“And behold, I am coming soon. Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.” Revelation 22:7
The final chapter of the Bible – the epilogue of the Revelation received by John and the epilogue to the entire inspired word of God to us. God’s story – our story – that ends in redemption and restoration for those who trust in God and His gift of salvation. The Bible from start to finish tells this unified story…the story that takes place between two perfect gardens.
In Genesis, heaven and earth are created. Revelation ends with a new heaven and new earth.
In Genesis, God created the sun, stars, moon. Revelation ends with God Himself as our sole light source.
In Genesis, man is created and sees God face to face, walking in His presence. Revelation ends with man again seeing God face to face and dwelling with Him.
In Genesis, sin and death entered the world. Revelation ends with sin and death defeated forever.
In Genesis, man is banished from paradise and the tree of life. In Revelation, man is with God in paradise eating from the tree of life.
In Genesis, God promised One who would come to restore everything. Revelation ends with these last recorded words of the promised One who came, died, and rose from the dead for all who would believe and put their hope in Him, “Surely I am coming soon.” (Revelation 22:20)
So, here we are. We await the final battle and victory in the second coming of Jesus. Final and ultimate victory is coming. However, while we wait, there is still work for us as followers and believers to do here on earth. Jesus taught us to pray that God’s kingdom come, His will be done, on EARTH as in heaven. We work with our hands, our feet, our voice while we wait and we enthusiastically join John in His last words – the last words of God’s Word to us – “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!”
Question: What kingdom work can you be a part of while you wait for the return of Jesus?
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21:1-4
Satan destroyed. Death defeated. The old has passed away.
A new heaven and a new earth. No more deception, manipulation or temptation from Satan, for he is defeated for all time. God Himself with us for eternity.
An angel takes John to see the glorious paradise. Radiance like jewels. Twelve gates with the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. Twelve foundations with the twelve names of the twelve apostles of Jesus. It all comes full circle. It all had meaning. It all matters.
Walls of stunning, colorful jewels. The city pure gold, like clear glass. Even streets of gold. No temple, sun, or moon because GOD. IS. THERE. Flowing from the throne through the middle of the street of the city is the river of the water of life. Bright as crystal. One either side of the river, the tree of life, yielding twelve kinds of fruit each month. Here we will reign forever and ever. Paradise. No tears. No pain. No suffering. No addictions. No disease. No depression. No envy. No striving. No death. Only life.
In the Old Testament, Daniel also sees a vision of what is to come, but he is told to shut up the words and seal the book. It wasn’t yet time to be fully revealed. But here at the end of the revelation to John, Jesus says, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near.” (Revelation 22:10).
Friends, it is trustworthy and true. All things will be made new. You in?
Question: What is your favorite part of the idea of heaven?
And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. Revelation 20:12
For a thousand years, the dragon (Satan) is bound in the bottomless pit. The once powerful and destructive father of lies now shut and sealed, unable to deceive the nations until the thousand years ends.
For those thousand years, the martyrs, along with those who did not worship the beast or receive its mark, come to life and reign with Jesus. Peace on earth for a thousand years. The Millennium; the first resurrection.
At the end of the thousand years, Satan is released from his prison and given authority to yet again deceive the nations. He gathers the multitudes in rebellion against God for battle. They march up over the plain of the earth and surround the camp of team Jesus. But instead of a battle, fire rains from heaven and consumes them. God is done with them! At long last, the devil is thrown into the lake of fire where the beast and false prophet lie in perpetual agony. Here they will remain and be tormented night and day. Forever and ever.
John then sees a great white throne with the dead standing before it as books are opened. This is no trial, but instead a sentencing. The book of life – those who put their faith in Jesus - is also opened and the dead are judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. For believers, the debt was paid by Jesus when He took the wrath of our sin and gave us His righteousness…our name secured in the book of life. But of unbelievers, David Guzik summarizes, “Those who refuse to come to God by faith will, by default, be judged (and condemned) by their works.” No works can match up to a standard of perfection. Death and Hades – the last remnants of sin – are thrown into the lake of fire, along with anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life.
Challenge: Hell is real and hell is eternal. Fervently pray for those you know and love who haven’t yet put their faith in Jesus.
And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” Revelation 19:9
John sees a beast with seven heads and ten horns. He is told they represent kings and kingdoms…some that have come to pass and some that are yet to come. There is an eighth beast that is part of the seven, but separate. And there is a great prostitute arrayed in purple and scarlet and adorned in gold, jewels and pearls. On her forehead was written a name: “Babylon the great, mother of prostitutes and of earth's abominations.” She is drunk with the blood of the saints, the blood of the martyrs of Jesus. (Revelation 17:5-6). Though equally vile and partners in sexual immorality and luxury, the beasts hate the prostitute and destroy her. “For God has put it into their hearts to carry out his purpose by being of one mind and handing over their royal power to the beast, until the words of God are fulfilled.” (Revelation 17:17). Never doubt who is truly and always in control.
More rejoicing is heard…the marriage of the Lamb has come. Suddenly John sees heaven open and a white horse appear. The rider called Faithful and True. In His righteousness He judges and makes war. His robe is dipped in blood and His name is THE WORD OF GOD. On His robe and thigh a name written: King of kings and Lord of lords. From His mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations.
The beast and the kings of the earth gather to make war against the One on the horse and His army. But the beast is no match for the Word of God. He is captured, along with the false prophet who performed signs and deceived those who received the mark of the beast – 666 – and worshiped his image. The beast and false prophet are thrown into the lake of fire; the rest with them are slain by the sword from the mouth of the One on the horse.
There is only one Victor. Only one worthy of worship. He is the Word, and from His mouth came creation and from His mouth will come destruction for those who rebel against Him.
Question: What do you think about Jesus’s weapon in this battle being a sword from His mouth?
Now I watched when the Lamb opened one of the seven seals, and I heard one of the four living creatures say with a voice like thunder, “Come!” Revelation 6:1
John gets a front-row seat for a peek into the future…into our future. There are thrones, crowns, flashes of lighting, torches of fire, a sea of glass, living creatures like none other…worshiping; praising God. John is in for a wild ride and he takes us along with him.
Jesus, the Lamb that was slain, begins to break the seals. Seven of them…one by one. With each broken seal, an often catastrophic event on earth is triggered. Slaying of one another, earthquakes, blackened sun, full moon like blood, stars falling from the sky …the great day of the wrath of the Lamb upon them.
John sees 144,000 sealed from every tribe of the sons of Israel. And then great multitude – too numerous to count – from every tribe, nation, people, language clothed in white, washed by the blood of the Lamb, crying out in worship…a glimpse of those on Team Jesus coming out of the great tribulation.
The seventh and final seal ushers in seven angels with seven trumpets, each sounding additional judgments on earth. Though a third of the earth and its inhabitants are killed, those remaining refuse to repent. Seven new angels appear each carrying seven bowls of wrath to be poured out on the earth. A series of sevens – the number representing completeness. The end is near and the taste of utter destruction pungent, but still those remaining refuse to repent.
As the stirring and desire for a Messiah was seen in the Old Testament, more and more we will be stirred for the return of the Messiah to complete the restoration of all things. As told by Jesus while He walked the earth the first time, things will get worse before they get better. But He is coming back and day will come when all will be judged with Him or against Him, and for those with Him, all will be made right again. We longingly wait for His glorious return.
Challenge: Earnestly pray for those with hardened hearts to follow Jesus while there is still time.
And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?”… And one of the elders said to me, “Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.” And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. And he went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who was seated on the throne. And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.” Revelation 5:2,5-10
Fresh off of dictating letters to seven churches, Jesus invites John up to heaven to see more of what is to come. It is beautiful and royal. But then John sees weeping in his unfolding vision. Seals must be broken and a scroll opened, but they find no one worthy to open it.
We were made for another world. We were made for perfection and communion with God. We groan in the waiting. The heavens groan as well. It feels so impossible. Who is worthy? Who will save us? Who will defeat Satan for good?
The lamb who was slain. From the tribe of Judah, a descendant of David. The one whose blood ransomed people for God from EVERY tribe and language and people and nation. JESUS IS WORTHY.
On the outside, circumstances can look impossible. It can feel so heavy as if no one is worthy or capable of fixing things. But there is ONE who is both worthy and capable. The lamb who was slain. He is returning and all things will be made right.
Questions: Do you ever look at circumstances or challenges and feel like things are impossible? How can impossible situations draw us even close to Jesus?
To the angel of the church in Laodicea write… I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. Revelation 3:14-16
Of all the letters to the churches, the one to Laodicea often seems to hit closest to home in our culture today. There is no middle ground in God’s Kingdom…no fence-straddling is permitted. Jesus isn’t just disappointed with our lack of wholeheartedness, He says He will reject it.
In his book, Crazy Love, Francis Chan says too many of us are “lukewarm and loving it.” He summarizes the lukewarm Christian today as having the following traits:
Question: Which lukewarm traits resonate most with you? What changes can you make today?
To the angel of the church in Ephesus write…Revelation 2:1a
Jesus dictates letters to seven churches in Asia Minor for John to write and deliver. The letters each contain the Lord’s title (how Jesus refers to Himself), a statement on what the Lord is pleased with (two of the churches don’t have this), a condemnation with what the Lord is upset about (two of the churches don’t have this and one of the churches has two of them), advice on how to get back on track (one church doesn’t have this), and a promised reward for overcoming.
We would be wise to hear what Jesus has to say to these churches – and to us – on areas they (we) might be nailing it and areas they (we) might be missing the mark…
Question: Where do you see yourself in any of these church messages?
Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen. Revelation 1:7
So here we are. We are living after the first coming, where Jesus fulfilled the law and prophets. In His sacrificial death, we not only got something taken from us (punishment for our sins), we got something added to us (His righteousness). We are between this time in the past and His second coming in the future, where death will be defeated once and for all. All people will be on one side or the other: Satan’s earthly ways leading to eternal death, or Jesus’s holy ways leading to eternal life.
John, widely believed to be the apostle John, is exiled on the lonely, desolate isle of Patmos for “bearing witness of Jesus” (Rev 1:9). Though old, alone and enslaved, John “was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day.” However, this one Sabbath day was about to rock his world. He hears a loud voice behind him. It is his friend, Jesus, and He has a message for John. He tells John to write “the things that you have seen, that are and those that are to take place after this.” (Revelation 1:19)
This Revelation to John is also from Jesus to us. It is full of symbolism and just as full of disparate interpretations. But the end is clear. The victory belongs to Jesus and those of us who follow Him.
The work of Jesus to fulfill the law and prophets and to atone for our sins has been completed, but sin still lurks on the earth in our present time. The devil still prowls. His ultimate defeat has not yet taken place. We are still tempted by his playbook…doubting God’s goodness, lured by earthly pleasures, desiring power and a name for ourselves. We eagerly await the second coming of Jesus. Revelation gives us a picture of what is yet to come… both for those who decide to take things into their own hands and for those of us who put our hope in Jesus.
Challenge: Revelation 1:3 says, “Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near.” Commit to reading the entire book of Revelation over the next few days or weeks.