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21 November 2019

Revelation - Epilogue

SYNOPSIS:  If anyone fails to keep the words of the book, he will be excluded from citizenship in the city of New Jerusalem – Revelation 22:6-21.

Rainbow - Photo by David Brooke Martin on Unsplash
The epilogue concludes the book of Revelation by recalling earlier promises, reiterating warnings against faithlessness, demonstrating the necessity to render homage to God alone, and summoning Jesus to come quickly. The final paragraph provides testimony and assurances from uncontestable sources to the veracity and trustworthiness of the words of the book, which are equated with “prophecy” and the “testimony of Jesus.”

It concludes with several calls for Jesus to come quickly. His arrival will result in life for the obedient but a terrible fate for the rebellious.

  • (Revelation 22:6-7) – “And he said unto me - These words are faithful and true; and the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, hath sent his messenger to point out unto his servants the things which must needs come to pass with speed.  And — Lo! I come speedily! Happy is he that keepeth the words of the prophecy of this scroll (The Emphasized Bible).

The “he” that speaks is the angel, the one from among the seven angels that had the “Seven Bowls of Wrath,” the same one who appeared at the start of this section to show John the “city” of New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:9-10).

Faithful and true.” The reader is assured of the veracity of all that is recorded in Revelation, not because John or an angel confirms it with oaths, but because the words are part of the “testimony of Jesus.”  That is, the words of the book are uncontestable because they are from him. Note the following verses that confirm this:

  • (Revelation 1:2) – “Who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw.”
  • (Revelation 1:5) – “And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness.”
  • (Revelation 3:14) – “These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God.”
  • (Revelation 3:7) – “These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth.”
  • (Revelation 1:2) – “Who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw.”
  • (Revelation 19:9) – “And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God.”
  • (Revelation 19:11) – “And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True.”
  • (Revelation 21:5) – “And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.”

Book Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash
Aaron Burden on Unsplash

The spirits of the prophets.” Compare this to the “testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” The “spirits” of the prophets may refer to the individual anointings for prophetic ministry that each prophet has received. The clause is, effectively, parallel to the one at the end of Revelation 19:10 -  The testimony of Jesus is synonymous with prophecy.

The things which must needs come to pass with speed.” This clause is derived from the book of Daniel’s explanation of a dream received by King Nebuchadnezzar. It is used several times in the book of Revelation, beginning in its first verse, only, what for Daniel was to occur in more remote “latter days,” becomes “soon” for the readers of the book (Revelation 4:1-2):

  • (Daniel 2:28) – “There is a God in heaven that revealeth secrets, and he has made known to the king Nebuchadnezzar what things must come to pass in latter days.”
  • (Revelation 1:1) – “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show unto his servants what things must come to pass soon.”

Blessed is he that keeps the words of this book.” This is the sixth of seven beatitudes in Revelation that promise to bless anyone who keeps the words of the book, and who remains faithful unto death (Revelation 1:3, 14:13, 16:15, 19:9, 20:6, 22:7, 22:14).

The sixth beatitude reiterates the promise of the first one that Jesus gave to the seven churches of Asia (“Blessed is he that reads and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand”). The repetition reinforces the fact that, in its entirety, the book is addressed to the churches (Revelation 1:3).

  • (Revelation 22:8-9) – “And I, John, am he that was hearing and seeing these things; and, when I had heard and seen, I fell down to do homage at the feet of the messenger who had been pointing out unto me these things, — and he saith unto me — See [thou do it] not! A fellow-servant am I of thee and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them who keep the words of this scroll: unto God, do homage (The Emphasized Bible).

John also attests to the accuracy of the book. As in a previous instance, John, apparently overwhelmed by what he sees, is about to render homage to the angel with whom he is communicating (Revelation 19:10).

This story may be included to reinforce the summons to worship God alone. A dangerous temptation in the book is the desire to render homage to the Beast from the sea and its image. Wittingly or not, to give allegiance to the Beast is to render homage to the Dragon. The only sure way to avoid this terrible infraction is to render homage to God alone, period.

  • (Revelation 22:10-11) – “And he saith unto me —Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this scroll, for the season is near: He that is doing unjustly, let him do unjustly still, and he that is filthy, let him be made filthy still; and he that is righteous, let him do righteousness still, and he that is holy, let him be hallowed still (The Emphasized Bible).

Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this scroll, for the season is near.” This is a clear and deliberate echo of the vision of Daniel when he was commanded to “seal the scroll shut.” Now, what was not “near” for Daniel is close at hand for John and the churches of Asia:

  • (Daniel 12:4) – “But, thou, Daniel, close up the word and seal the book until the time of the end,—many will run to and fro, and knowledge, shall abound” – (The Emphasized Bible).

Daniel was commanded to seal the scroll. In contrast, John is ordered not to do so.  What was previously hidden is now revealed by Jesus. Put another way, the time of fulfillment had arrived in him. This clause reiterates what was declared at the outset of the book:

  • Blessed is he that keeps the things written in the scroll, for the season is at hand” (Revelation 1:3).

This is why the angel warns believers - “He that is doing unjustly, let him do unjustly still…he that is holy, let him be hallowed still.” This is not a statement about predestined eternal fates, but a warning. The season has arrived, therefore, how one behaves is more relevant and determinative than ever. If the coming of Jesus is at hand, so is the “Great White Throne of Judgment.” How one acts now determines whether one’s name is “written in the Lamb’s book of life.”

  • (Revelation 22:12-15) – “Lo! I come speedily and my reward is with me, to render unto each one as his work is.  I am the A and the Z, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. Happy they who are washing their robes, that their right may be unto the tree of life and by the gates they may enter into the city. Outside are the dogs and the sorcerers and the unchaste and the murderers and the idolaters and every one loving and doing falsehood (The Emphasized Bible).

Cross Photo by Hugo Fergusson on Unsplash
Hugo Fergusson on Unsplash

This paragraph reiterates key themes and warnings from the book, including the promise of life in the New Creation for the faithful. Jesus is the one speaking, not the angel.  He is the one who is “coming quickly” (Verse 12) and speaks in the first-person in verse 16 (“I, Jesus, sent my angel”). Therefore, he is the “First and the Last, the Beginning and the End,” and speaks with the same voice and authority as his Father (Revelation 1:8, 1:11, 21:6).

Outside are the dogs and the sorcerers…” This warning has a double reference. First, men and women who commit such sins are not members of the church and, therefore, are excluded from the “book of life.” Second, at the end of the age, they will be “outside” the walls of “New Jerusalem,” not in some region of the new earth reserved for sinners, but instead, they will find themselves in the “Lake of Fire, the second death.”

  • (Revelation 22:16-21) – “I, Jesus, have sent my messenger to bear witness unto you of these things for the assemblies. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the bright and the morning Star. And the Spirit and the Bride say — Come! and he that heareth, let him say — Come! and he that is athirst, let him come, — he that will let him take of the water of life, freely. I bear witness unto every one that heareth the words of the prophecy of this scroll: — If anyone shall lay aught upon them, God will lay upon him the plagues which are written in this scroll; And if anyone shall take away from the words of this prophetic scroll, God will take away his part, — from the tree of life and out of the holy city, — [from] the things written in this scroll. He that beareth witness of these things, saith — Yea! I come speedily. Amen! come, Lord Jesus! The favour of the Lord Jesus [Christ] be with the saints” (The Emphasized Bible).

I am the Root and the Offspring of David.” In Chapter 5, one of the twenty-four elders proclaimed that the “Lion of the tribe of Judah, the root of David” overcame and acquired the right to open the Sealed Scroll - When John looked, he saw the sacrificial Lamb, not a “roaring lion.” Thus, Jesus fulfilled his messianic role in his self-sacrificial death. So, also, here. He is the Messiah BECAUSE he is the sacrificed Lamb.

The “bright and the morning Star” alludes to a messianic prophecy from the book of Numbers:

  • (Numbers 24:17) - “There shall come a star out of Jacob, and a Scepter shall rise out of Israel, and shall smite the corners of Moab, and destroy all the children of Sheth.”

Mountains & Cosmos Photo by Benjamin Voros on Unsplash
By Benjamin Voros on Unsplash

The book of Revelation follows the Greek text of the Septuagint version of Numbers, which reads, “the rising star,” or, the “eastern star” (Compare the “kings of the rising sun” - Revelation 16:12). Jesus promised to give the “morning star” to overcomers in the Church at Thyatira (Revelation 2:28).

If anyone shall take away from the words of this prophetic scroll, God will take away his part from the tree of life.” While this declaration is used popularly to warn against deleting from or adding words to the Bible, the warning is specific to the book of Revelation, the “prophetic scroll.”

But this final warning must be taken seriously. If anyone fails to keep the words of the book, he will be excluded from partaking of the “tree of life,” and from citizenship in the city of “New Jerusalem.”

Amen: come, Lord Jesus.” The answer to this prayer means a blessing to some, but a curse to many - Life to the faithful, but the “second death” to the disobedient.

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