Surely He Is Coming Soon
What if I told you, that after the best part of nine months studying the book of Revelation, the final message of Jesus to His Church was a stark warning: ‘keep my law’ - do not add to it, do not take away from it. “Keep my law.”
We, as Christians, have a far easier time engaging with the grace of God than engaging with the idea of Torah, of God’s way for His people. But perhaps that’s why we, above most generations, need to hear this message - not because we want to return to legalism, but because there are real consequences for letting out hearts wander from the one who gives us life.
Let’s return to Him this morning, looking at this cluster of instructions, taking seriously the warnings we find.
1. Be Blessed
1. Be Blessed
Summary: Be blessed by trusting God for the eternity promised.
Revelation 22:6: “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.””
Verse 6a “These words are trustworthy and true” - reference to Isaiah 65:16 - confidence in God’s forthcoming act of new creation.
Verse 6b Also alludes to Daniel 2 and echoes the assertion of divine authority, like the visions Daniel explained to Nebuchadnezzar “Spirit of the Prophets” - again, you can TRUST is being said here.
Verse 6c “what must soon take place.” - what is that?
1st the results of the Lamb opening the scroll - His work in human history, blessings and curses. All coming from the Jesus authority.
2nd, as we read in Revelation 22:7 verse 7a, He is “coming soon.” This refers to His final blessing and condemnation - His final coming where He will inaugurate the new creation.
BUT why do we need to know this? Why must we trust these words? What difference do these words make to my life?
Because by listening to them, by KEEPING them 7b Rev 22:7, you will find blessing (flourishing).
BIG PICTURE: These words are for the CHURCH, not general readers. His servants (verse 6c), are the audience as in Rev 1:3
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.
Jesus has gathered His Church together, through John, to explain to them the coming challenges of the Church age. There will be awful temptation, economic struggles, the risk of compromising, the deceitful messages shared even within the Church community. If you resist, you will suffer persecution even until death.
BUT you will find blessing (flourishing), by remaining faithful witnesses. Ironic conquerors like Jesus.
But the benefits aren’t immediately obvious, it seems like it’s better to go along to get along. With eyes fixed on the world it can be easy to lose sight of what matters.
HOWEVER consider the benefits of eternity!
Time is short. Eternity is long. It is only reasonable that this short life be lived in the light of eternity.
Illustration - Black Friday on Amazon - Computer games, not good enough to show you a picture - you need to see it in action. Capture a better vision! Be blessed by focussing on Jesus.
2. Worship Me
2. Worship Me
Summary: the challenge is to worship God and no-one else, even angels. Let suffering lead you to worship.
Revelation 22:8 - John is the one who is the witness: “I, John, am the one hearing and seeing.” He has seen the vision and is tasked with sharing.
BUT, as in Rev 19:10, John again worships the angel rather than Jesus.
Revelation 22:9 - John is corrected the angel and redirects him to “worship God.”
Idolatry - Consistent problem throughout Revelation. This is humanity’s tendency to worship the created rather than the creator. The angel reminds him he is a created being just like humans, it is God that deserves the worship.
Servants are those who “keep the words of this book” and “worship God.”
Revelation 22:10 - “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near.”
Unlike in Daniel 12:4, where the prophecy are to be sealed until the end, Revelation opens the sealed prophecies Daniel saw:
Daniel prophesied about a final tribulation for God’s people, the consummate defeat of wicked kingdoms and the eternal establishment of God’s kingdom. John’s Revelation explains these now and so now they can be understood.
But you, Daniel, shut up the words and seal the book, until the time of the end. Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase.”
But in the face of these challenges the point is to return to God in worship. “Time is near.”
Application: Far too many Christians expect Jesus’s blessing to mean spiritual blessing, and because we are blessed, we worship. That’s not the case. We worship because there is only one person worthy of worship. It’s appropriate that He is worshipped, and it is good for us to worship Him - anyone else leads us to being used and abused.
BUT suffering itself can lead us to worship - physical suffering leads to spiritual vision - beyond.
The Christian doctrine of suffering asks for more than a patient tolerance of suffering.… The pain and suffering of life fix our spiritual vision on the central, spiritual goods of … the redemption of Christ.
3. Keep on Hearing
3. Keep on Hearing
Summary: God will deal justly with humanity. Jesus’ words either shock you back to life or harden your heart. Jesus judges as God regardless of whether you acknowledge Him or not.
Revelation 22:11: Back to Daniel 12:10
Many shall purify themselves and make themselves white and be refined, but the wicked shall act wickedly. And none of the wicked shall understand, but those who are wise shall understand.
Destiny of the righteous and unrighteous - both will continue on their chosen paths.
But does God then WANT the unrighteous to remain so? NO. The words of this prophecy, and indeed of Jesus word on earth was to either shake the family of God back into obedience, or increase the blindness of those who are committed to unbelief.
See Isaiah 6:9–10: “And he said, “Go, and say to this people: “ ‘Keep on hearing, but do not understand; keep on seeing, but do not perceive.’ Make the heart of this people dull, and their ears heavy, and blind their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed.”” - God hands them over to their unbelief.
Revelation 22:12: Will return to reward the faithful witnesses and deal justly with those who are committed to their own path.
Jesus remains God whether you acknowledge Him or not - He comes to judge as only God can. For Christians we must remember this and keep on in our commitment to Jesus incase we know the sword rather than the cross.
Application: People make a free choice when it comes to the answering the question “will you make Jesus your Lord.” Some who have ears to hear will hear, others will respond with anger and rage and their blindness will deepen. Let go and trust God - we aren’t the saviour.
4. Come and Follow Me
4. Come and Follow Me
Summary: Jesus calls His people to continue to follow Him through a cluster of titles and images. Remain in Him is the call - come to Him if you don’t already know Him.
Revelation 22:13: These titles for God “the Alpha and the Omega” (1:8; 21:6) and “the Beginning and the End” (21:6), and Christ has been called “the First and the Last” (1:17; 2:8) - are now all used for Jesus as they were for the OT God.
THE POINT: Jesus is able to conclude history. He opened the scroll, He will now shut it.
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.
Wash their robes, as Rev 17:4 - in the blood of the Lamb.
Revelation 22:16: Jesus words come out “Jesus sent” - as in the beginning, a refocus. On what?
16b: “the root and the descendant of David” from Isaiah 11:1 - prophecy concerning a messianic hope - now the “root” not just a shoot. ROOT, something that gives rise to the rest of the organism.
16c: “The bright morning star”, an allusion to Isaiah 60:1-3 “Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the Lord will arise upon you, and his glory will be seen upon you. And nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising.”
Two parts; 1. A light for the nations (God to save the world, not only Israel), and 2. “morning” meaning a new salvation day - salvation comes from Him alone
Illustration: Visit to Greyfriars - everything begins with the vine. Good year, bad year, all stems from the health of the vine.
Application: Do you want to have a good life or a bad life? A fruitful an empty existence?
I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.
The call then is to follow Jesus, 1. Wash yourself in the blood of the lamb, 2. Connect yourself with the root that brings life, go sleep knowing you will rise with the “bright morning star.” Cluster of images call the Church to continue to “follow me (Jesus)” - non Christians hear this message too. Come follow me.
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.
Spirit: Holy. Bride: the Church - God draws together His community to issue encouragement: “come!”
But there’s an alternative - Revelation 22:15, “Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.” Jesus will leave those who choose something else other than Him on the outside - don’t remain there - it’s cold and dark.
Application: But why not come? There is no cost for this water - it isn’t free, it has been purchased for you by Jesus. Do you think you’re not good enough for Jesus? That isn’t the question. The question is will you trust Him and follow Him. He isn’t looking for perfection, He is looking for love.
5. Be Warned
5. Be Warned
Summary: Worship me, and nothing/no-one else. Come and enjoy the share I have promised you.
Revelation 22:18-19 “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, 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.”
Final words of Revelation - gives us an understanding of what the focus has been so far.
It isn’t a warning against meddling with Scripture, or the canon.
It’s a composite quotation from Deuteronomy:
“And now, O Israel, listen to the statutes and the rules that I am teaching you, and do them, that you may live, and go in and take possession of the land that the Lord, the God of your fathers, is giving you. 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.
Deuteronomy 29:18–20 (ESV)
Beware lest there be among you a man or woman or clan or tribe whose heart is turning away today from the Lord our God to go and serve the gods of those nations. (…) The Lord will not be willing to forgive him, but rather the anger of the Lord and his jealousy will smoke against that man, and the curses written in this book will settle upon him, and the Lord will blot out his name from under heaven.
A sobering way to end - back to the law? Not quite, but away from idolatry.
Israel’s STORY: brought of of Egypt, Egypt judged, Israel sustained in Sinai, they are on the edge of the promised land and are reminded that they need to be holy.
Warnings: Message coming from false prophets - you can add idolatry to the law: worship Baal; you can take away from the law: ignore those laws forbidding idolatry.
God’s message to His people is NO, you must not worship idols - and if you do, the curses Egypt experienced will be come upon you.
Does any of this sound familiar? Our STORY: This is overarching theme of the book of Revelation - a warning on the edge of the promised land.
Church has seen the grace of God - Jesus death, Holy Spirit, growth in Acts.
The world is being judged, and will one day be judged finally.
The world seeks to entice the world into drinking its wine; worshipping false Gods (Babylon).
There are false prophets within the Church that will call Israel to worship Caesar (Harlot).
Now, the time is near - Revelation 22:20 “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!” We are on the edge of our own promised land, SO Come Follow Me, remain a faithful witness, become the ironic conqueror, hold fast and
He said it then and He says it now. Do not compromise yourself.
He has given us everything - ‘ don’t bite the hand that feeds you.’ Bird in the hand of God knows its place - humanity has sunk its teeth deep, spat in His face, and fled to find food somewhere else.
Only, there is no-where else...
Parent caring for His child. The child turns around and runs after another parent - betrayal of the greatest kind. But more for God: parents are flawed just like us, they make their mistakes, God is perfect, and has dealt with us perfectly and yet the world hungers for another, someone imperfect, or no person at all.
The good news is that God has come to give us His grace, the lamb is slain for us. BUT the bad news is that even though we know His grace, and free gift, we still follow others; we’re still enticed by the world.
Be holy, as He is holy. Love as He has loved you. Keep His ways, for they are good for you, and good for the world. Make time to hear His voice, and drown out the sound of the world through His grace.
It not that God’s counting our sins against - too many and we’re out... He is challenging our hearts - Do our hearts wander? Come back to Him and worship.
Today, let’s repent and acknowledge the wanderings of our heart. And continue to know His grace.
Conclusion: Prayer of Repentance from George Matheson (a blind man who saw more than most)
Oh! You who have come to seek and to save lost things, buried things, I lift my eyes to you.
Many have offered me a golden tomorrow; you alone have offered to retrieve my yesterday. Restore to me the waste places of my heart. Reveal to me the meaning of my failures.
Show me that there was manna in my desert that even Canaan did not hold. Then shall mine be a harvest joy, a resurrection joy, the joy of gathering the buried past. Then shall my heart be satisfied that the travail of the soul was autumn’s gain.