Bible: What Does Revelation 22 Teach Us About the New Jerusalem and the Lake of Fire?
The Apostle John
Impossible to Do in the New Jerusalem
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The New Jerusalem
Revelation 22: The Eternal State
John’s attending angel now shows the apostle another “clear as crystal” feature of the New Jerusalem: “a river of water of life” (v. 1a; cf. 21:11); that it proceeds from the throne of God and of the Lamb indicates that They will continually provide their eternal quality of life to it (v. 1b).
Besides drinking from the river of water of life, New Jerusalem’s inhabitants can also eat the twelve fruits from the tree of life.
This tree grows in the middle of the street of gold and on both sides of the river—one tree with innumerable offshoots—and bears a different fruit every month.
In addition, it produces health-promoting leaves to sustain the nations (v. 2).
[Since there are months, is there a moon?
If everything is perfect, why must tree leaves promote health?]
God has removed the curse on creation (cf. Rom. 8:21), so the saints may now serve both the Father and the Lamb unhindered by sin (v. 3).
Believers will behold the face of God—something that they could not do in the past (v. 4a; cf. Ex. 33:20; John 1:18a)—and the Spirit will seal the name of God on their foreheads (v. 4b; cf. 14:1).
Again, the apostle notes that the Lord’s glory will provide all of the light that the New Jerusalem needs; night will cease to exist (metaphorically and literally), for people will no longer use artificial light for the night or need sunlight for the day (v. 5a).
Believers will share in Christ’s eternal reign over the new heavens and the new earth (v. 5b).
The angel first asserts that his words are “faithful and true” (v. 6a; cf. 19:9; 21:5), and then John reiterates God’s purpose in sending His angel: that God’s servants would know “the things which must shortly take place” (v. 6b).
[Again, the word “shortly” must signify that the events may take place at any time, but not necessarily immediately.
When they do begin to occur, they will quickly come to completion].
Jesus inserts His promise to appear suddenly, and pronounces His blessing upon those who adhere to the prophecies of Revelation (v. 7).
John again makes the mistake of attempting to worship the interpreting and revealing angel, and again the latter reiterates his correction not to bow to him but only to God (vv. 8-9; cf. 19:10).
He also tells the apostle not to seal the scroll, “for the time is at hand” (v. 10); interestingly, another angel had told a certain OT prophet to “seal up the vision, for it refers to many days in the future” (Dan. 8:26).
[Reading the text plainly indicates that the angel thought that these events would occur sooner rather than later.]
The unsaved will remain forever in their present condition, as will the saved (v. 11).
The Eternal State of Righteous and Unrighteous
Eternal or Temporary?
Will the condition of the unsaved last forever or be temporary?
Heaven and Hell
The apostle reiterates the Lord’s promise to return quickly to reward everyone “according to his work” (v. 12); as the eternal God, He has the prerogative to judge all people (v. 13).
John pronounces spiritual benefits upon those who obey God’s word; God will permit these believers entrance into the New Jerusalem and give them free access to eat from “the tree of life” (to draw strength and joy from His presence and His very life) [v. 14].
However, all manner of unbelievers continues to suffer “outside” the city (presumably in the lake of fire) [v. 15].
Again, John inserts a direct message from Jesus Who declares that He, the son of David and “the Bright and Morning Star” (the Sign of salvation?), had sent His angel to reveal the future to local churches (v. 16).
[Incidentally, this verse records the first time since chapter three that the word “churches” appears in this book, implying that the Church will not experience the horrific events described in chapters six through nineteen.]
The Holy Spirit, the Church, and all those who hear with spiritual comprehension issue a call to those who have a spiritual thirst to come to Christ and drink without cost (v. 17).
John delivers a final admonition to anyone who would dare add to or subtract from any prophetic words in Revelation, promising that God would surely punish this deed.
Those who add words the Lord will cause to experience “plagues that are written” in Revelation; those who take words away Christ will remove his “part” from “the Book of Life” and from the New Jerusalem and all its blessings (vv. 18-19; cf. Deut. 4:2; Prov. 30:6).
[False teachers and prophets will not only suffer tribulation in the flesh, but will also lose their souls eternally.]
A third time John adds Jesus’ promise that He will come quickly, and the apostle discloses his desire that this be so (v. 20; cf. 22:7, 12).
[To which coming does Jesus refer here: the Rapture or the Revelation?]
He concludes his book (and God’s revealed word) by praying Jesus’ grace upon all of his readers (v. 21).
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