Summary: The Book of Revelation gives Christ followers the confidence to pray “Come Lord Jesus!”
This morning we’ll complete a journey that began all the way back in July of 2009 as we began with an overview of the Day of the Lord as it was addressed by the Old Testament prophets. Then with that important background established, we began working our way through the book of Revelation last May. We began that part of our journey with the “box-art” verse that has been our guide during this journey:
But the one who endures to the end will be saved.
Matthew 24:13 (ESV)
As we began that part of our journey, I also encouraged you to join me in making three commitments that we would hold to during our journey:
• Keep my focus on Jesus
• Maintain my sense of the awe of God
• Focus on application, not just information
As I look back over where we’ve come over nearly the past year, I’m pleased to say that we’ve done a pretty good job in holding to those parameters that we set early on.
This morning, we’ll wrap up our journey in one sense. But my prayer is that for all of us this is not merely the end of a journey, but rather the start of a new journey in which we continually strive to implement the things we have learned over the last couple of years.
So with that in mind, go ahead and turn to Revelation 22. In hindsight, I probably should have included the first five verses of this chapter with last week’s message since it is a further description of the New Jerusalem. But since I didn’t do that let me begin by reading those verses and briefly addressing a couple of matters there. Then we’ll spend most of our time on the last part of the chapter as we wrap up our study.
1 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 2 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. 3 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. 4 They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. 5 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.
Unfortunately, most of us have gotten our ideas about what we’ll be doing for eternity from movies, Hallmark cards, and even from well meaning pastors and Bible teachers who have fallen prey to some of the traditional ideas about heaven and the final estate that just aren’t consistent with Scripture. So we get the picture that we’ll meet Peter at the pearly gates and then once he lets us in to heaven we’ll spend eternity sitting on a cloud playing a harp. Or another common misconception is that we’ll become angels after we die. Just this week, I heard the phrase that is often repeated when someone dies unexpectedly, especially a child – “God needed another angel.” But that idea is not found anywhere in the Bible.
Perhaps much of the confusion, even among Christ followers, comes because we fail to recognize the difference between heaven – which is a temporary holding place for the souls of Christ followers – and the final estate which is described for us in Revelation 21 and 22. That final estate consists of a new heaven and new earth where Christ followers will dwell for eternity after their souls have been reunited with their glorified resurrection bodies. And the capital city of that new heaven and earth will be the New Jerusalem, a physical city of enormous proportions where Jesus has prepared a dwelling place of each of His followers. The Bible text makes it clear that those Christ followers who dwell there will be able to go in and out of the city to both enjoy the renewed earth and to serve God according to the assignments He has given them. It is that New Jerusalem, the capital city, that is described beginning in Revelation 21:9 and concluding in chapter 22, verse 5.
The first part of chapter 22 reaffirms some of the things we have already learned about the New Jerusalem. We will be able to see God face to face and His glory will shine so bright that there will be no need for any other source of light.
But there are a couple of other aspects of the city that are new here – the crystal river and the tree of life. Although it is not clear if we will even need to eat or drink in order to sustain our glorified resurrection bodies, these are both pictures of God’s abundant provision for his children. We will experiences regular cycles of joyous provision, filled with variety.