The Spirit and the Bride say “Come”

Dr. Kevin DeYoung, Senior Pastor

Revelation 22:6-21 | June 30 - Sunday Morning,

Sunday Morning,
June 30
The Spirit and the Bride say “Come” | Revelation 22:6-21
Dr. Kevin DeYoung, Senior Pastor

Gracious heavenly Father, we rejoice in what we have just sung, that You will hold us fast.  So we ask that You would do so until the end of our lives and until the end of the age.  Keep us as we keep ourselves in the love of Christ.  Teach us now from Your Word and we pray that You would come quickly.  We ask in Jesus’ name.  Amen.  

Revelation chapter 22, verses 6 through 21.  We have come finally to the end of Revelation.  By my count, if you include the sermons I did a year before starting this, through the seven churches, and you count the three Sunday evenings, if I’ve counted right, this is the 46th sermon on Revelation.  I think the only person who was here for all of them is me.

After 46 sermons, along the way you may have wondered, genuinely, which would come first – the things predicted in Revelation or the end of the sermon series on Revelation.  But here we are.  We have made it.  It is a glorious text that we read this morning.

Follow along, beginning at verse 6.

“And he said to me, “These words are trustworthy and true. And the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, has sent his angel to show his servants what must soon take place.  And behold, I am coming soon. Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.”  I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I heard and saw them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed them to me, but he said to me, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers the prophets, and with those who keep the words of this book. Worship God.””

“And he said to me, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near. Let the evildoer still do evil, and the filthy still be filthy, and the righteous still do right, and the holy still be holy.  Behold, I am coming soon, bringing My recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.””

“Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates. Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.  “I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.””

“The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.  I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.  He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!  The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all.  Amen.”

At first glance, even though these last 15 or 16 verses have lots of dramatic statements, put together it may seem like a strange way to end the book.  It can seem rather disjointed, a lot of different statements and exhortations, and it can be hard to know even who is speaking.  It may seem like the book should have ended at verse 5.  Wouldn’t that have made a great ending?  They will need no light of lamp or sun for the Lord God will be their light and they will reign forever and ever.  Drum roll, tympany, angels singing, curtain closes.  There it is and they happily lived ever after.

But that’s not the end.  Maybe verse 6 could have been the end, to show His servants what must soon take place.  Or even verse 7, another blessing.  Or maybe verse 9, worship God.  Or maybe verse 13, Jesus’ statement “I am the Alpha and the Omega.”  It’s like the end of The Return of the King.  How many endings do we have of this movie?  They just keep coming.

So why these 16 verses?  The reason the book does not end at verse 5 is instructive for us.  It’s because even though the vision of the new heavens and new earth that we’ve been seeing in chapter 21 and chapter 22 is the visual climax of the book.  It is not by itself the main point of the book.  Remember way back in chapter 1, the very first sermon.  I said there are three things to understand about how to read and interpret this book from the very first three verses, that Revelation is a prophecy, an apocalypse, and a letter.

So it’s a prophecy about things to come, at least some of these things are to come.  It’s an apocalypse, that’s what the word “Revelation” means, it’s a certain genre of literature given to us by visual word pictures.  And then it’s a letter.  Don’t forget it is an actual letter.  John did not sit down on the island of Patmos to write a novel.  He was not writing a poem.  He was not even sitting down to write out, first of all, a theological treatise on the end times.  He was writing a letter that went out as a circular letter to seven specific churches, to real Christians who were gathered in those seven churches in Asia Minor, western Turkey today.

Remember also, I’ve said many times throughout this series, the big theme of this book is this Greek word “nikao.”  Some of you have the swoosh on your feet even as I speak.  Nike.  That word, it’s a Greek word, meaning victory, or nikao, the verb, to conquer or to overcome.  That verb occurs in Revelation more than in all the rest of the New Testament put together, 28 times we have this verb in the New Testament, 17 of those times are here in Revelation.  This is a book about how to be overcomers instead of succumbers.  

The letter, so the seven churches, highlights the difficulties that Christians face in every age.  One of the most instructive things, and why I love Revelation and I often come back to it, those seven churches teach us that not every church has the same issue.  If you try, on the internet for example, to say, well, you should remember this sort of issue, the people who don’t have that issue have a problem with you as if you were saying everyone has the same thing to worry about.

No, the seven churches in Revelation tell us there are lots of different ways that churches can struggle.  There are many different temptations.  Some people, by virtue of their background or upbringing, they just think the only thing that could ever bad happen to a church is it could go liberal.  Or some people think the thing that goes wrong in a church is they become really legalistic.

Well, there are many different ways, and these remind us of the ways not only this church but you as an individual Christian, the sort of temptations you face.  Maybe you’re an Ephesus Christian and your temptation is to lose your first love.  Or a Smyrna Christian, to be fearful in the midst of persecution and you look around the world and the threatening it’s frightening.  Or maybe a Pergamum Christian.  Their danger was to accept false teaching.  Or a Thyatira Christian.  Their danger, Jesus says, I have this against you – you are too tolerant.  They were over-tolerant of sin.  Or maybe the issue is a Sardis Christian.  They were the whitewashed tombs.  They were the hypocrites who looked like a very big, impressive, megachurch and inside they were full of dead men’s bones.  Or perhaps a Philadelphia Christian – weak, struggling, but hanging on to be faithful.  Or a Laodicea Christian, who was filled with wealth and in the midst of that affluence came great apathy.

This book is written to those kinds of churches and those kinds of Christians and every one of us fits at some point one or more of those categories.  You are here right now and some of those issues, you say, okay, over-tolerance, that’s not me.  Over-tolerance, no, I don’t like anybody.  Okay.  So that’s not your issue.  Others of you have held on firm to the Word of God but you’ve lost that lovin’ feeling.  Others are very eager to be outreach minded and to be culturally relevant and yet you’ve over-identified with the culture and you’ve maybe reacted against some kind of background you know consider to be fundamentalists and you think, oh, those are the bad conservative Christians.

This letter is for us, for you, facing those temptations, whatever they may be, to give up, to throw in the towel, to go along with the ways of the world.  Revelation encourages the overcomer, admonishes the succumber, by painting a picture of ultimate realty, past, present, and future.  That’s been one of the big themes I hope you’ve picked up on.  It’s not that we don’t need attention to political matters or we don’t need to think at times about strategy towards cultural influence and relevance.  

Yet, do you see, with all that the Christians are facing here, what Revelation teaches us, you know what you need most?  You need to pull back the curtain and you need to get your head out of the news sometimes, get your head out of this ground, and look up and you need to see what is ultimate reality, what is really going on between the bride and the groom and the devil and the false prophet and the beast.

So we come to these verses, which seem disjointed, and even seem like they shouldn’tbe here, and then we remember, well, this is really like the sermon’s application.  This book is not meant to make you confused.  I hope after 46 sermons there are many things that are a little less confusing.  This book is to make us conquerors.  

The concern is not, first of all, polemical or political, it is pastoral.  You see there in verse 16?  Jesus testifies to these things for the churches.  This is a book for the Church, for Christians.  Here’s what you need to know that you might be conquerors.

Now there are several ways we can look at these last 16 verses.  As I said, we could just go through verse by verse and some people think they’re rather disconnected exhortations and warnings.  Others have argued that there’s a liturgical call and response and that would be very interesting.  I’m not quite sure it all fits.

I’ve grouped things into three summary points.  Three concluding reasons you and I should not give in to temptation or compromise with the world but must trust and obey Christ.  The heart of the matter is given there at the end of verse 9 in two words – worship God.  That’s a statement not only with respect to the angel who says, no, don’t worship me, but it also could wave like a banner over the whole book, with all of the counterfeits, all of the false messages in the world, all of the temptations to give in and idolatry – worship the one and true living God.  

Three reasons why we ought to do so.  

Number one.  Don’t give up, don’t give in, worship God, because the Word of God is true.  The Word of God is true.

You see in verse 6?  He said to me these words are trustworthy and true.  It’s a deliberate echo here at the end of the book to what he said at the very beginning in Revelation 1, the Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants what must soon take place.  He made it known by sending His angel to His servant John who testifies to everything he saw that is the Word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ.  

The testimony, that is the witness, and here probably bears the significance of a legal witness.  You have Jesus Christ Himself on the witness stand saying “I bear witness that these things are true.”  

There’s an order here that God gave this Revelation to His Son Christ who gave it to the angel who gave it to John who now is giving it to His servants, that is, to us.  These words in Revelation, and by extension all the words in your Bible, have the power and authority of God Himself.

I just saw recently again this week, this nonsense which comes up over and over again.  One of the things that’s good about being a middle-aged person now is I can say, “I’ve seen this before.”  It happens every so many years, somebody gets out there and sounds very prophetic and said, “You know what?  We ought to be red-letter Christians.  What Jesus said.  It’s the red letters that count.” 

Well, you know what?  When they wrote the Bible, there weren’t any red letters.  It’s all right if you’ve got one of those red-letter Bibles.  But the red letters aren’t anymore inspired and authoritative than the black letters.  You say, “Well, the red letters are straight from Jesus Himself.”   Well, so is the rest of this.  Inspired by the Spirit of Christ.  All of this book is given to us from God and it comes with His absolute divine authority.  We must believe it and we must obey.

Look at verse 7.  Blessed.  Remember we’ve had there are seven of these benedictions.  We have the last two in this section.  Here’s the sixth of the seven benedictions, blessings in this book:  Blessed are those who keep the words of the prophecy of this book.

You’re blessed.  God pronounced a benediction upon you.  You want to know blessing in this life?  Be someone who keeps the Word of God.

Look at the staggering statement in verse 9.  Have you noticed this before?  Here’s the angel, this great and glorious angel that John is tempted to worship, the angel says, verse 9, “Don’t do that.  I’m a fellow servant with you, John, and with your brothers, the prophets,” okay, there’s prophets at this time in the life of the Church, “and with those who keep the words of this book.”  

This great and glorious angel recognizes in humility he’s not God, there is a creator/creature distinction and even though he’s an angel, he’s on our side of that creator/creature distinction.  Then he makes this remarkable statement –  “You know what?  I’m a fellow servant with you,” John, an apostle.  Well, okay, maybe an angel would be a fellow servant with an apostle, “and your brothers the prophets,” okay, there are not many prophets, “and with all those who keep the words of this book.” 

If you are a Christian, you keep the words of this book, and as you keep the words of this book, we are on par with John the apostle and the prophets and the angel himself.  That is, the most important category among God’s created sentient beings is whether or not you are one who keeps the words that He has written down in His book.

He says in verse 10, “Do not seal up these words.”  This is the opposite of what the angel told Daniel in Daniel chapter 12.  There are several things that are an echo here of a prophecy in Daniel chapter 12.  There in verse 4 the angel said you, Daniel, shut up the words and seal the book until the time of the end.

So there in the Old Testament, a similar message was given and Daniel was told I want you to close the book, it’s not yet the time.  Now, it says the time is now.  Do not seal up the words of this book.  This apocalyptic vision of what is to come is now God’s public Revelation because the appointed time is near.

Notice also toward the end of this passage, verses 18 and 19 – I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book.  If anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book.  If anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.

This is also a deliberate Old Testament paraphrase.  Deuteronomy 4, verse 2 says you shall not add to the Word that I command you nor take from it.

Scholars in recent generations have learned that there are very deliberate patterns in covenants in the Ancient Near East and one of the things that would often come at theend of a covenant is this kind of inscription, this kind of covenantal warning.  At the end of the arrangement between God and His people, and then finally the stipulations and the blessings and the curse, there would be this kind of word that says, now warning, hear ye, hear ye.  Nobody adds to this, nobody subtracts from it.

That comes in Deuteronomy 4 because Deuteronomy, duetero – second, nomos – law, Deuteronomy is the second giving of the law, and as it fits there with the Mosaic covenant, it’s really bringing together the end of the Mosaic covenant, at least the explanation of it. 

So now John deliberately echoes this covenantal language to say, “Don’t take anything from this book, don’t add anything to it.”  

Now it’s tempting to think, and we can’t be sure, but it’s possible that if there is a later date for Revelation, say maybe around A.D. 90, and John knows that he is the last living apostle and he’s writing this book, he may not quite have in his mind, “I’m going to finish the Bible today.”  But he could very well have in his mind that this apostolic era is coming to a close with him.  So as he finishes this letter, very well could be in his mind a sense that the new covenant inspired word is coming to an end and that as the last Apostle, as he writes this book and comes to the very end of it, he understands just like the Mosaic covenant was wrapped up with this language, so the new covenant administration is wrapped up with this same kind of warning – don’t mess with the Bible.

If you want to put it in anachronistic terms, you could say there’s a danger here of both legalism and liberalism.  If legalism is adding to God’s Word, making rules where God didn’t make rules.  Okay, we need a hedge around the hedge around the hedge, just to make sure we don’t get anything wrong.  That’s adding to it.  You know, I think, I don’t think God was careful enough here and I think we probably need to add a few things to make sure.

Then the other danger is liberalism, taking away.  Saying, well, contemporary people can’t believe these things anymore.  This just doesn’t work anymore.  I’m sure that this was just kind of a kernel in a husk and there’s a new way of saying the same kind of general truth.

John warns us against both of these perennial temptations.  Do not add or you will have the plagues added to you.  Do not take away or you will be removed from all of the blessings that are promised in here.

This is a word for all of Scripture.  Even to think about it in the context of Revelation is significant.  Think about all of these essential doctrines we’ve had in Revelation, and then this says, “Don’t mess with it.”  Do no tamper with the deity of Christ.  That’s clearly shown in Revelation.  Do not tamper with the atonement, because we see the Lamb who was slain.  Don’t tamper with the Almighty sovereign glorious character of God, which is revealed in Revelation.  Don’t tamper with God’s right to judge.  Don’t tamper with the exclusive claims of the Gospel.  Don’t tamper with the reality of eternal punishment and eternal reward.  

All of these things are here in this Scriptures.

Our danger, it seems to me, and this is not just for us but for all Christians, our danger usually in the Church is not that someone would emphatically deny the Word of God but that we would nullify it, or we would minimize it or mitigate it in subtle ways.

Now it’s true that sometimes honest, godly, smart, prayerful, well-read Christians still disagree on doctrines in the Church.  That happens.  But I bet 90% of the time our problem is that we actually understand what God wants of us but we don’t want to do what He tells us.  So, yes, maybe there’s 10% of the time there’s a lot of struggle, well, what exactly does this mean, but the big issue for Christians always has been the 90%, or maybe the 98%, that is very clear and if we’re honest we don’t like it.  Our problem is not understanding but obedience.

So some of us intellectualize the Word so we can get out from under its demands.  We say, well, this is too difficult and no one can understand this.  Look, there’s a lot of Ph.D.s who disagrees on this.  If you are going to not come to conclusions because Ph.D.s disagree on something, you won’t know a thing.  That’s how you get a Ph.D. is you disagree with other people.

So the Word lacks power in our lives because we say, ah, I’m just a simple person.  All the smart people, they can’t agree on it.

Or we compartmentalize the Word of God.  We say, well, it only applies to a few things, just a general ethic of love, but maybe it doesn’t speak to issues of sexuality, or it doesn’t speak to my business or my study habits or what I watch or how I use my phone or how I treat people.

Or we psychologize the Word of God.  We say, well, this doesn’t really apply to me.  That’s not my temperament, or because of my background.

Or we marginalize the Word of God by coming to it with all sorts of preconceived notions.  We think it obviously can’t mean this or we interpret the Bible based on our experiences rather than using the Bible to help us interpret our experiences.

Overcomers love the Word of God and dread, fear, to tamper with the Word of God in one little iota.

Second.  So number one, don’t give up, don’t give in, worship God, because the Word of God is true.  Always has been, always will be.

Number two.  Don’t give up, don’t given in, worship God, because God is coming with His recompense.

You see that in verse 12?  I am coming soon, bringing my recompense.  That means His retribution.  As we confess in the Apostles’ Creed, Jesus is coming again to judge the living and the dead.

There is once again in these verses an exalted picture of Jesus.  The One who sits on the throne says He is Alpha and Omega.  We saw that in chapter 21.  Here the same title is applied to Jesus to show that He, to put it some way, shares the same God-space as God the Father.  They have the same essence, the same God-ness, God the Father and God the Son.

He gives these three statements – I am Alpha and Omega, first and last, beginning and end.

They’re all pointing to the same kinds of realities.  The Son’s immensity, His eternity, His __, that means He is dependent on no thing, no one.  He is independent.  He is God of Himself, for Himself. 

He is, verse 16, the root and the descendent of David.  This comes from Isaiah 11, it speaks of His lineage as the fulfillment of the promises to David.

The another Old Testament messianic promise – He is the bright morning star.  Comes from Numbers 24.  Morning star, probably because He heralds the dawn of a new age and here the dawn of eternity.  This great and glorious Jesus Christ.  Let us never trifle with this Jesus.  Though He is kind and tender, and we have a place in His heart and He loves to draw near to wipe away our tears, let us never make this a safe little manageable Jesus.  He comes to bring His recompense.

It helps us to make sense of verse 11, which on the face of it is very strange.  Why does verse 11 say, “Evildoer, do evil.  Filthy, be filthy”?  Shouldn’t it say, in keeping with several other times in Revelation, repent, repent, repent?  Doesn’t God want evildoers to repent and filthy to repent?  After all, there’s a call later in verse 17 to come if you’re thirsty, come.

So we should not understand verse 11 as saying that God doesn’t want sinners to repent.  So what does verse 11 mean?

Well, there’s another reference here to Daniel chapter 12.  Remember I said earlier Daniel 12:4.  Well, this is a reference to Daniel 12:9 and 10, which says this – Go your way, Daniel, for the words are shut up, sealed until the time of the end.  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.

So that word to Daniel says there is going to be a great division.  Not everyone will heed the words of this prophecy.  Those who are righteous will walk into righteousness and those who are wicked will continue to walk unto wickedness.

What verse 11 is saying in a matter of judgment upon the wicked is God washing His hands of the wicked and saying, “So be it.  Have your own way.”

We see the logic in Romans chapter 1, tells us that there’s almost nothing worse God could ever say to any of us than “have it your own way.”  And He turned them over.

Be very careful.  If that’s the attitude of your heart, God, would you just leave me alone?  God, would you let me do what I want to do?  I’m tired of these sermons, I’m tired of these Christians in my life, I’m tired of this conscience.  I want to do what I want to do.  Be very careful because the worst thing could ever do in your life is to listen to that prayer and grant what you request.

So verse 11 is saying, as His return comes soon, let the wicked be wicked, and they will receive My recompense.  Let the filthy be filthy.  Let them show who they really are.  At the last stage of history, when the decisive judgment is upon us, the opportunity to change will be past.  This is saying there will come a time, a point of no return, no postmortem repentance.  When God begins His final act of salvation and judgment on the earth, He will not be offering pardon to the lost, He will judge us as we deserve.

So verse 11 is a way of saying let Me see you for you who really are.  I want to see the righteous as they are righteous, I want to see the wicked as they are wicked.  Let the angry people get angry, let the perverted people act perverted, let the greedy be greedy, let the holy continue to be holy.

It’s a great warning because we do not know when Christ will return.  He says right after that, in verse 12, behold, I am coming soon.

Soon does not mean John expected to see Him tomorrow or a week or even the next year or two.  It means there are no events in redemptive history yet to be accomplished, meaning there is nothing left that Christ needs to do to work for us this great salvation.  Soon is not give us a chronological marker, as if you could just have an hour clock or a minute clock or a year clock.  Soon, that language is here to tell us watch, be on the lookout.

Remember in Revelation 16:15 Jesus says I will come like a thief.  The warning is meant to lodge in our heart next year may be too late for you.  Next week, tomorrow, may be too late for you.  I am coming soon.

You think about how God understands soon.  You know the verse that Peter gives to us that a day is like a thousand years, a thousand years is like a day.  If you who are parents can understand a very different sense of time from your children, how much more can God have a different sense of time?  If when you get to September, even, especially if you have a whole gaggle of people to buy presents for, and your kid starts saying, “When is Christmas?” and you say, it is coming soon, they say, “When?  Tomorrow?”  “No, not tomorrow.”  “Next month?”  “No, it’s about four or five months away.”  That’s an eternity for  5-year-old.   

One of my kids, I won’t say who, but he has often said throughout his life, no matter what day of the year it is, he will say, “Mom, Dad, tomorrow is my birthday.”  Actually, he says, “amorrow is my birthday.”  Every day his mind is it tomorrow?  So he’s always giving us a list of things.  You just say I’ll make a mental note if I want this truck, I want this toy, I want his dinosaur, because as far as he feels like, tomorrow, it’s coming very soon.

There’s something good about that.  This day that I’ve so longing for, it’s very soon.  We know as parents, thankfully, there is still some time left.  If we can understand the difference between who soon feels to a child and soon feels to us, it’s one of the things that happens as you get older, it seems like time starts to speed up and something that is coming two years later, some big trip you’re planning for, it seems like, oh, well, that’s right around the corner.  Of course, if you’re a 4-year-old, you know, that’s half of your life, two years from now and it’s a long time away.

So when Jesus says, “I’m coming soon,” we need not think that there’s some mistake here and He meant moments.  He just meant watch, watch, because when He returns, it will be too late for the filthy to turn and be holy.

It’s a warning not only of the end of the age but it’s a warning for each of us now because our hearts can be so calloused that in an act of judgment the Lord may harden our hearts, He may say, “Fine, so be it, have it your way,” and our hearts are hardened and we no longer hear the Word of God.

You may think that the Christian thing is something you can do later.  Some of you think, “I’ll get to that.  That’s, I’ll do that when I’m in college.”  Then you think, you know,”College is a fun time.  I’m supposed to sow some wild oats, I’m supposed to do some crazy things.  Right?  I can do the Jesus thing later.”  Then you think, “Well, this’ll be when I have kids.  That’s when you really settle down and you’ve got to do church and you do the Jesus thing.”  And then you think, “It’s so busy right now and we’ve got sports and it’s going to be some time later.”  

Friends, you do not know that you have later.  You do not know that Jesus may not come before later and you do not know that the voice that you’re hearing today and wanting to suppress in unrighteousness a year from now or a decade from now, your hear may so calloused that it’s just rocks crackling off the pavement.

Hebrews 3 – See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God, but encourage one another daily as long as it is called today so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.

It’s deceitful.  That’s what sin is.

Did you notice in these final chapters there are three of these statements about what is outside of the new Jerusalem?  Now it doesn’t mean that there is this literal gate and then you’re seeing the wicked out there.  It’s just talking about the people who are in the lake of fire, not in the new Jerusalem.  

There are three of these lists – 21 verse 8, 21 verse 27, and then here 22 verse 15.  The lists are similar.   Those who aren’t in the new heavens and the new earth – murderers, idolaters, the sexually immoral.  Again, it’s not talking about someone who’s ever committed a sin or been tempted to these sins, but someone who has given their life over to these sins, unrepentantly.

Do you know the one group that is mentioned in all three lists?  It might surprise you.  It did me when I was studying it this week.  Three, in the three lists, one group – liars.

In each case, it is some variation of the Greek word pseudos.  You know that word.  It starts with p-s.  You say pseudo-science or something, it’s false science, or apparently.  Pseudo, meaning false, or deceitful, that the one group in all three of those lists are those who are liars.  Meaning, I think, those who have deceived the world about their true identity and perhaps have even deceived themselves.

It’s not just that they lie about things, they are deceived about who they are.  These are counterfeit Christians.  These are compromises Christians.  Perhaps they profess Christ, perhaps they have a closet full of church clothes, perhaps they’re here this morning and they are pseudo-Christians.  They are not the real deal.  If they would have but a moment of quiet to listen to the Spirit preaching through the Word, they would know in this moment that this is them.  

Verse 14 tells us, “Blessed are those who wash their robes.”  So beloved, while there is still hope, heed the words of this seventh benediction.  This is the seventh and final blessing.  Blessed are those who wash their robes.

Now, this is not, first of all, saying, well, blessed are those who clean up their act and become better people.  Well, that is a result of the moral renewal, but that’s not the place it starts.  The only other time in Revelation we see this verb “wash” is in Revelation 7:14 where John sees a great multitude of those who have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.  So the washing here is first of all to be washed in the blood of the Lamb.  It’s not saying blessed are you if you try real hard and become a better person.  Well, we ought to be transformed and we will be transformed, but the blessing here are those who know that they have filthy garments.

Before it is too late, like verse 11 and the Lord says the filthy be filthy, verse 14 tells us now if you hear His voice, you would be blessed, you would be happy, you would have a benediction upon you if you would wash those filthy garments in the blood of the Lamb, if you would not be a counterfeit Christian, if you would not be a compromised Christian, if you would come in repentance and faith and know the cleansing that only Jesus can give.

Then a final word.  Don’t give up, don’t give in, worship God, because Jesus is coming soon.

The Spirit and the Bride, verse 17, say come.  They’re calling to Christ.  And then the hearers call to Christ.  Then there is a call to everyone in the world to come, just like we read earlier, from Isaiah 55 – Come to the waters.  Come, you can eat and drink and there’s no cost.  There’s no money required.  Just come.

That’s the call to each one of us here.  Let the one who is thirsty come, let the one who desires take the water of life without price.

One of the things I hope you feel as you walk away from this final sermon on Revelation this morning is to believe that something of eternal significance is at stake in your life.  Revelation was written to real Christians, to Christians.  It was not written to non-Christians, though glad if there are any non-Christians here.  This was written to people in the Church who were struggling, who had temptations.

Revelation is meant to tell them there is a sure reward if you wash your robes in the blood of the Lamb, and there is a sure judgment coming if you do not.  So it’s pleading with you.  Would you come?  Would you come?

Those who stay away are those who do not know that they are thirsty, that they need to drink.

Three times in this final section, verse 7, verse 12, verse 20, Jesus says, “Behold, I am coming soon.”  

Do you hope for Jesus’ return?  Now I know you know the right answer is yes, but I ask you, and I ask myself, of all the times that you’ve smiled in this past year, and if you think I don’t know if I have smiled, then here’s some reasons to smile.

Of all the times you’ve smiled in the past year, of all the times your mind wandered and daydreamed about some great thing to come, some better blessing on the horizon, of all those times you’ve smiled, did you ever smile thinking about Jesus coming back?  That it is soon?  Have any anticipation for the great glory it will be?

I think I’ve mentioned before, I’ve gotten teased throughout my life, rightly so, for being a great lover of getting the mail.  Ever since I was a kid.  Some of those long summer days.  I remember when I entered a tape club.  Tapes?  Yeah.  Music.  You got those things and you entered for whatever, I don’t know, it was probably a dollar for the first month and then the rest of your children for the rest of your life.  Or some scam.  But, you know, just waiting for my Huey Lewis and the News tape to arrive in the mail and just checking.  You know when it says “allow six to eight weeks for delivery,” they really mean it.  They are not rushing that thing.  This was not the days of Amazon.  

You’d go out and ever since that, love, even when I come home from work and sometimes my wife will say, “I’ll walk out to the mailbox with you.”  Sometimes a kid will say, “I already got the mail,” and I will say, mostly joking, “That was the only thing I was looking forward to the whole day, the one joy I had.”  Because there’s just something about walking out.

Now you get to be an adult and you realize there’s a much better chance it’s someonerequiring your money than giving you money, but there’s still anticipation.  What might be there?  What might come?  What are you waiting for?

There’s a joy even in the longing.  The waiting for Christmas is painful for a child, but there’s joy in the longing.  Waiting for your wedding can seem months or years away, but there’s joy in the longing.  Waiting for your birthday, waiting for the child to come, waiting for that vacation.  It’s coming.

And every day is closer.  The return of Christ can never get farther away, only closer.  Closer and closer every day.  And the joy is in the longing and the waiting.

Think of some of the metaphors for Christ’s coming again – a thief in the night, a harvest, a wedding feast, a birth.  Some of those emphasize the danger, a thief in the night.  Others emphasize the good and the bad, the harvest of the righteous and the unrighteous.  Then the wedding and a birth – those are two of the most anticipated events in life, for the wedding day and for the baby to be born.  Especially as Scripture thinks in John 16, Jesus tells us that the coming day of the Lord is like that labor pains.

God is not unrealistic about the grief in your life, about the suffering in your life, about the sadness in each of our lives.  The Bible recognizes that on every page of Scripture.  But do you believe in all of the groaning in this world, it is a purposeful groaning?  It doesn’t always feel that way.  But the pain we experience as Christians is a part of the labor pangs that this whole world is experiencing as it groans to be set free and give birth to a new world to come.  And all of the pain is then worth it and quickly forgotten.

O Lord, haste the day when the faith shall be sight, the clouds be rolled back as a scroll, the trump shall resound and the Lord shall descend, even so it is tell with my soul.

The Spirit and the Bride say come.  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.  He who testifies to these things says yes, I am coming soon.  Amen.  Come, Lord Jesus.  

Let’s pray.  Father in heaven, we give thanks for Your Word and we pray that You would so implant all of these things, that You might grant to us hope in the midst of suffering, joy in the midst of fear, and longing for this great day.  In Jesus we pray.  Amen.