, "That will leave them neither root nor branch. But to you who fear My name the Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in His wings; and you shall go out and grow fat like stall-fed calves. You shall trample the wicked, for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day that I do this," says the LORD of hosts. "Remember the Law of Moses, My servant, which I commanded him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments. Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD. And he will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the earth with a curse."
When God strikes the earth with a curse in the Tribulation it will come with the plagues written in the book of Revelation - not just on unbelieving Israel, but on all who reject God and are left behind after the rapture of the Church in a global judgment. God has used judgments and plagues on a regional scale throughout history to shake His people and turn them back toward Him, as we saw in the passages above, but it is the determinative decision to reject God and not heed but instead manipulate His word that has eternal consequences in the second death. These people will never have the blessings found throughout Revelation, including those in the holy city, because they are not written in the "Book of Life":
Revelation 20:11-12, 15 - Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books.... And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.
The way John writes "if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life," makes it seem that their names were once in the book, but can be removed, or blotted out. But as discussed in Revelation 3:5, the names in the "Book of Life" were written there before the foundation of the world:
Revelation 13:8 - All who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.
Revelation 17:8 - The beast that you saw was, and is not, and will ascend out of the bottomless pit and go to perdition. And those who dwell on the earth will marvel, whose names are not written in the Book of Life from the foundation of the world, when they see the beast that was, and is not, and yet is.
The structure of the verbs in both verses in the Greek are identical and literally read "have not been written," which means the names of those who reject Christ and worship the beast during the Tribulation were never written in the "Book of Life," so they cannot be blotted out or taken out of the book. The Greek word translated as "take away" can mean to be "cut off," which has a different connotation of being deprived of something versus possessing it before it is taken away. In other words, the Lord promises the overcomers that He will never blot them out, but those who take away from God's words never get these promises - they are not saved and are "cut off" from the privileges that come with those written in the "Book of Life":
Revelation 3:5 - He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.
Incidentally, some other translations have "tree of life" instead of "Book of Life" due to a difference in Greek texts - "libro" for "book" versus "ligno" for "tree." Here are two articles that explain the difference between the two Greek texts: "New Testament Manuscripts," and "Textual History of the Bible." Personally, I favor the Textus Receptus translations, and believe the translation "Book of Life" makes more sense over other texts that have "tree of life." Here are a few reasons why:
"The Textus Receptus reading is arguably more logical than the other reading. The Textus Receptus reading essentially says that if you take words out of God's book of his prophecy, then God will take you out of his book of life. The passage makes a connection between two "books". The parallelism is weaker when we instead deal with a "tree" and a book...."
"Lastly, though some might be wary of biblical numerology, the book of Revelation does seem to give significance to the number seven. In this context, it might be worth noting that "book of life" appears in Revelation exactly seven times (3:5, 13:8, 17:8, 20:12, 20:15, 21:27, 22:19) if the phrase in Revelation 22:19 is "book of life" rather than "tree of life.""
Source: KJV Today
That said, whether the correct word is "book" or "tree," the meaning of the passage is the same, in that those who take away from God's word will not take part in the eternal promises God gives to His servants.
Revelation 22:20 - He who testifies to these things says, "Surely I am coming quickly." Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!
Recall from Revelation 22:16, to testify or give one's testimony gives evidence or proof for something (Revelation 11:3). Fulfilled prophecy is the evidence that proves Jesus is who He says He is, which is the essence of the testimony of Jesus being the "spirit of prophecy," as discussed in Revelation 19:10. And since part of Revelation has already come to pass, it gives assurance that the rest will follow sometime in the future.
This is the third time in this chapter that Jesus says He is coming "quickly":
Revelation 22:7 - "Behold, I am coming quickly! Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book."
Revelation 22:12 - "And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work."
Recall from Revelation 22:7, the Greek word translated "quickly" means swift, speedily, or without delay. John responds with "even so, come, Lord Jesus," which is the same phrase transliterated from Aramaic as "maranatha" in 1 Corinthians 16:22. John's anticipation of the Lord's return shows that he expected it to be imminent, perhaps in his lifetime. While the Lord's return is certainly imminent, His coming "quickly" here means it will happen swiftly at the appointed time.
Jesus reiterating His coming three times reinforces the certainty of His promise to return, so His saints should watch with expectancy like John and live with a sense of urgency, as discussed in Revelation 22:12. Paul discusses the importance of watching for the Lord with readiness as the day approaches in the passage below, while continuing the putting on of armor of God to do the work of the kingdom of fighting the enemy and winning souls:
1 Thessalonians 5:1-11 - But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, "Peace and safety!" then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night. But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation. For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him. Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing.
Even the creation is expectantly waiting for the Lord to return because when He comes to redeem the saints, He will also redeem the creation. How much more should the saints be waiting with such anticipation?
Romans 8:19-25 - For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body. For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.
John pens the end of Revelation with a benediction which is a blessing that is used in closing out something such as the end of an epistle, or the end of a worship service. John's benediction in Revelation is simply this: "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all," speaking of all the saints who read and take heed of this prophetic word.
As discussed in Revelation 1:4, "grace to you" is a typical New Testament greeting. The Greek form "charis" translated as "grace" can also mean benefit, bounty, good will, loving-kindness, favor, and that which affords joy:
"Grace is favor or preference. God gives us many graces or favors, but the greatest of all is saving grace. Everyone benefits from countless divine graces or favors (i.e., breath, health, food, shelter, etc.). But not all men are given saving grace. "By grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast," Ephesians 2:9. I pray that God will grant to you SAVING grace - favor for all of eternity!"
The apostle Paul often used this same blessing of the Lord's grace numerous times, with the first one welcoming the Lord to come, such as John does at the end of Revelation:
1 Corinthians 16:22-24 - If anyone does not love the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be accursed. O Lord, come! The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. My love be with you all in Christ Jesus. Amen.
Romans 16:24-27 - The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen. Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery kept secret since the world began but now made manifest, and by the prophetic Scriptures made known to all nations, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, for obedience to the faith - to God, alone wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen.
Philippians 4:19-23 - And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. Now to our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen. Greet every saint in Christ Jesus. The brethren who are with me greet you. All the saints greet you, but especially those who are of Caesar's household. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.
1 Thessalonians 5:23-28 - Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it. Brethren, pray for us. Greet all the brethren with a holy kiss. I charge you by the Lord that this epistle be read to all the holy brethren. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.
2 Thessalonians 3:16-18 - Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you peace always in every way. The Lord be with you all. The salutation of Paul with my own hand, which is a sign in every epistle; so I write. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.
Incidentally, the Old Testament ended with a curse on the earth (Malachi 4:6), but here at the end of the New Testament we have a blessing of God's grace, followed by "amen" at end of the benediction. Recall from Revelation 1:7, "amen" is a Hebrew declaration used at the end of benedictions throughout the New Testament. "Amen" is also the standard ending to prayer which means "so be it," as defined within the following passage:
Numbers 5:22 - ...Then the woman shall say, "Amen, so be it."
In closing, everything in Revelation and the rest of Scripture can be summarized as to how people approach God's offer of salvation through His Son. Do they accept God's word and His grace through faith, and gain eternal life through Christ and all the promises associated with that? Or do they reject God's word and reject His grace, continue in their sin, and go to eternal death and become eternally separated from the Lord, as discussed in Revelation 22:11. In other words, God's word generally hardens the heart of the unrepentant and, save a miracle, they will continue to get worse, while the truth in His word prods the heart of the repentant that leads to salvation and eternal life (2 Corinthians 2:14-16, 2 Timothy 3:13-15):
Revelation 22:11 - "He who is unjust, let him be unjust still; he who is filthy, let him be filthy still; he who is righteous, let him be righteous still; he who is holy, let him be holy still."
Ultimately, how people respond to the God's word has everything to do with how they respond to the call of salvation:
"For the faithful, the book of Revelation is itself a taste of the river of life, for it refreshes hope in the coming of Christ and gives certain knowledge of the overthrow of evil and the ultimate restoration of all things.... For the faithless, the book pushes him further in his hardened rejection of God...."
How will you respond to God's prophetic word? Will you have ears to hear what the Spirit has to say?
Revelation 22:17 - And the Spirit and the bride say, "Come!" And let him who hears say, "Come!" And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.
Revelation Flow Chart:
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