Revelation - Lesson 23
Conclusion to Revelation
John wrote the book of Revelation as a call to radical discipleship as faithful citizens of God’s new Jerusalem in the midst of a fallen Babylon world. There is no video for this lecture.
Conclusion to Revelation
II. Revelation 21:18-21
III. Revelation Chapter 22
IV. Concluding Thoughts
- There is a wide range of interpretation of the book of Revelation because of the nature of visions. When John writes Revelation, he uses a pool of images that are familiar to him and his readers and we need to take into account what the images meant to people at the time.
Apocalyptic literature is based on the idea that the natural order is set within a larger content of a spiritual reality and that the dynamics of the spiritual realm play themselves out in the physical realm. Apocalypse is a message from God regarding what God is about and what he is going to do.
The occasion for writing Revelation was the vision John had and the situation of the seven churches. John is trying to describe a scene in which various scenes are being played out simultaneously. John emphasizes the importance of living out your theology, as opposed to only being doctrinally correct.
John had a vision of the Son of Man. He had a message for the church at Ephesus.
Messages for the churches at Ephesus, Smyrna and Pergamum.
Messages to the churches in Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis and Philadelphia.
A message to the church at Laodicea and a vision of Jesus as a Lamb who shares the throne with God.
A vision of God the creator and the redeemer Lamb.
A vision of the seven seals.
A vision of the seven trumpets.
- This lesson dives into the idea of encountering God in the world, warns about the destructiveness of sin, and presents a powerful angelic figure symbolizing God and Jesus as triumphant over fallen Babylon, with a mysterious aspect of the vision.
A vision of the seven trumpets. Chronology of the origin and development of the teaching of the rapture and dispensationalism.
A vision of how the death of Jesus on the cross has made it possible for us to be in relationship to God.
The description of the nature of Satan's war against God's children and in contrast to a description of God's redeemed.
A vision of the seven bowls.
A vision of fallen Babylon.
- In this lesson, you gain insights into the concept of Fallen Babylon and the transformative power of the cross. It emphasizes that accepting the cross liberates you from the world's illusions, allowing you to accept your own falsity as healed and yielding to the Holy Spirit's action. The lesson challenges the idea of choosing between the world and Christ, proposing that you can choose both simultaneously, seeking unity, wholeness, and love at the deepest level of your being.
Dr. Mulholland answering questions from the students.
A vision of the victory of the Lamb and discussion of the wrath of God.
A vision of the New Jerusalem.
- Dr. Mulholland's lesson delves into God's love as the core of self-discovery. False self obstructs the truth. True self blooms in faith, openness, trust, and yielding to God, shifting focus from ego to divine presence. Embrace this shift, become citizens of a new Jerusalem in a fallen world.
A vision of the people of the New Jerusalem.
- John wrote the book of Revelation as a call to radical discipleship as faithful citizens of God’s new Jerusalem in the midst of a fallen Babylon world. There is no video for this lecture.
Revelation is a vision of Jesus the Messiah. John focuses on the profound depths of what God has done, is doing, and will ultimately consummate in and through Jesus. A second central theme in Revelation is the role of the cross in what God has done and will accomplish. The contrast and interaction of the "New Jerusalem" and "fallen Babylon" is also a significant theme in Revelation. Videos for lectures 7, 8 and 9 are not avialable yet. Lecture 23 was recorded in audio only.
We think that the title of the devotional book that Dr. Mulholland reads from at the beginning of some of the lectures might be Merton's Palace of Nowhere by James Finley. Unfortunately, Dr. Mulholland is deceased so we can't confirm this.
Dr. Robert Mulholland
Conclusion to Revelation
Welcome back. As we close our study, a revelation I want to share with you another passage from Thomas Merton. If there is a, quote, problem, unquote, for Christianity today, it is the problem of the identification of, quote, Christendom, unquote, with certain forms of culture and society, certain political and social structures, which for 1500 years have dominated Europe and the West. The first monks were men who already in the fourth century began to protest against this identification as a falsehood and servitude. 1500 years of European Christendom, in spite of certain definite achievements, have not been an unequivocal glory for Christendom. The time has come for judgment to be passed on this history. I can rejoice in this fact, believing that the judgment will be a liberation of the Christian faith, from servitude to an involvement in the structures of the secular world. And that is why I think certain forms of Christian optimism are to be taken with the reservation insofar as they lack the genuine eschatological consciousness of the Christian vision and concentrate upon the naive hope of merely temporal achievements. And of course, what Merton is speaking of here is New Jerusalem living in a fallen Babylon world. And his concern is, is that Christendom has co-opted with the fallen Babylon world. So we see that what John is dealing with here is something that that we deal with all the time. Let's pray together. Gracious and loving God. We give you thanks and praise for our time together In the study of John's vision as we come to his close, we pray that your spirit would anoint us. Our minds, our hearts, our spirits that we may hear what you are saying to us through, John, and that we may be faithful citizens of your new Jerusalem in the midst of our fall in Babylon world.
For all of this, we give you thanks and praise through Jesus, your son, our Savior, who reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God now and forever. Amen. Well, we left off at 2118. He's sort of in the middle of the description of the New Jerusalem. And 19 and 20 John describes the foundations of the wall. And this is another temple image. And we've seen many throughout John's vision. These are the jewels on the breastplate of the high priest. And, of course, in John's vision, Jesus is the high priest, and the imagery is found in other places. And first Corinthians 311, Paul says, Jesus the Messiah is the foundation of God's building the people of God. This is the foundation walls of the city are the apostles of the land. In John's vision in 2114. John is imaging them as the jewels in the high priest breastplate. Now, this foundation image is used again by Paul in Ephesians 220. They are the foundation is the apostles, just as in here. And the Messiah Jesus is the cornerstone. The order of the Stones is not the same as in Exodus, but as with the listing of the 12 tribes in Chapter seven. There is no set pattern for describing the order. Josephus, for example, gives us two different orders in his writings. What we have here is the new creation. The city is four square and remember, four is the number of creation with the redeemed constituting his population. In 21 one we see the 12 dates are 12. Perles Each of the gates, a single pearl. Interesting in second century Jewish writing in the second century A.D. Jewish writings, the gates of the heavenly city are each a single pearl. John And later, Jewish writers may be reflecting on a Targum on Isaiah 54, 11 and 12.
Where the Targum adds, I will make your wood as pearls. And of course, in the city, a stone walled city, the only gate, only the gates would be made of wood. So whether that's the case or not, we can't be sure. But at least there. There is that image somewhere in the Jewish history in mind that each gate of the heavenly city is a single pearl. And 21 to 22. John says, I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God Almighty and the lamb. Now, we've already seen that the New Jerusalem is the holy of holies, a cubic structure overlaid with gold. If one were standing in the holy of holies, it would not be possible to see the temple. Because you are standing at its heart. You are standing in the presence of God. Now, since John has repeatedly used Old Testament and enjoyed ties to mental images for God to describe Jesus, and since he has Jesus and God as one on the throne, three 321 He sits with his father on his throne, five six between the throne and the four living creatures who are in the midst of the throne is the lamb. In 717, the lamb is at the center of the throne, and in 22 three we'll see the throne of God in the lamb are in New Jerusalem. So if God is the temple, so is the lamb. And of course, we saw this image back in chapter 14, where we saw the lamb standing on Mt. Zion with 144,000 of the redeemed with him. And if you remember back there, Mount Zion is a phrase that also is used to describe the temple. So John is seeing Jesus as as the new temple standing on Mount Zion.
And of course, we've we've already seen a lot of temple images throughout. And of course, it's in John's gospel, where we're in chapter three, Jesus Cleansing in the Temple when he's accosted by the Jewish authorities as to why, by what authority is doing this, he says, Destroy this temple. Three days I will raise it up. And what Jesus is indicating there is that he is the new temple. And John is certainly picking up that that same imagery here. Then in 2123, John said the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it. For the glory of God is its light and its land is the land. I hear John is alluding to Isaiah 1619 rising and says no longer will you have the sun for light by day in the brightness of the moon will not give light to you, but the Lord will be to you for an everlasting light. The later Jewish writing in the fourth, Ezra also plays off this same image from Isaiah. Now, there's an interesting interplay here that points us back to chapter one. There we saw that the churches, the seven churches were the seven lamp stands. Now, the purpose of a lamp stand is to hold a lamp from which the light radiated. So now John says that the glory of God is the light. The lamp is the lamb. And if we go back to chapter one, the church is the lamp stand. Which means that the church's purpose is to hold up Christ the LAMB from whom the light of God shines. A very interesting image and a very interesting idea as to the nature of the church. Then in 21, 24 to 26, John says the nations will walk by its light and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it.
Its gates will never be shut by day. There will be no night there. People will bring into it the glory and honor of the nations. And here again, John is playing off Isaiah's vision of the renewed Jerusalem. In Isaiah 60, verse three, he says, Nations will come to your light and kings to the brightness of your rising. Notice how the light images is brought in here from the previous verses. And then in Isaiah 6011, Isaiah says your gates will be open continually. They will not be closed by day or night in order to bring you the wealth of nations. And Isaiah, they are seeing the fulfillment of Israel's purpose to be a light to the nations. You may have seen throughout John's vision that God has included the Gentiles in the restored Israel. So here, John, as we come to the close, gives another image of the inclusion of Gentiles into God's restored kingdom. An image which would be very difficult for the Jews of John State to to grasp because they thought they were God's special people and that the Gentiles were just out of luck. But John, along with the other writers of the New Testament, realize that God has restored the kingdom in a radically different way than what the Jews were expecting, and that in this kingdom God has brought Jew and Gentile together. As Paul says in infusions, a new man in Christ, a new humanity in Christ. In 25 men. John says its gates will never be shut by day and there will be no night there. The gates of the city were usually closed at night for security purposes. But if there no night, then of course the gates are never going to be shut. So it's sort of a redundancy that John is giving us.
And we've seen those before. Then in as we move on in 2127. We see nothing unclean will enter it. Now. The gates are wide open, but nothing unclean will enter it, nor anyone who practices abomination or falsehood. Only those who are written in the Lamb's Book of Life. And here again we see the Lambs Book of Life. Remember, it was introduced back in chapter 13, and we saw it in 17, in chapter 20, twice in chapter 20. And then, of course, here and Paul uses the same phrase of Philippians four three about having your name written in the Lamb's Book of Life. So you see, only those who have given their life to the lamb can enter New Jerusalem. These are the ones who are using the imagery of Chapter four bow worship in case the crown you remember bowing is acknowledging God is God. Worship is acknowledging God's worthiness to be worship, to be praise, to be thanked and to be to be adored, to be obeyed. And of course, the bow in the casting of the crown is the yielding of control of the relationship we have with God to God, just letting God be gone on God's terms. It's letting God be in control of the relationship rather than we. So these are those who also follow the lamb wherever he goes. Chapter 14. And those who have his name and his father's name on their foreheads. But again, chapter 14. And then it's also, to use John's common phrase for believers. It's those who have the word of God and the witness of Jesus. And remember, to have the word of God is to have your inner being shaped in the image of Christ. And if your inner being is shaped in the image of Christ, then what flows out of that into your living is the witness of Jesus.
You will be living a Christ life. We're going to see later that outside the city is fall in Babylon. So notice the gates are always open. Citizens of fallen Babylon can at any point in time become citizens of New Jerusalem. But of course, nothing unclean can enter through the gates, which means they have to leave behind their fallen Babylon life in the sense they have to lose that life, for Christ's sake, to use Jesus words. Then as we enter and enter into Chapter 22. John says, The angels showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal flowing from the throne of God and of the lamb. Now, in both Ezekiel 47 and in Zachariah 14, we find the prophetic expectation of a spring or river of living water flowing out of the restored Jerusalem and his temple. And Joel has something of the same picture in Joel. 318. In the Old Testament writings and in the Jewish writings of the introduced mental period and in the New Testament, water is an image for the Holy Spirit. For instance, look at Jesus statement in John chapter 737 to 39, where he says Rivers of living water will flow from believers hearts. And then that is interpreted to mean the Holy Spirit. It is the Spirit you see the Holy Spirit which animates the restored life. For instance, Jobe, the Spirit of God made me the wrath of the Almighty is my life. Jesus says in John six, It is the spirit that gives life. And Paul picks up that same idea in second Corinthians three six, Romans seven six talks about the new life of the Spirit and Romans eight two. Paul says the law of the spirit of life in the Messiah, Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death.
And then a special and especially important one in Romans 811, if the spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He will raise the Messiah from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through His spirit that dwells in you. And John, is speaking of this the same idea using the image of the river, of the water of life. That is the it is the Holy Spirit that animates our true life is the Holy Spirit that shapes our true self. And so this flows from the throne of God in the land. And again, you have a Trinitarian image here, but not in the terminology that we usually use. You have the throne of God in the lamb, out of which flows the Holy Spirit, which is the presence of God in the lamb, in the lives of the believers. Now, John is indicating here also that the Holy Spirit is a manifestation of God in the lamb. And it's interesting, back in chapter one, where we had the epistolary introduction, the Holy Spirit, the seventh, Holy Spirit of God is positioned between God and the LAMB. You know, grace to impeach from the one who is who was and is to come from the sevenfold spirit before his throne and from Jesus, the Messiah, etc.. And so, John, there you see is again indicating that the Holy Spirit is intimately inseparably conjoined with both God and the lamb. And John says in 22 to through the midst of the street of the city, the river flows. On either side of the river is the tree of life, with its 12 kinds of fruit, producing its fruit each month in the leaves of the tree and for the healing of the nations.
Now the river flows through the heart of the city. That is, it is the life of New Jerusalem. And the Tree of Life is another image coming from the Old Testament all the way back in Genesis Chapter two in Eden, and after the fall. The reason for expulsion from the Garden is so that Adam and Eve will not eat of the Tree of Life and live forever. That's Genesis 322. In God's great restoration and renewal of all creation. Remember earlier in chapter 21, God says, I am renewing all things in that restoration and renewal. The Tree of Life provides sustenance throughout the year. Now the fact that there is no sun or moon in the New Jerusalem, it is clear John's using each month and year as a means of indicating eternal provision for life in New Jerusalem. And then notice the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. Again, then it indicates that renewed the renewed life in the land liberates from the deadness of the old life and heals the woundedness of that life. That is the false self of new fallen Babylon. So again, you have another image indicating the inclusion of the Gentiles in God's restored kingdom. Then in in three or four, in 22, three and four, John says nothing occurs will be found there anymore. But the throne of God in the lamb will be in it. His servants will worship him. They will see his face and his name will be on their foreheads. In this consummated New Jerusalem, there will be nothing accursed because all the citizens of that city will worship God in the land. That is, they will be pervasively God centered. You see, the basis of being cursed is not allowing God to be God in one's life on God's terms.
So notice his name will be on their forehead. We've seen that before in chapter 14. Remember, the forehead is the seat of perception. So to have the name of God and the lamb on your forehead is to be a radically Christ centered, God centered person. That Christ and God are the center of your perceptual framework and that your whole life values behaviors flow out of that deep core reality. Now notice note that the throne is of God and the land. But then it says His singular and Greek servants will worship him singular. And another subtle way of John, indicating that Jesus is God, that God is manifested in Jesus. Now seeing God face to face is an image for a face to face relationship with God. Psalms have multiple references to God's face. For instance, Psalm four six. Let the light of your face shine on us. Oh Lord. So on 28 eight come. My heart says Seek his face on your face, Lord, do I seek? Then back in Exodus, we have the phrase again. That's the Lord used to speak to Moses face to face as one speaks to a friend. Now, the reason that the citizens of New Jerusalem see God's face is because his name is on their foreheads. That is, they are totally God centered beings, totally God referenced persons. Then in five, we see a repetition of what we saw back in 2123. There will be no light there. They need no light of lamp or sun. For the Lord God will be their light. And they will reign forever and ever. Now, this is what's called an inclusive and literary structure. You begin with a phrase, you say what you're going to say, and then you end with the same phrase to show that you've got a coherent unit there.
And what we've got here, these two phrases of there being no sun for the day or moon for the night, they bracket John's description of the deeper dynamics of the city, the redemption of the Gentiles, the river of the water of life and the tree of life. So John sort of pulls all of those together, you see, by putting this in. Who's the all around it about there being no need for the sun or the moon then in 2269. We have the conclusion. To the vision of the bride. And the conclusion here is very, very similar to the conclusion to the vision of the harlot back in 17 to 19 and 19 nine and ten is where you have the conclusion to the vision of the harlot. And there's a dense parallelism between those two conclusions as we saw back there. And at the same time that John is concluding the vision of a bride. He is also rounding out the vision by returning to the starting point. Remember, we talked about a cyclorama where you're standing in the midst of a circular room and all sorts of things are going on around you. And if you were to describe it to someone in a letter, you would pick a starting point and say, Well, I saw this, I saw and then I saw this. And after that I heard this. And then I saw this. And you work your way all the way around the cyclorama into you came back to where you started. Well, John is doing the same kind of thing. Remember, we spoke with the fact that John's vision seems to be a a unity of experience and all at once ness. But the only way John can convey that is to break it out into pieces.
And one of the ways that we see this, for instance, in this context, if you look at the introduction to the harlot in 17 one, two, three and the introduction to the bride, you see, again, tremendously dense parallelism there. Just as in the conclusion of the Holy Grail, conclusion of the bride, but at the conclusion of the vision of the harlot, John falls down at the feet of the angel to worship him. And the angel says, Don't do that, worship God. And we see here, John does the same thing at the end of the vision of the bride. Now, John has been perfectly obedient all the way through the recording of his vision. Remember the Seven Thunder sounded and John started to write them down and he's told not to. We have no idea what the Seven Thunders were all about. John is perfectly obedient. Now here, about 13 verses from the end, he blows his perfect obedience by disobeying a specific command he received back in the conclusion to the harlot. And I puzzled over that for a long time. So one day it dawned on me that what we've got here is an illustration of a unity vision. See, we read sequentially. So you have the division of the harlot. When that's all done, you have that last vision. Love, that last heavenly vision. And that's all done. Then you have the vision of the bride and Jerusalem in sequence. One precedes the other precedes the other. But what John is indicating is that this was a unity of visions and all at once ness, at the end of which he fell down to worship the angel. And of course, he's told the same thing at both places as an indicator of this fact.
Now on 22 six, since the Lord has sent His angel to show his servants what might soon take place. Go back and look at one one. God gave him Jesus to show his servants what might soon take place. He made known by sending his angel to his servant, John. So see what John's doing. He's going back as he concludes the vision of the harlot and leads him to the conclusion of his whole vision. He's going back and picking up the imagery from chapter one to sort of tie this whole circle together in a punitive kind of way. And then in 22 seven, Jesus says, See, I am coming soon. Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book. Now I'm coming soon. We've seen back in 311, two, two, the church in Philadelphia. We've seen it here in 2212. And we're going to see it again in 2220. And remember, the word translated soon here is a synonym for the tune back in one one. And there we saw that it indicates it will take that all this will take place in God's ordering of the in God's sequence, in God's timing. Of course, we have an advantage, as we said back there over John's readers, because we know that soon. Obviously, it doesn't mean a temporal soundness because it's been 2000 years since John saw this vision and recorded it for us. Then blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book. And in 22 nine, we'll see those who keep the words of this book. But look at the first blessing in the first of the Seven Blessings in Revelation. Back in one three, Chapter one, verse three Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of the prophecy.
And blessed are those who hear and keep what is written in it. So again, you see another image John is giving us, tying us back to chapter one to the beginning. So the end comes around and reunites with the beginning of the vision. Then in in verse nine, verse eight and nine, we see the conclusion the same thing he does at the end of the vision of the harlot I, John, and the one who heard and saw these things and I heard and saw them, I fell down into worship at the feet of the angel showed them to me. But he said to me, You must not do that. I'm a fellow servant with you in your comrades, the prophets with those who keep the words of this book. There's that other reference again, worship of God. So. This is the link back you see to the heartland, together with the conclusion attached to the introduction of the bride in the harlot, which indicate we've got a unit of thing here all tied together. Then in 22, 10 to 20, John flows out of the conclusion of the vision of the bride directly into the conclusion of his vision. Interesting way he starts, as he says in verse ten, Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book for the time is near. Now, this instruction is contrary to several inter tests, some inter test of mental books, and especially to Daniel. Here's what it says in Daniel 12 four But you, Daniel, keep the word secret and the book sealed until the time of the end. Now, Daniel is looking forward to the time when God will restore the kingdom to Israel. John has indicated in many ways that Jesus let in Jesus.
This has been accomplished, although not the geopolitical restoration expected by the Jews. And then see Peter's proclamation in Acts 217, his Pentecost Day speech, where he's quoting Jolly says, in these last days. Now, if you go back and look at Joel, it doesn't say that Joel says after these things and that these things that Joel is talking about are Israel's captivity and treatment at the hands of his enemies. Then beginning with that verse in Joel, Joel begins to see the vision of God's restoration. So after these things, you see, after the bondage and the captivity, then there's going to be the restoration. So when Peter changes those words and you can be sure that Peter's hears knew exactly what Joel said, because they're yearning for God to restore the kingdom to Israel, they're relying upon the promises in these prophets that promise that there'll be a come, a time when God will intervene, restore the kingdom to Israel, which meant for them the restoration of the promised land free from Roman domination, the return of a Davidic king to the throne, the return of God's presence to the temple and all those other things that we looked at earlier here. What Peter's doing when he says in these last days and seeing in the Jewish thinking of Peter's day, the last days were not the end of the world. In the Jewish thinking. The last days were the last days of this present age, this present evil age. Just before God will restore the kingdom and bring in the age to come. And this is a historical, earthly event in their understanding. And Paul uses the same kind of imagery. And in Galatians four four, Paul says, When the fullness of time had come, God sent his son, born of a woman born under the law.
Again. Ephesians 110. Paul talks about a plan for the fullness of time to gather up all things in him, things in heaven and things on Earth, in Him being in Jesus. Even the writer of Hebrews. Hebrews one, two. But in these last days he has spoken to us by a son whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom he also created the world. And then in Hebrews 926, he says that Jesus is a high priest, not like the high the the priests of the earthly temple. He says, for then he would have had to suffer again and again since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the age to remove sin by the sacrifice of himself. And it was the end of the age is another way to talk about the last days or the fullness of time, because the end of the age of the end of the present evil age. And the beginning of the age to come or the restored kingdom. When Jesus says the time is near in verse ten, it's the exact same phrase we see back in chapter one, verse three. So here's another piece drawing the introduction and the conclusion together. Now, if you remember all the way back to one three, the word used for time is the word Kairos as opposed to Chronos. There are two words in Greek, remember, for time, Chronos is the ticking of the clock, the seconds passing, the minutes, the days, the hours, the weeks, etc.. Kairos is the significant moment, a crucial moment that the pregnant moment is a moment of transforming events. And we saw that the Kairos is used this way in the New Testament to describe the in breaking of God's kingdom as a present reality.
So when John says here and back in one three the time the Kairos is near. He's indicating that the presence of the kingdom is a present reality, that they are already participants in this restored kingdom. Then in verse 11, you have a rather puzzling statement that the evil doers still do evil and the filthy still be filthy and the righteous still do right, and the holy still be holy. Know that that's a real puzzle. I think we may get a clue to what John is receiving in his vision here from Jesus Parable of the wheat and the weeds back in Matthew chapter 13, verse 24 to 30. Remember that the landowner sent out his servants to to sow the field with seed. And then at night an enemy came and sowed weeds in the field. And when the plants start to come up, the servants noticed that their weeds mixed in with wheat. And they go to that to the the owner and they say, Didn't you sow good seed? And he said, Yes, I did, but where do the weeds come from? And he said, Well, an enemy has done this. So then the servants say, Well, shall we go and pull up the weeds? And the landowner says, No, you might pull up the wheat with the weeds, let them grow together until the harvest, and then the weeds will be separated out and thrown into the fire and the harvest will be gathered into the burn. And of course, that is one of the images that Jesus uses fairly regularly for for the final consummation of the kingdom. So what Jesus is indicating is that until that final consummation, which still lies ahead of us, the evil and the good will continue to co-exist.
In that sense, the evil will still do evil, the filthy will still be filthy, the righteous will still do right, the holy will still be holy. And I think we have to insert into this the fact that the evildoers and the filthy can be redeemed if they will turn to God and allow God to be God in their lives, if they will lose that false self, that Babylonian self, for Christ's sake, that they can become citizens of New Jerusalem. But if they don't, then of course, the evildoers will still do evil, the filthy will still be filthy. And of course the faithful citizens, New Jerusalem, the righteous will still do right. The Holy will still be holy, even in the midst of a fallen Babylon world. Then in verse 12, See, I am coming soon. Now, it is sort of puzzling here because an angel has been talking to John, obviously now in verse 12, the angel has morphed into Jesus because Jesus is the one that says I am coming soon. My reward is with me to repay according to everyone's work. If you go back to chapter one, God says, I sent my my angel to you. Well, as you read on in chapter one who appears to John Jesus, and we've seen several places now throughout the vision where Jesus is emerged as a great angel or a mighty angel, which was part of Jewish messianic expectation. It was a it was a minor key, so to speak, but it was there that there would be an angelic messiah. And so John seemed to be picking up on that imagery to describe Jesus as this angelic Messiah so that the angel and Jesus are the same person. And we noted earlier in our study that in the Old Testament you have these strange cases where an angel appears to someone and a dialog takes place.
A person is talking with the angel and all of a sudden it dawns on you in the middle of the conversation, the person is talking with God. And you want Where do God come from? We're talking with an angel here. And you go back at the beginning, you know, and the angel appears and talks with the person. What's going on here? Well, this is an Old Testament way of describing God's appearance to human beings gods. You might say God's presence with them. The angel is God. God is the angel. And so the same thing here. Jesus is the angel. The angel is Jesus. Then again in verse 12, he says, My reward is with me. Now the term for reward. Sort of a two sided word. It can mean either recognition of laudable actions or retribution for wicked actions. My reward is with me to repay according to everyone's work. The repay also can go both ways, can either be a repayment for the recognition of good things, or it can be retribution for wicked behavior. Now notice that Jesus has to repay according to everyone's work. Now, we've talked about this back in chapter 20. Throughout the vision, John is talking about your works, your works, your works, your works. And we saw remember, in the Jewish tradition, your works were vitally important because there was a ledger in heaven with your name on it. Every time you did a good work, every time you obey the law, you got a credit entry. And every time you disobeyed, you got a debit entry so that when you appeared before the judgment, see, your ledger would be totaled up. And if your assets outweighed your liabilities, you would be welcomed in the heaven. If your liabilities outweighed your assets, you would be excluded.
So but remember, we saw there in chapter 20, after John works through this whole thing of people being dealt with according to their works, the final line is anyone whose name is not in The Land's Book of Life is thrown into the Lake of Fire. And so now we have to understand the word work here. Everyone's work here as being subsumed under the umbrella of being in the Lands book of Life, so that if your works are not an outward manifestation of Christ likeness within you, if your works do not incarnate Christ likeness, which is being in the Land's Book of Life, then your reward is going to not be a good one. If your life does manifest that reality, then your reward is going to be a good one. So then in 13 I am the alpha and the Omega, the first and the last. And the beginning and the end. Now, these are terms that have been attributed to God earlier here. It's being used by Jesus as a self-description. And another of John's indications that Jesus is God, that God is Jesus, Alpha and Omega is just another way of saying first and last Alpha is the first letter of the Greek alphabet. Omega is the last, the beginning in the end, same kind of dynamic. Then in verse 14. Jesus says. Blessed are those who wash their robes so that they will have the right to the tree of life and may enter the city by the gates. Now, this is the seventh of the seven blessings in John's vision. The first was back in one three. And then, if you want to list of them, one, three, 14, 13, 16, 15, 19 nine, 24, six, 22, seven. And then here in 2214.
Now, the clear reference here is back to 714, where John sees those who have washed their robes in the blood of the lamb and made them white. That is, their inner being has been restored in the image of God and is they have the word of God and their robes. Describe the incarnation of that transformed being and the way they live their life in the world. That is, they have the witness of Jesus. Remember we saw back there that the robe is the sort of the outer manifestation of the person. And so here those who have washed their robes have the right to the tree of life and enter the city by the gate. So here we see how citizens of all in Babylon can become citizens of New Jerusalem. They have to wash their robes in the blood of the land. That is, they have to come under the cross. They have to be crucified with Christ, to use Paul's phrase. Then outside the city. Now, here we get the picture outside the city. Are the dogs and the sorcerers and the fornicators and the murderers and the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood. So here is the citizens of Fall in Babylon. And notice the final attribute here. Those who love and practice falsehood. If you go back to 14, five and 21, 27, you see that the final attribute of citizens of form in Babylon is being false. You see, they are false selves. They are playing God in their lives and consequently our force with God, they're idolaters, they are false with themselves, fornicators and their false with others murderers. To use the picture that John uses here, the sorcerers, fornicators, murderers, idolaters, everyone who loves and practices falsehood.
And so sorcery, of course, is playing God and manipulating the world through magic spells and things like that. Fornicators is engaging in probably here. It can be used both ways. Both sexual fornication, but also remember through John. The phrase has been used for turning away from God, for not letting God be God. And at 16, John is again referencing the introduction. It is I. Jesus, who sent my angel to you with this testimony for the churches. And if you go back and look at it again in chapter one, you know, it says, I sent my angel to you. For the sake of the churches. But now it clearly is. Jesus. Now in one one, John says it's sort of like God speaking, I sent my angel to you. But now we see the angel is Jesus. Now the next thing he says is I am the root and descendant of David, the bright and morning star. Both of these are messianic images in the Jewish context. The root and descendant of David is already seen. We've already seen that in 15 five. And then probably picking up from Isaiah 11 one. Ah, shoot, she'll come out of the stump of Jessie and the branch, so grow out of his roots. And Jesse, of course, was the father of David then Zacharias 612 and John relies upon Zacharias a lot for his imagery say to him. Thus says, the Lord of Hosts Here is a man whose name is Branch for you to branch out of his place, and he shall build the temple of the Lord. And it's another messianic image. Now, of course, that we've seen how John is using temple imagery to indicate that Jesus is the the new temple as well as the high priest, and that we are the priests, remember? And he has made us a kingdom and priests to his God and father.
The morning star image picks up the image from 1228 where Jesus will give those who are conquering over, falling in Babylon the morning star and is playing off of numbers 2417 and other messianic imagery. Interesting in that 2228 passage, Revelation 228 Jesus promises the morning star to those who are conquering. That is the Messiah becomes the life of the believer restored in the image of God in Christ likeness. So what Paul is dealing with in Colossians, he says your life is hid with Messiah in God. And Galatians 220. Paul said it is no longer I who live. Messiah who lives in me. And so the Morningstar image is picking this dynamic up, especially when Jesus says back in chapter two, I will give you the Morningstar, I will give you Christ likeness. Then in verse 17 and 2217. The spirit and the bride say, come and let everyone who hears, say, come and everyone who is thirsty come. And anyone who wishes to take the water of life as a gift. Now, after the all of the negative images of fallen in Babylon that we've been seeing in John's vision, the vision closes with an evangelistic call. Remember in the Jewish context, to hear is to obey not just sounds falling on your eardrums. To hear is to obey. Remember, in chapter one, we saw the redundancy. Blessed is the one who reads and those who hear the word of the prophecy and keep the things written in it. That's really redundant because in Jewish context, if you hear here, you will keep. And so here are those who here are the believers, those who not only have heard the words, but have entered in to this new reality. So to hear is to shape one's life by what is heard.
And then everyone who was thirsty. You see, fun in Babylon is thirsty. They thirst for the refreshing, renewing life, giving power of the Holy Spirit. They don't know that in most cases they try to assuage that thirst with all sorts of things that just in no way can fill the bill. So being thirsty is a characteristic of fallen Babylon. So let everyone who's thirsty come. Let anyone who wishes to take that water of life as a gift. So. Here we see the emphasis upon God's grace. You cannot earn your way into New Jerusalem. It is a gift. It is graced to us. Now as a result of our. Allowing God to be gone in our life as a result of the Holy Spirit nurturing us to Christ likeness. We experience true life, true holiness. Now in verse 18 and 19 of Chapter 22, John picks up Moses warning to the Israelites in Deuteronomy 432. Moses says to the Israelites, You must neither add anything to what I command you nor take anything away from it, but keep the commandments of the Lord your God with which I am charging you. You see, the issue here is obedience. So what John is saying, you know, anyone who adds to the words of his vision, God will add to that person the plagues described in this book. And in verse 19, anyone takes away from the words of the book of this privacy. God will take away that person's share in the tree of life and in the Holy city. The idea being that you see if you try to add to God's. Purpose. God's plan. Then you're perverting the reality. And of course, we had the idea, you know, people get this idea works right as well.
We're going to do good things. Do, do, do the do's and don'ts. Don'ts. And see, that's that's adding to to God's purposes, the doing the do's and don'ts. The don'ts is not something we do to earn heaven. It's a consequence of our lives being shaped and Christ likeness. It's a consequence of a life head with Christ in God. And then taking away from the words the book is try to water it down. And we saw it in several of those ugly churches, particular remember the good, the bad and the ugly, those ugly churches that were trying to have one foot in each world, one foot in New Jerusalem, one foot in fall of Babylon. And so they were watering down the gospel, trying to accommodate the fall in Babylon. And of course, the two man churches were almost totally accommodated to the view of the value system, the behavior patterns of fallen Babylon. So you're taking away from the words of the prophecy is ignoring those hard things that that caused us to lose ourselves for Christ sake. Those things that sent us in opposition to the dynamics of fall in Babylon. Then in verse 20, Jesus is again the one who testifies to these things, says, Surely I am coming soon. Amen. Come, Lord Jesus now. Amen. Come, Lord Jesus is John's addition to what Jesus says. Surely I'm coming soon. So you see the believer. Faithful citizen of New Jerusalem lives his or her life as if Jesus is coming in the next moment. Yet committed to ongoing faithfulness, no matter how long before Jesus comes. That's an interesting picture. But that that's really what the Christian life is all about. We should be so Christ centered, so living out of that deep, loving union with God in our hearts, that if Jesus appears in the next moment, we're ready.
If he doesn't appear in the rest of our lifetime, we still remain faithful. We still live out of that deep union with God and manifest a Christlike life to the world around us. You see, John's vision is not an escapist theology. God is going to just lift us out of this mess and take us off to heaven. But it's an incarnation of theology which understands that we are to be Christ for others. Remember, New Jerusalem is at the center of fallen Babylon. Even in the last moment of history in 29, remember the camp of the saints surrounded by the hordes of fallen Babylon? They haven't been raptured. They're right there at the heart of the action. So to be a faithful citizen of New Jerusalem is to live a Christlike life, to be Christ for the citizens of home in Babylon. To be a means of God's grace to redeem them. Then in verse 21, the last verse of Revelation, John concludes, His vision are returning to the letter form he uses back in chapter one. This is a typical epistolary closing, very similar to those of Paul. The grace of Lord Jesus be with all the saints. Amen. And thus concludes John's tremendous vision. I hope that at this conclusion, this last session, I hope this has been helpful to you, and I hope it will help pull everything together to see the unity of John's vision. And then what John is calling as to what John's vision is all about at its heart. It is a call to radical discipleship. As faithful citizens of God's New Jerusalem in the midst of a fallen Babylon world, it is to follow the lamb wherever he goes. It is to bow, to worship, to cast the crown, to let God be gone on God's terms, to let God be in control of the relationship we have with God so that we can be God's persons in this world in which we live.
May God bless you with John's vision. May the Lord shape you to Christ likeness through the work of His Holy Spirit in you. Amen.