THE ‘FINAL’ FINALE – Revelation 22:17-21
Posted by Pastor Greg Allen on December 28, 2016 under AM Bible Study |
AM Bible Study Group; December 28, 2016 from Revelation 22:17-21
Theme: This passage gives us John’s own concluding witness of the authority of this book.
(All Scripture is taken from The New King James Version, unless otherwise indicated).
We come, at last, to the closing passage of the Book of Revelation. But more than that, we come to the final words of God’s written revelation to mankind. With these words, God’s book—not only the Book of Revelation, but the whole book of the Bible—is completed. The Spirit-inspired, closing comments about the prophecy of this book serve as a fit closure to the whole Bible’s story of redemption—fully accomplished for us by Jesus Christ.
The Bible begins by telling us that man fell in sin and, as a result, heard God declare the curse (Genesis 3:17-19); and yet, after then going on to declare to us the work of redemption through Christ, the Bible closes by telling us “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you all” (Revelation 22:21). It begins with the story of how man was driven out of Paradise, and was prevented from taking from the tree of life (Genesis 3:22-24); and yet, it closes with the invitation, “And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely” (v. 17). It began with the promise of the Seed of the woman who would crush the head of the serpent (Genesis 3;15); and it closes with the promise from Jesus, “Surely I am coming quickly”; and the cry, “Amen. Even so, come Lord Jesus” (Revelation 22:20). When viewed from the standpoint of all that the Bible tells us, what good news these closing words are!
And consider how seriously it treats not only these closing words, but the revealed written word of God as a whole! Let nothing dare be added to it! Let nothing dare be taken from it!
In these closing words, we find . . .
I. TWO FINAL INVITATIONS (v. 17).
A. The first three expressions of invitation are regarding the Lord Jesus Christ. First, note that we’re told “And the Spirit” says “Come”. It is the great joy of the Holy Spirit, who was sent by the Lord Jesus—and whose ministry was accompanied by the promise of the Lord Jesus’ return (see John 14:12-18)—that the Lord Jesus would return to take to Himself those that the Spirit has preserved for Him. And what’s more, it is also to be the joy of those He has redeemed. John says “And the Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’” The witness of the Spirit and the witness of the church are to go together (see John 15:26-27). The longing of the church, Christ’s bride, is to be that of the Spirit; and no one who would belittle the Lord’s return, or make light of it, or dismiss it, could ever do so under the influence of the Holy Spirit. Finally, we’re told, “And let him who hears say, ‘Come!’” What an expression of saving faith! A heartfelt trust in the Lord Jesus involves all the things that He has promised to do—and that most certainly includes His promise to return.
B. But then, we’re told of two more expressions of invitation; and they have to do with those who hear about the return of the Lord—and all else that this book tells us about His work of redemption. “And let him who thirsts come.” This isn’t a request that the Lord come; but rather an invitation to those who thirst to come to Him! “Whoever desires [which is the only requirement of grace], let him take the water of life freely.” All that this book points to is summed up in the free offer of God’s grace to whoever thirsts for it.
II. TWO FINAL WARNINGS (vv. 18-19).
A. Given all the things that this book tells us, it’s no wonder then that we find this serious set of warnings. The first one, in verse 18, tells us, “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 …” The things spoken of in Revelation are those things that concern the redemptive plan of God for the ages. They are, as these words clearly testify, “words of the prophecy”. They come from God exactly as they are meant to come. And for anyone to add their own thoughts and speculations to them is to dare to add to what God has said is completed—and to, in the process, tamper with God’s message of redemption to mankind!
B. Second, John says, “. . . 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.” As distinct from what is mentioned in verse 18, if anyone finds the book of Revelation distasteful, and—in a high-handed and arrogant way—dares to take any portion of it out of the record, they will have sought to silence God or mute His voice in some way, and to interfere with and oppose the completeness of His message of grace to others! And to do so would be to forfeit one’s part in the Book of life, or from the New Jerusalem, or from any of the blessings this book promises to the redeemed! In other words, such a person would show—by their actions—that they choose to place themselves outside of God’s grace; and they will suffer eternal punishment!
C. There’s a sense in which, because this book sums up so much of God’s written testimony, these warnings can be applied by extension to the whole of God’s written word. (See also Deuteronomy 4:2, in which Moses warns Israel, “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”; and Proverbs 30:5-6, which says, “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.”). This is a very severe warning to preachers (see James 3:1). May we NEVER take away from nor add to what God has said!
III. TWO FINAL AFFIRMATIONS (v. 20).
A. Jesus Himself, once again, steps into the scene, and says, “Surely I am coming quickly!” That’s the Lord’s promise; and it’s also His desire. This is the third time in this passage that He has declared this promise (see v. 7, and v. 12).
B. And the cry of the people of God is now exemplified in the cry of John, “Amen. Even so, come Lord Jesus!” May that be our cry! It may be that John is saying that, even with all the terrible promises this book makes of the suffering of God’s people; and even with all the dreadful things that this book says concerning the outpouring of God’s wrath on those who oppose Him, he welcomes that coming. Or it may be that John is adding his affirmation and consent to the Lord’s promise—as if to say, “Yea, Lord; let it be even as You have said, and so come!” In either case, we can and ought also to cry out with John, “Amen. Even so, come Lord Jesus!”
IV. ONE FINAL BLESSING (v. 21).
Here are the final words of the Bible. What good news to hear, after such an astonishing prophecy! “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.” What a good God He is! How good He is to show grace to us now—before these things come to pass upon a Christ-rejecting world! How motivated we should be to declare that grace to others through the Gospel!