An announcement to members of Matt Vines' Sunday school class.
Rev. 22:6-21 serves as the epilogue to the Book of Revelation. John concludes this great book by reminding his readers of the authoritative nature of this book. He tells us that its words are “trustworthy and true” and that the one who obeys its teaching shall be eternally blessed. He also reminds us of the imminent return of Jesus Christ. Three times in this passage, Jesus says, “I am coming soon” (v. 7, 12, 20). For this reason, John says that those who are anxiously awaiting his return should remain steadfast in their pursuit of righteousness and holiness. Jesus promises to richly reward all those who faithfully persevere to the end. By the grace of God, all of the elect will attain entrance into the NewJerusalem where they will have free access to the Tree of Life for all eternity. Therefore, the church of every age joyously proclaims, “Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!”
In Rev. 22:1-5, John completes his description of the New Jerusalem. This passage identifies three basic things necessary for life: water, food, and health. John tells us that in the New Jerusalem there will be an abundance of each of these three commodities. We will drink from the River of Life; we will eat from the Tree of Life; and we will be enjoy health and prosperity simply by touching the leaves of the Tree of Life. In the New Jerusalem, God will fully satisfy all the needs of his people.
In Rev. 21:9-27, John presents a marvelous vision of the New Jerusalem. While we may be tempted to think of the New Jerusalem as a place, John makes it clear that he is talking about a people – the eschatalogical community of the redeemed. He describes the eternal church as a beautiful bride walking down the aisle to meet her groom, Jesus Christ. And she is not only radiant in her beauty, she is also strong, secure and perfect in her holiness. The Lord God dwells within her gates, and the light of his countenance provides abundant illumination for all who are privileged to live there.
When we turn the page to Rev. 21, we are at threshold of eternity. The original creation has passed away, and God re-makes the heavens and the earth. And while the original creation is more amazing than humanity will ever be able to fully understand, the New Creation will be far more glorious. In the New Creation, the unveiled presence of God will permeate everything; and every vestige of pain, suffering, sin and death will vanish completely, and the perfected community of saints will glorify God and enjoy him forever and ever!
In Rev. 20:11-15, John records his vision of the Great White Throne Judgment. The Satantic Trinity has been destroyed. All that remains is for God to pronounce his final verdict on humanity. For those who do not know Christ, the Day of Judgment will be worse than their worst nightmare. But for those whose names are written in Lamb’s Book of Life, the Day of Judgment will be more glorious than the happiest day they ever experienced in this life. Therefore, all believers should look forward to that great day!
Our text this week narrates the Lord's final eschatalogical victory over Satan. The victory comes in two phases. The first phase is the so-called millennium, during which time Satan is bound in chains in the abyss, and the saints reign with Christ. When the millennium ends, Satan is released, and he attempts to wage war one last time against the Lamb and his army. But Satan is soundly defeated, and he is thrown into the Lake of Fire along with everyone whose names are not written in the Lamb's book of life. This passage has been interpreted in a variety of different ways throughout Christian history, but the overall message is clear: In the end, Satan will be defeated and the Lamb will reign victorious forever.
In Rev. 19:11-21, John describes a vision in which the beast and the "false prophet" assemble a great army to do battle against the armies of heaven. But just as we have seen in previous battle scenes, before the enemies of God have a chance to fire their first shot, God secures the victory! And after defeating the beast and false prophet, God takes them and throws them into Lake of Fire, where they will be tormented forever. John then describes a revolting scene where the birds of prey are called down to gorge themselves on the flesh of the dead who are strewn across eschatalogical battlefield, thus fulfilling the prophecy described in Ezekiel 39.
Following the catastrophic devastation of "Babylon the Great" described in Rev. 17-18, the scene shifts back to heaven in Rev. 19:1-10. In this passage, John describes a vision of a great multitude singing praises to the Lord. The Lord has judged his enemies and avenged the blood of the saints; therefore, the multitude cries, "Hallelujah!" The multitude also glorifies God because "the marriage of the Lamb has come." The marriage of Christ to his church is the consummation of God's redemptive work, and all those who are invited to the wedding banquet will enjoy a celebration beyond anything we can presently imagine.
In Revelation 18, John presents six oracles uttered in the aftermath of the fall of "Babylon the Great," i.e., the City of Rome. Three oracles are uttered by angels of God, and three are uttered by groups who had profited by Rome's prior success: the kings of the earth, the merchants, and the mariners. In these oracles, we are reminded yet again of the ultimate desolation and ruin to be experienced by those who are rich in the things of this world but are not rich toward God. This passage also reminds us that God is the ultimate sovereign who loves the saints with an undying love, and who will vindicate them on the last day.