Ever since The Flood of Genesis 7, God has warned of coming judgment. He spoke of it through the Prophets, through Christ, and here, at last, through the Apostle John's Revelation. Are you listening?
God’s Final Call
In our recent study I referred to General Douglas MacArthur – the Commander of the Allied Forces during World War II.
After the surrender of Japan, MacArthur led in the ceremony aboard the USS Missouri, as the terms of surrender were signed on September 2, 1945. The war was finally over.
I found it interesting that in the reconstruction of Japan, led by Douglas MacArthur, he would issue a challenge to the Western world to send 1 thousand missionaries and 10 million Bibles to deliver the gospel of Jesus Christ.
In fact, Shepherds Seminary just graduated a student who is now in Japan as a third generation missionary pastor, following in the footsteps of his grandfather who was among the many missionaries to answer the call.
For one particular soldier, however, it would years after the surrender of his homeland before he would personally surrender.
Hiroo Onada had been left on the Philippine island of Lubang – under orders to keep the area secure, while the rest of the Japanese forces were evacuated.
Nine months later, the war was over and Japan surrendered. But Onada refused to believe it or surrender.
For the next 29 years he lived off the land in the mountains, raiding the fields and gardens of local citizens, ignoring the leaflets dropped from planes announcing Japan’s surrender and, in fact, that Japan was now an ally of the United States. He believed it was allied propaganda intended to deceive him.
Nearly a million dollars was expended to find him and 13,000 men were used to locate him.
Finally, in March of 1974, almost 30 years after World War II ended, Onada was found, brought before his former superior who read him the terms of surrender. Onada surrendered his rusty sword to President Marcos and, for him, the war was finally over.
This soldier was 22 years old when he was left on the island of Lubang and when he finally reached his homeland, he was 52 years old. / Wikipedia.com/Hiroo Onada
I find this story compelling on a number of different fronts, not the least of which is the cost and effort expended to get this soldier to understand the war was over.
Imagine, over a period of 29 years, several countries were involved, enlisting the aid of 13,000 men, spending nearly a million dollars to deliver the news of peace to one man.
Shouldn’t this be the urgency of the church . . . is this not the commission given by God to the body of Christ? To deliver to a world at war with God that the terms of surrender and peace are available at the cross of Christ!
We should spare no expense as we accept the urgency of the gospel message as we deliver to our world the news that through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, they can be at peace with God. (Romans 5:1)
Is it any wonder that as the Bible comes to an end, among the last words of God, there are words of invitation?
In Revelation chapter 22 the epilogue continues and John wraps up what effectively are the last words of God.
It is no surprise – yet still an amazing revelation of the grace of God toward a sinful world which refuses to surrender – that He offers a final call for mankind to accept His terms of peace through Jesus Christ our sovereign Lord.
Let’s pick our study back up at verse 10 where John records, “And he (the angel companion) said to me, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near.”
- The command to expound the written word
John is effectively given the opposite command that Daniel the prophet had received after recording his vision of prophetic future events.
Daniel had been told, “keep the vision secret for it pertains to many days in the future” (Daniel 8:26); and again in chapter 12, Daniel was told by God, “conceal these words and seal up the book until the end of time” (Daniel 12:4)
But now, with the opening of the church age – these future events could happen at any time . . . so get the word out – heaven or hell is at stake. Invite the world to surrender.
Paul wrote, Whoever will call upon the name of the Lord will be saved. How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher and how will they preach unless they are sent? (Romans 10:13-14)
Here in verse 10, John adds to the urgency of the church, the time is near – it’s just around the corner.
So expend all the resources you can . . . these end times events are going to happen.
John writes, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy” . . . the logos (tous logouV) – the words of scripture are to be opened.
In other words, God wants the actual words, not just somebody’s thoughts, or somebody’s interpretations, but the actual words of God’s revelation to be expounded and proclaimed. Don’t keep them under lock and key. / Henry M. Morris, The Revelation Record (Tyndale, 1986), p. 174
Ladies and Gentlemen, the Book of Revelation is an open Book . . . don’t conceal it . . . don’t hide it.
To fail to preach the truth of Revelation is to rob the believers of the end of the divine story of history in all its wonder and fullness. / John MacArthur, Revelation: Volume 2 (Moody Press, 2000), p. 297
But failure to deliver the truth of Revelation would also rob the unbelieving world of a final warning of the coming wrath of God on earth and the final judgment and eternal condemnation that will confine the unbelieving world to hell forever.
Verse 10 of Revelation 22 is nothing less than a command to expound the written word.
And what happens when the words of God are expounded – from pulpits and classrooms, cubicles and across back yard fences?
Two categories of people are created by response to the words of scripture.
Notice verse 11. Let the one who does wrong, still do wrong; and the one who is filthy, will be filthy; and let the one who is righteous still practice righteousness and the one who is holy, still keep himself holy.
In other words, the response of people to the proclamation of the truth will fix their eternal destiny. / Ibid, p. 297
The results of the exposition of God’s word will cause some hearts to be softened in belief and others to become hardened in unbelief.
To some, Paul wrote to the Corinthians, our gospel is the aroma of death but to another it is the aroma of life. (2 Corinthians 2:16)
To put it in our nomenclature – you deliver the gospel to one person and he’ll say, “That stinks . . . are you kidding? I’d never believe that rubbish!”
But another will say, “What you’ve just delivered to me is so wonderful I must have it.”
Paul wrote, For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”(1 Corinthians 1:18)
I have had doors slammed in my face and I’ve been told a few times where to go – and it’s never to heaven; yet I was reminded in my study this week of a woman to whom I delivered the gospel not too long ago and she wept saying over and over again with incredulous joy, “No one ever told me God would forgive my sins for free.”
John writes that the preaching of the words of this particular Book will also either bring great blessing to many but will repel others in disgust, bringing anger or ridicule or apathy to the truth of the end times.
In fact, Jesus Christ Himself continues to be the most mocked religious leader by our world today.
I was given a newspaper clipping recently that showed one network is planning a cartoon series on the life of Christ. He will be depicted as “a regular guy who moves to New York because he wants to escape from having to live under his father’s enormous shadow” end quote. His father – the father of Jesus – is caricatured as an apathetic old man who would rather play video games than listen to his son talk about his life. / The Associated Press, quoted in the News and Observer, May 7, 2010/ Comedy Central considers series about Jesus Christ
Why would anybody be interested in watching that? Is it just because Christianity is a major world religion and you can get attention by mocking it?
It’s just fun to violate taboos . . . no doubt.
But John would say that those who refuse the gospel will choose instead to remain filthy – he calls it in verse 11. You could translate it, dirty.
In other words, they want to keep their sin and so they gather security and solidarity by mocking the gospel and in this they gain a sense of boldness in their mockery.
Peter wrote, “In the last days mockers will come saying, where is the promise of His coming?” (2 Peter 3:3-4)
In other words, “All this talking about Jesus coming back . . . c’mon . . . you can’t be serious!” “He’s just another prophet . . . He was a good teacher and a good man who got a bum rap.
Tough luck . . . end of story!
The truth is, they are headed for an eternal confirmation of their sinful state and unbelief.
In this final invitation from God through John the Apostle, we are not only given the command to expound the written word, but . . .
- The credentials of the Living Word
Several descriptive titles of Jesus Christ are given in this final invitation, telling us just who He is.
And you might notice that Jesus Christ is the one speaking in verse 12. Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to ever man according to what he has done.
Jesus Christ says, “Look . . . take note . . . I’m coming quickly” . . .it’s going to happen before you know it.
The King is indeed coming! / Sam Gordon, Worthy is the Lamb: A Walk Through Revelation (Ambassador, 2000), p. 450
And He will have full and final judgment . . . He will have the last say.
Now, we’ve already covered the final judgment where mankind is judged by their deeds (Revelation 20:11-15).
But by way of a reminder, this doesn’t mean people are going to hell because they were bad, anymore than believers are going to heaven because they were good.
In fact, John will clarify this point later on in verse 14 so that no one could possible misunderstand the truth – that the difference is a person’s relationship to the sacrifice of Christ.
Before we get to that verse, I want you to notice how Jesus Christ speaks through John the Apostle and delivers 5 titles that confirm not only His deity but clarify His right to judge mankind and rule for eternity.
Now in verse 13 notice the first title: I am the Alpha and Omega
This is the fourth and final time you’ll read this remarkable name – Alpha and Omega.
Keep in mind that this title is used in reference to God in chapter 1. Again it is used to refer to God in chapter 21 but then it is applied to Christ in chapter 2 and now here in chapter 22.
Add to that title the next titles Jesus claims for Himself in chapter 22 and you read the He is “the first and the last, the beginning and the end”. They also are used in reference to God in chapter 21 but then to Christ in chapter 22.
Centuries earlier, God spoke through the prophet Isaiah in chapter 44:6, and said, I am the first and I am the last.
All three titles – Alpha and Omega; First and Last; beginning and the End – which can apply only to a non-created, eternally existing God are applied not only to God the Father, but now to Jesus Christ – God the Son.
These titles alone are convincing declarations that Jesus Christ literally claimed to be by Divine nature equal with God the Father and God the Spirit.
Jesus Christ is literally adopting and claiming Divine titles. / Stewart Custer, From Patmos to Paradise (BJU Press, 2004), p. 260
Which means He is either a deluded or a blasphemer or a liar perhaps, or He is indeed un-created, eternally God the Son who took on flesh and came to offer up in His own death as a sacrifice for the terms of surrender and the conditions necessary for a peace treaty between God and man.
Christ has become the fulfillment of 300 Old Testament prophecies, types and illustrations. He is
- the ark of Noah;
- the Passover Lamb;
- the table of showbread and the brazen altar;
- He is the Kinsman redeemer buying His bride out of poverty.
Jesus Christ was not merely a great prophet or a good moral teacher or a misguided martyr. He is God the Son, the infinite, eternal, boundless, timeless Second Person of The Trinity. / MacArthur, p. 306
He is the Alpha and Omega, the first and last, the beginning and the end.
These titles relate to His eternality and deity and also His authority. He indeed has the power to judge the world and claim His right of as God incarnate to rule as sovereign over all.
The Rabbi’s had been teaching for centuries that since God was the beginning, the middle and the end. They taught that since He was the beginning, He had received His power from no one; since He was the middle, He shared His power with no one; and since He was the end, He would never hand over His power to anyone. / William Barclay, Revelation: Volume 2 (Westminster, 1976), p. 226
Now if these first three titles are not dramatic enough in what they declare of Christ, the last two titles are even more remarkable.
You’ll find the third title in the middle of verse 16 where Jesus Christ calls Himself, the root and descendant of David.
Christ says, “I am the origin of the Davidic line and I am a descendant of that same royal line.”
How can someone be both an ancestor of David and a descendant of David?
Some of you have grandchildren . . . that’s all we ever hear you talk about. They’re wonderful aren’t they? That’s because you’ve dramatically changed.
You never let your children have ice cream before bedtime; your children never got to eat popsicles inside the house – on the carpet. Not without losing a limb.
But your grandchildren can . . . they’re perfect.
You just don’t have to be responsible for their actions!
The parents are working overtime trying to civilize the little barbarians and grandma and grandpa come over and say, “Where’s our little angels.”
Fallen angels is more like it!
I loved my maternal grandmother who lived nearby and it was fun to be her grandchild. She let me drink coffee when I was seven. That was big. Back then they used to say it would stunt your growth and ruin your memory and . . . something else.
She let me eat Captain Crunch when I went over to her house – yes, it’s been around that long – I could eat the whole box if I wanted to and I usually did in one sitting.
All we had at my house was Bran Flakes. I’m old enough now to know why . . . still don’t like it but you gotta eat it.
As perfect and brilliant and bright as your grandchildren are, can you imagine how worried you’d be if your grandchild started telling people he was older than you were. And he actually believed it.
That he’d been around long before you. You’d stop giving him coffee.
A child who grew up and began believing stuff like that would be a little off . . . or something else.
That’s why Jesus Christ made headlines and enemies when He said as a young man to the Jewish leaders one day, “Before Abraham was, I am.” (John 8:58)
In other words, I’ve been around longer than Abraham!
And now, here in Revelation, in this title, Jesus is saying, “I am the root of David – that is, I was around long before King David’s family tree sprouted limbs and leaves.
I predate David.
But that wasn’t all. Jesus Christ was also saying, “I am a descendant of David as well.”
How can that be?
There’s only one way.
Jesus Christ has to be fully God and fully man. He has to be eternal God, in order to predate David and He has to be man in order to have been born into the family of King David.
Both were true.
In His deity, Christ was David’s root; and in His humanity Christ became a descendant of David’s. / MacArthur, p. 307
I am the root and descendant of David.
In other words, I am the God-man.
There’s one more title Christ adopts in verse 16, in fact it’s the only time in the entire Bible the full description of this title is attributed to the Lord – He’s called here, the bright morning star.
To call someone a star today is to refer to someone famous – a star athlete or a star singer or actor. She’s a star, or he’s a star, means you gotta wait in line for their autograph – they are a celebrity.
That expression actually has its roots in the Old Testament where faithful ambassadors of God are promised that they will shine like the stars (Daniel 12:3).
To be called a star was significant. The coming Messiah was prophesied to be a coming star (Numbers 24:17).
Even the angels at the dawn of creation were called morning stars in Job chapter 38:7.
And one particular angel who wanted to overthrow the glory of Christ was named Lucifer. He was, at his height of usefulness to God referred to as a son of the morning in Isaiah 14:12.
Lucifer, of course, was the same angel who revolted against the throne of God, leading millions of angels in this coup attempt which failed and confirmed them as fallen angels or demons.
The name Lucifer can be translated “day star” from the Hebrew word which can be also be translated “the bright star of the dawning.” / Morris, p. 481
The only time the title “morning star” is found in the New Testament however, is this title which describes Jesus Christ.
Here in Revelation, for the first time and in its fullest expression, Jesus Christ is called the bright morning star.
The conclusion is inescapable – Jesus Christ intends to call attention to the fact that Satan in all of his attempts throughout world history to usurp His glory and steal His worship has utterly failed.
Jesus Christ, not Satan is the bright star whose coming will announce the dawn of a new, eternal day.
Henry Morris put it this way when he wrote, “the entire history of world and the entire Word of God has been occupied, directly or indirectly, with the great conflict of the ages between God the Son and Satan, the seed of the woman and the serpent; Satan had claimed to be the rising star of the heavens, who would exalt his throne above the stars of God and ascend above the heights of the clouds but in the end his star has fallen from heaven; on the other hand, the Lord Jesus Christ was and is the true morning star, the bright morning star, His light will never be dimmed and he will never fall from [His eternal throne]. / Morris, p. 481
You come to the end of the Bible and the end of human history as we know it as the eternal state begins and the message is clear – Satan loses and Jesus Christ wins.
The battle is over . . . in fact, it’s been over . . . but there are still people out there who haven’t surrendered their rusty swords and personally believed the peace treaty can be theirs in the name of Heaven’s great champion and Lord.
Those who surrender are on the inside – those who refuse to surrender are on the outside – an expression for those condemned to everlasting judgment in the lake of fire.
How important is the truth of Revelation?
It is so important that it becomes a virtual fork in the road and it asks – which way are you going? / Stephen J. Lawson, Heaven Help Us(NavPress, 1995), p. 177
Notice verse 14. Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to tree of life.
This borrows from the language of chapter 7 where we learned that the believers had washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb.
The point isn’t how good they were at washing their robes but that they came to the Lamb – they trusted in the sacrificial cross-work of Jesus Christ.
And John writes here that they and all of us who have done the same will access to the tree of life – earlier in chapter 22 John described Heaven as a place where the tree of life bore fruit for the inhabitants of heaven.
The tree of life is both literal and illustrative of our eternal life and satisfaction in heaven.
John also writes here in verse 14 that we will enter into this city past the gates we learned were made of pearls the size of stadiums.
The main point is clear – we get into heaven. Why? We’re on the inside of glory! Why? Because we came to the cross of Christ and believed by the grace of God!
But would you notice the other category of people in verse 15; Outside – note that – outside are the dogs;
What does this mean?
By the way, I got an email this week from a guy telling me that he knew I’d be covering this verse this week and he wrote, “As an owner of two cats I was pleased to read in the book of Revelation that dogs won’t be allowed into heaven.”
At the end of Revelation and all my sarcastic comments, I suppose I deserve that.
There’s not one verse that says cats won’t get into heaven, but there is a verse clearly saying dogs won’t get in.
I just couldn’t believe the implication . . . so I did a little Greek word study and found out that the word translated dogs here – if you transliterate it into Aramaic and then again into Latin and then spell it backward, it actually says, feline.
Can you believe that?
Alright, back to the real truth.
The word for dogs here is a word used in the Bible for people of low repute – like the scavenging dogs that milled about the village garbage dump. To call a person a dog in the Old Testament and New Testament was to describe that person of low character. / MacArthur, p. 309
John goes on to add the word, sorcerers – the word is pharmakia – which gives us the word for drug user – here in this context it is the illicit use of drugs, most often used by the ancients in their occult practices and supposed magical potions. / Fritz Rienecker/Cleon Rogers, Linguistic Key to the Greek New Testament (Regency, 1976), p. 863
The next description is the immoral persons from the word pornos (pornoV) which gives us our word pornography. The word refers to those who engage in sexual activity of any kind outside the bonds and blessing of marriage. / Ibid
John next adds the word murderer, also appearing in an earlier list by John the Apostle in chapter 21. It’s a word that refers to the taking of a life without just cause.
John adds the word, idolater, for the one who chooses to worship something or someone, including himself, rather than the one true and living God.
Finally, John adds the phrase, and everyone who loves and practices lying.
Frankly, there are only two categories – those on the inside of heaven and those on the outside.
And we’re clearly told that those on the inside are sinners who’ve been cleansed by the blood of the Lamb and those on the outside are sinners who’ve wanted to keep their sins.
And John lists of a few of the sins.
It isn’t that these are the really bad sins – for James 2:10 says that to offend in one sin – or one point of the law – is to be guilty of violating all the law.
The truth is, we are all sinners (Romans 3:23).
The point is that these people on the inside wanted the Savior more than they wanted their sin and the people on the outside wanted their sin more than they wanted the Savior.
And God gave them their wish. They get to keep their sin; but you can’t keep your sin and get to live forever with the Savior.
My friend, what have you chosen? Your life of sin . . . or the life of the Savior?
You say, I’ve heard enough . . . I don’t want to be on the outside, I want to be on the inside.
Then this last invitation is especially for you.
We’ve been given the command to expound the written word; we’ve been given the credentials of the Living word and now we’re given:
- The final call to the only true way
Verse 17. The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost.
The most wonderful word in the gospel is this four letter word, “come.” / Gordon, p. 453
This verse is both a prayerful desire and an invitation.
The Spirit and the bride and all who hear and believe by faith, say, “Come Lord Jesus!”
We want the presence of our Lord . . . we want to be with the Alpha and Omega, the first and last, the beginning and the end.
We say to the Lord, “Come, Lord Jesus.”
But to the world we say, “Come to the Lord Jesus.”
This is God’s final call . . . and we, His voice and His hands and through the power of His Spirit say, “Come to Christ!”
Like Philip who met Christ and then went and found Nathaniel and said to him, “Come and see!” (John 1:46).
Are you thirsty? Are you bankrupt?
You can drink from the water of salvation and it’s free! Without cost to you, because Jesus Christ paid it all!
On the last day of the feast of booths inside the city of Jerusalem, on the last day, Jesus Christ stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink.” (John 7:37).
Every day during this festival, the priest had taken a golden pitcher and paraded through the streets of Jerusalem until he reached the pool of Siloam. He then filled the pitcher with water and then walked back through the Water Gate, with the people following and chanting the words of Isaiah 12:3, “You will joyously draw water from the springs of salvation.”
The water was then be carried to the temple altar and poured out on the altar symbolizing the water gushing from the rock in the wilderness that saved the lives of the thirsty Israelites.
But on the last day of the festival – which is what the Apostle John carefully noted as the day Christ gave that invitation, the people would gather their palm branches, which were used to make their little booths outdoors, they would parade through the streets, as the priest went to get the water. When they returned, they all marched around the altar seven times an poured out the water and then they chanted the prayer of Isaiah prophecy, “O bring now then salvation.”
On that day, Jesus Christ effectively said, “I’m here! Your prayers have been answered! Just as the Israelites were saved by drinking from the water from the rock, so come to Me and drink and I will give you everlasting life.”
If anyone is thirsty, let him come – there’s that word again.
If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me. No one else will do – you must come to Christ.
And that invitation is still open today; if you’re thirsty; if you want forgiveness from your sin and a life led by the Savior – who is the Alpha and Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end; the root and descendant of David; the bright and morning star?
Come to Christ alone.
That’s another way of saying, surrender your old, rusty sword . . . stop hiding out in the mountains of your own sin . . . your own will . . . your own way.
Accept the terms of surrender and sign your name to the peace treaty of everlasting life.
In the name of Jesus Christ alone.