Image above is “The Garden of Eden,” by Erastus Salisbury Field (1805-1900); in the public domain.
The placing of Revelation 22:1-5 illustrates the arbitrariness of the chapter divisions in the early translations of the Bible into Latin. “From manuscripts dating back to the fourth century, however, some form of chapter divisions were used.” (see Bible.org; below.) The Apostle John is obviously continuing his description of the Holy City, and these first five verses belong in chapter 21 of Revelation.
John has seen: (1) the New Heavens and Earth, (2) the Bride of the Lamb, (3) the New Jerusalem, and now he sees (4) an Eden-like Garden. The eternal state is described under all these symbols.
“Revelation is designed not only to inform us and assure us about God’s final purposes, but to increase our longing for God and the realization of His purpose. … The final state restores the unbroken, idyllic communion between God and human beings.” (see Poythress, below; emphasis mine.)
As we read Revelation our longing for Christ and the place he has prepared for us increases.
I. We will only achieve full satisfaction of soul and body from complete fellowship with God in eternity. vss. 1-2
vs. 1 Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb vs. 2 through the middle of the street of the city… .
John shifts his description from the outward features of the Holy City to its internal characteristics. “John [uses) archetypical (representative) images from Genesis 1-3 and Ezekiel 40ff [to describe the blessedness of the Holy City] . …Metaphors of water and light abound (cf. Isaiah 12:3; Zechariah 14:7-8).” (see Johnson, A F; below.)
In Isaiah 55:1, the image of water is a symbol of salvation”—
“Come, everyone who thirsts,
come to the waters;
and he who has no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without price.
Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,
and your labor for that which does not satisfy?
Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good,
and delight yourselves in rich food.
In Ezekiel 47:1 water is used as an image of the renewed earth—
Then he brought me back to the door of the temple, and behold, water was issuing from below the threshold of the temple toward the east (for the temple faced east). The water was flowing down from below the south end of the threshold of the temple, south of the altar.
In John 4:10-15, Jesus uses water as a symbol of salvation—
10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” 11 The woman said to him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock.” 13 Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again.[a] The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” 15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.”
Here in Revelation water flows from the throne of God himself and the Lamb. Its effects are for individuals and for the earth itself, as the next verse shows. Salvation includes the renewal of persons and the planet, which is the environment of mankind. Romans 8:19-22 speaks of this so eloquently—
19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.
The Feast of Tabernacles
In John 7:37-39 Jesus invites His hearers to come to Him for the water—
37 On the last day of the feast, the great day [eighth day], Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” 39 Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.
Jewish Customs of the Feast of Tabernacles in the Time of Jesus
On each day the ritual included a libation of water which was taken in a golden vessel from the pool of Siloam, and which was offered by the priests as they sang: “With joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation” (Isa. 12:3). (see Tenney, pg. 134; below.)
We get the full significance of the water on the eighth day when no water was poured out, but everyone looked to God to provide the water. It was this point in the festival Jesus made His cry, “If anyone is thirsty let him come unto Me.” (see Knowing Jesus Blog, below.) Thus, we are always dependent upon intimate contact with God through Christ for our soul and body satisfaction.
We need to see that it is God who seeks a personal relationship with us. John 4:23—
But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.
Note the Father is seeking worshipers. He wants a personal relationship with us here and now. This is only accomplished through Jesus Christ.
God’s Pursuit of the Lost
I like Francis Thompson’s poem The Hound of Heaven. “…He wandered the streets of London for several years in his late twenties, living as a vagrant. It was during this period of utter destitution that he was taken in by a missionary, during which time he summoned up his store of inspiration and wrote ‘The Hound Of Heaven’.” (see Life Continuance Blog below.) The poem uses a metaphor of a hound chasing down a hare. “The poem borrows language from the British hunt called Hare Coursing. Hare Coursing is the pursuit of hares by two dogs, predominantly greyhounds.” The image [hound of heaven] was often used by Puritans to refer to God, because it descriptively tells of God’s relentless pursuit of man. (see Abbott, below.)
If the poetry is not your thing, skip it and listen to the modernized version in the film clip below.
Selections from “The Hound of Heaven”
by Francis Thompson (1890)
I fled Him, down the nights and down the days;
I fled Him, down the arches of the years;
I fled Him, down the [meandering] ways
Of my own mind; and in the mist of tears
I hid from Him, and under running laughter.
Up [panoramic] hopes I sped;
And shot, precipitated,
Adown Titanic glooms of chasmèd fears,
From those strong Feet that followed, followed after.
But with unhurrying chase,
And unperturbèd pace,
Deliberate speed, majestic instancy,
They beat—and a Voice beat
More instant than the Feet—
‘All things [betray] you, who [betray] Me.’
How little worthy of any love [you are]!
Whom [will you] find to love [lowly] you,
Save Me, save only Me?
All which I took from [you] I did but take,
Not for [your] harms,
But just that [you might] seek it in My arms.
All which [your] child’s mistake
Fancies as lost, I have stored for [you] at home:
Rise, clasp My hand, and come!’
Halts by me that footfall:
Is my gloom, after all,
Shade of His hand, outstretched caressingly?
‘Ah, fondest, blindest, weakest,
I am He Whom [you] seekest!
[You chased away] love from [you], who [chased away] Me.’
(see Thompson, below; modernized words in brackets are mine.)
(Image of dog above from Bill Brenner’s blog.)
The film clip below is longer than I usually link to in this Blog, but it is worth listening to!
The film above is a modern adaptation of the poem ‘The Hound of Heaven’ written by Francis Thompson produced by Emblem Media LLC. The book was written by Brian and Sally Oxley, Sonja Oxley Peterson with Dr. Devin Brown. Illustrations by Tim Ladwig. The song based on the poem, “I Finally See,” is available at this blue link → YouTube.
People engaging in addictive behavior are often trying to fill the void in their heart that only Christ can fill (see Confessions by St. Augustine). If Christ is still pursuing us, all we need do is stop running, turn, and embrace Him as our Lord and Savior. In the end we will find Him as our all-in-all. See Psalm 119:65-72 for a description of suffering and hurt and what they did to his life. “The psalmist understands that God afflicted him for a good purpose and, in doing so, took him from disobedience to obedience. God broke him down and brought him to his knees in order to draw him to his Creator in faith and trust.” (see Abbott, below).
Next time we move to 22:3.
(Commentaries on which I rely without direct quotation)
Abbott, Shari. (2021). “Is ‘The Hound of Heaven’ a Name for God?” Reasons for Hope blog Accessed 5 August 2021 from https://reasonsforhopejesus.com/is-hound-of-heaven-a-name-for-god/
Allen, C. L. (1987). Home Fires: A Treasury of Wit and Wisdom. Nashville, TN: W. Publishing Group
Apocalyptic. Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House Company. Accessed 26 July 2021 from https://www.biblestudytools.com/dictionary/apocalyptic/
Bible Hub. (2021).
Bible.org. (2021). “How and when was the Bible divided into chapters and verses?” Accessed 5 August 2021 from https://bible.org/question/how-and-when-was-bible-divided-chapters-and-verses
Beale, G. K. (2015). Revelation: a Shorter Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. Kindle Edition.
ESV. (2001). English Standard Version. Accessed 24 June 2020 from https://www.biblegateway.com
Faulkner, N. (2011). The Official Truth: Propaganda in the Roman Empire. Accessed 29 July 2021 from https://www.bbc.co.uk/history/ancient/romans/romanpropaganda_article_01.shtml
Fee, G. D. (2010). Revelation (New Covenant Commentary Series) Eugene, OR: Cascade Books, an imprint of Wipf and Stock Publishers. Kindle version.
Herrick, G. (2005). The Quiet-Time: What, Why, and How. Accessed 16 July 2021 from https://bible.org/article/quiet-time-what-why-and-how#P10_1647
Hendriksen, William. More Than Conquerors: An Interpretation of the Book of Revelation. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. (p. 125).
Hudgen, R. (2016). Trustworthy Sayings blog. Accessed 28 July 2021 from https://rickhudgens.blogspot.com/2016/10/ punching-holes-in-darkness.html
Knowing Jesus Blog. (2021). “What Does John 7:39 Mean?” blog accessed 6 August 2021 from https://dailyverse.knowing-jesus.com/john-7-37
Illustration Ideas. (n.d.). What Prayer is Not, Blog. Accessed 28 July 2021 from https://illustrationideas.bible/what-prayer-is-not/
Jesus Christ Superstar. (2021). Wikipedia accessed 24 July 2021 from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ Jesus_Christ_Superstar
Johnson, A. F. (1982). Revelation in Expositor’s Bible Commentary. ed. Gaebelein. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
Johnson, D. E. (2001). Triumph of the Lamb: A Commentary on Revelation. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Kenner, C. (2000). The NIV Application Commentary: Revelation. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Academic.
Lewis, C. S. (1952). Mere Christianity. New York City: NY: The Macmillan Company.
Life Continuance blog. (n.d.) Accesed 5 August 2021 from http://lifecontinuance.blogspot.com/2011/12/hound-of-heaven.html
Lopez, M. (2014). Thoughts from LIFE 100.3 blog. Accessed 28 July 2021 from https://marialopezlife.blogspot.com/ 2014/05/how-queen-victoria-stood-for-christ.html
May, J. (2015). “You brought Pavement?!” Accessed 26 July 2021 from http://www.ahomewithgod.com/uncategorized/ you-brought-pavement/
Morris, Leon. (1987). Revelation in Tyndale New Testament Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.
Packer, J. I. (1986). Your Father Loves You. Chicago, IL: Harold Shaw Publishers.
Poythress, V. (2000). The Returning King: A Guide to the Book of Revelation. Phillipsburg, New Jersey: P&R Publishing.
Sproul, R. C. (2014). Everyone’s a Theologian: An Introduction to Systematic Theology. Sanford, FL: Reformation Trust Publishing. Kindle Edition.
Swete, H. B. (1909). Apocalypse of St. John. 3rd Edition. London, UK: MacMillan and Co. Ltd.
Tenney, M. C. (1948). John: The Gospel of Belief: An Analytic Study of the Text. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans amd Co. Kindle edition.
Theophany. (2021). Wikipedia. Accessed 17 July 2021 from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theophany
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