Image above in public domain from https://www.publicdomainpictures.net
“The epilogue shows clearly that the purpose of the book is to induce holy obedience among God’s people in order that they receive the reward of salvation.” (see Beale, p. 508; below).
I would summarize the message of Revelation 22:10-13 as—
God reveals His purposes for the future so John’s churches and ours can walk with God amid the chaos of a world in opposition to God and His people.
We live in such a chaotic day as did first century believers! We need Revelation’s warnings and promised incentives to help us live as Christians today!
I. We can live, in the midst of chaos, according to that which is revealed to us by John in the Revelation. vs.10
vs. 10 And he said to me, “Do not seal up¶ the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near.
Luther on the Bible
“God is everywhere. However, He does not want you to reach out for Him everywhere but only in the Word. Reach out for it and you will grasp Him aright. Otherwise you are tempting God and setting up idolatry. That is why He has established a certain method for us. This teaches us how and where we are to look for Him and find Him, namely, in the Word.” (Bible Hub quotations).
What Daniel was commanded to do—seal the prophecy—John is forbidden to do. Revelation does have a present application in all ages of the church. It is not intended to be only for a future people, or for a people in the past. Daniel is in view in Revelation 22:10—
Daniel 8:26 The vision of the evenings and the mornings that has been told is true, but seal up the vision, for it refers to many days from now.”
Daniel 12:4 “But you, Daniel, shut up the words and seal the book, until the time of the end. Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase.”
John is saying that what was distant to Daniel is being fulfilled now—inaugurated stages of the kingdom and at the very end consummation of the kingdom.
I have shown the importance of seeing the Kingdom as inaugurated now; and, later the Kingdom to be consummated at the Second Coming. (See the chart above.) We have blessings of the Kingdom now, but not yet the fullness of the Kingdom blessings.
The word “time” is kairos (an opportune time). “Near”—engos—can be interpreted in different ways—(1) “near” in the sense of distance; (2) “near” in the sense of time. Philippians 4:5 demonstrates the ambiguity of the word engos—(5) Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.
What is Paul trying to say? Is it that the Lord Jesus is close to us? Or is it that the return is imminent. Even though both senses of engos are true, I think that the latter is implied in Revelation 22:10—the time of fulfillment is always close in time. Remember, “For a thousand years in your sight are but as yesterday when it is past, or as a watch in the night” (Psalm 90:4; II Peter 3:8).
Two Great Presidents on the Bible & Government
It is impossible to righteously govern the world without God and the Bible. – George Washington
Within the covers of one single book, the Bible, are all the answers to all the problems that face us today—if only we would read and believe. – Ronald Reagan
Only the God who speaks in Holy Scripture can guide us in this murky world at present. We can trust what He has said within the pages of His Book!
II. We can safely conform our lives to God’s Word, but we need to refuse the “world’s mold” which tries to shape our thinking. vs. 11
vs. 11 Let the evildoer still do evil, and the filthy still be filthy, and the righteous still do right, and the holy still be holy.”
Note the following people are referred to by their character—
(1) “him who does wrong”—[adikon] “an unrighteous person,” or “a person not in a right relationship
(2) “him who is vile”—rhuparos “dirty, filthy, unclean, or defiled persons”
(3) “him who does right”—dikaios “righteous persons,” or “persons in a right relationship with God”
(4) “him who is holy”—hagios “a person set apart from sin to serve God,” “a pure person”
John is seemingly commanding men to remain in their present state of character. I thought we were in the salvation business! However, the imperative is not always a categorical command, but sometimes a request or desire (see Athanasiou, below). In other words, we use an imperative—”Sit down”—when someone enters our house and we wish to be polite. It is hardly a categorical command, but is a request from us.
Daniel 12:10 Many shall purify themselves and make themselves white and be refined, but the wicked shall act wickedly. And none of the wicked shall understand, but those who are wise shall understand. This is in mind when John writes. “Opposite heart orientations and behavior patterns have opposite destinies, as will be clear when the Lamb who is the supreme judge comes.” (see Johnson, D. E.; below.)
John Stott’s Application of an Adage
“You sow a thought and you reap a deed.
You sow a deed and you reap a habit.
You sow a habit and you reap a character.
You sow a character and you reap a destiny.”
(Original source is Ralph Waldo Emerson, according to Good Reads website.)
“Every time we allow our mind to harbor a grudge, nurse a grievance, entertain an impure fancy, wallow in self-pity, we are sowing to the flesh. Every time we linger in bad company whose insidious influence we know we cannot resist, every time we lie in bed when we ought to be up and praying, every time we read pornographic literature, every time we take a risk that strains our self-control, we are sowing, sowing, sowing to the flesh.” (see Stott, p. 170-171; below.)
The end, both of one’s personal life or the Second Coming of Christ, will cement that person’s character. There will come a time when men will no longer be moved to repentance. As they lived, so they will die. The wicked will be enticed to live more wickedly and the righteous will be inspired to live more righteously. God deals with man as he always has. He is not responsible for the wicked person’s rejection and hardening. “The same sun which melts wax hardens clay. And the same Gospel which melts some persons to repentance hardens others in their sins.” (original source: C. H. Spurgeon or Jonathan Edwards.) In other words, the experience of either hardening or melting, is dependent on the composition of the substance, not on the energy of sun.
Salvation may be all of grace, but damnation is purely by works.
Salvation is by Grace
The Heidelberg Catechism says—
Q. 1. What is your only comfort in life and death?
A. That I with body and soul, both in life and death, am not my own, but belong unto my faithful Savior Jesus Christ; who, with his precious blood, has fully satisfied for all my sins, and delivered me from all the power of the devil; and so preserves me that without the will of my heavenly Father, not a hair can fall from my head; yea, that all things must work together for my salvation, and therefore, by his Holy Spirit, He also assures me of eternal life, and makes me sincerely willing and ready, henceforth, to live unto him
Although I was steeped in the Westminster Catechism, I like the personal nature of The Heidelberg Catechism.
III. We can count on God’s reward at Christ’s coming to compensate for our suffering. vs. 12
vs. 12 “Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done.”
“Reward” is misthos which means “payment, wages, what is due—whether reward [remunerative justice] or punishment [retributive justice].” Note that the wicked will be given wages—Romans 6:23—For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
God will reward the righteous—I Cor. 3:12-15—
12 Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw—13 each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. 14 If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.
II Cor. 5:10-11—
10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil. 11 Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others. But what we are is known to God, and I hope it is known also to your conscience.
What we are is known to God, and I hope it is also known to our consciences. In every mention of Judgment in the Bible, it states that is on the basis of works. This is not to say that the judgment is based on a person’s performance. If he does right he will earn salvation, and if he does wrong, he will earn damnation. Indeed, not! This would invalidate grace—Romans 3:21-25a—
21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.
Works simply indicate the person’s character (see chart above). They prove infallibly that the person either received or rejected the gift of God’s grace.
Many years ago in a Moscow theater, matinee idol Alexander Rostovzev was converted while playing the role of Jesus in a sacrilegious play entitled “Christ in a Tuxedo.” He was supposed to read two verses from the Sermon on the Mount, remove his gown, and cry out, “Give me my tuxedo and top hat!” But as he read the words, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted,” he began to tremble. Instead of following the script, he kept reading from Matthew 5, ignoring the coughs, calls, and foot-stamping of his fellow actors.
Finally, recalling a verse he had learned in his childhood in a Russian Orthodox church, he cried, “Lord, remember me when Thou comest into Thy kingdom!” (Luke 23:42 KJV). Before the curtain could be lowered, Rostovzev had trusted Jesus Christ as his personal Savior. (see Johnston, J. K., pg. 121; below.)
I find when I have made a wrong turn or hear a questionable teaching, the best way out is “to change scripts”—to God’s Word.
I have sickness this week and could not release this blog post until today. Next week, hopefully we will continue with the epilogue of Revelation, although I cannot promise it will be on Sunday.
(Commentaries on which I rely without direct quotation)
Athanasiou, K. (n.d.). Imperative. Accessed 8 September 2021 from https://www.greekgrammar.eu/pdffiles/imper.pdf
Beale, G. K. (2015). Revelation: a Shorter Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. Kindle Edition.
Carr, A. (1893). Matthew in The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges series. Cambridge: UK, at the University Press. Accessed 30 August 2021 from https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/cgt/matthew-6.html
Hendriksen, William. More Than Conquerors: An Interpretation of the Book of Revelation. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. (p. 125).
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.
Johnston, J. K. (1992). Why Christians Sin. Grand Rapids, MI: Discovery House Publishing.
Kenner, C. (2000). The NIV Application Commentary: Revelation. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Academic.
Morris, Leon. (1987). Revelation in Tyndale New Testament Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.
Pray. (2021). Accessed 8 September 2021 from https://www.etymonline.com/word/pray
Poythress, V. (2000). The Returning King: A Guide to the Book of Revelation. Phillipsburg, New Jersey: P&R Publishing.
Stott, J.R.W. (1986). The Message of Galatians, part of The Bible Speaks Today series. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
WikiMedia Commons for Images
© 2021 C. Richard Barbare All Rights Reserved