Revelation 22:1-2 (NIV) 1 Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb 2 down the middle of the great street of the city…
On verse 1-2a: In Psalm 46:4 we read that “[t]here is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells.” Here in Revelation 22, John gets to see that river. According to John’s description, heaven is such a beautiful city that there is a river of living water, clear as crystal, that flows from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the main street of heaven.
Revelation 22:2 (NIV) 2 …On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.
On verse 2b: In Genesis 2:9 we first read about a tree of life in the Garden of Eden, a tree whose fruit somehow enables those who ate it to live forever (Genesis 3:22). According to John’s vision, in heaven this tree of life stands on each side of the river and bears fruit every month, 12 crops of fruit a year. Its leaves are “for the healing of the nations” (v2). (By the way, since there is no sickness in heaven, why is there a need for leaves that give healing? Is this heavenly cannabis? (I kid.) Some commentators think that these leaves do not heal sick people per se, since there are no sick people in heaven, but rather they somehow enhance the health of believers in heaven.) In Genesis, when Adam and Eve sinned against God, they lost access to this tree of life. Now everyone in heaven can eat from the tree of life (see v14).
Revelation 22:3-4 (NIV) 3 No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. 4 They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads.
On verses 3-4: The earth we live in is under the curse of sin and death, but in heaven there are no curses, only blessings. Also, in heaven, the throne of God and of the Lamb are not far away from us, but right there in the city where we will live (v3). In our world we may sometimes be tempted to ask, “God, where are you?”, but you’ll never ask that question in heaven. That’s because God’s throne is always in sight, and we “will see His face” (v4). His name will be written on our foreheads – more on this when we talk about verse 5b.
Revelation 22:5 (NIV) 5 There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light…
On verse 5a: Not only is God (or more specifically God’s throne) the source of living water in heaven (v1), but God is also the source of all light in heaven. There will never be an energy crisis in heaven, because in heaven our source of light and energy is God Himself, the ultimate renewable resource.
Revelation 22:5 (NIV) 5…And they will reign for ever and ever.
On verse 5b: Previously in verses 3-4 we learned that in heaven we will serve God the king (v3) and His name will be written on our foreheads (v4). Verse 5 shows us that not only will we serve God in heaven, but we will reign with God as well. God’s name on our foreheads is not a symbol of enslavement but a symbol of the authority God has given us as His children to rule with Him in heaven. In heaven, you will help God rule over His creation.
Revelation 22:6-9 (NIV) 6 The angel said to me, “These words are trustworthy and true. The Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, sent his angel to show his servants the things that must soon take place.” 7 “Behold, I am coming soon! Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy in this book.” 8 I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I had heard and seen them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who had been showing them to me. 9 But he said to me, “Do not do it! I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers the prophets and of all who keep the words of this book. Worship God!”
On verses 6-9: One of the big themes of Revelation 22 is that the things described in the book of Revelation are going to happen soon (“must soon take place” – v6) and that Jesus is coming soon (v7). In fact, verse 7 is the first of three times in this chapter when Jesus says, “I am coming soon”. Because all this is happening soon, we need to carefully read, understand and obey God’s Word (“keep the words of the prophecy in this book” – v7). We must also be careful not to worship anything other than God (v8-9).
Revelation 22:10-11 (NIV) 10 Then he told me, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, because the time is near. 11 Let him who does wrong continue to do wrong; let him who is vile continue to be vile; let him who does right continue to do right; and let him who is holy continue to be holy.”
On verses 10-11: What does verse 11 mean when it says “let him who does wrong continue to do wrong; let him who is vile continue to be vile”. Is this verse condoning evil? No. I believe this verse in part is telling us that as much as we are responsible to preach and demonstrate God’s Word to others, we cannot change people’s hearts toward God’s Word. So when someone you love is extremely resistant and cold toward God, don’t just blame yourself. When someone you love is extremely passionate for God, don’t take all the credit. Each person is responsible for their own choices and how they respond to God.
I believe verse 11, when read in the context of verse 10, is telling us that since “the time is near” and Jesus is coming soon, don’t be too caught up in the fact that one person is resisting God. As Jesus taught His disciples, when you’ve tried your best to communicate God’s Word to someone and they shut the door on you, there comes a time when you need to shake the dust off your feet, leaving that person in God’s hands, and move onto the next person or group of people to reach out to. Make the most of the time you have left.
Revelation 22:12 (NIV) 12 “Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done.
On verse 12: Here is the second time in this chapter Jesus says He is coming soon. Here Jesus also affirms that He will reward His people according to what they have done. I believe this second sentence speaks not to our salvation but to our reward in heaven. In other words, there is nothing we can do to earn our way to heaven. We can only enter heaven through faith in what Jesus Christ has done for us. Still, what we do on earth matters, for when we get to heaven by His saving grace, Jesus will reward us based on what we did, how we lived and how we served Him on earth after being saved by His grace.
Revelation 22:13 (NIV) 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.
On verse 13: Alpha and Omega are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. In verse 13, Jesus is saying the same message three times over: “it all begins with Me and ends with Me.” Since Jesus is the first and the last, let your first thought and your last thought each day be of Jesus. Let the first word you speak and the last word you speak be to Jesus. When something dear to you begins, praise Jesus. When it ends, praise Jesus. For Jesus was there long before anything else, and He’ll be there long after anything else. He is the Beginning and the End.
Revelation 22:14 (NIV) 14 “Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city.
On verse 14: Here is the final beatitude in Revelation. When our robes are washed in Jesus’ blood, we get to eat from His tree of life and we get to clear customs and enter His city.
Revelation 22:15 (NIV) 15 Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.
On verse 15: Once again, heaven is a place of perfect purity where no sinner can stand. That’s why we need the blood of Jesus to wash away our sins.
Revelation 22:16 (NIV) 16 “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.”
On verse 16: Jesus is both the Root of David and the Offspring of David. Jesus is David’s creator, the “Root of David”. At the same time, Jesus, being born human as a descendant of David, is also the “Offspring of David”. It’s right in line with what Jesus says in Luke 20:41-44: “41 Then Jesus said to them, ‘How is it that they say the Christ is the Son of David?… 44 David calls him ‘Lord.’ How then can he be his son?’”
Revelation 22:17 (NIV) 17 The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!”…
On verse 17a: If you want to know what Jesus wants you to do, listen to what “the Spirit and the bride say”. That is, listen to what the Holy Spirit is saying (through His Word and in your heart). Also, listen to what Jesus’ church (the bride) is saying (through getting good, godly advice).
Revelation 22:17 (NIV) 17 …Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life.
On verse 17b: The water of life that Jesus makes possible is free for the taking. All we need to do is come and drink.
Revelation 22:18-19 (NIV) 18 I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book. 19 And if anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.
On verses 18-19: We must be careful not to add to Scripture things that God never said. We must also be careful not to take away from Scripture things that God has said. True humility and submission to Scripture means that we don’t get to pick and choose which parts of God’s Word to believe. Rather, true humility and submission is when we decide to believe and follow all of God’s Word, whether we like it or not.
Revelation 22:20-21 (NIV) 20 He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. 21 The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen.
On verses 20-21: When a person writes a will to leave their assets to their loved ones when they die, that will is called their last “testament”. The New Testament is Jesus’ will, telling us what assets Jesus has left behind for our benefit after His death. Yet unlike other wills, Jesus’ last will and testament doesn’t only have his death in view. Even more, Jesus’ last will and testament has in view His return. “Yes, I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.
Lord Jesus, thank You for so generously preparing a place as beautiful and amazing as heaven for us, though we never deserved it, lost it and needed You to win it back for us. Thank You for every lesson we can learn from the book of Revelation. I pray that we would know how to wisely and correctly handle the book of Revelation, using its truths to build up ourselves and those around us. Please give us even more insight into this book and into all of Scripture. Thank You, Jesus, that You are coming soon. In Jesus’ name, AMEN!
This brings our look at Revelation to a close. What an amazing book, full of mystery and also full of powerful, life-changing truths. I encourage you to share what you learned with others in your small group.