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Faithlife

Revelation 22:1-5

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What will eternity be like? We have virtually no idea. What we see in – the final statement in Scripture about eternity to come – gives us no details at all.
But while we don’t have any details about what we will do for eternity, the Lord does give us a clear understanding of the nature and character of eternal life.
We’ve seen that the book of Revelation is filled with visions and metaphors, or word pictures. That continued in , where we saw that the church is described with two tremendous images:
The Bride of Christ is a word picture that describes our relationship with Jesus Christ throughout eternity. We are not slaves, or mere subjects, or even citizens. We are beloved, precious, valued, redeemed, made glorious by His work.
The Holy City is a picture of the people of God, and their perfect, holy relationship to one another. There is no division between Old Testament Jews and New Testament Christians. They are one, holy, peaceful, perfectly harmonious people.
contains four more word pictures that describe the nature of eternal life.
There are four more word pictures in Revelation 22:1-5.
As we saw in , this is John’s final vision of the book. Everything that we read here is in the context, or setting, of that vision.
The Bride of Christ is a word picture that describes our relationship with Jesus Christ throughout eternity. We are not slaves, or mere subjects, or even citizens. We are beloved, precious, valued, redeemed, made glorious by His work.
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The Holy City is a picture of the people of God, and their perfect, holy relationship to one another. There is no division between Old Testament Jews and New Testament Christians. They are one, holy, peaceful, perfectly harmonious people.
Let’s think about these word pictures.
There is no literal City; that’s a picture of the people of God and their relationship to one another.
We see more word pictures in these verses:
The river of the water of life.
The tree of life.
Seeing the face of God (God is Spirit; He has no face).
Revelation 22:1–2 ESV
Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.
A river flowed into the Garden of Eden, and four rivers flowed out. A ready supply of water was necessary when the Hebrews wandered in the wilderness, and God provided for them, sometimes miraculously.
In we read,
Genesis 2:10 ESV
A river flowed out of Eden to water the garden, and there it divided and became four rivers.
Revelation 22:1–2 ESV
Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.
rev 22 1
A ready supply of water was necessary when the Hebrews wandered in the wilderness, and God provided for them, sometimes miraculously.
It’s not going to far to say that water is life. We die without water. It appears to me that in the beginning, the four rivers provided water for the earth, not only watering the garden, but all the dry land.
But even in the Old Testament water became a picture of spiritual life. The prophet Zechariah wrote that living waters would flow from Jerusalem in the coming kingdom of God.
Zechariah 14:8 ESV
On that day living waters shall flow out from Jerusalem, half of them to the eastern sea and half of them to the western sea. It shall continue in summer as in winter.
A ready supply of water was necessary when the Hebrews wandered in the wilderness, and God provided for them, sometimes miraculously.
Zechariah 14:8 ESV
On that day living waters shall flow out from Jerusalem, half of them to the eastern sea and half of them to the western sea. It shall continue in summer as in winter.
But the picture of living water is most perfectly described by the Lord Jesus:
Later on the prophet wrote of the day when living waters shall flow from Jerusalem, half of them to the eastern sea (the Dead Sea) and half of the them to the western sea (the Mediterranean Sea), continuing in summer as in winter.
In we read,
The Lord Jesus spoke frequently of this spiritual water.
He said to Nicodemus,
John 3:5 ESV
Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.
He said to the woman at the well,
John 4:13–14 ESV
Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
In we read,
John 7:37–39 ESV
On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’ ” Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.
The river of the water of life is a picture of God giving us life throughout eternity. Eternal life is not eternal just because it lasts for all eternity, but because it is given for all eternity.
Revelation 22:2 ESV
through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.
The second picture of eternal life is the tree of life.
I know that you remember that the tree of life was in the garden of Eden. says,
Genesis 2:8–9 ESV
And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground the Lord God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
That tree of life would have given Adam and Eve eternal life on that first day, if they had eaten its fruit. Instead, they chose to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
God planted a tree of life, a tree that would have given Adam and Eve eternal existence had they chosen to eat of it. Instead, they chose to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil; they chose the knowledge of good and evil over eternal life.
God drove them out of the garden, and put an angel to guard the tree of life.
Genesis 3:24 ESV
He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life.
Genesis 3:22–24 ESV
Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever—” therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life.
gen 3 24
The tree of life is a picture of the life that comes constantly from the Lord. That life is filled with variety, and never ceases to be fresh and perfect. God will provide us with everything we need, every moment. Eternal life is not the absence of death or pain, it is the presence of God and His life within us.
Sin will never exist again; neither will the temptation to sin.
Instead, the first words of say, No longer will there be anything accursed. Because of the fall of man, God’s curse fell upon creation. Jesus satisfied the wrath of God on the cross, and brought the curse to an end. In the eternity God has planned, there will be only life: perfect, powerful, constant life coming from Him to His people.
Instead, the first words of say, No longer will there be anything accursed. Because of the fall of man, God’s curse fell upon creation. Jesus satisfied the wrath of God, and brought the curse to an end. In the eternity God has planned, there will be only life: perfect, powerful, constant life coming from Him to His people.
Revelation 22:3–4 ESV
No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads.
Seeing the face of God, and having His name written on our foreheads, is also a word picture. God is Spirit; we cannot see Spirit. And we won’t have a tattoo on our foreheads; there isn’t room! God is infinite, so His name is infinite.
It will be a perfect environment, a perfect existence, and within that perfect existence, the people of God will serve Him perfectly. It will be full of God. There will be nothing that God hates, and everything that God loves.
There will be nothing there that God hates, and everything that God loves.
Every picture of the people of God reveals something about our relationship to Him.
In all these images, our great God is the center, the focus.
And we will see His face. We will know Him as much as any creature can know Him. And when He sees us He will see His people, His children, who are exactly like His Son. We will see and savor His glory. He will love us as He loves His own Son. The glory of God will be known to us.
Moses asked to see the glory of God, but could not. God hid him in the rock, and Moses only saw a small glimpse of God’s glory as it passed. But we will be immersed in God’s glory.
Sinful man cannot see God and live. But because of Jesus’ death on the cross, and His resurrection from the dead, those who believe in Him are born again, raised with Him, forgiven, adopted into the family of God, and will live in perfect, eternal peace with our God.
This is a picture of the intimacy and relationship that we will have with our God. We will know Him as much as any creature can know Him. He will see us as His own people who are just like His own Son, Jesus Christ. The glory of God will be fully known to us. We will live immersed in what Moses longed to see, and could not.
This is a picture of the intimacy and relationship that we will have with our God. We will know Him as much as any creature can know Him. He will see us as His own people who are just like His own Son, Jesus Christ. The glory of God will be fully known to us. We will live immersed in what Moses longed to see, and could not.
Exodus 33:18–20 ESV
Moses said, “Please show me your glory.” And he said, “I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name ‘The Lord.’ And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live.”
Moses
Sinful man cannot see God and live. But because of Jesus’ death on the cross, and His resurrection from the dead, those who believe in Him are born again, raised with Him, forgiven, adopted into the family of God, and will live in perfect, eternal peace with our God.
We will gaze upon His face without shame or fear. And He will see His own name upon us. The New Covenant in Jesus Christ will be fully ours because of what God has done:
We will gaze upon His face without shame or fear. And He will see His own name upon us.
And He will see His own name upon us. His sees Himself in us, as we have become like the Lord Jesus. He sees us as His own, given His name, made like the Savior. He sees His children, adopted out of fallen humanity, born again and saved through His grace and the sacrifice of His Son.
He will belong to us as much as we belong to Him. says,
rev 22 3-4
Revelation 22:4 ESV
They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads.
The
It comes from God and Christ: flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb
Revelation 21:3 ESV
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.
It is given without ceasing: the river
It will be a perfect environment, a perfect existence, and within that perfect existence, the people of God will serve Him perfectly.
There will be nothing accursed, nothing detestable, nothing in the new heaven and earth which God hates or loathes. It will be a creation that is dominated by the throne of God and the Lamb, and filled with His servants, who worship Him alone.
I get so frustrated when I can't do things right. I truly hate failing; I hate it so much that I don't really do much that is new. It takes a lot for me to even try a new dish at a restaurant. I've only done a little home repair in my life, just enough to learn that I'm going to mess things up.
But in eternity to come there will be nothing imperfect, sinful, or accursed. That means that our efforts to serve the Lord will be perfect and succeed every time. He will be perfectly pleased with everything that we do.
Genesis 17:7 ESV
And I will establish my covenant between me and you and your offspring after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you.
We see a fantastic picture of our relationship with our God in verse 4:
and God’s promise to the Hebrews leaving Egypt,
Exodus 6:7 ESV
I will take you to be my people, and I will be your God, and you shall know that I am the Lord your God, who has brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.
and the promise of the New Covenant,
Ezekiel 11:19–20 ESV
And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in my statutes and keep my rules and obey them. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God.
They will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads.
eze 11 19
Christian, you will have an undivided heart; your affection and worship will not be torn between God and sin. You will have an eternally living heart that loves and adores and worships God. You will live in holiness and righteousness, perfect obedience and perfect joy. We will be His people, and He will be our God. We will be utterly satisfied in Him, and He will be perfectly delighted in us, for all eternity.
The best description I know of what our relationship with God will be like is the fruit of the Spirit:
Galatians 5:22–23 ESV
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
Our relationship with God, and our relationships with each other, will be marked by these things.
We get to see Him face to face. He sees His own likeness within us.
The glory of God will be fully within our sight. We will live immersed in what Moses merely longed to see, and could not:
Revelation 22:5 ESV
And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.
18 Moses said, “Please show me your glory.” 19 And he said, “I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name ‘The Lord.’ And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. 20 But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live.”
No wonder says that night will be no more. No more darkness. No more sin. No more ignorance.
Sinful man cannot see God and live. Having been born again and raised from the dead, without any sin or impurity or rebellion to bring about judgment, we will be at perfect, eternal peace with our Creator. We will gaze upon His face without shame or fear.
In that relationship of perfect peace
And He will gaze upon His people, chosen by the Father, redeemed by the Son, filled with and sealed by the Holy Spirit, protected, loved, secured.
In the end, our relationship with God is described as being full of light, and that light comes from God Himself.
May I say, He will belong to us as much as we belong to Him. says,
Think about this.
3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.
And when He looks at us, what does He see? He sees His own name. His sees Himself in us, as we have become like the Lord Jesus. He sees us as His own, given His name, made like the Savior. He sees His children, adopted out of fallen humanity, born again and saved through His grace and the sacrifice of His Son.
In the light of that relationship, is it surprising that there is no night, and no need of a lamp or even the sun, because the Lord God will be our light, and we – with Him – will reign for all eternity.
It is constantly new: yielding its fruit each month
It is full of life: twelve kinds of fruit
It fulfills God’s promise: leaves of the tree for healing the nations
The Lord will be our light and our temple, our life and our joy, our peace and our contentment. We will know Him as He knows us. We will worship Him, serve Him, delight in Him, honor Him, and receive His love, His provision, His delight in us, and His glory poured out upon us.
Revelation 22:3–5 ESV
No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.
rev 22
God’s Person and Holiness dominates all: no longer anything accursed … the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it
It is holy: no longer anything accursed
God is the focus: the servants of God will worship Him
Intimacy between Creator and Creatures: they will see HIs face, and His name will be on their foreheads
God fills all in all: night will be no more, no need of lamp or sun, for God will be their light
Eternal purpose: they will reign forever and ever
The Church will be in perfect communion with God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. The Lord will be our light and our temple, our life and our joy, our peace and our contentment. We will know Him as He knows us. We will worship Him, serve Him, delight in Him, honor Him, and receive His love, His provision, His delight in us, and His glory poured out upon us.
There will be no darkness amongst people. There will be none of the sin and unpleasantness that we experience here. No fighting, no jealousy, no bitterness, no bigotry, no critical spirits, no competition, no backbiting, no unforgiveness and nothing to forgive in the first place, no disquiet, no scheming, no fear, no anger, no resentment, no contempt, no pride.
There will be none of the sin and unpleasantness that we experience here. No fighting, no jealousy, no bitterness, no bigotry, no critical spirits, no competition, no backbiting, no unforgiveness and nothing to forgive in the first place, no disquiet, no scheming, no fear, no anger, no resentment, no contempt, no pride.
Being in perfect communion with God, and perfect community with one another, we will reign with Him. What does that mean? We aren’t told.
No fighting, no jealousy, no bitterness, no bigotry, no critical spirits, no competition, no backbiting, no unforgiveness and nothing to forgive in the first place, no disquiet, no scheming, no fear, no anger, no resentment, no contempt, no pride. If I can put it this way, the Church will be an orchard where the fruit of the Spirit, which is the character of Jesus Christ, will be produced by each one for the blessing of all the rest: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.
We have no idea of what reigning with Him will be, but . . . we will reign with Him. We will be servants but not be slaves. We will be co-heirs with Jesus Christ. That means that we are servants of God as Jesus was a servant of God. He was not demeaned, but exalted.
What does it mean to reign with Him? I have no idea; we aren’t told. These words in your Bible describe the furthest point in the future, and they tell us so very little. We have no idea of what reigning with Him will be, but . . . we will reign with Him. We are not slaves in His kingdom, but co-heirs with Christ. That means that we are servants of God as Jesus was a servant of God. He was not demeaned, but exalted.
This is the promise of the Lord Jesus,
Matthew 25:34 ESV
Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
Roma 8
Romans 8:16–17 ESV
The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.
Galatians 3:29 ESV
And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.
Romans 8:34 ESV
Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.
Romans 8:16–17 ESV
The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.
We’ve talked about the distant future; what about today? How do these truths strengthen and help us today?
This life must be endured. There is no such thing as heaven on this earth. God can, and sometimes does, intervene, but miracles, by definition, are rare. The power of God today is mostly not expressed through changing our circumstances, but in granting us the ability to keep our faith and hope in Jesus Christ until He DOES change them.
; because it’s all we’ve ever known, we don’t realize just how much has to be survived day by day.
says,
2 Corinthians 4:16–18 ESV
So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
If you focus only on today, on this moment, on your experience of life, you will forget that eternal life and peace is coming. Don’t lose sight of the promise of eternal life, and keep the cross of Christ in focus, and you’ll find that you are being renewed on a day by day basis.
Focus only on what is around you moment by moment, and you’ll forget what is to come. Give your attention to what is to come, and you will find that your soul is being renewed.
The human soul was created for joy. Joy is restorative, healing, sustaining. Those who are without Christ resort to drugs of all sorts – alcohol, over-the-counter drugs, tobacco, illegal drugs, and endorphin-producing experiences like sex and exercise and money – in a futile attempt to taste joy.
If the Holy Spirit resides in you, then you have a Spirit-given longing that can only be fulfilled by eternity. That longing won’t be fulfilled until we are with Him in eternity. Every attempt to scratch that itch here and now is going to fail, and turn to dust in your mouth. But Christian, you can rejoice that the promise of eternal life is sure and secure and guaranteed.
, but we can rejoice that the promise is sure and guaranteed to us.
We can
Did you know that most religious people in the world have no sense of assurance about eternal life? They may fervently hope and desire eternal peace and joy, but they have no certainty.
A leading Muslim scholar, Yasir Qhadi, said that to Muslims, the idea of assurance is arrogant; Muslims live in a state of fear and hope.
The radio program and blog, Catholic Answers, says that assurance of eternal life can only be had “by looking at the course of one’s life in grace and the resolution of one’s heart to keep following God, one can also have an assurance of future salvation.” So, the best they can hope for is future salvation (there can be no assurance in THIS moment), which ultimately depends upon consistent obedience to the Law, that is, the sacraments, and not upon the completed, perfect work of Jesus Christ on the cross.
That is, the only certainty a Roman Catholic can have is for future salvation, not present assurance, and requires looking at their own religious performance.
is by looking at their own religious performance,
I could go on to Mormonism, Judaism, the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Hindus, Buddhists, and others, none of whom can have certainty about eternal life.
But there IS assurance of salvation for those who are truly in Jesus Christ. That’s why John writes in ,
1 John 5:10–13 ESV
Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself. Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has borne concerning his Son. And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life.
1 John 5:10–12 ESV
Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself. Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has borne concerning his Son. And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.
We are saved by grace through faith. We believe in Jesus Christ, and all that the Bible says about Him. Because we believe in Jesus Christ, we have life, which is IN Jesus Christ.
Pay close attention to :
What is it that we believe? That God has given us eternal life in Jesus Christ; whoever believes in Christ has Christ, and whoever has Christ has eternal life.
Pay close attention to :
1 John 5:13 ESV
I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life.
Those who believe in the name of the Son of God have eternal life. We have that assurance. And the Lord Jesus calls us to tell others that He came and died on the cross, and rose again, so that those who believe in Him would not die in judgment, but have eternal life.
It is not enough to be called Christian, even by other Christians. We must each, individually, repent of our sin, turn away from all other gods, even the gods of science and evolution, and trust in Jesus Christ as our Savior, and surrender to Jesus Christ as Lord.
If you worship the One True God – God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit – then join us in communion this morning.
The elements of communion are a picture of our salvation. Jesus’ body was given for us. Jesus’ blood was shed upon the cross.
Taking communion is a picture of faith in Jesus Christ. Eating the bread, and drinking the cup, mean putting our full faith in what Jesus did for us.
Taking communion is a picture of our unity with God. Because Jesus gave His life for His people, we are eternally joined to Him.
Taking communion is also a picture of our unity together; we eat the same bread and drink the same cup – we believe in the same Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
And taking communion is an expression of eager expectation perfect, eternal unity with God, and joyful unity with one another.
Matthew 26:26–29 ESV
Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”
Matthew 26:26
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