Revelation 22:6-16

Revelation 22:6-16

WHAT TO DO UNTIL THEN

In this lesson we learn what to do while we wait for the return of Christ.

OUTLINE

It is easy to become so focused on our daily calendar that we lose sight of the calendar of the ages. From God's perspective, there are two events which govern everything else: the first and second comings of Christ. The first has happened, so we should live in light of the second.

I.          Walk Submissively

II.        Worship Triumphantly

III.       Witness Urgently

IV.       Work Fervently

V.        Watch Expectantly

 

OVERVIEW

   As we begin our study of the final chapter of Revelation, we can step back and look at the grand scope of the book and say the global purposes of God have been completely fulfilled. The rebellion of angels and the men they inspired is over and they have been consigned to the lake of fire. Jesus Christ the King of kings and Lord of lords, is on His throne, and His eternal reign has begun. In the universe, sin has been replaced by righteousness. The redeemed are in glory with the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world. Every good and perfect promise of God has been realized.

   The final words of John's prophecy are a sort of appendix, an epilogue, to all that has come before. Chapter 1 and chapter 22 of Revelation serve as prologue and epilogue, bookends that introduce and bring to a conclusion all that is contained between, and they are remarkably similar in many ways. There are six parallel threads which run through both the opening and closing chapters of Revelation.

1.         In both chapters we are told prophecy is from God (1:1; 22:6).

2.         In both chapters the message is validated by an angel (1:1; 22:6).

3.         In both chapters John is mentioned as the human agent in writing (1:1; 22:8).

4.         In both chapters there is a blessing upon those who give attention to the prophecy (1:3; 22:7).

5.         In both chapters imminency is the prevailing tone (1:1; 22:6).

6.         In both chapters we are given titles for Jesus Christ we are to remember (1:5, 8; 22:13, 16).

   What John said in chapter 1 he reiterates in chapter 22; he wants us to leave our reading of his book with principles and priorities which should inform our thinking and direct our walk. If we study the book of Revelation for intellectual or academic purposes only, just so we'll know more about prophecy than our neighbor, we will have missed John's point entirely. In this lesson, therefore, we want to ask and answer the question, "How are we to live until the Rapture of the Church takes place?" We now know what is going to take place in the future. How should we live as Christians until those things begin to unfold?

WALK SUBMISSIVELY

   Verses 6-7 tell us clearly that the things John has been shown and which he has recorded in his book are to be kept. "Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book." At the beginning of these studies, I mentioned the fact that very few Christians have ever been through a study of the book of Revelation and that many Christians feel it is a book of the Bible just for those who like prophecy. But God places a high value on His prophetic words and expects every believer to know them and to keep them. In fact Revelation issues a dire warning to any who would misuse the words of this prophecy (verses 18-19). These warnings are echoes of a similar emphasis on carefully attending to God's Word found in other parts of Scripture (Deuteronomy 4:2; Proverbs 30:5-6; Galatians 1:8-9).

   When John says the person is blessed who keeps the words of the prophecy of Revelation, what does he mean? It does not mean to buy a Bible and keep it on your shelf or in a drawer or some other place of safe keeping! John was talking plainly about obedience to the Word of God. More than any other author, John used the word keep (Greek tereo) as a picture of obedience. Literally, the word means "to adhere to," "to follow," "to be submissive to," or "to walk under the authority of." John is saying, "Blessed is he who walks submissively under the authority of God's Word until Jesus returns." This would be consistent with other places where John used tereo, John 14:15; 15:10; 1 John 2:3; 5:2-3.

   The top priority for all believers as we await the return of Christ is to walk submissively, obediently, to the Word of God. We are to discover God's will and then obey it. That will make you seem out of step with the prevailing culture, but that is okay.

   That is one way you know you are walking in step with God. There is a price to be paid in the modern era for walking obediently to the Word of God, but it is a temporary price and far less than the eternal price we pay if we do not.

   One of the greatest commentaries in Scripture on walking obediently in the Word is Joshua, chapter 1. In two verses, God gives Joshua the formula for spiritual prosperity and success, a formula he needed as he took over leadership of the nation of Israel from Moses. Here are the principles given to Joshua about walking obediently in the Word (Joshua 1:7-8).

     1.    Read the Word obediently. We are to "observe" the Word of God in order "to do according to all." The purpose of reading and studying is so we may do what is pleasing to God.

     2.    Follow the Word exclusively. Joshua was not to mix the Word of God with pagan philosophies. He was to follow God's Word exclusively.

     3.    Believe the Word totally. Joshua was to do "all" of God's Word, not excise the parts he did not like or did not agree with.

     4.    Study the Word continually. Joshua was told to meditate on the Word "day and night." If we want continued spiritual success, we must continually submit to God's Word.

WORSHIP TRIUMPHANTLY

   The second priority for the believer before Jesus returns is illustrated in Revelation 22:7-9. Worship triumphantly. When John heard that Jesus was "coming quickly," he "fell down to worship." John could not contain himself at the thought of Jesus' soon appearing, and our response should be the same. John's consistent response to news about prophetic events is to worship (19:10). Even though in both instances John got confused about who to worship, his heart was in the right place. The angel who brought the messages to him gave him a clear imperative both times. "Worship God!" The worship of our great God is one of the consistent themes running through the book of Revelation.

   Sometimes we feel inadequate when it comes to praise and worship. We know how to sing in church, but when it comes to praising Him in our private devotions some people are at a loss. There is no better guide than the worship taking place in heaven. Heavenly worship focuses on the attributes and the actions of God, who He is and what He has done (4:8, 11; 5:9-10, 12-13; 7:10, 12; 11:15). The worship in heaven never loses sight of the fact that throughout the prophetic calendar of the Church and the world, God is in control. He is on the throne, reigning supreme over the affairs of men, and His purposes will be carried out and brought to perfect completion. We can praise Him the same way as we wait for the return of Christ and the consummation of God's plan.

WITNESS URGENTLY

   John is told by an angel not to seal up the prophecy he has seen and recorded, "for the time is at hand." The revelation he has received needs to be shared with others. This is the opposite of what the prophet Daniel was told after he received his prophetic revelations: "Shut up the words, and seal the book until the time of the end" (Daniel 12:4). John's prophecy, because it builds so heavily on Daniel's, is the revealing of Daniel's prophecy as well as John's. Reading Revelation is almost like reading a commentary on Daniel, so the command given to John applies not only to Revelation but to Daniel.

   Prophecy is one of the greatest evangelistic tools we have. I am amazed at pastors who have told me they never preach on prophecy; they consider it a waste of time. In truth, prophecy is one of the most effective tools we have for persuading men and women to come to Christ. The apostle Paul said in 2 Corinthians 5:11, "Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men." Anyone who can read about the corning days of Tribulation on earth and not be motivated to tell others how to escape the coming wrath of God has not been touched by the words of this prophecy.

   Revelation 22:11 means that the Word of God is the only agent for changing people's lives. People will stay in whatever condition they are in unless God's Word causes them to be changed. That is why the words of John's prophecy must not be sealed up. When men read what is corning upon the earth, many will be motivated to run to Christ to be saved. For in their present condition, they will not be allowed into God's eternal heaven.

WORK FERVENTLY

   Verse 12 gives us our next assignment until Jesus returns. Work fervently. if you are a Christian who has been rightly taught the Word of God, the first thing you ought to think about when you consider the Second Coming is the Judgment Seat of Christ. Following the Rapture of the Church, appearing before that bar of judgment is the first thing believers will experience.

   In my opinion, we have de-clawed the judgment of believers. In these lessons, I have been careful to point out that believers are not judged as to their salvation but as to their rewards for faithfulness. That is, they are judged for their works. But by making sure believers know they cannot lose their salvation, we have failed to emphasize appropriately the fact that we can lose our rewards. It is, after all, a judgment at which a verdict will be handed down.

   The Judgment Seat of Christ is a very frightening thing for me to think about. To stand before the Lion of Judah and have His gaze penetrate the innermost parts of my heart and mind is not something I will anticipate if I have not been living my life for Him. The works I have done as a believer will be evaluated as to kind, motive, and results. My whole Christian life is going to be judged. If I am going to receive the rewards God wants to give His faithful saints, then I must work and serve Him fervently until the time of His return. Every day that I live determines how I will fare at the Judgment Seat of Christ. I do not want to be without crowns to cast at His feet to be found empty-handed when it comes to rewards. I must work fervently "while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work" (John 9:4, KJV).

WATCH EXPECTANTLY

   Finally, our last responsibility is to "watch expectantly." Why? Because three times in this chapter alone the soon coming of the Lord is emphasized (verses 7, 12, 20). The word quickly is from tachus, which means "quickly, swift or soon," and from which we get our word tachometer, the gauge that measures the revolutions per minute of an engine. It does not suggest "soon" in terms of the calendar but "quickly" in terms of the actual event. When the Lord does come, it will be so quickly that no one will have the opportunity to change their status or condition in light of His appearing. In other words, it will be too late to make a decision for Christ if it has not been done before He comes. He who is unjust or unrighteous will remain so (22:11). Now is the time to prepare for His coming; now is the time to open your eyes and begin watching expectantly before it is too late.

   In Joseph Seiss's commentary on Revelation, he paints a beautiful picture of a maiden whose lover has gone on a voyage across the sea. She builds a signal fire each night on the shore in anticipation of his ship's return until at last he comes to her. We are like that maiden, ever committed to the return of our Beloved, living as signal lights in a dark world until He comes, walking, worshiping, witnessing, working, and watching, all in light of His sudden return.