Revelation 22 is the last chapter in the last book in God’s Word. It is the final word from our God. So what does it talk about here? Heaven – and all its glory. John gets a glimpse of “the river of water and life…..the tree of life….yielding its fruit each month”. See a common theme. In a word it is life. Heaven is a place filled with life – life eternal and never ending. It is where we will live forever experiencing the “throne of God and of the Lamb”. Heaven is a wonderful place. It is filled with life!
John again reminds us what we will do there. “His servants will worship Him”. Later we are told to “worship God”. Heaven will be about God and His Son. It will be a place where we WILL spend our time worshipping Him. Quite honestly we should be doing a whole lot more of that here on earth too. But we get distracted and busy and we fail to spend time worshipping our God. That won’t be the case in heaven. That will occupy our time. It will be our focus. But more than that – we will experience something there we have never seen before. “They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads “. We will see God face to face. Scripture talks about that but it will be reality. We will be able to see Him in His glory. It will be awesome.
We get a little more clarity on what it will be like in heaven. “Night will be no more…..no light of lamp or sun…..God will be their light…..they will reign forever and ever”. We will be joining our Father and be part of His Kingdom ruling over all the Creation. The promise of being a joint heir will come to reality. We will rule with Jesus. So the big question is when will this happen? Scripture tells us “I am coming soon….. Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay everyone for what he has done …surely, I am coming soon”. Three times John writes the words “I am coming soon” in this chapter. Soon is not defined. But the reality is that we are told that we won’t know the day or the hour elsewhere in scripture. We need to be ready. We need to have our future secure. That means we need to have our relationship with Jesus settled. Are you ready?
John reminds us again that anyone can enter heaven. “And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price”. God’s grace is free. Jesus paid the price. But it does require that we receive the gift – that we accept Jesus as our Savior – that we make the decision to make Him Lord. That is the foundation for eternity – what we do with Jesus. John clearly writes that there can be no change to what God has written in scripture – it is His way period. “If anyone adds to them (the words of the book)…..and if anyone takes away” – it will not be well for them. God’s Word is God’s Word and must not be messed with. It is the truth and cannot be manipulated or changed. Do you believe it? Have you lined up your life with it? It is the way things will be. Learn it, live it, and be ready for eternity!
Revelation 21 describes the “new heaven and a new earth….a new Jerusalem”. We have arrived at that final place. The old will be put aside and God will bring His followers into eternity as it will be forever. Not only will the surroundings be new – but “He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God”. This place will be an experience like no other. God will be the center of it all and we will be in His presence and filled by His glory. He will be the focal point. It is a new place and He will fill it with “the glory of God, its radiance like a most rare jewel”.
Often people wonder what it will be like in heaven. We get a few answers to that question here. “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore”. Life as we know it on earth will not exist there. The things that cause us sadness will be done. There will be no more death. That experience ends at eternity. Tears aren’t part of that environment because God will have removed all the things that cause them. We will be in a new place and God tells us “I am making all things new”. Did you catch that? He will make ALL things new. There will be no old left – God will do a makeover on all of it. He will create the final chapter and make the finishing touches complete as He redoes all that is. And then He will be true to the words scripture has “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end”. This is it – the grand finale – God will have brought us to His final place of eternity.
The chapter goes into great detail to describe the new city. It will be a magnificent place – and be covered with the most beautiful of all God’s creation. But the thing that jumps out at me is the reality that there is no more sun or moon “for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb”. God and His glory will be all the light we need. It will illuminate the place and make it shine. We go on to learn “its gates will never be shut by day – and there will be no night there”. The doors of heaven never close. The light never ends. It is a 24X7X365 place of worship and adoration of God. We won’t grow tired. We will continually give God glory and honor and praise. But as the chapter ends – we are reminded once again that “only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life” will be there. Even though the gates are never shut – that doesn’t mean they are left unguarded. Heaven will be occupied only by those who have a relationship with the Savior. Do you know Jesus? Will you be there?
Revelation 20 moves us closer to the very end of the story. “An angel coming down from heaven…..bound him (Satan) for a thousand years…..threw him into the pit…..shut it and sealed it over him”. There is a 1000 year window where Satan is bound and thrown into lockup before the final judgment. He will be released “for a little while” one last time before being thrown for good “into the lake of fire and sulfur” which will be his final resting place. But his days are numbered and his future is already scheduled and known.
During this time there will be special attention for “the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands”. The martyrs of the faith will be restored and “come to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years”. Do you ponder those who have sacrificed their life because of their faith? There have been many over the years. It started with Stephen in the bible and has included the likes of most of the 12 and many others. Are you willing to die for your faith in Jesus? Would you truly stand that firm in your faith? Those who do will have a special place in the end. Their faith does not go unnoticed. Where are you really in your faith as a Christ Follower? Is it lip service – or is it your life?
This chapter makes it clear that at the end – our future will be determined by “the book of life….the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done”. It is very clear my friends. Having your name recorded in the book of life will determine your eternity. If you want to spend it in heaven – you have to get your name recorded there. That alone is the list of who will spend eternity with God. It covers all – past, present and future people – none will escape. Check out the facts: “the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done”. To boil it down to the bare basic facts, scripture tells us” if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire”. It is that simple. There will be no negotiations, no buying your way in, no trying to convince God you are worthy. You are either in the book of life, or you aren’t. And you won’t be able to change it at that time. So now is the time to make sure you are on the list. How? By having a personal relationship with Jesus? He is the One who gets your name listed. He is the One who writes your name in the book. Don’t miss the opportunity for eternity in heaven because you fail to be listed in the book of life. You never know when that day will come – so get on the list today!
Revelation 19 introduces us to Jesus in heaven. It begins by showing us what we will be doing while we are there. In a few short words – we will worship Him. These are the words that will be cried out:
- “Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God, 2 for his judgments are true and just
- Praise our God, all you his servants, you who fear him, small and great
- Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns”
We will be focused on praising our Lord God. We will speak and sing together in a voice of a great multitude. We will “rejoice and exult and give Him the glory”. It is going to be quite a party!
So what is so exciting? “The marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready”. It is all going to be consummated in that day. And as Christ Followers we will be there and witness the great event. “Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb”. Can you imagine that day – invited as a guest of honor to be part of heavens big event of eternity? Christ is there – having been prepared for the final victory. And our role, even as we are part of that celebration is to “worship God”. We need to spend some time here on earth doing that as well. Far too much of our time is spent asking God as compared to worshipping Him. God is already worthy of our praise. He already deserves our words of honor and glory. It is past time for us to make that a priority in life.
Jesus makes his appearance on “a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war”. This almost has a fairy tale like ending doesn’t it. But it is anything but a tale – it is the Truth and a picture of what is to come. Jesus paid the price for our sin. He won the battle over the enemy. “He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God”. The blood of His death gives us the right to be part of eternity in heaven. He alone is “King of kings and Lord of lords”. We must keep focused on what Jesus did as He laid down His life for us on the Cross. It is through His shed blood and God’s grace that we will experience heaven and be part of the multitude of voices worshipping Him. The beast comes out and tries to make war but was “thrown alive into the lake of fire”. It is finished. The battle is over. Jesus has won yet again. Don’t you love it when the story always has the same ending? Our side wins – as Christ Followers we will have to deal with a lot of junk if we are alive during these last days – but the outcome is secure and the result determined. We live – forever with our Father – in heaven. Are you ready? Will you be th
Revelation 18 talks about the final victory over Satan. The battle has raged between good and evil since the Garden of Eden. And now the writer captures the final hurrah as God puts the closing on this struggle. “For this reason her plagues will come in a single day, death and mourning and famine, and she will be burned up with fire; for mighty is the Lord God who has judged her“. The judgment is coming. It will happen and in a single final action God will put things to an end. “For in a single hour all this wealth has been laid waste“. Unfortunately many people don’t consider the reality that they will stand before God and give account for their life some day. Just as judgment comes upon Satan and the demons – it will come to you and me as well. We will give account. We will have to explain our life in light of God’s Truth. We will have to measure ourselves to the measuring stick of scripture. So how are you going to measure up?
In case you are waffling on that – I’ll answer for you. You will come up short – missing the mark – unable to show God that you are worthy to spend eternity with Him. That is the reality of the judgment my friends. We will not make it on our own. Not me, not you – none of us. Scripture is really clear about that. All have sinned – the wages of sin is death – we are not going to make it on our own. Judgment will knock us out of consideration for heaven based on our own living. That is why Jesus came. Because you and I and every other human that has ever lived on this planet cannot meet God’s measuring stick. We fall short and we need a Savior. “All nations were deceived” by the enemy. You were deceived as was I. And we continue to be tricked by the enemy day after day. It is no little problem. It is eternal in nature and eternity is a very long time.
So it all boils down to this: “what will you do with Jesus”? That is God’s plan for our sin problem. There is no plan B. We either accept God’s grace and allow the blood of Jesus to cover our sin and make us worthy of an eternal life with the Father – or we spend it separated from Him in a very undesirable place the Bible calls hell. It really is that black and white. There are no shades of being saved. You are or you aren’t. It is a lot like being pregnant. You either are or you aren’t – no sort of or want to be or think I am or maybe – you are saved by Jesus or you aren’t. That is the one and only measuring stick that God needs to see about your eternity. That is what Revelation is all about – it is a warning of what is to come – and it very much should cause us to get our life in order. There is no guarantee you can deal with it tomorrow or next week. Do it now, while you can, so you are ready to stand before God.
Revelation 17 is full of a number of prophesies and symbolism. While I do not claim to be a scholar – there are a few things we should consider. The problem here is idolatry and putting something ahead of God. Big problem in this description of the final days – but it is equally important for us to consider today. Whenever ANYTHING gets in the way of our relationship with God – it is idolatry. That means big things, little things or anything. It can be as simple as TV or a hobby or work. When we let something push God out of His rightful place in our lives – we are in trouble. That is what is happening here. And there is major pain as a result – falling, destruction and eternal damnation.
There is a battle happening – “They will make war on the Lamb, and the Lamb will conquer them, for he is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those with him are called and chosen and faithful”. The forces of evil are not going to take God’s plan for the end well. They will be fighting to retain their power. But we know how the story ends. Jesus wins. The reality is that even today there is a battle of good and evil going on all around us. It is real – it is happening now – and you are in the middle of it. Satan has a plan to destroy you. He is not content with anything less. The more you put God where He belongs – the more you walk as a Christ Follower – the bigger the target on your back. He is out to destroy you. Jesus has already won that war as well. He has bought us at a price – His shed blood on the cross – but we have to realize the battle is real and all around us.
The truth is that God’s Word will come true. We are told here that it will happen “until the words of God are fulfilled”. What God says will happen. It is sure as it is that the sun will come up tomorrow. And like that – while we may not always see it clearly at the time because of clouds etc – the sun does come up. We may not always see God’s truth come to fruition the way we want to – it may not be clear – but someday scripture tells us we will see things clearly – face to face –and know that what He said is true. That is what we need to remember about Revelation. It is the foretelling of what is to come. We may not understand it all completely – in fact some of it may make no sense at all to us today – but that does not change the reality of the truth and the fact that it will happen just as He said. Are you ready for Jesus to win the final battle? Have you made Him Lord of your life?
Revelation 16 has God releasing the final wrath through seven angels. He sends them forth one at a time – pouring out the seven bowls of wrath upon the earth. Here is what that wrath looked like:
- “Harmful and painful sores
- The sea….became like the blood of a corpse
- Springs of water….became blood
- The sun….scorched the people with fire
- The kingdom was plunged into darkness
- The great river Euphrates….was dried up
- The air…saying It is done”
As the final angel poured out God’s wrath there were “flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, and a great earthquake such as there had never been since man was on the earth…. the cities of the nations fell….. great hailstones, about one hundred pounds each”. Can you imagine the sight – disasters like have never been seen before with 100 pound hail stones. Holy ice – that is gonna hurt. The reality is that there will be destruction at God’s hand as this life on earth comes to an end. God will be thorough and complete and it will not be a pleasant experience. Oh that we know Jesus and miss this final show of God’s wrath.
That is the reality – the end will come. God will reign. Destruction will occur. The question is – will you be spared because of relationship with the Savior? It does matter – there is an eternal aspect to life – and failing to deal with it now could mean some very unpleasant things ahead. Why take that chance when God has provided a sure eternity through grace – through a relationship with Jesus Christ? Why would anyone fail to accept His gift? Because of pride and stubbornness and disbelief I suppose. But what if you are wrong and Revelation is the end of the story? It is – and it isn’t a risk I would want to take. Take the step of faith while you can. Tomorrow may not come as you expect it…..
Revelation 15 is a very short chapter that sets up the grand finale. We learn that there are “seven angels with seven plagues” that will be the last of the activities that occur during those last days. “With them the wrath of God is finished”. There is an end to this earth – we don’t often think of that reality – but as the book of Revelation winds down – so does the time for people to be on earth. In the end it will be heaven or hell as an eternal place to be – and earth will be no more. We don’t like to think of things in those terms – as absolute without exception. We want to believe that somehow God will change the rules and we will be able to have some other option. But it really is that simple. We will be dealt our eternal place by the way we have responded to God’s gift of grace through Jesus.
This chapter talks about those who have accepted Him as standing “beside the sea of glass with harps of God in their hands”. Those who are Christ Followers will be worshipping our King. Sometimes we think about our eternity as sitting on a cloud sipping on an ice tea as some of the cartoons or pictures may portray it. But scripture is clear all throughout that our role will be to glorify and honor our God. We will be actively singing and praising Him together. Can’t sing? Well you will be able to in those days as you get a new body and a new day job!
This chapter does call out what we will be focused on – there are four things that we have to worship Him about:
- “Great and amazing are your deeds
- Great and amazing are your deeds
- For you alone are holy
- Your righteous acts have been revealed”
That is the God we serve and will worship. He is almighty, the king of nations, the Lord, and “all nations will come and worship”. Here is the reality – our God reigns. He does today and He certainly will in those end days. Are you ready to worship Him? Have you prepared for the eternal future? In the next chapter we will see the final wrath of God unleashed. It won’t be pretty. They are given “golden bowls full of the wrath of God” which they will let loose. We are dealing with a sure reality my friends. Don’t think you can slip in under the wire. Get things right now – be sure of your eternity. Tomorrow may be too late!
Revelation 14 begins to separate people and their different eternal destinations. There are 144,000 who stand with the Lamb on Mount Zion and overlook the earth. They are singing a new song and worshipping the Lamb of God. “They are blameless…..in their mouth no lie was found”. This group of Christ Followers stand apart in their living. How we live does matter. And one key area we see on a fairly regular basis in scripture is around sexual immorality. It is called out here again as scripture tells us “it is these who have not defiled themselves with women”. Purity is something that God does concern Himself with. It is an indication of our heart.
The angels are flying over the earth and making proclamation of what is happening. They come with these messages:
- First angel – “fear God and give Him glory…..worship Him”
- Second angel – “fallen is Babylon the great….her sexual immorality”
- Third angel – “if anyone worships the beast….he also will drink the wine of God’s wrath”
God is going to separate folks based on their relationships and lives. There are three different buckets it appears to me: the Christ Followers, the self-indulging sinners, and those who are all in on the side of evil. The last two groups will not end well. Their future is bleak and they will be thrown “into the great winepress of the wrath of God”. Eternal punishment is their end game.
But we are encouraged as believers with “a call for the endurance of the saints”. We are to live a life that “keeps the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus”. Obedience is key my friends. Why? Because scripture tells us here “their deeds follow them”. What is the measure of your life? God measures us around our willingness to trust and obey. He is watching what we do with Jesus and how we live in regard to His instruction Book. As this chapter begins to wind down, we see that “the hour to reap has come…..the harvest of the earth is fully ripe”. Jesus reaps the believers into heaven and the rest to a place of punishment to experience the wrath of God. This is hard to accept – but it is the reality of the future. We will face judgment. We will be spending eternity based on how we choose to live. It does boil down to what we do with Jesus and God’s Word. Like it or not – that doesn’t change the reality. Are you ready?
Revelation 13 takes us to life on earth during the tribulation. The beast will rule for forty two months. He will be quite the sight:
- “uttering haughty words
- Blasphemies against God
- Make war on the saints
- Conquer them
- Authority….over every tribe and people and language and nation
- All who dwell on earth will worship it”
This beast will rise up and take over for 3.5 years. It won’t be a fun place to be. He will have power to perform great signs. He will “deceive those who dwell on earth”.
Would you fall for that deception? Or can you detect evil and good and differentiate between them? While I would like to think that as Christ Followers we can tell the difference, I wonder. The beast will be effective. He will convince those on earth to make an image – to create idols of worship for itself. And then the beast will require that all be given the number of the beast – 666 – if they want to buy or sell. It will be required to really live and survive during those times. What a struggle that will be – to be willing to stand strong for Jesus and resist the temptation to worship the image of the beast. We need to know the real truth – we need a personal relationship with Jesus – in order to be ready for those days.
The reality is that every day the end is drawing closer. I can’t explain all the symbolism in the book of Revelation. I am not sure it really matters. What does matter is that we serve a risen Savior, who went to the Cross to gain victory over death. The war is over. Jesus has won. There will be difficult days, in life now as we progress on our journey, and in the end times when this book comes to pass. But the end of the story will always be the same. Our side wins. We are the victors, on the victorious team. Our future is secure and our God is on the throne. Praise God that we can cling to that truth and know that our Redeemer lives!