The Conclusion of the Whole Book.
This Conclusion is modelled precisely on the same lines, as to structure, as the Introduction. It is brief and very impressive. Its scope seems to be to anticipate the difficulties of the reader, by assuring him again and again as to the solemnity and truth of the words of this book.
Their absolute truth and certainty are pressed upon us. Thrice it is repeated in this Book that these sayings are |faithful and true|: xix.9; xxi.5; xxii.6. In the Introduction and Conclusion it is (three times) affirmed that these words came from God (and not, therefore, from John, though they came through John): in i.1 and xxii.6, 16. In both also is a blessing pronounced on the readers and keepers of this book: i.3 and xxii.7.
This is what the Book claims to be. If these claims be not true, then the book is nothing better than a forgery; and is unworthy of our attention or consideration.
It seems to be the one great purpose of this Conclusion to press these claims upon us in the strongest possible manner.
Four times we have the person testifying; and four times the things testified. Four times we have the nearness of the Advent proclaimed; and four times the blessing announced.
The following is the Structure, and when we compare it with the Introduction, we shall at once see that it is constructed on the same model: --
A., xxii.6-21. Conclusion.
A A^1 a^1 6-. The Angel testifying.
b^1 -6. The things testified. |Which
must speedily come to pass.| (Compare i. -1).
B^1 c^1 7-. Advent.
|Behold, I come quickly.|
Benediction. |Blessed is he...| (See i.3-).
A^2 a^2 8, 9. The Angel testifying.
b^2 10, 11. The things testified. |The
prophecy of this book| (i.3, |the time is at hand|). B2 c2 12, 13. Advent.
|Behold, I come quickly...|
d2 14, 15.
Benediction. |Right to the tree of life.|
A^3 a^3 16. The Angel testifying. |I Jesus have sent mine angel| (i. -1-).
b^3 -16-. The things testified. Jesus
the hope of Israel (i.4).
B^3 c^3 -16. Advent. The
person of the coming one described as |the Morning Star.| d^3 17.
Benediction. |Come| and take |the water of life.|
A^4 a^4 18-. Jesus Himself testifying. |I testify| (i.17, 18).
b^4 -18, 19. The things testified. |If
B^4 c^4 20. Advent.
|Surely I come quickly| (i.7-). Promise and answering cry. d^4 21.
Benediction. |The grace of our Lord| (i.4, 5).
The First Four Members.
a^1. xxii.6-. The Angel Testifying.
xxii.6-. And he said unto me,] It is the angel of i.1, reassuring John as to the truth of what he had been |sent| to show and to tell him.
b^1. xxii. -6. The Things Testified.
-6. |These words are faithful and true: and the Lord God of the spirits of the prophets sent his angel to show unto His servants things which must come to pass speedily.] The reading |spirits of the prophets| must be taken as the Figure Metonymy, by which the word |spirits| is put for the gifts of the Spirit, as in 1 Cor. xiv.12, 32, &c. And the Figure is used to emphasise the fact that the revelations made by the prophets were given by the Holy Spirit of God; and were not their own sending forth or of themselves. Here, note also that it is still the |servants| of God who are specially addressed as being concerned in the interpretation of this book.
c^1. xxii.7-. The Advent.
7-. And behold, I come quickly:] The words of the Angel pass into the words of Christ, which he was commissioned to report. So in verse 12, and xi.3. This corresponds with chap. i.7, as does xxii.16.
d^1. xxii. -7. The Benediction.
-7. blessed is he that keepeth the words of the prophecy of this book.] Again the blessing of i.3 is repeated, showing the importance of the study of this book. And it is |this book|; not merely certain parts of it, but the book as a whole. The Lord does not say who understand it, but who |keep its sayings| in their hearts, for the time is at hand; i.e., the time next in order to the present.
No other dispensation is to intervene, and the sayings of this book are to be kept for the time that is at hand.
The Second Four.
a^2. xxii.8, 9. The Angel Testifying.
8. And I John was he who heard and saw these things. And when I heard and saw them I feel down to worship before the feet of the angel who was showing me these things. (9) And he saith to me |Beware; do it not: I am a fellow-servant of thine, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of those who keep the words of this book: Worship God.|] Again John was about to make the same mistake. The double correction shows how firm is the decree that God alone is to receive worship; and that it may not be rendered to any created being. Observe, also, that the Angel is a |fellow-servant| with John (for all serve God). Brotherhood is not restricted to flesh; it is according to nature. |Fellow-servant| implies only common service according to station and position.
b^2. xxii.10, 11. The Things Testified.
10. And he saith unto me, |Seal not the words of the prophecy of this book: for the time is at hand.|] This command is in contrast with chap. x.4, where it is a special prophecy in the midst of general prophecies, and is to be sealed up. It is in contrast also with Dan. xii.4, 8, 9, where Daniel was to seal up the Vision, because another Dispensation was to intervene before that Vision could be fulfilled. That Dispensation concerned the mystery of Christ and the Church. That mystery will have been completed long before the Apocalypse opens, and therefore the command is given here |Seal not.|
When the Angel commanded Daniel to seal up the Vision, he immediately added, |Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand| (Dan. xii.10).
When the Angel, here, commands John not to seal up the prophecy, similar words are immediately added:
11. He that is unjust (pres. part. of condition), let him act unjustly still (aor., relating to acts, not to condition): and he that is defiled (morally polluted), let him defile himself still: and he that is righteous, let him work righteousness still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still.] These mysteriously solemn words have no reference to the Post-Millennial or Eternal state. They are given as a present statement, and as a reason for the injunction to |Seal not,| which immediately precedes them.
(1) |Seal not the words.| Proclaim them; make them known; even though evil men go on in their wickedness, and the righteous in their righteousness. Yea, though none heed them, and the wise reject them, |Seal them not.| The injunction is for those who shall belong to the period when that which is now called |the time at hand| shall have become time present. In that case, they belong to the time of the Apostasy.
(2) |The time is nigh.| Let men go on their way; the time is short. As though it said, in the spirit of Matt. xxvi.45, |Sleep on now, and take your rest; the hour is at hand.| Compare Ezek. iii.27.
(3) A third reason follows. Let the wicked go on with his wickedness, and the righteous in his righteousness. My advent is near; and my judgment and my reward are with me.
c^2. xxii.12, 13. The Advent.
12. Behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give to every man as his work is. (13) I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.] This is the great reason why the righteous are to persevere and hold on their way. Their reward is certain, for the Advent is sure. The Speaker is the Lord Jesus; and that He is God is clear from the attributes used of Him; for they belong only to God. (See Isa. xli.4; xliii.10; xliv.6; xlviii.12). Even though the Angel be the speaker, he speaks in the name of Him who commissions him. There are other places in this book where fresh speakers are introduced without being named.
d^2. xxii.14, 15. The Benediction.
14. Blessed are they that do His commandments (or wash their robes ), that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.] It is to be noted that in the passage which speaks of washing their robes (vii.14), it is the past tense, because the act is spoken of as having been done in the past by those who have come out of the great tribulation. But here, it is in the present tense, because the words of the Angel contemplate, not those now present in this dispensation of grace, or in the next of judgment; but in the yet future dispensation of glory for the citizens of the holy city, distinguishing those who had been on the former earth from the nations of the new earth. The washing of robes has no reference to those in the previous dispensations.
15. Without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolators, and whosoever loveth and practiseth a lie] These are not on the new earth. They are |without,| and, according to xxi.8, will have then been cast into the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone. The expression |dogs| is used in accordance with Eastern idiom of all unclean, vile, and injurious persons.
The Third Four.
a^3. xxii.16-. Jesus Himself Testifying.
xxii.16-. I Jesus sent mine angel (i.1) to testify unto you] It is the Lord Himself again, and the pronoun is emphatic.
b^3. xxii. -16-. The Things Testified.
-16-. these things in the assemblies] It is to the assemblies of chaps. ii. and iii. that these things were and will be specially testified. For them, this book will have its special interpretation. The application is for all the servants of God (i.1) now, and in all time; but the interpretation is specially for the assemblies who will be on the earth during the fulfilment of |the prophecy of this book.|
c^3. xxii. -16. The Advent.
-16. |I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the bright, the Morning Star.|] These titles are essentially and exclusively Jewish: and proclaim their owner as the coming one who shall confirm and fulfil all the promises made unto David. The Lord Jesus is at once the |Root| whence David sprang, and the |Offspring| which sprang from David. (See Isa. xi.1. John viii.55-59). On this fact the Lord's question was based in Matt. xxii.41-46.
But there is a third title -- |The Morning Star,| which ushers in the Eternal day. The reference is to Num. xxiv.17.
d^3. xxii.17. Benediction.
17. And the Spirit and the Bride say, Come thou, And let him that heareth (these things) say, Come thou. And he that thirsteth, let him come. And he who willeth (or desireth to enter), let him take of the living water freely.] This defines the Blessing, and goes back to the very beginning, embracing the enjoyment of all that was then lost. In Gen. iii.22-24, the solemn sentence was pronounced and executed: --
|And now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever; therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the Garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. So he drove out the man, and he placed (as in a Tabernacle) at the east of the Garden of Eden, Cherubim, and a flaming sword, which turned every way to keep (or preserve, Gen. ii.15) the way of the tree of life.|
In contrast with the Expulsion from |the tree of life| we have here, at the close of the Apocalypse, |right to the tree of life| (verse 14); and the Invitation to |the water of life.| The seed of the woman had been bruised in the heel; the Serpent's head has been crushed. Hence the invitation |Come| can now be sent forth.
Man, who had been |sent forth| and |driven out,| now at length sees Paradise restored, and hears the blessed invitation, |Come.|
It is interesting to note how this invitation is given.
The Spirit first gives forth the welcome word, |Come.|
The Bride who has been revealed from heaven repeats it.
Those who are athirst, and all who will are invited to come and |take the water of life freely.|
Israel, who ought to have been the Bride, was blessed, and entrusted with the charge to |be a blessing| and to bring in full earthly blessing. Israel should have brought back Paradise again.
But Israel was unfaithful, and instead of being a Bride, became a harlot (Isa. i.21). Hence, God removed Himself from them; and, the Cherubim, the symbols of His presence, were taken away altogether.
Beautiful it is to see the recovered position of the Remnant, as the Bride, giving the invitation to |come| into Paradise restored.
The first Paradise was in the keeping of Adam and his Bride. The man did not lose it for his race. He was |not in the transgression| (1 Tim. ii.14). It was the woman, through Satan, who lost it.
But now, all is reversed. Satan is cast into the lake of fire; and it is the Bride who is privileged to say |Come!|
|The woman being deceived| was the cause of the sentence to go forth; but now, in this blessed time of reversal, she is the one to say |Come!|
The second man, the last Adam, has |restored all things| and |made all things new.|
In this we see that Genesis is the book of the beginnings; and the Apocalypse is the book of the endings, the complement of Genesis. Gen. i., ii. finds its correspondence in Rev. xxi., xxii.; and the last two chapters of the Bible refer back to the first two.
In the previous Benediction (verse 14), the blessing consisted in the right to eat of |the tree of life.| In this it is the invitation to come and drink of |the water of life.|
The first dread sentence is thus reversed, and the New Earth becomes Paradise restored.
|The Tree of Life,| and the Water of Life| are the great central subjects of the New Earth.
The Fourth (and Last) Four.
a^4. xxii.18-. The Lord Jesus Himself Testifying.
18-. I testify unto everyone that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book,] The Lord Jesus Himself closes up the whole testimony. The pronoun |I| is very emphatic.
b^4. xxii. -19, 19. The Things Testified.
-18. If anyone add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues which are written in this book: (19) And if anyone take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the tree of life, and [out of] the holy city, which are written in this book.] He who has given this book (i.1) now closes it with this solemn warning. This warning, while it may refer especially to this book, yet, by a very true application, takes in the whole Scripture. But only the prophecy of this book comes within the true scope of this passage. The threat shows the extreme importance set by God upon this book. The adding of the |plagues| shows also the true character of the judgments recorded in the book; which are as real as those referred to in Deut. iv.2; xii.32.
There may be a still more literal interpretation which only those will understand whose lot will be cast in that dispensation of judgment.
c^4. xxii.20. The Advent.
20. He who testifieth these things saith, |Surely I come quickly. Amen.|] So it will verily be.
This is the final announcement of the coming advent of the Lord Jesus. It is given by Himself. This is the one great subject of the whole book. It is all |prophecy,| and this final promise is the key to its interpretation. To this, the Apostle, and all who hear, and read, and keep the words of the book of this prophecy, respond with holy, heart-felt desire.
Come, Lord Jesus] the use of the word |Lord| characterises the utterance as John's: for none of His people were ever so irreverent as to address Him merely as Jesus. He Himself may do so, and say |I, Jesus.| The Holy inspiring Spirit may call Him |Jesus.| But it is irreverence of the grossest kind for His people ever to address Him other than as Lord, Master, Saviour, or Christ. John speaks of Him here, and also in the Benediction that follows, as |Lord.|
The Lord may condescend to call us |brethren| in holy, infinite condescension; but it is quite a different thing for us to call Him |our elder brother.| One great lesson and effect of this book will be to inspire us with greater reverence for Him who is at once the author and subject of the Revelation.
Yea: in very deed and truth (He says) |I am coming,| and we reply, Amen, let it be verified: Come, Lord Jesus; let Thy parting promise be speedily fulfilled.
d^4. xxii.21. The Benediction.
21. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with all the Saints. Amen. ] This Benediction not only completes the correspondence of the Structure, but appropriately concludes the book, for, after all, there was grace in giving Israel the Law, and there must be grace even in a dispensation of works. But |true| grace came by Jesus Christ. And now, in this dispensation, ALL is of grace. It is this that gives the Church its different standing and different destiny. May we, while we strive to rightly divide the word of truth, know, more and more fully, our own standing in grace; and thus be more and more qualified to understand the ways and words of God with reference to the coming dispensation of judgment, and the dispensation of glory which will follow it.