The River of Life
Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down in the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the trees are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and His servants will serve Him. They will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.
The Tree of Life
The Water of the river that is as clear as crystal indicates there is no pollution in this water. This river of life speaks of salvation as mentioned in John 4:13-14. The source of life is in God Himself. The river is positioned in the city where it flows down the middle of the great street. The river has the tree of life on its sides. This tree, too, represents life. We can read of this tree in:
And the Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground – trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
The first man and woman could eat of this tree of life until the time of the Fall when they were forbidden to eat from it as we can read in:
And the Lord God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.”
But here is the tree of life once again and all people are encouraged to partake of that tree just like the first couple was encouraged to eat freely of that tree.
There will be no more struggle. The curse was a result of humanity’s fall into sin according to Genesis 3:14-19. God Himself and the Lamb will be in the city and believers will serve Him. They will see Him face to face. There will be no more night. Neither will there be a need for the sun, for the Lord God Himself will be their light.
Believers will reign with Him for ever and ever. They have already reigned with Him during the Millennium but that continues into Eternity. Do we know what role believers will have? No, for we do not have exact job descriptions but the Lord will have selected something for each believer which will fit that person perfectly.
Jesus is Coming
”The angel said to me, "These words are trustworthy and true. The Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, sent His angel to show His servants the things that must soon take place.” I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I had heard and seen them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who had been showing them to me. But he said to me, “Do not do it! I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers the prophets and of all who keep the words of this book. Worship God!” Then he told me, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book because the time is near. Let him who does wrong continue to do wrong; let him who is vile continue to be vile; let him who right continue to do right; and let him who is holy continue to be holy.” “Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with Me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. Blessed are those who wash their robes that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood. I, Jesus, have sent My angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.” The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” and let him who hears say, “Come!” Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life. I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book. If anyone add anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book. And if anyone takes away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the Holy City, which are described in this book. He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen.
The Impact of the Book
The message that John received is reliable for it is the Lord God Himself who is the source of this message. The main intent of prophecy is to cause us to obey what God says and to apply what we learn. Prophecy is to have an effect on how we live. It should motivate us to live a life of purity and faithful service to our God. See I John 3:3; Matthew 24:45-51; Matthew 25:15-30. Overwhelmed by all that he has been shown John falls down at the feet of the angel to worship him but the angel corrects him by saying he is simply a fellow servant with him. Angels are not to be worshipped but they are instructed to worship Jesus Christ in Hebrews 1.
Similarly, He is to be the object of our worship.
The Importance of the Book
Revelation reveals the climax of God’s plan of the ages. Daniel was told to seal up the vision he received according to Daniel 8:26 and Daniel 12:4, 8-10. Revelation is an answer to Daniel’s question about understanding. The words of his prophecy are no longer sealed up for “the time is near”. The closer we get to the fulfilment, the more important it is for us to study and understand the prophecies of Revelation. There is a great contrast between those who do right and those who do wrong. It is really a contrast between heaven and hell, or the new Jerusalem and the lake of fire.
The rewards Christ brings at His coming are especially important to believers. God’s justice will be clear to everyone when He rewards them “according to what they have done”. This judgement of believers will occur at the judgement seat of Christ according to I Corinthians 3:11-15 and II Corinthians 5:10. While we are not told when exactly this judgement will occur, it may happen in heaven during the tribulation period. The twenty-four elders of Revelation 4, who very likely represent the completed Church in heaven, have already been rewarded since they have “crowns of gold” upon their heads. We will be rewarded for what we have done in this life according to Romans 2:6-11 and I Corinthians 3:8. Jesus Christ as the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last, reveals His nature and character as it relates to God’s plan of the ages and the prophetic future. Revelation reveals the consequences of the gospel. There will be a heavenly city on earth for believers and there will be a lake of fire for unbelievers. We are told who may enter the city and who is to remain outside the city and, in fact, will find themselves in the lake of fire.
The Final Invitation of the Book
The One who has given this testimony is Jesus Himself, He then identifies Himself further, making it clear that He is “the Root and the Offspring of David”, which identifies Him as the Messiah, the Son of David, the One who will sit on the throne of David and rule the world according to Isaiah 11:1-5; II Samuel 7:12-16, Psalm 132:11-12. Jesus identifies Himself also as “the Bright Morning Star” which is also mentioned in Revelation 2:28.
Numbers 24:17 also identifies the Messiah as a “Star” from the line of Jacob.
“The Morning Star” implies that the dawning of a new day is at hand. Jesus Christ is our Hope of a new day, a brand new world where all will be joy and peace forever.
He invites us with the simple word “Come”. Likewise the Holy Spirit says, “Come”. His ministry is to draw people to Jesus. In cooperation with the Holy Spirit, the Bride – the Church of Jesus Christ - also says “Come”. Believers are to be involved in evangelism, inviting people to put their trust and faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour. Salvation is a free gift given by the grace of God according to Ephesians 2:8-9. It must be received according to Romans 6:23. It cannot be earned.
John next gives a serious warning not to add to God’s Word or to take away from it. Paul writes in II Timothy 3:10-16 that all Scripture is inspired or God-breathed and Peter writes in II Peter1:19-21 that what was written was not of private interpretation but exactly what God wanted to be said.
The reason Jesus wants all people to respond to His invitation is because He is coming back soon.
John closes with the words, “the grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people”. This is in sharp contrast to the wrath of God as revealed in this Book.
Therefore, let us share with others regarding the grace of God which is still available to us today.