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I AM COMING QUICKLY

 

 

Then he said to me, “These words are faithful and true.” And the Lord God of the holy prophets sent His angel to show His servants the things which must shortly take place. Revelation 22:6

 

The revelation is now completed. John has seen numerous visions throughout the Revelation that were brought to him by several angels. This last angel, which is one of the angels with the bowls of God’s wrath from chapter 16, has just shown John the glory of the New Jerusalem, which we know is the church as Jesus built it.

The everlasting gospel preached throughout the end-time revival is characterized by the clear uncompromising truth of the atonement in Christ that brings about the new birth and produces the righteousness of Christ in the lives of his people. As the angel is about to leave John, he leaves him with assurance that what he has seen concerning the church will most surely happen in history going forward from John’s time. He says, “These things are faithful and true.” John then adds his words assuring us as his readers that what is recorded in the Revelation was not just a nightmare he suffered in his sleep. He writes, “Lord God of the holy prophets sent His angel to show His servants the things which must shortly take place.” We see that the angel’s words clearly echo the opening words of the Revelation in the first chapter: “Things which must shortly take place.” (Revelation 1:1) In the words from the begging and the end of the Revelation we have both prophecy and fulfillment. First we are given to understand this is a revelation purposed and given by the Lord God through the Lord, Jesus Christ. The angel calls him the Lord God of the holy prophets, which affirms that as what the Old Testament prophets wrote came to pass in history so what God has revealed in the Revelation is just as sure to come to pass. John tells us, his readers, that the things God showed him must shortly come to pass. These things are not just a possibility or mere events of chance, they must come to pass—of this there can be neither doubt nor possibility that they will not come to pass.

Immediately after John pens these words he is interrupted by the voice of Jesus. Verse 7, “Behold, I am coming quickly! Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.” This is the attestation of Jesus confirming what John has just written. Some might think that Jesus saying he is coming quickly refers to the Second Coming of Christ at the end of time. Yes, Christ is coming again but that is not what is meant here. Throughout the Revelation we have seen events that happen in the history of the church beginning with the Day of Pentecost when the church was established up through the end-time revival, which is destined to be God’s last reaching out to the world with the gospel of salvation from sin. Jesus saying that he is coming quickly indicates he has finished giving the Revelation and will now bring to pass what it reveals. His coming quickly shows that he is present in his church throughout all the events of the Revelation and is always present in the proclamation of the everlasting gospel.

Jesus adds his personal blessing to all that keep “the words of the prophecy of this book.” This tells us that the Book of Revelation has real meaning and is not subject to the personal interpretation of any particular person, movement or church. The Revelation, the Apocalypse, is indeed a mystery as its name indicates, but it is a mystery that Christ progressively reveals to his church throughout its history. In looking back over the history of the church we find examples of men of God who saw pertinent things in the Revelation that explained how Christ was working in his church at their times in history. Now that we are approaching the end of time more of the Revelation will be made known to us. What Christ reveals in the Revelation is important and must be shared in his church around the world. Those that listen to Christ as he reveals more of the Revelation will be blessed; and those that do not listen to Christ will not receive those blessings but will possibly be drawn off to some kind of religious Babylon.

John is totally overwhelmed by what he has seen in the Revelation. Verse 8, “Now I, John, saw and heard these things. And when I heard and saw, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel who showed me these things.” After hearing Jesus speak, John reacts as if he is starting to come out of the trance in which he has been seeing the Revelation. The angel is still with him and John reacts by falling down in front of him as if to worship him. John is very much aware of the divine influence that has caused him to see the visions of the Revelation. His first reaction is to express his awe and he unconsciously drops on his knees—not really to worship the angel, but to worship Christ and the angel just happens to be there.

Verse 9, “Then he said to me, “See that you do not do that. For I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren the prophets, and of those who keep the words of this book. Worship God.” The angel is an angel of the vision who has not yet completely left John’s mind and not necessarily a real angelic being. It is as if John was seeing a character on a television set and thinking it is real.

The angel tells John that he is not an object of worship; he is merely a fellow servant who represents the ministry of Christ’s church in history. We may love and appreciate ministers Christ uses to bring the gospel to us and lead us in the truth, but ministers are not persons deserving of worship. We also may be astounded by what the Revelation shows us as we go through time and we may appreciate those that put time and resources into the study and presenting what God shows them. All things considered, it is far more important that we worship God and follow the truth he reveals to us as his church rather than to treat his ministers as objects of worship.

The angel gives John one last instruction in verses 10–11, “And he said to me, “Do not seal the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is at hand. He who is unjust, let him be unjust still; he who is filthy, let him be filthy still; he who is righteous, let him be righteous still; he who is holy, let him be holy still.” John is told not to seal (meaning not to keep secret) the words of the prophecy. Why? Because what is in the prophecy is about to come to pass—the time is at hand—it is about to start.

Christ intends for the Revelation to be read in the church and handed down to all future generations. It must be studied particularly in our time since most of what is revealed has already happened in history and gives meaning to what the church is facing in our time. His statement, the time is at hand, is a warning to readers to pay attention because the Revelation starts NOW, at the moment the vision is published. The clock of history is running and how people respond to the events in the history of the church will determine their position before Christ.

The statement in verse 11 sounds strange to us who present the everlasting gospel to the world. “He who is unjust, let him be unjust,” etc. Why not give the people opportunity to repent and get right with God? That is logical but that is not what is intended in what is said here. The meaning of the words is that the history of the church has been revealed and the events of the revealed history will most certainly take place. Throughout history past and present people will respond to the gospel and the work of the church as it has been revealed in the Revelation. They make their decisions and choices regarding Christ’s dealing with mankind and they are responsible for those decisions and they will experience the consequences or results of those decisions. No matter how Christ deals with people, those who choose to remain unjust will remain unjust and those who are filthy will remain filthy. In spite of Christ’s dealings with humanity through his church, there will be those who will reject him, reject the everlasting gospel and remain in their sins. On the other hand, there will be those in history who respond to the message of the gospel and accept Christ as Savior. Those are the people in history that are righteous and holy.

Jesus places his endorsement on the message of the Revelation in verses 12–13, “And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last.” These verses are like a signature penned at the end of a letter. He again tells us he is coming quickly—meaning right now as he finishes the letter. He reassures us of his impartiality and justice and puts all humanity on notice that they are personally responsible to him for how they live and how they respond to his offer of salvation. Jesus then signs his name as it is revealed in chapter one: “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last.”

John then provides a brief summary of the foundational message of the Book of Revelation. Verse 14, “Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city.” In short, the Revelation is about salvation from sin offered to all mankind through Jesus Christ as he ministers to the world through his body, the church as he built it. Those that accept salvation offered them through Jesus are recipients of eternal life and are privileged to live their lives in the presence of Christ.

On the other hand he says in verse 15, “But outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie.” Without the salvation from sin as offered through the atonement in Christ, people are left in their sin. While he mentions several sins, they all fall under the worst sin, which is to practice a lie—and the worst lie of all is that mankind thinks of itself as its own god.

After John pens his summary, Jesus again speaks giving his final statement of approval on what he has revealed in the Revelation. Verse 16, “I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things in the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star.” He reiterates for our benefit that he has personally sent the message of the Revelation for the purpose of it being taught in his church. What then is the status of organizations and places called church where this message is not taught? His last words here are proof to all that he is Messiah and he is all that the prophets claimed him to be. This is one last stamp of approval and authority that gives us the assurance of the truth revealed to us about the church as it passes through time; both the good and the bad.

John adds one more point as to the value of what Jesus has shown him. Verse  17, “And the Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ And let him who hears say, ‘Come!’ And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.” The Holy Spirit through the ministry of the church as Jesus built it is calling all who hear the message of the everlasting gospel to come to Christ for salvation. Those that have heard the everlasting gospel and received Christ as Savior urge all people to come to Christ to experience salvation. And those that may not yet know Christ as Savior but are searching for spiritual help are urged to come to Christ because he is the only spiritual help they can receive. If you want spiritual life, it is available for you only in Jesus.

John closes the Revelation with a sobering challenge.

 

For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book. (Verses 18–19)

 

The Book of Revelation has specific meaning as revealed by Jesus. It is to be taken seriously. We are told not to add to or take away anything revealed in the Revelation because in doing so we would actually be fulfilling things revealed by the Revelation. Doing so adds the plagues of the Revelation to our lives—it takes us off track and leads us into some kind of religious Babylon. And taking that route causes us to miss the reality of the church as Jesus built it and all the blessings of salvation from sin.

In the context of what John writes here, adding to and taking away involves changing or deleting the message of what has been revealed. It is to be understood that during the progress of time Jesus gave understanding of some of the elements of the message of the Revelation to those that needed to know it in their respective times in history. That which is not revealed cannot be understood until it is revealed. In history, and in particular the past two hundred years, there has been more study and teaching of the Book of Revelation than in previous centuries. Books have been written by authors of various backgrounds that have correctly explained some things in the Revelation but are incorrect on many other points. The incorrect points are the best guesses of those authors at the time and are not necessarily the adding to or taking away of which John wrote. Honest and sincere teaching on the Revelation is not condemned where it is mistaken. What is condemned is the deliberate altering of the meaning within the Revelation to advance the causes of religious Babylon or the ideologies of opponents of the everlasting gospel.

Jesus adds one last affirmation to the Revelation in verse 20, “He who testifies to these things says, ‘Surely I am coming quickly.’” This is as if Jesus is saying, “I told you so. Now it is up to you.” And John adds the heartfelt hope of all God’s people. “Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!”

As Christians experienced the adversities the church faced throughout history, this has been their heartfelt cry in those circumstances. In our time, we look around us and see so much apostasy in religion and so much ungodliness in the world’s cultures that our hearts cry out, Even so, come. Lord Jesus!

And now we close our extended study of the Book of Revelation with John’s words of benediction in verse 21, “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.”