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Revelation 22:6-11 by Robert Dean
Series:Revelation (2004)
Duration:1 hr 0 mins 56 secs

Doctrine of Imminency, Part 2. Revelation 22:6-11

 

What is important to understand As we come to this section is that there is a time shift that occurs beginning in verse 6 in terms of the time frame of the audience of the book. As we have looked at most of this book it has been focusing on the future but at the very beginning it focused on a present tense environment with John as he talks about being in the Isle of Patmos and suddenly the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ appeared to Him, and then there is the un folding of the various visions related to the future events of the Tribulation, Messianic kingdom and the eternal state.

 

A focal point here is that judgment is coming. That is really the theme of Revelation. There is a time when God is going to bring all things to an end and there will be an accountability for all creatures. There will be accountability for the angels, accountability for mankind—judgment of Israel, judgment of the nations, and judgment for church age believers, which takes place after the Rapture at the judgment seat of Christ.

 

The message that was given at the end each of the letters to the seven churches was a present tense challenge to believers in those congregations. In relationship to the things that they were doing wrong there was a challenge that they needed to change (that is the meaning of the world "repent") and that for those who were overcomers—which is not a term that is applied to every Christian but applies to those who are moving forward and advancing in their spiritual life, those who are growing and maturing—there would be special categories of rewards and blessings.

 

Now as we come to the conclusion of the book, the epilogue, there is a return to that challenge. There is a sense of urgency that the writer is communicating, that the coming of Christ is soon. It could be today, it could be next week, a month or two, but the question that is really being addressed at the end is: Are you ready? If Jesus were to return tonight, are you ready? If God is going to start bringing the all things of history to a conclusion, when that begins then everything unfolds fairly rapidly. Once the dominoes begin to fall they fall rapidly, one after the other in terms of the end times events.

 

Salvation is a free gift, a gift of God; the issue is belief versus actions. Does that mean that actions don't matter? Not at all, because what we see at the end of Revelation 22, getting into heaven or getting salvation is one thing, a free gift; but in terms of additional blessings that are handed out at the judgment seat of Christ, additional privileges that occur during the Millennial kingdom and beyond, these are based on rewards and rewards are earned. Salvation is a free gift, a gift is given and is simply received; rewards are something that are based on performance. So we cannot become complaisant in terms of our day-to-day lives but we must be thinking in terms of that future accountability. Jesus could come tonight either in terms of the Rapture or in terms of personal death and we need to be ready. 

 

Imminency is what we develop. As we read the Scriptures, the New Testament we see that the New Testament writers expected Jesus to return in their lifetime. They'd seen the resurrected Jesus, the knew He had ascended to heaven, except for Paul who was saved later, and it was at that point on the Damascus road that he had seen the resurrected Christ. Paul expected Jesus to come back in his lifetime, there was that sense of imminency. They knew that before things wrapped up that there was this future period that Daniel had referred to as the 70th week, that seven-year period of time that would be one of the most horrific times in history. Daniel 12:1-3. Jesus repeats that in Matthew chapter twenty-four. It is the most horrendous time of war in all of human history. And they knew that was coming before Jesus would return to the earth to establish His kingdom. So why did they expect Him at any moment if all of those events would have to occur before Jesus returned to the earth? Because they understood that Jesus would be returning for the church prior to those events. Then those events would unfold and then there would be the second coming of Christ to the earth.

 

The Rapture is always imminent, but there are always the skeptics. In 2 Peter 3:3, Peter recognizes this: NASB "Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with {their} mocking, following after their own lusts, [4] and saying, "Where is the promise of His coming? For {ever} since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation."

John 14:1 NASB "Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. [2] In My Father's house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. [3] "If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, {there} you may be also." Where will Jesus be? In heaven, so He is going to come and receive us unto Himself so that we could be where? With Him in heaven. So actually this is a passage that teaches the pre-Trib Rapture. We will return to the earth later but initially we will go to heaven to be with Him. There will be the judgment seat of Christ and the wedding feast which occur while the Tribulation takes place on the earth.

Jesus said in Revelation 22:12 NASB "Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward {is} with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done." That is talking about the judgment seat of Christ, 1 Corinthians 3:9-12; 2 Corinthians 5:5-8. This is not talking about the end judgment, it is talking about the rewarding of believers when Jesus comes. So that is the urgency at the end of the book of Revelation. We are to be patient therefore until the coming of the Lord. On the other hand, it is near. In James 5:9 we read that the judge is standing right at the door. His coming is imminent.

Titus 2:13 NASB "looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:5 NASB "Let your gentle {spirit} be known to all men. The Lord is near."

No prophecy needs to be fulfilled before the Rapture can tale place, so it can take place at any moment. There is a myth running around out there that evangelical Christians are trying to get Jews back into Israel because of they can get all the Jews back into the land then Jesus will come back. But that is just the silliest thing ever heard of; nobody believes that. Christians believe that the date and the time has been set and there is nothing we can do about it. We can't hurry it up or delay it; it is going to happen when God says it is going to happen.

Revelation 22:7 NASB "And behold, I am coming quickly. Blessed is he who heeds the words of the prophecy of this book." Again we see this emphasis on being ready, that there is a nearness, an immediacy, because the coming of Christ is imminent. The second part of this verse gives us the sixth of seven blessing statements that are in book of Revelation. The speaker here, though, is the Lord Jesus Christ. It is a parenthetical statement and it is interjective after the statement of the angel in verse six. It is important to pay attention to who is speaking in each of these verses. The angels is speaking in verse 6, Jesus is speaking in verse 7, John is speaking in verse 8, the angel again in verse 9, 10 & 11. Here Jesus again in a sense of urgency injects verse 7.

"Blessed is he who heeds the words of the prophecy of this book." This comes at the end, at the epilogue of the book. At the beginning of the book there is a very similar statement that was given in Revelation 1:3 NASB "Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it; for the time is near." The word "blessing" is the Greek word makarios [makarioj]. In some contexts it can mean happy, but that is not really what it means in this context because of the terrible judgments. Privileged is probably a better idea because as we read these statements it is a promise of certain extra privileges or blessings, benefits that come to those who have been obedient and those who are overcomers. It is not salvation, it has to do with blessings after privileges come to the obedient believers. So this is a special blessing to those who read, hear and heed the promise. "Blessed is he who reads" is the Greek word agaginosko [a)naginwskw] which means to read publicly. In the early church most of the leaders plus the people came out of a Jewish background, out of the synagogue where the Torah was read publicly in the assembly. There is a blessing to those who read and those who hear the words of the prophecy. Those are connected together: those who read and those who hear. But the blessing comes to those who heed the things that are written. The word that is translated "reading" here is the same word that is translated in 1 Timothy 4:13 where Paul told Timothy NASB "Until I come, give attention to the {public} reading {of Scripture,} to exhortation and teaching."

But it is not just reading and hearing. Scripture has the idea of hearing with a view towards obedience. James emphasizes this in 1:22, 25 NASB "But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves…. But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the {law} of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does."

The next blessing statement in Revelation 14:13 NASB And I heard a voice from heaven, saying, "Write, 'Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on!'" "Yes," says the Spirit, "so that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow with them." This is the only blessing that is related to Tribulation martyrs. The third is in Revelation 16:15 NASB "("Behold, I am coming like a thief. Blessed is the one who stays awake and keeps his clothes, so that he will not walk about naked and men will not see his shame.") Who is Jesus talking to? Is He talking to Tribulational believers? Or is this a parenthetical aside in the midst of all of these judgments where Jesus is addressing John's current audience or church age believers? This imagery of a thief is an aside. Jesus is not talking about Tribulational believers, He is reminding church age believers that there is judgment coming in the Tribulation but there is judgment coming, and this goes back to the same imagery as 1 Thessalonians 5:2-6 NASB "For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night." The day of the Lord refers to the entire period of judgments leading up to the final intense period, the seven-year Tribulation period. "While they are saying, 'Peace and safety!' then destruction will come upon them suddenly like labor pains upon a woman with child, and they will not escape." Nobody is saying "peace and safety" during the end of the Tribulation period, there is massive warfare. So this is talking about the period that precedes the Tribulation period when they say "peace and safety," when man finally thinks that he is going to have world peace at the end of the church age then sudden destruction comes on them as labor pains upon  a pregnant woman, and they shall not escape. That whole imagery of labor pains is found in Isaiah, Jeremiah and various other prophets in the Old Testament; that this is what characterizes that final period of time that Daniel calls the worst period for Israel in all of their history. "But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day would overtake you like a thief; for you are all sons of light and sons of day. We are not of night nor of darkness; so then let us not sleep as others do, but let us be alert and sober."

The next blessing comes at the end of the Tribulation period. It is a statement made by an angel at the time of the return of Christ. Revelation 19:9 NASB Then he said to me, "Write, 'Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.'" The church is the bride, the marriage supper celebrates the wedding of the bride to the groom, the Lord Jesus Christ, the Lamb. Those who are invited are believers who survived the Tribulation and those who have received resurrection bodies. Revelation 20:6 NASB "Blessed and holy is the one who has a part [inheritance] in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years."

Revelation 22:14 NASB "Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter by the gates into the city." Remember the tree of life first appears in Genesis chapter two. We don't have the tree of the knowledge of good and evil show up again but the tree of life shows up in the new heavens and the new earth. In Revelation 2:7 at the end of the first letter to the church at Ephesus there is the promise that the overcomer will have access to the tree of life. This is a special privilege and blessing for overcomer believers in the new Jerusalem. So this isn't access for everyone, it is access as a reward of privilege and blessing to those who are overcomer believers.

After John has heard this interjection by the Lord Jesus Christ—that He is coming quickly, and the blessing to those who respond to and apply the Word of the prophecy of the book—he falls down again, and he is going to worship God this time. In Revelation he made the mistake of fallen down to worship the angel. Revelation 22:8 NASB "I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I heard and saw, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed me these things." He is not saying he is worshipping the angel but he falls down to worship. The angel rebukes him in verse 9, just as he was corrected back in 19:10 after the blessing statement there in 19:9, "Do not do that. I am a fellow servant of yours and of your brethren the prophets and of those who heed the words of this book. Worship God." The fact that in the New Testament there are these religious Jews—Peter, John, James—and they are worshipping Jesus, show that they don't see a violation of the first commandment to have no other gods but the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Jesus is the Son of God. The angel here commands John to worship God. This is one of the major themes of Revelation.  Revelation 4:11 NASB "Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; [why?] for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created." The focal point is creation. That is why creation is a critical doctrine. We can't sacrifice the creation doctrine of the Old Testament without sacrificing the creator-God of the Old Testament. This is the basis of why He is worshipped.

Revelation 22:10 NASB "And he said to me, 'Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near [e)gguj].'" There is an immediacy here. Don't close it up. The idea here is that it is supposed to be understood. The contrast here is between Revelation 22:10 which says don't seal up the words of the prophecy of this book and Daniel chapter 12:4 NASB "But as for you, Daniel, conceal these words and seal up the book until the end of time; many will go back and forth, and knowledge will increase." Daniel covered so much territory time wise from the Babylonian empire to the revived Roman empire in the Tribulation, but the keys to understanding what Daniel is saying weren't there yet. There were a lot of pieces to the puzzle but it was still incomplete and needed to be completed by more revelation. So Daniel is told to seal up the book until the end of time, it is not going to be clear until it gets near to the end of time how these things are going to play out. Once in the end of time, which reqally relates to the whole church age period, then there is enough information through the revelation of Scripture to begin to understand what is said here.

What is interesting is the verses that immediately precede Daniel 12:4. This is addressed to the Jews, the Israelite people at the end of the exile period.

Daniel 12:1 NASB "Now at that time [Tribulation period] Michael, the great prince who stands {guard} over the sons of your people, will arise. And there will be a time of distress such as never occurred since there was a nation until that time; and at that time your people, everyone who is found written in the book, will be rescued." There is a deliverance that occurs at the end of the Tribulation period. We believe Jesus will return at that time and He delivers the remnant of Israel during the Tribulation period from the assaults of the Antichrist. Then there is judgment. [2] "Many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace {and} everlasting contempt."

Revelation 22:11 NASB "Let the one who does wrong, still do wrong; and the one who is filthy, still be filthy; and let the one who is righteous, still practice righteousness; and the one who is holy, still keep himself holy." This verse seems a little confusing to a lot of people but it really isn't. There are four categories of people mentioned here. The one who does wrong, the one who is filthy [the negatives], the one who is righteous, the one who is holy [the positives]. We could look at this and say it is talking about unbelievers and believers, but that misses the point. The point here is that He is dealing with reward and judgment again for believers. The whole section here is addressed to church age believers, those who are obedient and those who are disobedient. The obedient believers are the ones who—even though they sin and fail—have cleansing from sin because of 1 John 1:9—they confess their sins; they are cleansed. Those who are unrighteous are the ones who stay in their sins.

The word adikeo [a)dikew] means unrighteous. We find the noun form of this word in an interesting place, 1 John 1:9 NASB "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness [a)dikh]. So we are cleansed from all unrighteousness when we confess our sins. Later on in 1 John 5 John says that all adike [a)dikh] is sin. What happens when we sin and confess it there is complete cleansing. But there are those who never confess sin, never admit to wrongdoing, and there is no cleansing for them; so these are the ones in the first two categories. Those who are righteous, those who are holy are those who relate to growing, maturing believers. The point of all of this is that Jesus is again challenging church age believers that He is coming to reward us. Revelation 22:12 NASB "Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward {is} with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done." Reward is the context; this is not talking about salvation. We have to remember, reward is based on work but salvation is free. Verse 17, "And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost."

Illustrations