Segment 50 - 22.01 - The river of the water of life
Well then, we get into chapter 22, and this is a description of the city that’s continued, okay? Here he talks about the river of the water of life. This is the last chapter in the Bible, chapter 22. Hang in there for just a minute, okay? Here it says, the first verse, “Then he showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal. Flowing from the throne of God and of the lamb, through the middle of the street of the city. Also on either side of the river, the tree of life with its 12 kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. And the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.” Did we ever hear of this tree of life before?
You know, the Bible really begins with the second chapter of Genesis. The first chapter, the creation story, was added as a preface at a much later date to show that the whole world, everything in the universe is dependent upon God for its existence. But your Bible really starts with chapter two. Chapter two is the first chapter, and that’s where the tree of life is mentioned. And here we are in the last chapter of the Bible and it’s mentioned again. Folks, we’re right back at the beginning. We have made the complete cycle.
If you ever have the opportunity to study the whole Bible completely over a period of time, Old Testament right through the New Testament, you would just feel that whole cycle take place. You start out with the tree of life in the Garden of Eden, and where we wind up? We’re right back where we started from. What does that mean? It sounds a little bit like, “Gee, have we gotten anyplace?” Of course you have. When you’ve studied this whole scripture, when you’ve attempted to put into practice in your life the principles of truth, we always come back on the spiral almost to right where we were, but what’s the difference? An elevated state of consciousness.
Can you get that picture of a cylindrical spiral? Something that just goes kind of round and round? You start here and you go around, you come back at the same point and you’re looking at things in the same way, but you’re up a little bit higher. Then you go around again through life’s experiences. You come around, and you’re up a little higher. And you’re up a little higher. To me, this is what the Bible represents; the tree of life in the last chapter right back where we were in the beginning, right back where we started from.
Well, he goes on down there and gives this whole description of the 12 kinds of fruits and the leaves are for the healing of the nations, and God will be their light. Here he is in verse three, once again; “There shall no more be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the lamb shall be in it. And his servants shall worship him. They shall see his face and his name shall be on their foreheads.” In Jewish thought, it was almost blasphemy to consider looking upon the face of God. In the Old Testament, Moses was the only one who got to see God. And he and God used to meet in the tent of meeting, and God would talk to him like a friend. Just love that line. But he was the special figure. No one else was to look upon the face of God, you see?
As a matter of fact, in the Old Testament, you could not utter the Hebrew name for God, Yahweh, which is ... Phonetically, it spells Yahweh, and is pronounced in that manner. It’s YHWH. Hebrew was a consonantal language. There were no vowels in ancient Hebrew, so it was written YHWH, but you couldn’t say that. In the synagogue, they say Adonai, which means Lord. You’re not supposed to use that. Okay?
But here, what does it say? “They shall see his face.” Everybody will see God’s face. We’ll all have complete understanding. Can we interpret it in that way? To see the face of God means to understand completely what we have to understand. “And night shall be no more. They need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light and they shall reign forever and ever.” Isn’t that a beautiful picture?
Segment 51 - Short summary of Revelation
The writer has taken us through all these terrible things in the apocalyptic style that must happen. All the upheavals and the wars which have to do with the powers of light overcoming the powers of darkness. And he did that by painting the picture repetitively over and over through the Seven Seals and Trumpets, and then brought us right up to the Battle of Armageddon then has Jesus as the leader in the battle come forth, the Lamb, the Warrior on the White Horse, the White Knight, that sort of thing, and leads the Armies of Righteousness into battle against the Armies of Unrighteousness, if you will. And then the battle isn’t even given in detail but we’re told the results. And then finally, all evil is taken care of. All evil is thrown into the Lake of Fire.
In his way, this means the Roman Empire, obviously, but to us, we can broaden it. To us it means all negative thinking, and all negative thinking is the cause of all negative experiences that we see in life. Anything negative or evil is thrown away. And then what happens after that? Aha, then the ideal becomes manifest in our life. Then the New Jerusalem and the New Heaven come down and everything becomes one. See how we built that idea by saying there’s no temple? There’s no more sea, the great divider of persons? There’s no more death? There’s no more mourning? There’s no more weeping? Everything becomes one and it’s a beautiful classic picture, and the writer is saying, “Folks, it’s right here. It’s right at hand.” He’s kind of leading them on in way because let’s jump here now to verse six.
He believed it’s gonna happen in his time. Just as the writer of the book of Daniel felt that God was gonna reveal himself during his time, and overthrow the Greeks and relieve the Jewish people from Greek persecution. Now, this writer was saying it’s gonna happen and we’re gonna be relieved from persecution under the Romans, and God is gonna manifest Himself and everything is gonna be great.
Segment 52 - 22.06 - What must soon take place
Verse six, kind of an epilogue here. “And he said do 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.” What did we read in the first couple of verses in chapter one? What must soon take place. He starts out with that idea, and he ends with it. He’s not predicting something 2,000 years hence. He believes it’s going to happen in His time. Verse seven, “And behold, I am coming soon. Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book. I, John,” see, he identifies himself, “am he who heard and saw these things, and when I heard and saw them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed them to me. But he said, ‘You must not do that. I am a fellow servant with you and your brother and the prophets, and with those who keep the words of this book, worship God.’”
In other words, we’re all equal. The angel isn’t above us in that sort of thing. We’re all equal, and this idea’s brought out here. “And he said to me, ‘Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near.’” Remember how I said a while back we saw in the Revelation the instruction was given to the angel to seal it up. It’s not time yet. Back in the book of Daniel, Daniel was told, “Seal it up. It’s not time.” This writer says, “Man, don’t seal it up. It’s about to happen. Let’s let it happen. Do not seal up the words of this prophecy, the prophecy of this book, for the time is near.” “Let the evildoer still do evil and the filthy still be filthy, and the righteous still do right and the holy still be holy. Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense to repay everyone for what He has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end,” and that just really speaks to the allness of God, that God is one and God is all.
There was a saying in those days, let’s see if I’ve got it here. I’m not sure that I have it here. Yeah, there was an ancient Greek saying that Zeus is the beginning, the middle, and the end of all things. Zeus is the beginning, the middle, and the end of all things. It means that God is the initial cause, the sustaining cause, and the final cause. The writer picked up on that same theme here and applied it to Jesus. “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” It speaks to the allness and oneness of God. As a reference too, look at Romans 11, Chapter 11, Verse 36, and you’ll see that he brings out that same idea. Paul does in his letter to the Romans.
Segment 53 - 22.14 - Right to the tree of life
Okay, let’s go on with it. 14: “Blessed are those who wash their robes that they may have the right to the tree of life, and that they may enter the city by the gates. Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and fornicators and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehoods.” You know, in the Garden of Eden, how many trees were placed there? Two.
Two, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, which is the one from which Adam and Eve ate, and also the tree of life. After Adam and Eve were banished from the garden in chapter three, there’s a little bit at the end down there where what happens? Where a cherubim is placed at the entrance to paradise there, with a flaming arrow I believe it is, and that kind of thing. He’s there to guard the tree of life. The tree of life represents immortality. Because what the writer is saying back there in the third chapter of Genesis is that here now man has dared to eat of this forbidden fruit and to place himself as equal to God and knowing everything. If he’s gone that far, why that son of a gun, man, he might also want to gain immortality and he might try to eat of the tree of life. So we’re going to guard the entrance. After Adam and Eve have been banished, we’re going to guard the entrance to paradise so he cannot get in there and eat of the tree of life. Because that would mean that man would take on immortality for himself. And who is the only one that is “immortal” or “eternal?” God himself, according to the writers of that day.
But what does this gentleman here say? Let me go back to it. “Blessed are those,” in verse 14, “who wash their robes that they may have the right to the tree of life.” In other words, in the ideal state we are immortal beings. It’s okay, he’s saying. We have the right to that. Tie that in to that little episode at the end of chapter three in Genesis.
Segment 54 - 22.16 - I am the root and the descendant of David
We’re going down to verse 16. We’re bringing it to a close now. “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to you with this testimony for the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David.” The messiah was supposed to come through the house of David. “The bright morning star.” I just love that phrase, “The bright morning star. The spirit and the bride say, ‘Come and let him who hear say, ‘Come,’ and let him who is thirsty come. Let him who desires take the water of life without price.’” Here comes a little warning, now. I warn everyone who hears the words to the prophecy of this book, if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book. This is a warning to editorial writers.
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. Immortality and the idea of the perfect state within which to live. In those days, many of the writings were edited, just as writings are edited today. The books of the Bible that we have, every time they were recopied by someone, to some degree, they were probably changed and worked over. Someone probably said, “They’re different translations. I think what the writer really means is this.” Of course, trying to translate from one language to another, you could lose the sense or the meaning. It’s not always easy. If you speak two languages, you’ll know this. You try to translate one word from one language into another, and it doesn’t always translate exactly. Sometimes, you have to give the sense, the closest you can get to it, so many writers would change the contents of a book, but he’s saying, “Folks, I’m telling you, this is it,” he’s saying. “Don’t monkey with it because I know exactly what I’m talking. It’s going to happen.”
Segment 55 - 22.20 - Surely I am coming soon
All right, verse 20, and here’s the end. “He who testifies to these things says, ‘Surely I am coming soon. Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all the saints. Amen.’”
You can see the great expectancy that this writer had that the age was coming to a close in his time, that Jesus was going to return, the messianic kingdom was going to be set up, the millennium for a thousand years. The powers of evil would be overcome and then God would reveal himself in his fullness. The new Jerusalem and the new heaven would come down and the ideal state would be created.
Segment 56 - Chapters 21 and 22 - The second coming of Jesus
What can we do with this to take just a few more moments for us on a practical level? I think maybe you already have the idea. Some people are still saying that this can’t happen until Jesus returns, and because He was taken up bodily in the ascension, that He is to return bodily, just as Elijah in Judaism is expected to come back bodily. I suppose in this way, if we believe this, then we’re putting our good off into the future, we’re putting conditions on our good by saying it really can’t happen until Jesus returns, but is Jesus going to return? In one sense, what difference would it make? If he came back today, there probably would be a number of us who would still doubt and wonder, but we always look for that dramatic sight, and that great leader to follow, and so forth. The important thing is, and we explained this a little bit earlier, that the second coming of Jesus means the second coming of the Christ within us, when we become aware of who and what we are. Then everything that the writer has pictured and idealized in Chapter 21 and 22, then this can take place within the individual.
You can have that new heaven and that new Earth experienced within yourself. You can throw the devil within you, and all the negative thinking that’s represented by the devil into that lake of fire within you, and that represents not punishment, but what’s the primary purpose of fire? Purification, and you have to tune into all of Jewish thought once again, going back to the Old Testament, this idea of purification. Way back there with the flood story. What’s the idea of the flood story? God wiped out all the evil on the Earth, and kept only the good, as represented by Noah, and his family, and then He built up from there. In a sense, our Bible is really describing this Jewish purification process that’s always been taking place. God is weeding out until finally only those that are right and good will remain. That’s what we do with our thoughts. We continually weed out our thoughts. This purification process takes place within us, and the book of Revelation just describes that same purification thought in a very dramatic style and the context is a bit different, okay?
It’s related to the second coming of Jesus, but the idealized state that takes place in Chapters 21 and 22 is something that we as an individual can experience. We can live the whole book of Revelation as an individual, and really attain that spiritual consciousness, Christ consciousness. We’re not there yet, but this is what we’re working toward, and we have the power to attain it. It’s all within us. I suppose there’s a lot more we could expand on it, but if anything else, I know that we’ve covered an awful lot of material here in this little seminar this morning and this afternoon, and some of this material comes to you awfully quick and fast, but I hope it’s given you a new appreciation or expanded your already good appreciation of the book of Revelation. It’s been fun for me, and I hope it’s been the same for you. God bless you.