Revelation commentary: chapter 22 - eternal affairs in the Holy City

by Don Koenig

  

1 And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb.

John is shown a pure river of water of life. If the Holy City were on earth one might think that this conflicts with the previous chapter, where it says there will be no more sea on the new earth and thus no rain is likely. There is more than one possibility that would allow fulfillment of this passage without any conflict.

As I said in the previous chapter, this could mean no Mediterranean Sea or it may mean the new earth may again be one continent. The sea could be outside all land mass as it was before the earth was divided in the days of Peleg (Gen 10:25, 1Ch 1:19,). Scripture says there will always be seed time and harvest on the earth so there must be moisture (Gen 8:22). It is not likely that there could be rain without evaporation from oceans. God gave the rainbow as an everlasting covenant to all creatures (Gen 9:16). If there is no rain there is no rainbow. Thus, God's everlasting covenant would be broken. If there is rain, this verse could be literally fulfilled on the earth.

Some Bible skeptics use the reference in Ezekiel where water flows down from the temple to the Dead Sea and say it contradicts the claim in Revelation that there will be no more sea. The problem with trying to match what is seen here with the account in Ezekiel is that Ezekiel s account in chapters 40 through 48 only applies to the millennial reign. The detail and measurements in the chapters make it certain that Ezekiel is not talking about the eternal Holy City.

 

I have another solution as to where the water goes. I do not believe the Holy City is on the new earth at all.  Let us assume the Holy City is a pyramid, the throne of God and the Lamb would be the capstone of this pyramid; the water of life would flow down from the throne through the city to the tree of life and then back to the throne by some unknown force.

What is shown here is taking place totally within the Holy City. The passage does not say that water actually flows to the new earth at all. The whole system might be a closed system within the Holy City. We cannot even assume that physical laws will be the same in this Holy City. The Holy City will have any physical laws that God wants it to have. There are likely to be more than four dimensions in the Holy City. The Holy City may have real physical manifestations that will demonstrate eternal spiritual truths. The spiritual truth in this case is the living water of the Holy Spirit flowing from the throne of Father God and His Son to the nations.

 

2 In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.

This is a very difficult passage. The correct translation is debatable here. I searched many sources and this is my best guess. The verse might say the tree of life is in the midst of the river plain and extends to both sides of it. The tree is singular like in the Garden of Eden and it is not likely to be growing on both sides of the river. My opinion is that the tree is in the midst of the river and is sucking up the living water coming from the throne of God and it extends its branches and leaves over both riverbanks.

The translation also should not suggest that the tree bore a different fruit each month. The passage actually says that the tree bears twelve types of fruit and produces fruit each month. (In other words, 12 types of fruit are produced on the tree each and every month)

The leaves for the healing of the nations should be translated as the leaves were for the health (or life) of the nations. A different translation of this passage is given below and it partly supports what I said.

Rev 22: 2 In the middle of its street. And on this side of the river and on that was the tree of life, having twelve sorts of fruits, giving its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree give life to the nations. (BBE)

This is the same tree of life that was in the midst of the Garden of Eden. This physical manifestation of a spiritual truth will exist eternally to display that continual nourishment for the nations comes from God. The leaves for health represent that the spiritual life of all of God s people comes from the tree He has provided.

Since God mentions months in the eternal kingdom, it seems very likely that time will still exist in the eternal age.

3 And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him:

There will be no more curse in God's creation. We cannot understand what that entails since all we know about the universe has been since it was under the curse. I expect this will mean that the second law of thermodynamics will no longer be with us. There will be no entropy in God's new or renovated creation. All that is physically manifested in this universe will be made better or stay constant. For mankind this means creativity with no death or decay. The eternal job of those who live in the Holy City will be to assist God in His creation.

4 And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads.

5 And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever.

If they are going to reign with Him for eternity in the Holy City there must be people to reign over. This should make it clear that not all alive in eternity will live in the Holy City. The mystery we need to solve is whom do the people in the Holy City reign over? It cannot be those cast into the Lake of Fire, because scripture says that they will not even come to mind anymore. It cannot be Israel because the whole commonwealth of Israel are those that reign with Jesus. This allows for only one possibility: They reign over the children of God born after the bride of Christ marries Jesus.

No one speaks about what happens to the people born during the millennium who do not follow Satan at his last revolt. We must assume that in this dispensation there will also be saved people as there were in every other dispensation of time. After all, the prime reason for the millennial kingdom is to create conditions on earth where many people could be born and saved. It is simply not sound reasoning to think that everyone on earth came against Jerusalem in this last revolt and that fire came down and consumed believer and unbelievers alike.

There really is only one possibility, as to where these people are. The faithful in this dispensation will also be removed from the earth as Enoch and the faithful Church were removed before God's judgment came in their dispensation. There are three raptures: Enoch, the Church and the saints who live through the millennium. The prophetic scriptures about the snatching away of believers may include a progressive future fulfillment at the end of the great millennial day. They may be removed just before fire comes down from heaven and destroys all the people deceived by Satan at the final rebellion. This fire is the renovation of heaven and earth by fire that Peter speaks of (2 Pet 3:12).

Further, it is not possible that the saved in this millennial dispensation would be included as part of the bride of Christ, because they become His children after He is already married. The faithful since the marriage obviously are saved individuals or they would be cast in the Lake of Fire at the judgment. Therefore, let us assume that these people are written in the book of life and are either resurrected at the second resurrection or they never died and were removed from the earth like Enoch prior to the renovation of heaven and earth by fire. Now with those assumptions the body of Christ has people to rule and reign over for eternity.

We might even want to speculate a bit more and take this one-step further and say that these people may still reproduce in eternity. In that event, the body of Christ would have limitless people to rule and reign over. God made Adam and Eve to populate the earth before they even fell and became mortal. The scriptures also indicate that angels wrongfully reproduced with women to produce the race called the Nephilim.

Gen 6:4 There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.

I know there is a scripture that says we will not marry in the resurrection but that passage obviously was talking about those who attain the first resurrection. We are told those in the first resurrection will become like the angels. The passage was not talking about those born after the first resurrection who, when death is conquered, have human immortal bodies like Adam and Eve had before the fall.

The passage about not marrying also says nothing about not being able to reproduce. What we see as reproduction today was a result of the curse. We are told in scripture that Eve came out of the side of Adam. Jesus Himself did not come from normal human reproduction and He is the last Adam (1Co 15:45). Reproduction in eternity may not take marriage or even sex.

God told Abraham that his seed would be like the sands of the seashore and like the number of stars in heaven (Gen 22:17). That number is uncountable and probably has no end since sand particles and stars continue to be created. There are trillions of trillions of stars that we know about in the universe. Who even knows how many stars there are that we do not know about? The promise given to Abraham might mean that God created man to populate His entire creation. His creation has no end, no boundaries, and it may continue to expand forever. If this is true those born in the new creation will most likely be born by the will of God and not by the physical act of a man and a woman. From this point on, like in the Garden of Eden, there may be an actual reason to eat from the tree of life so those born in this new creation receive spiritual life. David tells us about man's destiny:

Psa 8:3  When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained;

4  What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?

5  For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour.

6  Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet:

If man were created to have dominion over the works of God s hand, it would include the whole universe not just the earth. What if Adam and Eve never sinned and ate of the tree of life; would their descendants have been limited to earth, or would they have filled God s creation? Man is even attempting to do this in his fallen mortal state. Who would have limited them if they were immortal? The purpose God created man for will be fulfilled even if man has to first go through a learning process of trust and obedience. God does not make mistakes; all this was planned before the foundation of the earth.

The early philosophers were correct. Earth is the center of the universe. It is where God began human life in His image.

The Holy City will be the throne of God and those in the bride of Christ will rule and reign with Him over all creation for eternity, but the planet earth may only be just the beginning of God's plan for the human race. The realm of man created in the image of God (the second Adam) may be destined to endlessly reproduce more children for God.

 

To help the reader comprehend what I am saying I will put it all together in the following timeline:

·        God creates Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden as immortals to populate His creation but they are deceived by Satan. By their disobedience, they brought sin and death into the world and had to be cast out of the garden and out of presence of God because God is holy. He cannot dwell among sin. Adam and Eve died in their sins and the only hope they ever will have for fellowship with God again is if they trust God Himself to provide a way of atonement for their sins. This is also true for all their offspring.

·        God through the seed of the woman (virgin birth of Jesus) sends a second Adam (His Son Jesus) for the earth. This last Adam did not sin. Jesus took upon Himself the penalty of sin that separated man from God by his sacrificial death on the cross. By the first Adam's disobedience sin came into the world and by the last Adam's obedience to the cross sin was paid for. All who by faith trust that the Creator loved man enough to shed His blood and die for the sins of mankind and believe that He has the power to raise Himself up into a new creation where there is no sin or death, will rule and reign with Him in this new creation as kings and priests.

·        The people of faith that believe are the Eve for this second Adam (Jesus). They are also called the bride of Christ. Since they will be married to the Son of God, their destiny is to rule and reign with Him from the Holy City (the new Garden of Eden) for eternity.

·        They are raised as immortal beings with Jesus and are made into His likeness and the likeness of angels. Six thousand years may be allotted to complete the bride and then the marriage occurs. Their first assignment after the marriage will be to rule and reign with Jesus on the earth for 1,000 years until they defeat all the enemies of God with the last enemy being death. Thus, they make it possible for God's plan for mankind to have dominion over his creation to be fulfilled.

·        Satan, death, hell and all enemies of God are then cast into the Lake of Fire.

·        The souls that are born after the bride is completed and who eat of the tree of life, put on spiritual immortality like new Adams and Eves in the restoration. These people will become immortal but they cannot become part of the already married wife of the Son of God. Those in the body of Christ are one with Jesus (the two will become one flesh - I speak of Christ and the Church - Eph 5: 31,32). Consequently, those in the body of Christ will be made in the likeness of the risen Savior. They will be made in the nature of angels that they are destined to replace because of the fall of Satan with his angels. They will continue to rule and reign with Christ over his creation for eternity from his Holy City.

·        Those who are not part in the first resurrection into the Body of Christ but have been born to mankind will no longer physically die since death will be conquered during the thousand year reign of Christ. Those that believe will not be cast into the Lake of Fire and they will be in the same nature as Adam and Eve existed before the fall of man. They are likely to be subject to all the physical laws of the restored creation. They may produce offspring for eternity as God wills. They will have dominion over His creation and occupy an ever-expanding creation without end. This was God s will for man from the beginning.

 

I hope you do not think I am not teaching Mormonism with its demonic deceptions. I am not saying that men will become Gods of their own planets.  However, I think even the fallen angels know man was created to replace them and to have dominion over the creation of God and they hate mankind for it. Therefore, do not be surprised that some cults have received twisted truths given to them by these fallen angels.

Man was created to love and to be loved by the Creator and to fellowship with Him. Man was made in the image of God, meaning that he would reflect God's will and nature in all his being while having dominion over the works of God's creation. 

Certainly, my theory that man reproduces for eternity is conjecture but it is very good conjecture for an ever expanding universe. Few others provide any real answers as to why man was created and what man's destiny may be. What most believe about man's destiny from the teaching they received from the institutional church is worse than any of my conjecture; it simply is not true.

Most think that good people will go to heaven and bad people will go to hell. However, the terms heaven and hell are not even correctly understood by most in Christianity. Many that identify with Christianity do not know that the end place for sinners is the Lake of Fire not Hell (Hades), which is just the temporary abode for the dead. Heaven is not correctly defined by most either. Heaven is not a place where good people go. There are no good people! Heaven is the Holy City described in this book. It is the dwelling place of the Lamb's wife. It is those washed in the blood of the Lamb that attained the first resurrection. Heaven is the city of the redeemed of the Lord that were washed clean by believing in His righteousness and His blood sacrifice. When people are not given answers or are given answers that make no sense they will look elsewhere. Since much of the Church has given no rational answers to valid questions about eternity, some find answers that makes more sense to them in the cults. 

 

6 And he said unto me, These sayings are faithful and true: and the Lord God of the holy prophets sent his angel to shew unto his servants the things which must shortly be done.

7 Behold, I come quickly: blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book.

The angel leaves no doubt that these things will happen. He says they will take place soon. In fact, the future events started happening when John sent his letter to the churches in Asia. This entire book is Jesus being unveiled in His creation over time. After Jesus removes His Church, we see Jesus cleansing the earth with judgment. Then He fulfills the promise of a Messiah to the nation of Israel. Finally, in this last chapter we see Jesus in His creation in eternity.

Jesus says He comes quickly and some have misunderstood this to mean that He will come back in the generation it was spoken. The word in Greek actually means that He is coming suddenly. The angel was sent to show His servants (the Church) the things that must shortly be done. This prophecy actually started with the seven churches of John's time. It continues to be mostly about the Church age on earth until the Church is completed at the marriage in Heaven. Then the focus is in Israel.

Jesus also tells us here that those who keep the sayings of the prophecy of this book are blessed. Yet, there are many in the Church that have taught, and still continue to teach that this book cannot be understood by laymen. Some have even taught that this is a sealed book. There are many more who will not teach this book.

Notice also that the angel tells John that the book is a prophecy. Prophecies from God are truths that will happen. All prophecies in the Bible that have already been fulfilled were fulfilled in a literal common sense way. There is absolutely no reason to think otherwise here, just because some things written in this book are hard to understand or difficult for some to accept.

All scripture should be taken in a common literal reading unless the passage itself makes it clear that it is to be taken otherwise. This is also true with all intelligent communication in the world. If people allegorized and spiritualized what was to be taken as literal without good reason from the communicator, they would never get the message and they would be categorized as people that are out of touch with reality.

Some say that a literal common sense reading does not allow for symbolism and metaphors. That is never true; symbolism and metaphors are common sense tools of any language. However, when an author uses these tools, it is clear that he also gives the reader the means to get the real message.

Revelation does use such literary tools but when used they are clearly defined from the author of all scripture. The meaning will be found in scripture and the meaning will be clear. Literary tools used in Revelation should not be defined through suppositions that theologians made using denominational theology as the key to understanding the text. Furthermore, a common sense literal reading uses literary devices but it never assumes the intent of the communication is not to be literally understood.

Those who say Revelation is all allegory do away with the clear prophecy and the author's intent. These make John's words to be exercises in interpretation by theology and ideology that today allows most in Christianity to claim that the details in Revelation describe the spiritual battle between good and evil. John never ever implies such an idea! Any plain reading of the text would never produce such an idea!

All this supposition was passed down through theologians who never understood the unfulfilled prophetic scriptures. Because of their supercession theology with the belief that the church replaced Israel, their minds were so far removed from what the passages actually said, they had to make the passages mystical.

Many have taken the words of the prophecy of this book and have violated the intent of why God gave it. They should hear the words of Peter.

2Pe 1:20 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.

Those who allegorize this prophetic book and other bible prophecies according to their theology, not only do not get the common message but they have prevented many others from ever getting it.

 

8 And I John saw these things, and heard them. And when I had heard and seen, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel which shewed me these things.

9 Then saith he unto me, See thou do it not: for I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book: worship God.

You would think that John would have got the message when the other angel rebuked him for falling to worship him. It should be apparent that angels appear as if they were Gods to men, as does Satan. In any case, it is clear that angels are not to be worshiped and righteous ones do not even want to be worshiped. That should make it quite clear they we should not have statues of angels around for luck or favor. That is idolatry and it is quite insulting to the angels. Angels in scripture are never feminine, never cute and are never to be idolized; they are powerful servants of God who carry out His will. The angel in this passage calls anyone who keeps the sayings of this book a fellow servant. That is quite an honor for people of flesh. What a destiny the redeemed of the Lord have!  

 

10 And he saith unto me, Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book: for the time is at hand.

Again, we are told this book is a prophecy. John is told not to seal it because the future things written in it started with the letters to the seven churches in Asia. Some of these things written to the seven churches actually did begin in John's lifetime. Daniel's prophecies tell about this period and more but it is a sealed book. It is sealed, because Daniel's prophecy is primarily about Israel and how the Gentile nations interact with Israel. Up until now, Israel has been in darkness and she will not receive light to unseal the prophecies of Daniel until she finds herself in the middle of the prophecies of that book in the last days.

The book of Revelation is written to those who are in spiritual light. The passages for those in the light cannot be sealed. The book is only sealed to those who live in spiritual darkness. Those in Christianity who say Revelation is a sealed book or that it cannot be understood are in darkness. The seven thunders are sealed in this book but the thunders are just prior to God's wrath and therefore the Church and Satan has no need to know what they announce.

 

11 He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still.

This verse indicates the giving of this prophecy will not change the hearts of the people. This disputes those who say these things become self-fulfilling prophecies!

 

12 And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.

13 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.

When Jesus comes suddenly all the judgments and rewards written in this book will take place because He is Almighty God the Creator of all things. He is the beginner and finisher of all things.

 

14 Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.

The eternal commandments are fulfilled in loving God and loving our neighbor as ourselves. Keeping these two commandments fulfill all the other commandments of God. Those who do so will be allowed access to the tree of life in the Holy City so they can eat of it and have spiritual life forever.

The truth of the matter is - you cannot love God if you reject His Son and you cannot in truth love your neighbor without the Spirit that is given by the Son. Therefore, keeping the commandments can only be fulfilled by the Spirit of Jesus Christ in you .

 

15 For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.

These will not have access to the Holy City or access to the tree of life. They will be in an eternal state of death (separation from God).

 

16 I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star.

Jesus is the one who sent the angel to John to tell the Church about these things. He says he came from the lineage of David and that He is the bright and morning star (the light of the world the first light to shine that indicates that the night is over).

 

17 And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.

The first part of the verse where the Spirit and the bride says, "come" may be asking Jesus to hasten His return to earth. The Spirit in the bride in effect says we are ready for you Jesus, come to earth. I suppose the Spirit and the bride could also be asking people to come to drink but since there is another "come" later in the verse for the thirsty it would appear to be redundant. Since the Spirit in the Bride would say both things. You cannot go wrong with either viewpoint.

In any case, it is clear the rest of the verse is directed at those that are thirsty. We are told the water of life is given freely to all that are thirsty for Him (Jesus). The words and whosoever will seems to indicate that mankind has free will of choice to come to Jesus to be saved or not.

 

18 For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:

19 And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.

God takes the prophetic message He gave to John seriously. Any who add to the words of this prophecy will receive the plagues written in this book and those that take away the words of this prophecy will be cast into the Lake of Fire. That warning has kept many from tampering with the text but it probably has a deeper prophetic meaning as well.

Those who say they understand the words and then spiritualize or allegorize them to mean something other than what was said may miss the Rapture and go through the tribulation (The plagues in this book -- i.e. the theologians in Thyatira, Sardis and Laodicea). Those who say these scriptures are not even God's word do not have any part in the promises in this book. They will be cast into the Lake of Fire.

 

20 He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.

21 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.

The final words of the book tell us that Jesus will come suddenly. We should all be watching and waiting for His return. The time set by the Father for the bride to be completed is getting very short. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all!

Mat 24:42 Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.

 

Mat 24:43 But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up.

 

Mat 25:13 Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.

 

Mar 13:33 Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is.

Mar 13:34 For the Son of man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch.

Mar 13:35 Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning:

 

Mar 13:37 And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch.

 

Luk 21:36 Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.

 

1Th 5:6 Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.

 

1Pe 4:7 But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer.

 

Rev 3:3 Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.

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