Last Words, Part 1 (Revelation 22:6-15)

Fundamentally, for us Christians, living out our faith means seeing God as entirely willing and able to accomplish everything He promises.  That’s the ethos of the daily Christian mindset.

God is faithful to His own words (6)

God is faithful to His own words.  Read verse 6. What the angel is emphasizing here is the character of God.  God’s future actions will be consistent with His past declarations. He will do what He says He will do.  Numbers 23:19 calls out to us, “God is not a man that He should lie, nor a son of man that He should change His mind.  Does He speak and then not at? Does He promise and not fulfill?”  

 

Fundamentally, for us Christians, living out our faith means seeing God as entirely willing and able to accomplish everything He promises.  That’s the ethos of the daily Christian mindset.

Now God’s faithfulness is dependent on other attributes of His.  He must be All-Knowing, meaning He knows all things. Particularly God must have perfect foreknowledge of all things.  This way He can know how He will bring about the things He has promised. He knows the future decisions of all men, the twists and turns in the lives of individuals and nations.  This rules out Open Theism – the idea that God doesn’t know the future, and, He is surprised by choices people make. That kind of thinking confines God to time and denies His transcendence – His most essential attribute.  When God promises something His integrity is what guarantees His commitment to fulfill His promise. But His foreknowledge enables Him to know how He will carry it out in the future. His power, His omnipotence is also essential to His ability to be faithful.  God may be well-intentioned and want to do what He said, but, if He is too weak to effect His promises what does that say about Him? Well, its not the God presented in Scripture, the Almighty is His name! God will be faithful to His own words.

 

 Otherwise what Jesus said back in chapter 1  was meaningless, “I will show you what has been, what is, and, what must soon take place.”   The repeated testimony of Scripture and the work of God is that He is faithful to His words.

 

We must be faithful to God’s words (7)

So God will be faithful to His words, and next we see in verse 7 that we must be faithful to God’s words, “….”  Just as God will be true to His words, so too we are to be true to them. What does this mean? It means living by these words.  It means believing them with our hearts. It means our outlook on the future is one of confidence knowing God’s in control. It means we don’t lose heart.  It means we don’t live for the world here and now. It means we glow with anticipation of the coming King of kings and the coming new earth and heavens and the coming new city of Jerusalem.  Notice the blessing is immediately preceded by the promise of Jesus that He is coming soon. Believers have to believe that. This whole book is meant to stoke up within us a burning for this awesome return of Jesus.  If this happens in us, it is perhaps the most powerful force for holy living available to us.

 

Now this verse is specifically referring to the words of the book of Revelation, though the whole Bible is littered with the command to keep God’s words.  But here it pertains to the blessing designated for those who hold the words of this prophecy to close to their heart. The blessing promised here in the last chapter connects all the way back to the blessing promised in the first chapter.  Revelation 1:3 says, “Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.”  

 

Worship God! (8-9)

Then John embarrases the angel for the second time.  Read verses 8-9. John is so overcome by the compounding awesomeness of each successive vision that he falls down to worship the nearest thing greater than himself:  his angelic chaufer. He did it back in 19:10 too. And just like back then, the angel has to rebuke him again.

 

Now, we could go on about the sin of idolatry.  We could connect this verse to Colossians 2:18 and condemn the worship of angels and we would be right to do so.  Though greater than us we are not to worship them. We could also condem worshipping creatures below us, such as animals, and we could turn to Romans 1:23 and 25 to show we are right to do so.  

 

But, I think focusing there is to misplace the focus in this verse.  This verse is positively commanding the servant of God to worship God.  But notice this: John was so overcome by all he saw that God was going to do that his soul instantly went into worship mode.  I’m coming now to my point: is our vision of God, and of His awesome works, causing a soul-level compulsion to worship Him? If apathy and indifference and “mmm-eh” characterizes our response to who God is we have a problem.  Either, we are not seeing God truly as He is, or, our eyes are on other things and we’re more interested in other things.

 

Responding to the Revelation (10-11)

Verses 10-15 for one thought unit.  You can’t read any verse in isolation from the other verses in this unit.  Together they make sense. Together they form a flow of thought, one ideal logically coming from the one before it.  God gives revelation, man preaches that revelation, people respond to that revelation, God rewards people for how they respond.  That’s the flow: revelation, preaching, response, reward.

 

Verse 10 shows us that God means for this book to be preached, “….”  A long time ago in the OT just like John, another man was given a vision.  The OT Prophet Daniel was told to seal up the vision he was given and not to write it down because the things the vision spoke of were off in the distant future.  John is told not to seal up the words of Revelation because the time is near. Daniel was supposed to conceal the content, john was to disclose it – reveal it. Hence this is the book of revelation, from apokolupsis, meaning to unveil, to disclose.  Do not seal up these words, John, but, make them known.

 

Then in verse 11 we come to a peculiar statement, “….”  If read alone, detached from the verses around it, we can come to think that there is a fatalism being declared here.  We might even think it is anti-evangelism. But it is neither. This verse actually is an affirmation of people’s free will to choose how they are going to respond to words of this book.  It’s not saying, “Let him who is vile continue to be vile” as though God has confined someone to their chosen moral path. God does not program people, or, choose for them. Instead, it is an acknowledgement of someone’s personal determination of how they will live in light of hearing God’s word.  Let him who hears this revelation and wants to be vile continue to be vile, as he has chosen.

 

We see this in Ezekiel 3:27, when God says to the prophet, “But when I speak to you, I will pen your mouth and you shall say to them, ‘This is what the LORD says.’  Whoever will listen let him listen and whoever will refuse let him refuse; for they are a rebellious house.” Notice what God is doing there. He is going to send a prophet to speak His words to a rebellious people, and, they will respond how they will respond – either they will listen and repent or they will reject and be unrepentant.  Either way, God is going to make them choose.

 

It’s the same thing in Revelation with John.  Let him who hears this revelation and wants to live right continue to live right, as he has chosen.  We find here that God confronts man with His word and man is to choose what he will do with this God who has confronted him:  repent or reject. This verse is speaking to us of the types of responses people will give to the preaching of God’s word.

 

Now what is our response to the word of God?  We are to keep these words and by that I mean obey them, believe them, and put our hope in them.  We are look to them for our encouragement, for our outlook, and for our spiritual strengthening. We ought to cherish them until the One who gave them arrives and we

 

Then in verses 12-15 we see the results.  By results I mean what God will give to people based on their response to His word.  God gives people His word, people give Him a response, He gives to them based on their response.  There are two results: reward and retribution. Let’s read the words 12-15, “…

 

Here again we have the perfect justice of God:  giving to every man what he deserves.  How though, if we are all sinners (Rom. 3:10, 23), could any of us be made right before God?  How, if the debt we owe to God for our sin is so much that we could never pay it back in this life could any of us hope to be with God in the afterlife?

Conclusion:  Davey Crockett

Davy Crockett is best known for his hunting skills, his coon-cap and most famously for the Alamo.  But in his early years there is a story most relevant to our question.  Life was hard on the frontier, and, especially for John Crockett, Davy’s dad, who spent his whole life burdened by debts he couldn’t pay.  It was common practice in those days for a man to send his son to go work for his creditors until the loan was worked off.  Davy and his brothers had done it before.  At the age of 13 Davy ran away from home after a fight with his father.  Encountering a Quaker who offered him a job, room and board, Davy took the one week trial to see if it would work.  After the week Davy wanted to stay, and at that moment the man informed Davy that he held a note for $40 owed to him by Davy’s dad for back-rent on a tavern run by the Crocketts.  The “kind ole’ Quaker” said if Davy stayed and worked for 6 months he would consider the obligation satisfied.  Davy took the deal, seeing it as his duty to help his father.  After six months the Quaker gave him the note releasing the debt.  Davy took his horse and rode back to his father’s house.  After not seeing his father for more than 6 months Davy took the note from his pocket and handed it to his father.  Confused, thinking it was a note calling for payment of the debt, his father’s face fell with worry, explaining he did not have the money to repay the debt. Then Davy said, “I then told him I had paid it for him and it was then his own; that it was not presented for collection, but as a present from me.”  John Crockett owed an un-payable debt and someone who loved him stepped in and paid it for him.

Here we see in Davy Crockett the Lord Jesus Christ.  Our sin-debt to God is more than we can pay.  But Someone who loves us more than we can grasp stepped in and paid it all for us.  Christ comes to us – not for collection, but, to give us the present of a debt fully paid by His own blood.

 

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