What is life going to be like for eternity? Will things always be the way they are now? Absolutely not. The end of the Bible tells us how it will be in the end, and from there to eternity. In the final chapter of the Bible, Revelation 22, we are given a picture of the eternal state of existence. Chapter 21 and 22 go into detailed description of the City of God, the New Jerusalem that will be the home of all the redeemed. It is a city with 12 foundations, 12 gates, streets of pure, clear gold. It is a city 1500 miles wide, long, and even 1500 miles high. It is a place where no sun or moon are needed because the glory of God will be the source of light. This eternal city carries the theme of eternal life, as we see the book of life; the river of the water of life, and, the tree of life. The Holy City will be home to the righteous, but, the wicked, will be forbidden from ever entering. They will be consigned to the outside, where there is darkness, weeping and gnashing of teeth – and darkness and weeping and gnashing of teeth.
After the description of this city, the invitation to receive life, and the warning about tampering with God’s words, we arrive at the very last words of the whole Bible: a promise. Verse 20, “He who testifies to these things says “Yes, I am coming soon.” And we say, “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus”.
I chose this to be the number 1 thing Jesus said for good reasons. Three of them actually.
#1: The Reality
First of all we can see the Reality that Christ is coming back. God wants us to finish reading the Bible and be left with the conviction that Christ is indeed returning. He explicitly says it in our verse, “Yes, I am coming soon.” And He says it three times in this chapter (v7, 12). Chapter 3 verse 11 Jesus says the same thing. In chapter 1 verses 7-8 it says, “________. I am the Alpha and the Omega, says the Lord God, “who is and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty”. The six-winged seraphim in chapter 4 echo the same thing, “Holy holy holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come”. The Seraphim’s declarations, the Lord’s declarations, the title’s of the Lord, all stress the reality that Jesus is coming. Even the angels at His ascension declared it in Acts 1:11 when they said to the disciples who were still looking up at Jesus in the sky, “Men of Galillee why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen Him go into heaven.” Throughout the Bible we see it emphasizes the coming of the Messiah.
But, what does “soon” mean? Jesus says, “I am coming soon”. Well, soon to us can be different. A waiter tells you your dinner will be out soon. But that isn’t the same as saying “school will be starting again soon”, or “coming soon to a theatre near you”. One soon is a couple of minutes the others is are couple of weeks or months. Soon is a relative term. Now soon to God can be very different than it is to us. 2 Peter 3:9 says that with God a day is like a thousand years and a thousand years like a day. We exist in time, God exists in eternity. What does soon even mean to someone who is not living in the confines of time? Some people make the mistake of thinking that because Christ hasn’t come immediately He hasn’t come “soon”. Like in 2 Peter 3 when it says people will be mockers and scoffers asking, “So, where is this supposed coming? Things have gone one the same since the beginning – He isn’t coming.”
#3: The Reward
Secondly, Jesus has stated, here in chapter 22, that upon His return He will at that time reward people for what they’ve done. Verse 12 He says, “Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done.” Jesus said in John 5:28, “Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out – those who have done good will rise to liv,e and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned.” 2 Corinthians 5:10 says, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.”
The service, the sacrifice, the godly choices, the self-denial, the suffering, the persecution, the going without, the self-control, the resisting temptation, the disciplined thinking, the subdued emotions and affections, the cultivation of love for God – it will all be brought out, accounted for and rewarded.
Do you see also, even though it’s not explicitly state you can see how the text wants to say it: Jesus is anxious to return and give us rewards.
Do you want reward from Jesus? What are you doing to get it? The reality of His return, and the reality of reward is supposed to jar us out of any worldly loves and temporal priorities. A true recognition of Jesus’ soon return will make us re-evaluate how we approach our lives. Let us live in such a way to gain all the reward possible.
#4: The Retribution
Thirdly, we see Retribution. When Jesus comes back He is not coming humbly, gently and discreetly. He is coming back with the lethal force of divine wrath and with all the angels of heaven to waste the enemies of God who refused to repent of their sins and rejected Him. There will be no mercy, no grace, no taking of prisoners. The Bible describes bloodshed of epic proportions. Read Revelation 19:11-16.
We must see that this will be the time of justice. Revelation 22:12 says again, “Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me and I will give to everyone according to what he has done.” Sin, wickedness, injustice, evil will have no more future when Jesus Christ returns. It will all be brought to a violent end by the sword that comes from the mouth of Jesus Christ.
This means that we must not take revenge, and, we must not be dismayed over injustice in this life. If we have faith, and we know Christ will return to bring retribution, then we are confident He will bring justice to every wrong done. Read 2 Thess. 1:5-11;
This also means that no one’s secret sins are truly secret. Jesus said that whatever is done in the dark will be brought into the light and whatever is whispered in corners will be shouted from rooftops. Perhaps most convicting is 1 Timothy 5:24 which says, “The sins of some men are obvious, reaching the place of judgment ahead of them; the sins of others trail behind them.” Man may be fooled and have the wool pulled over his eyes. But not God. That man will be the fool in the end.
Conclusion: The Response
If Jesus were to come today would you receive reward or retribution? This City that is coming is also a city of invitation. You are invited to become a citizen here and now. Verse 17 declares: “The Spirit and the bride say: ‘Come! And let him who hears say, ‘Come!’ Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life.”
Trust in Jesus Christ. Respond to the invitation. The alternative in verse 10-11 is frightening [read].
If you are a Christian you need to live every day fully conscious of Christ’s soon coming. The question before each of us is: “How do I want Christ to find me when He returns?”