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Lowell Brueckner

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Revelation 22


Chapter 22

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.
6.  And he said to me, “These words are trustworthy and true. And the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, has sent his angel to show his servants what must soon take place.”
7.  “And behold I am coming soon. Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.”
8.  I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I heard and saw them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed them to me,
9.  but he said to me, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers the prophets, and with those who keep the words of this book. Worship God.”
10. And he said to me, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near.

It’s interesting to note that heaven provides security and healing, even though enemies are destroyed in the Lake of Fire forever, and sickness will cease to exist. In the last chapter, verse 12, there is a high wall and an angel guarding each gate of the city. If you have ever had a doubt that sometime in eternity, sin or the consequences of sin might revive, this vigilance is recorded to assure the reader that God has secured eternity. The Creator insures and reassures that these maladies will never again return. 

Earthly cities attempt to beautify themselves with trees, parks and rivers or lakes, but the heavenly city seems to be, essentially a park… a well populated park! There is no mention made of buildings, but in this chapter, John is taken inside the city to see, first of all, a river. It is called the River of the Water of Life. The source or fountain of the river is the throne of God and the Lamb. The river is as bright as crystal (1).

Ezekiel 47 seems to similarly depict this scene, but it is, rather, the millennial city, which extends, in its essence, into the New Jerusalem that we are now seeing. A temple is the center of Ezekiel’s vision (Ezek.47:1) and the river flows from the temple in it. On both banks of the river were many trees for continuous fruit (Ezek.47:12). Their leaves are for healing and they never fall; the trees bear fresh fruit every month.

The main street of the New Jerusalem runs as a causeway through the middle of the river. We have already learned that in the New Jerusalem there is no temple, but simply the throne of God and the Lamb. The river flows from the throne of God and the Tree of Life grows in the middle of the street and along both banks of the river. Naturally, we understand that the Tree of Life is not a singular tree, but a singular type of tree. As in Ezekiel, there are many trees and the properties are similar. It bears a different kind of fruit every month, 12 kinds of fruit in every cycle, and again, the leaves are for healing (2). There is no sickness in the New Jerusalem and the leaves doubly assure eternal health (I would imagine that the leaves are for tea).

Nothing remains of the curse upon mankind which, as already stated, includes sickness. There will be no weariness, thirst or hunger, yet eating and drinking will be pure pleasure. The central activity in the New Jerusalem is untiring worship, bursting forth continuously from the heart of every citizen. Service will spring from worship: “His servants will worship him” (3). The aroma from Mary’s worship in John 12 filled the house, enhancing Martha’s service and Lazarus’ communion with the Lord. That chapter was a picture of heaven on earth. His worshipping servants will also reign in His kingdom of light (5).

We will need transformed eyes in order to gaze upon His face in its glory. From the time that man fell into sin, his eyes could not look upon Him and live. Therefore John declared in his Gospel, “No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known” (Jn.1:18). The mark of the beast depicted a blasphemous loyalty to him, but here is the genuine mark of ownership of the One, Who is worthy: “His name will be on their foreheads” (4). There will be no night in the city of light, because the eternal light from the presence of the Lord God will stream continuously (5), giving perfect light and warmth.

We are reading and meditating upon inerrant truth from its highest authority and upon it, we bank our future. Man’s word and teaching will fail, heaven and earth will pass away, but these words are worthy of our full trust (6). The holy prophets’ spirits were God-conscious and they were moved by the Holy Spirit. For the benefit of His servants, His angel is showing future events to John. With Him, a thousand years is as a day and His servants must develop a patient, heavenly mindset: “Beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning his promise as some men count slackness…” (2 P.3:8,9, KJV).

We must apply this time principle to the last chapter in the Bible. In His measure of time, Jesus said that He is coming soon and if that day does not come in our lifetimes, He will come personally for our souls and receive us into glory (7). John declares his part in witnessing these mighty prophecies for the benefit of the church of all ages. He also humbly testifies of his human frailty and unworthiness (8). The revelation is immense and he falls before the angel and, only by the angel’s pure devotion to God, does he refrain from worship. Angels join with us in service to God and are much more involved than we think. They worked with the spirits of the prophets and the spirit of John to unfold the word of God to His people. Their command and passion is to worship God (9).

An angel revealed to Daniel much that serves as a background to the Revelation and Daniel was told: “Go your way, Daniel, for the words are shut up and sealed until the time of the end” (Dn.12:9). We are in the last days, the time of the end, for John is told “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near” (10). The events are already unfolding and as they develop, his servants will be taught concerning them. As Jesus said, “Nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known” (Mt.10:26). These are days of revelation and all the children of light will be informed, so that nothing takes them unawares (1 Thes.5:4).

11. Let the evildoer still do evil, and the filthy still be filthy, and the righteous still do right, and the holy still be holy.”
12. “Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done.
13. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”
14. Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates.
15. Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.
16. “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.”
17. The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.
18. I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book,
19. and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.
20. He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!
21. The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.

The separation of light and darkness becomes increasingly great, as time goes by. Gray areas disappear and light and darkness become more intense (11). Jamieson-Fausset-Brown comments:“The punishment of sin is sin, the reward of holiness is holiness… No worse punishment can God lay on ungodly men than to give them up to themselves.” The Lord Jesus shows in chapter 3, in dealing with the Laodicean Church, that He prefers hot or cold to lukewarm. Lukewarmness is a balance of hot and cold. God is pleased with a radical commitment to Him, and not a rationalized balance between godliness and humanism. We must also state that Jesus assured the church in Laodicea that He loved them and He was calling them to repentance, so that they would not be vomited out of His mouth. Elijah challenged the Israelites on Mount Carmel: “How long will you go limping between two different opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him” (1 K.18:21). God’s desire was their repentance and Elijah brought Israel headlong on their faces crying, “The Lord, he is God.” (1 K.18:39). In any case, be assured, nominal Christianity is never acceptable to God.

Neither hell nor heaven will bring people into an equal status: “The one who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, will receive a light beating” (Lk.12:48). Rewards will differ before the Judgment Seat of Christ: “If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire” (1 Co.3:14,15). Jesus warns that the consequences for good or bad will soon be administered. Life is short (12).

The revelation of Christ continues to the end of the Bible and I quote again from The Christ of the Apocalypse: “The anger of the Jews was about to explode one day. Jesus was making claims that they knew belonged to God alone. One more statement drove them beyond their religious tolerance. ‘Before Abraham was born, I AM’ (Jn.8:58). In so saying, he identified with the one who appeared to Moses through the burning bush – ‘I am who I am’ (Ex.3:14). Uttered by man or angel, it was a blasphemous statement. Only God could make such an assertion. They picked up stones to kill him.

They were ignorant of their day of divine visitation. In truth, Jesus is all that he said he is and much more. He has a name that no one knows except himself (Rv.19:12). He is God, beyond what has been revealed to us or that we can comprehend. He is the author of our faith before we believe. He is the finisher of our faith after we have done all.

The claims continue in the Revelation and reach an apex in the last chapter. ‘I AM the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end… I AM the root and the offspring of David, the bright morning star’ (13,16). Outside of his incomparable Son, there is no more imposing figure in the entire Bible than David, on either a national or spiritual level. Behind David – his ancestral line, anointing, training and reign – was one called, in our text, the Root. He is the unseen Author in charge of David’s history. It is his method to disqualify the abler candidates and exalt one of low degree. He drives out the secure and self-confident and finds a place for the misfit. He uses the common and unpretentious to perform his mighty acts.

Into the carefully selected line of Judah, the Root of David brought a pagan woman with no inheritance in Israel, but Ruth had a heart of faith. She married Boaz and kindness, dignity and faithfulness were bred into David’s heritage. From early age, David had a heart after God, which found its outlet in harp and voice. When the time came for kingly anointing, seven older brothers were paraded before the prophet Samuel and each, in turn, was rejected. The eighth was finally brought in from the sheepfold and, much to the mystification of the rest, was consecrated to be future king. He became a giant-killer, a general of a rebel army and finally a great monarch and prophet.

According to his humanity, Christ is David’s offspring. He is the Son of Man. He passed through a human birth canal unto the straw of a Bethlehem barn. A prophet and prophetess, who had no place in the religious hierarchy of the day, blessed him. As a toddler, he endured a round trip to Egypt and back, then went to live in Galilee. He played in the streets of lowly Nazareth. He was very young when he astounded theological giants in Herod’s temple. He descended into the waters of baptism and knew the driving force of the Holy Spirit. He was tempted of the devil in all points like we are; yet he was without sin. He knew weariness, hunger, thirst and pain.

More than that, his human body contained a spirit crushed with the burden of a sin-damned world. He cried over sheep without a shepherd. He wept over the dominance of death on human society. Hypocrisy, corruption and materialism infuriated him. He taxed his body by nights of prayer and days of service. He sweat drops of blood.

The glory beamed upon the Galilean towns and countryside. It filled Solomon’s porch with greater light than the seven-fold candlestick in the holy place. He was a Priest, not from the tribe of Levi, but like David from Judah and from the order of Melchizedek. None of his ways fit the normal pattern. He was an outside-the-camper. He lives today to intercede in heaven for such as have none to plead their cause on earth.

The Bright and Morning Star rose over the country of Israel and shone to an entire dark world. Jesus claimed that the Scriptures testify of him. They shine yet today to lead us to Christ. Peter saw the prophetic Scripture as a lamp in a dark place. It burned its witness through the darkness until the morning star appeared on the horizon (2 P.1:19). Zacharias said, ‘The sunrise from on high shall visit us, to shine upon those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death’ Lk.1:78-79).

I must insert the testimony of Charles Finney, who went to his Bible, when he found no relief around him for his darkened soul. The Scriptures led him to prayer, prayer to repentance and finally to a great revelation of Jesus Christ. ‘There was no fire, and no light in the room; nevertheless it appeared to me as if it were perfectly light. As I went in and shut the door after me, it seemed as if I met the Lord Jesus Christ fact to face… He said nothing, but looked at me in such a manner as to break me right down at his feet… I wept aloud like a child… I bathed his feet with my tears.’

Jesus is the Water of Life. The earth may sprout and bloom from other sources, but none will be transplanted by the sides of New Jerusalem’s streets. Church programs and soul-winning classes may fill pews. All of earth’s streams can be directed into Christian channels, but what it produces will not defy gravity. Only that which flows from the high peaks of Paradise will return from where it came with an abundant harvest.

Jesus is the Tree of Life. There are no graveyards, memorial chapels or funeral processions in the New Jerusalem. There is no death register in its archives; only a book of life. It is the one qualifying document for passport into the heavenly city. No religion, church, prophet or god can provide a page for this book. Thanks to the Lamb! ‘Thou gavest Him authority over all mankind, that to all whom Thou has given Him, He may give eternal life’ (Jn.17:3). For the partakers of the Tree of Life, life will go on beyond what we can now comprehend or imagine. Our souls have been set in motion, as a satellite in space, with no earthly fuel or guidance. On and on we will course in an eternity of joy, love and peace.”

An old hymn states: “I washed my robes, in Jesus’ blood; and He has made them white as snow.” There is a fountain of blood that flows from Calvary’s cross into the 21st Century and it cleanses the sinner. It is his only passage into the gates of New Jerusalem. Adam was separated from the Tree, guarded by cherubim, but the Last Adam freely and abundantly provides access to the Tree of Life. Heaven’s gates are wide open for the believer, whose only hope is Jesus Christ (14). We need not, we cannot, come with payment in our hands; it is offered and must be received “without price” (17).

Heaven is holy. Chapter 20:15 states that anyone, whose name is not recorded in the Book of Life is cast into the Lake of Fire. Justice was satisfied and the sentence was served, before the New Jerusalem came down from God out of heaven. Chapter 21:8 confirmed again that the ungodly had already found their eternal fate and 21:27 assures that nothing unclean will enter the city of God. For the third time, the Holy Spirit confirms that all that is immoral and sacrilegious are outside, on the condemnation side of eternity.

At the very end of the inerrant canon, a warning is given, actually for the third time in the holy pages of the Bible. It concerns adding or taking away from the Holy Spirit authorship of the Scripture. The first warning came from Moses: "You shall not add to the word that I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God that I command you” (Dt.4:2). Another word in Proverbs is very clear and inclusive of all that is considered the Word of God: “Do not add to his words, lest he rebuke you and you be found a liar” (Pr.30:6). Severe consequences will come upon those, who dare to add or take from His word. We see here the fate of every sect that relies upon experiences or writings apart from the Bible. The Christian must be loyal to the entire inspired word and nothing outside of that word. It is his absolute and only authority. (18-19).

We are to live and walk in the light of His coming. This is to be the Christian focus, many times and many ways repeated in the New Testament. It would add considerably to this commentary, if I would quote all the passages in full. Instead I will give you a list for your consideration and meditation: Romans 8:23; 2 Corinthians 5:2; 1 Thessalonians 1:10; Titus 2:13; and Hebrews 9:28. There are more, to be sure, but these are some, which are most directly related to awaiting His return (20). None can be more passionate than this one… the Lord promising His soon return and John responding to it: “Surely I am coming soon.” “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!”  In the heat of that promise and John’s longing, he extends a word of grace to all believers, finishing with the untranslated Hebrew word of unequaled authority, amen (21).

I conclude by quoting the last paragraph in The Christ of the Apocalypse: “Jesus is the unchanging, eternal I AM. HE IS “the same, yesterday, today and forever” (He.13:8). Jesus still stands among the golden candlesticks. The water of life still flows. The light from heaven still shines. All the wonder that graced the land of Israel 2000 years ago is still available to us. All that John viewed in heavenly places is still current. The blood has not lost its power to redeem. The resurrection life still quickens dead hearts. The sinner may still come from the world to the cross. The professing Christian may still rise from dead rituals to reality. The seduced can still be freed from Satan’s lying power. The hungry heart may still come from emptiness to find completeness in the Christ of the Apocalypse.”


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