Topic: The Imminent Return Of Christ
TEXT: Revelation 22:1-21
1 And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb.
2 In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.
3 And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him:
4 And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads.
5 And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever.
6 And he said unto me, These sayings are faithful and true: and the Lord God of the holy prophets sent his angel to shew unto his servants the things which must shortly be done.
7 Behold, I come quickly: blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book.
8 And I John saw these things, and heard them. And when I had heard and seen, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel which shewed me these things.
9 Then saith he unto me, See thou do it not: for I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book: worship God.
10 And he saith unto me, Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book: for the time is at hand.
11 He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still.
12 And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.
13 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.
14 Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.
15 For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.
16 I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star.
17 And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.
18 For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:
19 And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.
20 He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.
21 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.
This study doubles as the concluding chapter of the book of Revelation and the entire Bible. Christ’s self- revelation — “I am the Alpha and the Omega” — in the opening chapter of this book is reiterated in this closing chapter to affirm His deity as well as identity as the Source of Revelation and the entire holy Writ (Revelation 1:8,11; 21:26; 22:13). Alpha is the first letter of the Greek alphabet and Omega is the last. Christ is the beginning and the ending of the all-inclusive revelation; the Lord of time, history and eternity. He embodies all the qualities, attributes and perfections of the almighty God. He also establishes His deity by introducing Himself in the text as the “root and offspring of David”. A tree grows first from its root, afterward the sprout and the trunk. Thus, Christ existed before David and before all things. As the Alpha, Christ came the first time to accomplish our redemption through His death on the cross. As the Omega, He is coming again for the consummation of all things. Again, Christ’s imminent return mentioned in the opening chapter of Revelation is harped repeatedly in this closing chapter to emphasise its certainty (Revelation 1:7,8; 22:7,12,20). So, all teachings and practices against this truth should be rejected as false and damning. The Lord’s gracious delay in coming provides a window for believers to propagate the gospel and for sinners to repent and be saved (2 Peter 3:9).
SURE PRIVILEGE AND INHERITANCE OF THE RIGHTEOUS (Revelation 22:1-5; Psalms 46:4; 65:9; 36:8; Revelation 2:7; Genesis 3:22-24; Revelation 21:4-6; Romans 8:21; John 17:24; Revelation 7:14-17; Matthew 5:8; Hebrews 12: 14)
The text opens with John’s continued description of the glorious city of God. Revealed in the preceding chapter are the designation, description, the dimensions of the new Jerusalem, the eternal home of all who have been saved and made holy by faith in God from the days of Abel to the last martyr slain by the Antichrist. “The first Adam lost the privilege of intimate fellowship with God in the garden of Eden (Genesis 3:1-6,22-24). Jesus Christ, the second Adam, came to reconcile lost man to his Creator and restore the privileges lost in the first paradise. “And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb.” In the first paradise, Eden, there was a beautiful river with four branches that watered the garden. The heavenly paradise has life-refreshing river. The water is pure and clear as crystal; no atom of dirt or filth in it. This “river of water of life” will not spring from the ground but will flow from the throne of God and of the Lamb. “There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God…” (Psalm 46:4). Besides, “in the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life…” “This tree of life, apparently watered by the life-giving river, brings forth twelve manner of fruits all-year round. “The fruits of the tree of life will be for the nourishment of God’s immortal saints, adding to the variety of pure and satisfying pleasures. The fruit is for the health and happiness of the saints; a remedy for all former maladies. With the devil and all his cohorts banished to the lake of fire, there will be no more pain, curse, tears and death; the water of life and the fruits of the tree of life will sustain the saints forever. Moreover, there will be uninterrupted light; no more darkness or night that will warrant use of candle or need for sunlight. “Ihe great God will be the light thereof. Saints shall reign with the King of kings eternally (Revelation 22:3-5). Then, God’s eternal purpose of having a kingdom of kings and priests will be fulfilled. This is made possible only through the sacrifice of Christ. ” …his servants shall It is comforting to know that all serve him… and they shall reign for ever and ever” (Revelation 22:3-5). God wants all who are redeemed by Christ’s blood to serve Him here on earth and reign with Him afterwards. Triumphant saints will have His name written on their foreheads as a mark of divine ownership and shall behold His face forever. To see God’s face in glory and behold the face of our Redeemer throughout eternity will be the most climactic blessing of all.
CERTAINTY OF CHRIST’S IMMINENT RETURN AND READINESS OF HIS BRIDE (Revelation 22:7, 11-17,20; 1:7; Daniel Acts 1:9-11; 2 Timothy 2: 12; Revelation 3:11 21:5; 1:3; Luke 11:28; Revelation 22:14; 1 Peter 4: 7; Romans 13:12; James 5:8; 1 John 2:1-6,28; Psalm 119:1-6; Luke Matthew 11:28-30; John 6:37; Hebrews 12:14).
“The Lord established the certainty of His imminent return with repeated declaration: “Behold, I come quickly… and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be… Surely I come quickly…” (Revelation 22: 7, 12,20). These unalterable words of Christ will be fulfilled irrespective of the denials and philosophies of sceptics, scoffers and scorners (2 Peter 3:9, 10). Bible prophecies concerning Christ’s first coming — His virgin birth, ministry, death, burial and resurrection were all literally fulfilled, so will those relating to His second coming be fulfilled. His imminent return, which is the expectation of all saints, is a constant theme of Scripture, with one thousand eight hundred and forty-five references, including three hundred and eighteen in the New Testament. No less than seventeen Old Testament books emphasise His return, while seven out of every ten chapters in the New Testament refer to this epochal event.
However, the rapture will precede Christ’s second coming. The rapture is separate and distinct from the second coming: the two events are separated by seven years. Besides, only the saints will see Christ at rapture while “every eye shall see him” at His second coming. At rapture, Christ appears in the sky while at His second coming, He will literally return to the earth to live and reign for one thousand years with the saints. While the Lord comes for the saints at rapture, He will come with raptured saints at His second coming. Moreover, the rapture can take place any moment without warning but the second coming cannot happen till after the rapture and the great tribulation.
The instruction to the Apostle in the text not to seal the prophecy but leave it open for the understanding of the Church was hinged on the nearness of its fulfilment. This was unlike the instruction to Daniel to seal up his prophecy until the latter days (Daniel 8:26; 10: 14; 12:9, 10). The prophecies serve as warning and call to repentance and readiness before death or rapture. Those who hear the truth but continue to do wrong will, by that hardened response, fix their eternal destiny in hell while those who continue to practice righteousness prove their saving faith that takes to heaven. “He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still” (Revelation 22:11). When Christ returns, the deliberate choice of each person will have fixed their eternal fate. It is impossible to hide from the omniscient God; He can differentiate those who belong to Him from others (2 Timothy 2:19). When Christ returns, everyone who ever lived on earth will receive their just reward or recompense, crown or curse, and abode in heaven or hell. “Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city” (Revelation 22:14). All who enter heaven to spend eternity of uninterrupted bliss with God and enjoy the privilege of partaking of the river of the water of life and the tree of life are blessed! (Revelation 22:7; Psalm 119: 1,2; Proverbs 8:32; Luke 11:28; Revelation 16: 15; 22:7; Matthew 5:8). This eternal blessedness will not be the portion of sorcerers, adulterers, murderers, idolaters, liars, thieves and all who continue in sin till the end (Revelation 22: 15). “Thus, the Lord calls everyone to readiness for His coming. The requirements for enjoying this eternal blessedness are, one, repentance and freedom from sin by faith in Christ; two, purity of heart and faithfulness; three, watchfulness and sobriety; four, prayerfulness and self-control; five, soul-winning and sacrificial giving; six, obedience and submission to God, His word and ministers; seven, perseverance and hope. The imminence of Christ’s return impresses on believers the urgency of yielding to the Spirit’s priming and nudging to call sinners to salvation. “And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely” (Revelation 22: 17). All who have been saved by the gospel need to re-echo God’s call to sinners so they will not perish. Whosoever desires to be saved and sanctified by Christ and made ready for heaven can still come to Christ now before it is too late.
SAINTS’ ROLE IN PRESERVING THE COMPLETE SCRIPTURAL CANON (Revelation 22:6,8-10 Deuteronomy 4:2; 12:32; Jeremiah 26:2; Proverbs 30:5,6; Matthew 28:20; Galatians 1:8,9; Jeremiah 23:19-32; Isaiah 8:20; Exodus 32:33; 2 Peter 3:12-18; 2 Corinthians 13: 14)
The revelations of God and Christ through symbol, vision or direct language in this book and the entire Scripture are confirmed to be “faithful and true” and will be fulfilled in their appointed time (Revelation 1:1,3; 22:6).When the Apostle “saw these things and heard them [the revelations]” , he was overwhelmed and he “fell down to worship before the feet of the angel” sent to reveal those things to him. He was promptly corrected by the angel not to worship him but God. The angel, though mighty and powerful, intelligent and knowledgeable, was only a “fellow-servant”. True servants and ministers do not usurp the position and honour due to God. Self-exaltation was the bane of Satan. We must not equate the servant with his Lord; Christ is greater than angels. He is God; so, we worship and adore Him (Revelation 22:8,9; 19:10; Acts 10:25,26; Matthew 4:10; John 4:22-24; Hebrews 1:4-6; Matthew 2:1,2,11; 14:30-33; Luke 24:50-52). Besides, we must not conceal or seal “the prophecy of this book” (Revelation 22:10). We must also not delay to proclaim it so that souls can be rescued by the life-transforming truth. We are also forbidden from adulterating the Word because the total gospel is the only hope of eternal life for sinners; it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes. “For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book” (Revelation 22:18, 19). God’s word is complete, full, perfect immutable, pure and eternal. “For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven” (Psalm 119:89; Proverbs 30:5,6). So, it does not need editing; no ‘new truth’ is to be added and no ‘hard saying’ is to be removed from it. We must preserve the complete scriptural canon from being corrupted. Those who edit and corrupt the Word will be severely judged by God. “The book of Revelation that started with grace ends on the same note. “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen” (Revelation 1:4; 22:21). Saved by grace, believers are strengthened, sanctified, succoured and sustained by same until they get to heaven. Every believer must daily ask for and receive sufficient grace to live to please God.