The Climax of the Bible

Revelation 22

When God created man, He placed him in the most beautiful part of His creation. He put him in a beautiful garden called Eden, and there He provided for all of his needs. But, in that garden, Satan entered, and Satan was able to convince man to disobey God and the consequence was that God had to drive man out of that garden. This is explained in Genesis 3:22–24: “Then the Lord God said, ‘Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil. And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever’—therefore the Lord God sent him out of the garden of Eden to till the ground from when he was taken. So He drove out the man; and He placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life.”

God drove man from the garden of Eden because the tree of life was there and it would have been the greatest tragedy for man were he to live forever in that cursed state in when he found himself. God was merciful, however, for it was not His intention that man should suffer and die, but that man should live, and that man should live with Him forever. And so, in the process of time, God provided a way to bring man back and, ultimately, it was through His own Son, Jesus Christ.

Because of the hardness of the heart of man, it was difficult to pierce and to cause man to realize the awfulness of his condition. Only in such an ultimate sacrifice as the giving of His precious Son to die was there the hope that that heart, that hardened heart, might be so softened that it might be drawn to Jesus and to God. God made provision that one day man could be restored to the kind of paradise that He had once provided. In Revelation 2:7, Jesus said, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.”

Now we have come to the climax to the Bible. We have come to eternity. We have come to the final place of man's home with God forever. We have come to Revelation 22. Read verses 1–5: “And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as


crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river, was the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. 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. They shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads. And there shall be no night there: They need no lamp nor light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them light. And they shall reign forever and ever.”

As we come to the climax and conclusion of the book of Revelation, I think it would be appropriate for us to go back to the beginning of this great book that brings us to the close of God's revelation. Let us see, in one broad sweeping scope, what God has revealed to us in this book. In chapters 1 through 3 of Revelation, we see the church as the light of the world. A light shinning brightly in some places at some times and sometimes barely flickering, but, nevertheless, a light. But, light and darkness cannot coexist.

So the church will inevitably face persecution. “Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution,” Paul told Timothy in II Timothy 3:12. But, let us see things in their proper perspective. First, we must see God. In that the world is not operated by blind chance and by blind forces. In fact, God, a benevolent God, is still in charge of our universe and He still controls the destiny of man.

But, we also need to see Jesus, and see Him we do in chapter 5 of Revelation. The head of the church is the King on the throne who controls the destiny of history. Therefore, since we know who is in control of the world, as the Lamb demonstrated His love by being slain for us, we can readily face the persecution, which comes with chapter 6.

Here, we find that those who die in the Lord go to be in His presence. The reassurance provides us with courage to view the awesome judgment finally to be inflicted on the world. Even then, the church triumphant is seen rejoicing before the throne of God. But, will the persecuted be avenged? Yes! The seals of persecution give rise to the trumpets of judgment.


In Revelation 8:1–5, God is seen constantly sending His judgment in response to the prayers of His people. Here we are introduced to the warning (trumpet) judgment of God designed to cause men to repent and persecutors to relent. But, for the most part, it does not work, according to Revelation 9:21. Consequently, we see in chapters 10 and 11 the gospel–proclaiming, cross–bearing church being afflicted but emerging victorious. But, the book does not end here. Two questions cry out for an answer: why is the church being so vigorously persecuted and what will be the ultimate fate of the impenitent? So far, we have seen the surface and the conflict on the earth. Now, we see what is behind it all.

Behind the struggle on earth between the church and the world is the cosmic struggle between Christ and Satan. In chapter 12, we see the dragon, Satan, trying to destroy the Christ. Failing in this, he directs his persecution against Christ's people, the church. Then, in chapters 13 and 14, we see Satan employing the beast out of the sea, representing anti–Christian religion, and the great harlot, Babylon, representing anti–Christian seduction of the world, trying to destroy the church. But, Satan fails and, in chapter 14, we see the Lamb standing victoriously on Mt. Zion initiating the harvest of God's final judgment. And what is the fate of those who, being warned by the trumpets of judgment, remain impenitent? These, incidentally, are those who have the mark of the beast, according to Revelation 16:2.

In chapters 15 and 16, we see the bowls of God's wrath being poured out on them. But what about the great harlot, Babylon, and the two beasts? In chapters 17 and 18, we see Babylon, and the two beasts? In chapters 17 and 18, we see Babylon described and destroyed. In chapter 19, we see the beasts cast into the lake of fire and brimstone. In chapter 20, the devil, death and Hades are all cast into the lake of fire. And then, finally, in chapters 21 and 22, the great Revelation closes with a vision of the new heaven and earth where the saints are seen reigning with God and the Lamb forever and ever.

Things are not as they seem. God and His people are ultimately victorious and triumphant and Jesus reigns and God is on His throne. Therefore, we need to heed the advice and warning and caution and exhortation of Jesus in Revelation 2:10: “ Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.” That is an absolute promise of God. His promises do not fail. Our


task is to be faithful to Him. As an encouragement to us to be faithful, we have this magnificent book of Revelation. It challenges us and makes us see that victory is indeed at the end of the road for the people of God. We cannot be defeated. Satan cannot snatch God's people out of His hands. We are those who are able to continue and hold out to the end, if we will. It is true, unfortunately, we can leave God. We can choose to turn our backs on Him, but God is faithful and He will continue to aid us and give us strength.

And, before us, finally, is that beautiful picture of the paradise of God: “And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb” (Revelation 22:1). Psalm 46:4 says, “There is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God.” We have seen that river described for us before in Revelation 7:17, where it says, “For the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to living fountains of waters. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

Again, in chapter 21:6: “And He said to me, ‘It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts.’ ” God provides it for us. He does not force us to drink of it in this life nor in the life to come, but a gracious and loving God provides it. The picture of the river is one of a river that flows out of throne of God.

We have a song we sometimes sing; “Shall We Gather at the River?” There is a phrase in it that speaks of the river flowing by the throne of God, but this river does not flow by the throne. The river in the paradise of God flows out of the throne because He is the source of the life–giving water that shall quench the thirst of those people who are seeking for the fullness and joy that God provides. We see here the throne of the Lamb, for they share together the throne. That is because it is the kingdom of Christ and God. Therefore, They sit together on the throne and reign.

In Revelation 22:2–5, we are told that “... on either side of the river, was the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruits every month. And the leaves of the tree were


for the healing of the nations.” We saw that, finally, man, who was cursed in Eden, is now restored to the very presence of the throne of God. It is a beautiful description. There shall be no curse anymore. In Eden, God cursed the ground. He cursed the serpent. But now, “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. They shall see His face and His name shall be on their foreheads. And there shall be no night there. They need no lamp nor light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them light. And they shall reign forever and ever.”

It is not as though there are some servants over whom they are going to reign. But, I am convinced in view of what we have seen here in Revelation, that these shall reign forever and ever and that they share in the glory and majesty of those who sit on the throne. They reign, perhaps, over themselves, able to achieve finally that perfect balance of life and spiritual equilibrium that we seek so much to find in the sin–cursed life. We are able to reign effectively now our our passions in this world through the help of the Spirit of Christ; but in the next, we shall be able to do so not merely effectively, but perfectly.

In verse 6, through the end of this chapter, we have the final summation of the book of Revelation and of the Bible. We have seen the redeemed sharing the joy of eternity with God in the paradise prepared for them. In the remaining verses, we find warnings, we find confirmations and we find exhortations to each of us to live the life that God is expecting of us.

Read verses 6 and 7: “Then he said to me, ‘These words are faithful and true.’ And the Lord God of the holy prophets sent His angel to show His servants the things which must shortly take place. Behold I am coming quickly! Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.” Three times in these final verses Jesus says, “I come quickly.”

When Jesus comes it will be in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump. There will not be any time then for us to suddenly make new resolutions and determine that we will turn about the course of our life, for then it will be too late. He comes quickly. And so, there is the warning to us. There is the encouragement provided for us that we should be living and acting according to the words of the prophecy of the book, that


we will be found watching and waiting and ready when finally Jesus quickly comes.

Verses 8 and 9: “Now I, John, saw and heard these things. And when I heard and saw, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel who showed me these things. Then, he said to me, ‘See that you do not do that. For I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren the prophets, and of those who keep the words of this book. Worship God.’ ” This is the second time we have seen something of this nature when John falls down before an angel. Back in Revelation 19:10, John said, “And I fell at his feet to worship him.”

In Revelation 22, it does not say John fell down before the angel to worship the angel. It just simple says, “I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel who showed me these things.” It may very well be that what we are seeing here is John falling down before the feet of the angel, but for the purpose of worshiping God. If that is the case, then the significant idea is that God does not want us to worship angels.

The angel said he was a fellow servant of the prophets. In other words, the angel is saying that angels, prophets, and apostles are all three servants of God. Worship that is done by kneeling before the servants of God or even a creation of God or man, can not be an acceptable or genuine worship of God. Even in our world today people fall down and kneel before religious leaders, not with the idea that they are worshiping them, but as a way of expressing their worship to God. But here the angel will not allow John to fall down before him, even though the worship may well be directed toward God. Perhaps, John though he was worshiping God acceptably, but he was not. Before no angel or man is one to bow down in worship. Worship is to be directed to God alone.

Notice verses 10 and 11: “And he said to me, ‘Do not seal the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is at hand. He who is unjust, let him be unjust still; he who is filthy, let him be filthy still; he who is righteous, let him be righteous still; he who is holy, let him be holy still.’ ” I believe that in this passage we are seeing three things: one, that character is progressively set; number two, that character can be permanently


set, and number three, that character must be determined now. Remember, “I come quickly, I come quickly, I come quickly.” We cannot wait until the end of our lives to begin making these adjustments. Let him that is righteous be righteous still. Let him that is holy be holy still. Let him that is filthy be filthy still.

The idea is that as we live our lives we are progressively setting what finally will become an irreversible course of life. We are ever engaged in gathering together the materials which go into the foundation and building of character, no matter whether it be good or ill. All our pursuits, our pleasures, our companionships, all of our thoughts, works and words and deeds are tending to that ultimate result in character which binds us down to be ever still the same. This would not be as important if, at any time, we turn over a new leaf, or if it were never too late to mend, but there comes a time when that new leaf will not be turned over and it is too late to mend.

When the great suspension bridge was built over Niagara Falls, first, a slender wire was carried over by a kite to the other side. Using this small beginning, additional materials were drawn across. The bridge was finally completed by adding stronger material in an on going effort. This effort ended in a bridge what was strong, firm, and fixed. But, remember it was done by degrees until it was completed.

And so it is with our character. Some slight insignificant action, as we might consider it, draws after it some others, which are not so insignificant. These draw others that are important and even still more important. And so, at length, the whole structure of our completed character, whatever it be, is brought together and remains permanently a part of us.

There are whole harbors that draw large trading vessels and have produced important towns that have been destroyed by the slow deposit of silt-producing sand bars until, at length, the port has been closed and prosperity had been ended. We are now building temples or tombs. We are building a life, we are building character and those who are building righteously will continue in that direction, more than likely. There is reason to believe that most character can become unalterable even in this life.


We find in the Bible, for example, such expressions as: “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, for he is indeed flesh” (Genesis 6:3). “Ephraim is joined to idols, let him alone” (Hosea 4:17). “If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes” (Luke 19:42). “Speaking lies in hypocrisy having their own conscience seared with a hot iron” (I Timothy 4:2).

If these passages mean anything, they mean that in this life corrupt character may become unalterable. The alteration of character requires deep thought and earnest resolve. It requires effort of the most strenuous and determined kind, and if it is not altered before death, it will not likely be altered at death, and it cannot be after death. We need to take seriously the day by day living that builds or destroys character.

Verse 12, “And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work.” Constantly through Revelation we have been cautioned that we are going to be judged according to our work. It is time that we are saved by faith, but it is not dead faith. It is a faith that is active and living. It is a faith that works and we are going to be judged according to our works.

“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last” is what Jesus said in verse 13. He is the author and finisher of our faith, as the writer of Hebrews said in 12:2. His name, Jesus, is in the first verse of the New Testament and His blessing concludes it. He is the beginning and the end.

Verse 14, “Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city.” In essence, it is doing the will of God. It is something that is continually done. Ananias, you recall, told Saul of Tarsus in Acts 22:16, “And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.”

But, the cleansing of the robes does not end with baptism, because as we see in Revelation 19:8, “And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright for the fine


linen is the righteous acts of the saints.” Thus, it is not merely those who have been baptized, that have had their sins washed away, but those who have washed their robes and continue to do so in the blood of the Lamb.

John continues in verse 15: “But outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie.” Heaven will be a place where the fellowship of the wicked will be excluded, where they shall never be and, therefore, those who have served God faithfully are freed from the temptations that have so beset them in this life.

In Revelation 22:16, Jesus says: “I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things in the the churches. I am the Root, and the Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star.” He is the one who opens the way and lightens the way to the eternal day: Jesus Christ the Root and Offspring of David. He has written these things for the churches. It is not merely the church of the first century, it is not merely the churches of Asia Minor, but for the churches then and for the churches now until Jesus comes again.

Verse 17 says, “And the spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ And let him who hears say, ‘Come!’ And let him who thirst come. And whoever desires, let him take of the water of life freely.” The invitation is for whosoever will. Salvation is a free give of God, but it is still something that we still must accept and must be willing to enjoy.

Finally, there is a warning. Read verses 18 and 19: “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; and if anyone takes away from the words of this 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.”

Man must not tamper with God's message and with God's words. When God has spoken, then we simply must obey. It is not for us to try to improve on the Revelation God has given. In fact, god says if you tamper with it, if you change it, then I will take away your part from the tree of life.


The Revelation ends with these words: “He who testifies to these things says, ‘Surely I am coming quickly.’ Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus! The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.”

I think it is appropriate that, as we come to the very last verse of the Bible, we are told it is not for the curiosity seeker or for the religious fanatic, but it is for the saints, the faithful people of God who have found and continue to find in Him grace for every trial. That is the message of Revelation. Though we find troubles and tribulations and suffering and anguish in this life, God provides grace sufficient for out needs so that finally we may be the victors, having overcome the world because Jesus overcame the world.

In a previous generation the skeptic, Robert Ingersol, made a speech over the grave of a little child and here is what he said: “We do not know which is the greatest blessing, life or death. We cannot say that death is not good. We do not know whether the grave is the end of life or the door of another, or whether the night here is not somewhere else a dawn. Every cradle asks us, “Whence?” and every coffin, “Whither?”

The poor barbarian weeping over his dead can answer the question as intelligently and satisfactorily as a robed priest of the most authentic creed can. The tearful ignorance of the one is just as consoling as the learned and unmeaning words of the other. But, the answer to such skepticism rings from the empty tomb through two millenniums of human history, “He is not here for He is risen.”

No tombstone bears the name of Christ, for it is a fact of history that on a hill called Olivet outside the city of Jerusalem, eleven men watched and heard the words, “... This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11). God's people can confidently say that the throne of God is there in heaven. The Lamb of God is there, our hope is there, our treasure is there, our citizenship is there and our names are written there. And there is much more.

The story is told of an old man who said, “When I was young, I thought of heaven as a faraway place of golden domes and


spires with mansions and a world of light and angels tripping about, none of whom I knew. And then my little brother died, and I thought of heaven as a place of golden domes and spires, streets of gold, and gates of pearl and one tiny little precious face that I knew.”

“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for those who love Him” (I Corinthians 2:9). The question is simply: do you love Him? Is Jesus the center and soul of your life? Are you prepared for Him? Do you realize that God loves you so much that Jesus died for you and has prepared for you an eternal paradise where you can drink freely of the water of life? The Spirit and the bride say come. Jesus invites you. Are your robes washed in the blood of the Lamb? Have you been baptized into Christ?