The city, a closer look inside
We continue the description of the holy city begun in the previous chapter: "And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials. . . . And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, Having the glory of God. . . ." (Rev. 21:9-11)
As the city approaches
Scanning back through John's description, we notice that he first saw walls, gates, and foundations, then the material from which they were made. Then inside the city he noticed the presence of the Lord God almighty and the Lamb in place of the temple and how they also provided the city's light. Now we see the throne, the river, the tree, and the street. Read verses 1 and 2 at the left.
The final scenes of Revelation here emphasize that the great loss because of sin is restored to the faithful. "Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began." (Acts 3:19-21).
|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.||And a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from thence it was parted, and became into four heads. -Gen. 2:10.|
| 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.
Verse discussed more in note below.
|And out of
the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the
sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of
the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil. -Gen. 2:9
There will be no tree of ... good and evil, for only those having passed the test will be in the holy city. On "every month," see is6623
|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:||And the LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle. . . . And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree . . . cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life. Gen. 3:15, 17.|
|4 And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads. -22:4 [For "foreheads" see 0401c].||And he [God] said [to Moses], Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live. -Ex. 33:20.|
|.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. 22:5.||And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also. -Gen. 1:16. [Notice that this is not a curse. The new Eden will be even better than the old.]|
of life from the throne
"Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life." (John 4:13, 14)
Our text describes the water as "clear as crystal." The Greek says "bright as crystal." We will have to wait to see it, but the water of heaven will glow with the glory of God, and as we drink it we may claim the promise Jesus made to the woman at Jacob's well.
Tree of life
Follow the text in the bar at the left.
The street is not quite what we think of by that term 2121st. We can understand a little more by seeing that the river is within the street. We can say it's the place of fellowship. And this makes me long to be there. It's worth waiting for.
tree on both sides of the river
This is easier to understand as we see the banyan tree which sends down roots from its branches. Of course the tree of life won't just happen to put down a root across the river. In fact, I expect it to be the same tree transplanted from the garden of Eden. It will be beautiful, unlike the illustration. Why would it have two trunks? I believe the two olive trees of Zechariah and of Revelation 11 give us a clue 1103. We concluded that the witnesses were the two parts of God's Word. Image © Corel. See home page.
We draw another clue in seeing the tree of life in contrast with the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The latter provided harmful "knowledge" and separation from God. A third clue is that it is called the tree of "life" whereas the other tree was the tree of death ge0216,17. We conclude that the tree of life provides the knowledge of God. It helps us to know Him personally. And this is a blessing which we may have in part even here.
"And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent." jn1703.
"But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen." (2 Peter 3:18).
And how do we learn to know God? by the Scriptures — by established truth and tested contemporary witness. This brings us back to see the two trunks — the two witnesses.
The man in linen
with two others
We see the same form again in the holy ones on each bank of the river and the man in linen over the river da1205. Here is the resolution to the problem they discussed. The tree of life represents the man in linen, the Word of God who came in human flesh jn0114. Also compare ex2518-22.
We thought the nations would not get sick (is3324; 2103). How could the leaves be for the healing of the nations? The Greek word translated "healing" is therapeia and also means service rendered, especially medical service. I see the leaves here for maintaining life which is also implied by the tree's name, the tree of life. The nations (or "the Gentiles") are the righteous.
|My friend Stanley suggests that we will need time for healing relationships. We will not have hatred in our hearts but we will need to understand. This will be a process of "growing up like calves? mal0402. I would agree that we will develop understanding of people as they are judged during the thousand years. Maybe Stanley is right about the tree and healing, too.|
2203 to 2205
Discussed in the table above.
A reflection of
Many symbols in the final chapters of Revelation are drawn from imagery in Ezekiel. Are the messages to us from the two portions of Scripture the same? Perhaps, to some extent. It seems to me that Ezekiel pictures the preparation of the people who become the holy city that will come down from God out of heaven while Revelation describes the prepared city. In the table below, I'll abridge several passages from Ezekiel and add references for comparing them to Revelation. There are likely more passages in Ezekiel that offer parallels. Also see on the temple described by Ezekiel ez40.
|And the glory of the LORD came into the house by the way of the gate whose prospect is toward the east [facing east] So the spirit took me up, and brought me into the inner court; and, behold, the glory of the LORD filled the house [temple]. And I heard him speaking unto me. . . . And he said unto me, Son of man, the place of my throne [above] and the place of the soles of my feet [2011he], where I will dwell in the midst of the children of Israel for ever,  and my holy name, shall the house of Israel no more defile, neither they, nor their kings, by their whoredom, nor by the carcases of their kings in their high places. (Ezek. 43:4-7)|
| "Afterward he
brought me again unto the door of the house [the temple]; and, behold,
issued out from under the threshold of the house eastward: for the forefront
of the house stood toward the east, and the waters came down from under
from the right side of the house, at the south side of the altar. . . .
and, behold, there ran out waters on the right side. And when the man that
had the line in his hand went forth eastward, he measured a thousand cubits,
and he brought me through the waters; the waters were to the ankles. .
. . the waters were to the knees. . . . to the loins. Afterward he measured
a thousand; and it was a river that I could not pass over. . . .
Now when I had returned, behold, at the bank of the river were very many
trees on the one side and on the other [ps001]. Then said he unto me, These
waters issue out toward the east country, and go down into the desert,
and go into the sea: which being brought forth into the sea, the waters
shall be healed. And it shall come to pass, that every thing that liveth,
which moveth, whithersoever the rivers shall come, shall live: and there
shall be a very great multitude of fish, because these waters shall come
thither: for they shall be healed; and every thing shall live whither the
river cometh. . . . But the miry places thereof and the marishes thereof
shall not be healed [2108, 2215,
below]. . . . And by the river upon the bank thereof, on this
side and on that side, shall grow all trees for meat [food], whose
leaf shall not fade, neither shall the fruit thereof be consumed: it shall
bring forth new fruit according to his months, because their waters they
issued out of the sanctuary: and the fruit thereof shall be for meat, and
the leaf thereof for medicine [2202, above].
"Thus saith the Lord GOD; This shall be the border, whereby ye shall inherit the land according to the twelve tribes of Israel: Joseph shall have two portions. And ye shall inherit it, one as well as another: concerning the which I lifted up mine hand to give it unto your fathers: and this land shall fall unto you for inheritance." (Ezek. 47:1-14)
|And these are the goings out of the city on the north side, four thousand and five hundred measures. And the gates of the city  shall be after the names of the tribes of Israel: three gates northward; one gate of Reuben, one gate of Judah, one gate of Levi. And at the east side . . . one gate of Joseph, one gate of Benjamin, one gate of Dan. And at the south . . . . one gate of Simeon, one gate of Issachar, one gate of Zebulun. At the west . . . one gate of Gad, one gate of Asher, one gate of Naphtali. It was round about eighteen thousand measures: and the name of the city from that day shall be, The LORD is there [2103, as above]. (Ezek. 48: 31-35)|
The epilogue begins
John introduced this
book of Revelation in the first 9 or so verses, by showing its origin (from
God), theme (Christ and the second coming), and the background of its writing
(his location and calling). That was a prologue (introductory theme). Here
we begin the epilogue.
Let's read: "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." verse 6.
Unless you already have, please read more of the context. Does the larger passage convey a sense of urgency and great seriousness? Do you see God's care for us, His volunteer slaves?
Who is speaking?
Read the text on through several verses. It is not God or the Lamb because we worship them. It is the plague angel 2109 who speaks about the angel in the prologue.
(words) are faithful and true
What words? Those of the whole book v18.
Who is God?
He is revealed here as "the Lord God of the holy prophets." The angel emphasizes the great importance of the book's message. From considering the tree of life, we concluded that we need to know God. Then what does this revelation He has given about who He is mean to us? I'll let you discover your own answers.
God of the holy
prophets sent ...
A beautiful confirmation of the words of the Old Testament which are often considered only partly true and important for us today 2pe0121, 1406d.
Shortly be done — coming quickly
John apparently wrote that the Lord would come "quickly" near the end of the first century. Now 1900 years later, Jesus still hasn't returned. The problem came up in the prologue 0101b. We add here only that, for anyone who has continued to reject Christ until after his or her time for decision has passed, the coming will certainly be "quickly."
In verse 7, Jesus' statement emphasizes the point. "Behold, I come quickly: blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book." Our relationship with Him must be above any others and above our natural love of ourselves. It is a relationship of obedience. For us who make and keep our commitment to Him, it will not be a surprise 1th0502.
Do not worship me
Look back at practically the same situation in chapter 19 What is different this time and what do we learn? 1910.
Few of those caught up in the modern focus on angels would think they are worshiping these beings, but could we worship an angel and not realize it? One of the tests is in our present passage. The angel said that he and John keep the instructions in the book. The directive in the same sentence to "worship God" emphasizes keeping the instructions. If an angel gives us information that is contrary to the truth of the apocalypse and the rest of the Bible, we may know that it is an evil angel even though it may appear to be holy. And please note: If we follow their counsel instead of going to the Scriptures, we place them above God. We are worshipping them!
Jesus had an encounter with an angel. His example is for us: "And the devil (an angel who fell) said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, command this stone that it be made bread. And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God." (Luke 4:4). Jesus quoted Scripture. Of course Satan quotes, too. We must simply look at the context and at other passages on the topic.
And Paul's warning was "But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed." (Gal. 1:8).
Catching us off
One of the most powerful deceptions that come to those who believe they communicate with the dead is the popular misconception about where the dead are: "For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten. Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished; neither have they any more a portion for ever in any thing that is done under the sun." (Eccl. 9:5, 6). This may be shocking to you since the doctrine that the dead go to heaven or hell or purgatory is so commonly taught. I think that most who teach this are sincere and really believe it. Remember that practically the whole Jewish nation believed that Jesus was not the Messiah. If this thought about death is new to you, please take time to study the various verses which are used to teach that the dead are in heaven. I have links to comments about them all on one page.
Do holy angels
of heaven obey God's law?
And why would I ask this question considering the present context? What did the angel say? You can look at verse 9 again. They, with the prophets and us, keep the sayings of the book we are studying 0103. And what are they? You might like to browse through the book and make a list. The three angels seem to have the central messages: worship God according to the eternal gospel and the creation, come out of Babylon, and don't worship the beast. (See chapter 14). Looking back to verse 7 we find the charge to be an overcomer (you may read the verse). Overcoming what? Sin. And this means obedience. The angels always work in harmony with God's design, and so may we.
Do not seal the sayings
What would be the purpose
of this instruction? First, it is in contrast to the command to Daniel
that his book be sealed da1204.
"But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the
time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased."
The command is very important because we find it at the heart of a chiastic structure. We will look at the structure, then suggest why the verse is important.
The next verse is similar. "He that is unjust, let him be unjust still. . . . and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still. . . ." Verses 10 and 11 share the center focus of the literary structure. Putting them together, we understand that the book John wrote is unsealed so that the end-time people may be sealed or marked. I believe that the "book" of verse 10 is now open. When all living will have made their decision, their destiny will have been decided. Then will be the time of no more change – the close of probation (verse 11). More on verse 11 follows the table.
|6 - God of the prophets sent his angel 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.|
- I come quickly Behold,
I come quickly:
7, 8, 9 - Blessing for keeping sayings of this book. The apostle and the angel also keep them blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book. 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. 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.
- Do not seal the book. The time is at hand And
he saith unto me, Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book: for
the time is at hand.
11 - Human destiny is sealed 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.
13 - I come quickly with reward; I am first
and last And, behold,
I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as
his work shall be. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the
first and the last.
14, 15 - Blessing for doing (keeping) the commandments; others are outside the gate 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. For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.
|16 - I Jesus have sent angel to testify 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.|
What is the message?
The literary arrangement has some points to compare and consider. You might want to prayerfully study the verses for yourself. I'll share my thoughts: Let's start at the center and move out.
The book of Revelation is very important. It is open with the invitation for us to come. At the end of that time, the righteous and unrighteous will never again change.
The first shell impresses us of the urgency of readiness and the blessing for those who are obedient to God's book.
In the outside shell we hear the appeal from the Father and the Son and that Christ has the power and authority for the blessing we so much need.
No more changes
Both righteous and wicked will have made their final decisions. The preadvent judgment is closed — no more clients. Of course the destiny of each individual who does not live until Jesus comes is sealed at death.
If there are only two groups, why four categories? Because we need both justification and sanctification. Our objective is to accept the righteousness of Christ and put grace to work asking for the power of Christ to live godly lives.
translation of this verse is "Let the unrighteoud one do unrighteousness
still, and the filthy person continue to be defiled."
Time of fulfillment.
Those who believe that all of Revelation was fulfilled in John's time and shortly after must have a hard time making sense out of this and the next verse. The time when wicked and righteous will become beyond change is still future as I write. I believe that God will send a final test involving worship of the image and the beast of chapter 13 re1315.
I'm coming with my reward
Jesus repeats the promise of great hope. The fact that He comes from heaven with rewards helps us understand that the decisions have been made. Elsewhere, we learned about the preadvent judgment.
Also note that the reward is according to behavior. Matthew agrees mt1627. But Paul writes that we are saved by grace, "not of works" ep0208ff. Still works – behavior – is the basis of our judgment ec1213f. So if we are saved by grace, why are we judged by our works? Because works (behavior) is an index to our faith lu0645 and in considering our works, we can understand God's fairness. See a diagram showing relationships among grace, faith, and works re1406e.
Verse 13: "I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last."
"Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:" (Phil. 1:6)
Entry through the gates – a blessing
The text specifies that we enter in through the gates into the city. Wouldn't that be the normal way to go in and not need to be mentioned? Consider the following words of Jesus:
| John 10, NIV: Verse
9: I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come
in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill
and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. . . .
14 I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me — just as the Father knows me and I know the Father — and I lay down my life for the sheep.
16 I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. . . .
17 The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life — only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority [power] to lay it down and authority to take it up again. . . .
Doing commandments and Bible translations
The phrase "do His commandments" appears for verse 14 in the chiastic pattern we studied above. You see that verses 14 and 15 match verses 7, 8, and 9. Instead of this phrase, most Bible versions read "wash their robes." The two phrases are similar but clearly different in the Greek. Scholars have determined that other manuscripts discovered since the KJV was prepared are apparently older and have had less chance for scribal errors. But since no original manuscripts have been found, older doesn't necessarily mean more like the original. Doing His commandments is also needed for the chiastic structure of the seven blessings 1909b – confirmation that the phrase "do His commandments" is the correct choice. Also see article.
Please understand. Most differences among manuscripts are amazingly insignificant, like in spelling. Even in Rev. 22:14, doing commandments and washing robes both indicate that we have an active part in putting God's grace to work in our lives. He has certainly kept His hand over His word and has preserved its truth for us.
Right to the tree
"So when the woman [Eve] saw that the tree [of the knowledge of good and evil] was good . . . pleasant . . . desirable . . . she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. . . . Then the Lord God called to Adam. . . . 'Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat?' . . . So He drove out the man; and He placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden . . . to guard the way to the tree of life." (Gen. 3:6-24, NKJV)
"Thou shalt not bring the hire of a whore, or the price of a dog, into the house of the LORD thy God for any vow: for even both these are abomination unto the LORD thy God." (Deut. 23:18). A "dog" in this verse in Deuteronomy would be a male prostitute, but the metaphor also has other meanings. In general and probably in our Revelation text it is anything offensive to God. Check your concordance de2319.
Jesus' testimony and qualifications
We explained one important feature of this verse in connection with the literary structure of which it is a part above.
Perhaps the special angel who took Lucifer's place. This angel is mentioned at the beginning of the book 0101a. Jesus there sends messages to the seven churches 0111.
Root and offspring
The throne of David was to last forever and the Messiah was expected to rule on it. In Jesus' time the people were taught to expect a king to overthrow the Romans. Thus the children sang "Hosanna to the Son of David," at the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. See the promise in Ezek. 37 ez37.
This is a nice picture of Christ. He is the root as well as the offspring of David. He, as Creator, brought life to the king, and through Mary and Joseph he is in the lineage of david.
"I [Balaam] shall see him, but not now: I shall behold him, but not nigh: there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel, and shall smite the corners of Moab, and destroy all the children of Sheth." (Num 24:17). Christ was the star of the reformation, too 0228.
Come and say, come
You may recall that a blessing was promised from Father, Son, and Spirit at the beginning of this book 0103. Here we hear the Spirit. Do you see the Father and the Son? Try verses 6 and 16 the outer shell of the chiasm we just moved out of? above. So we have all thee here at the close, too, and joined by the bride (you and me). And rather than comment on the beauty of the passage, I'd just invite you to read it again. Marvelous invitation from a loving God.
On the page describing the chiastic structure as it is used in Revelation, is the pattern of the last few verses which we are beginning here r00.
Do not change this book
Who is speaking?
Jesus, according to the next verse. The literal reading of the text begins, "I testify together to. . . ." It may read "I testify along with other testimony." In any case it seems to make the statement more emphatic.
The principle expressed holds for all the inspired writing.
John's hope, and
ours and Satan's plan to divert our attention
What beautiful words, "Even so come, Lord Jesus." At the beginning of the book of Revelation we read that Jesus would come with clouds, visible to every eye 0107a. The apostle records Jesus' words with the promise that He would come again jn1401-3. Now we conclude our book with the same hope – the literal coming of our Lord. What a tragedy that popular theology is pointing our hope to a preadvent rapture rather than the coming of Christ in glory. Promoters of this idea appeal to a few texts but the rapture idea is simply contrary to the grand testimony of the Scriptures. Those who teach the rapture have misunderstood. I cannot condemn the motive of many who teach the rapture idea. Being sincere, however, is not enough. We looked at the idea when studying chapter 1 0107b.
Sometimes someone looking forward to marriage or the fulfillment of another dream hopes that the coming won't be too soon. If any interest, no matter how noble, holds a higher place than Christ, we may lose the eternal prize! We can ask for stronger faith and love. God will hear.
Will Jesus come tomorrow? We know not the day or hour. As I write (2000), some events in the prophetic schedule are still future. One writer has aptly declared, that "the final movements will be rapid ones." And of course death may close our probation. Listen:
"Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon." (Isa. 55:6, 7) Image © Corel. See home page.
And with that marvelous
statement of grace, we may join the apostle saying, Even so, come, Lord
is the end of the book of Revelation
and the end of the Bible