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"I Am Coming Quickly" Revelation 22:6-15

I Come Quickly (vv. 6-7)

God’s Word True and Imminent

The destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans under Titus in A.D. 70 was the culmination of centuries of judgment, subjugation, and warning. When the Lord Jesus Christ came, the Jewish leaders and most of the Jewish nation rejected him – they rejected the promised Messiah and the Holy One of Israel. Many Jews believed, but the nation itself apostatized. The Lord warned them repeatedly that last week before his crucifixion that the generation standing before him would see Jerusalem destroyed (Matt. 23:31-39). He warned the Jewish high priest when they tried him for claiming to be the Son of God: “You will see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power and coming in the clouds of heaven” (Mark 14:62). Most of Revelation is about the destruction of the great harlot wife of the Lord, the Jewish nation. Could it really be that the “city where the Lord was crucified” would be destroyed (Rev. 11:8)? This would mean that the church of Jesus Christ would no longer have the earthly Jerusalem for its headquarters, or no earthly capital, for that matter. Historical upheaval and persecution are unsettling. Believers living through those times needed confirmation of God’s word. He gave it to them. He sent his angel to certify his word: they are faithful and true. The same Lord God of the prophets who warned Israel for centuries has sent me to show you, John, what must quickly happen. They were encouraged to believe God’s word. They were taught to expect its immediate fulfillment. Scarcely a year, perhaps two, remained before the Roman invasion. The time was short.

Jerusalem about to Be Destroyed

We cannot miss the expectation of immediate judgment in the lines. Was John wrong about the imminent coming of the Lord Jesus? These verses are filled with a sense of extreme immediacy – quickly, short, no time for repentance, do not seal these words. Some have suggested that the conundrum is resolved by saying that each generation must live as if it is the last generation, and that its time to live and serve the Lord is short. Prophetic foreshortening is often resorted to – that the coming of the Lord, although distant, is so significant that it is imminent in its influence upon the present. Others have stated an obvious truth – that the time is short for each one of us, and we should therefore live as if Jesus is coming soon for us.

If we allow Scripture to interpret Scripture, these solutions are unnecessary. Jesus said, “I am coming quickly.” He began the book with the same announcement (1:7). He announced this to the Jewish high priests and all of Jerusalem – “this generation will not pass until all these things are fulfilled.” He did come quickly – in judgment upon Jerusalem and the Jewish nation. From this we should never draw the very false and dangerous conclusion that Jerusalem’s destruction in A.D. 70 was Christ’s second coming. “Coming” is a word used for any notable work of the Lord in judgment and deliverance. Some have said that A.D. 70 was the second coming, but this is false. From Revelation 20-21, we have seen that our Lord will return to bring in a new heaven and new earth. The blessings of intimate communion with God and complete deliverance from the curse will not be found until a completely renovated order of existence takes place. A.D. 70, however significant, did not abolish death or result in Satan being cast into the lake of fire. We can and must maintain that our Lord was telling the absolute truth to the first century believers: “I am coming quickly” – to perform what this series of revelations concerns – my coming on the clouds of judgment to judge apostate Israel. He did this. His word was certified. We must trust him absolutely, for he speaks the words of God (John 3:34).

Keep This Word

How did they “keep” a word like Revelation? How do you obey a prophecy? First, we accept God’s word as being “true and faithful” (v. 6). Second, we live in the light of what God has said – not setting our minds and hearts upon the things of this life or thinking that the church’s enemies are too strong for her to endure, or despairing because of the difficulties that the Lord brings into our lives. When we keep God’s word, he gives us “perfect peace” (Isa. 26:3). We are not unsettled by hard times but fixed upon him as our Rock. Third, we obey him as the faithful Husband who judged and divorced his harlot wife and the Lord of history who defends his faithful church against the beast of statism. We must take heed to the way we are living. We will reap what we sow. We need not fear the many beasts that try to rebuild Babel, but resist them in the faith, armed with God’s full armor.

It is not only the events of the first century that required a definite word from God to direct and sustain his people. There are many promises of God’s word that we find it hard to believe. We lose our job, but he promises to take care of us. Do we trust him? Can we depend upon his promise? A child strays from Christ, but we are encouraged to believe that God is faithful. We struggle with a lifelong infirmity or suffer a defining trauma when we are young, and the Lord wants us to trust that he intends good for us. Despite what we see with our eyes, we must keep his word. We must hear the angelic certification – God’s words are true and faithful. They are the narrow path of blessing and protection for us as pilgrims. If we want the Lord to bless us, we must keep his word by believing it, be transformed by meditating upon it, and live hopefully by following him as our Lord and Shepherd. The old man of sin and the devil attack here more than anywhere else: “Has God really said?” Or perhaps we can fudge a little around the edges or find a way to do what we want while feeling good about our relationship with God. Instead, whatever the command, however much God’s word challenges our faith, we must look to his word as our food and our shield. It is our sword against Satan’s insinuations and attacks. Are you struggling with doubt? Ready to give up under the crushing wait of trials and anxiety? Keep God’s word. Trust him to be faithful. Cast your burdens upon the Lord, for he will sustain you. Hear the angels confessing, “God’s words are true and faithful.” None of his word will ever fail to come to pass (1 Kings 8:56). None who hope in the Lord will ever regret their choice to trust him.

The Time Is at Hand (vv. 8-10)

John Rebuked by the Angel – Worship God Alone

John fell down and worshipped the angel. This was not because he had low views of God, did not obey God’s commandments, or was filled with superstition. He was undone and overwhelmed by all he had seen and heard. The angelic messenger so vividly spoke for Jesus Christ that it was easy for John to equate them. The angel quickly rebuked John for giving him worship. Get up! I am your fellow servant – what a joy to hear that we serve the Lord with the entire angelic hosts. Do not worship me –and, if we are not to worship angels, what an abomination for blind men to tell us to worship saints and look to them for intercessory help. God alone is to be worshipped. We pray to the Father in Christ’s name alone. And notice that the angel adds that he, also, keeps the words of this book. Too often we forget that our Bibles are God’s eternal word – fixed in the heavens. The angels also know God’s word – not our specific translations, as if they were perfect, but the sense and truth of what God has revealed to us. It is clear to them, even as it is clear to those taught by the Holy Spirit. This angel identifies himself as a keeper of God’s word. We do Satan’s job for him when we listen to skeptics about the Bible, or ritualists who replace Scripture with their silly ceremonies, or gurus who speak so persuasively against a Bible-founded faith. Listen to any or all of these, and you are listening to the old slithering serpent, the devil, the arch deceiver. He does not want you using the sword that the angels use, that our Lord Jesus Christ used to defeat him, the plain, unvarnished word of God. If he can take that weapon out of your hand or distract you so that you do not learn and use it, or convince you that something more than God’s word is needed, he will overcome you.

Do Not Seal This Prophecy – Imminent

When Daniel received prophecy about many of these same events, the angel told him to seal up the vision (Dan. 12:4). The time was too distant from Daniel, but John is told to leave the vision unsealed. “The time is at hand.” Unless we force language to mean its opposite, so that “at hand” can mean thousands of years, then we must conclude that the main prophecies of Revelation have a first-century fulfillment. The judgment of the great harlot, apostate Jerusalem, was about to take place. The Roman armies were about to cross the proverbial Euphrates like a horde of locusts. John – take this book, unseal it, and warn my people to ready themselves. The Lord’s “days of vengeance” are about to fall upon those who rejected his beloved Son (Luke 21:22). One reason, I think, it is hard for us to believe this is that we do not appreciate how highly our Father in heaven respects his own word, his Son, and the promises he gives through his servants. He gave Israel almost 2,000 years to serve him and believe in his Messiah. When he came, they did not receive him but treated him as they did the prophets – hating him, rejecting him, and finally crucifying him. The Lord has given us almost the same amount of time since the resurrection and ascension of our Lord to turn to him and learn obedience. Let us respect his reign from the Father’s right hand and keep his word.

No Time for Repentance (vv. 11-15)

11th Hour Repentance Unlikely

For those living when John wrote, there is no time for repentance. Hence, “He that is unjust, let him remain unjust.” This is not hopelessness; it is historical realism. There are times in history, and the sixth decade of the first century was one, in which it is too late for personal reformation. Not that anything is too hard for the Lord, and he sometimes saves men at the very end of their lives and civilizations. But, when his judgment purposes are ripe, we must pass through the fire and trust him. We exhort men to faith and repentance, but when the stroke of doom strikes for a man or a nation, it is too late to turn to the Lord. It is shocking that this happened to the physical descendants of Abraham. We must pray that in this great gospel age, the Lord will long preserve a gospel witness here and pluck men from the burning (Jude 23). This is a great call for all who hear the gospel to repent and turn to Jesus Christ. You cannot tell but this may be your last opportunity to hear the gospel. Treasure it! If you love the Lord Jesus Christ, love him more. Trust him as your righteousness and cleansing, your way to heaven, your light in the darkness. If you know him not, come to him now, for there is salvation in no other name (Acts 4:12). The Lord God of the prophets often allows the world of evil men to burn to warn men to flee from the burning that never ends in hell. He is doing that today, and as he turns up the fires, he is calling sinners to be reconciled to him through faith in Jesus Christ.

Keep My Words to Eat of the Tree of Life

Again the Lord promised his young bride that he is coming quickly to deliver her from her tormentors. The unbelieving Jews were the church’s worst persecutors in the earliest days (1 Thess. 2:14-16). The Lord knows each of his sheep by name. He loves us and is working good for us. He promises to reward those who hold fast to him. He does not think of us as mercenary servants, but he knows we need strong motivation. The pleasures and cares of this life resonate deeply in our fallen hearts. A heavenly siren is required to awaken us to faithfulness. Can John’s hearers persevere in that hour and overcome? Jesus Christ is Alpha and Omega, the beginning and end, the first and the last. We must have colossal views of Jesus Christ – his eternal glory, his sovereignty, his independence of the created order, for he is the Creator of all, and his powerful watchcare over our lives. He began our faith, and he will perfect it. No one can pluck us from his hand. These are the thoughts that must grip them and us – our Lord Jesus is reigning at the Father’s right hand – love him! Worship him! Trust him! Look at what he has done for us, reconciling us to the Father, giving us righteousness by his obedience, cleansing our sins by his blood. By his gracious strength and love, obey him. Our obedience is not the path to heaven; our obedience is the fruit of the love of God that brings us to heaven. We shall eat of the tree of life if we keep holding fast to Jesus Christ, asking him to hold us fast. It will be hard to hold fast, but it is horrible to be outside – where the abominable, sorcerers, sexually immoral, murders, and idolaters, liars are cast. Were it not for God’s saving kindness, we would be there with them, so loving him because he first loved us, let us hold fast to his word in every hour of trial.

The Glory of Our Lord Jesus Christ

He Kept His Word and Will Keep It

As with all of Revelation, the main “revelation” is Jesus Christ himself. It is the failure to see by faith his glory, to be regularly fixed upon his glory that explains most of the believer’s weakness. Jesus Christ is the great transformer of sinners. The more we know and love him, the more we shall keep his word – not to gain heaven but because he has gained heaven for us, and placed our hearts there, so that we love him and want to obey him (John 14:15). Thus, when we see him coming on the clouds to judge his former people, we are painfully taught how much we need to know him and keep his word. If he did not “spare the natural branches,” neither will he spare us – thus reasons the apostle – unless we hold fast to him in faith and love (Rom. 11:21). But we cannot keep his word, unless we love him. It is love for Christ that constrains, motivates, empowers, gives endurance in suffering, and hope in dark times (2 Cor. 5:14). These are not graces we generate but that Jesus Christ works in us – when he reveals his great love for us.

He Calls Us to Trust in Him and Live for Him

Thus, he does not call us to trust our own strength but to trust him as our strength. How could he expect his young church to pass through those first-century fires? You might as well ask why he brought David the youth onto the battlefield to face Goliath or called the boy Samuel to preach such a dreadful word of warning to Eli. How did the young man Daniel reject the allures of the Persian court, or Joseph the seductress, or Moses the pleasures of Egypt? It was Christ in them. It was not for any strength in them but because of Christ in them that they overcame the world. And since he has now come, we may expect him to do much greater works for us as we trust in him and resolve to live for him. But we must commit to him – no serving two gods, no trying to blend our worldly loves with the love of Christ. No, we must come to him and ask him to heal and help us keep our commitment. And he will by his Word and Spirit. He tells us here again to keep his word. This is the way he strengthens us. And in his strength, we can live for him – in our work and families, churches and communities. Everywhere we can and must learn the truth of Paul’s testimony: “For me, to live is Christ.” And, “I live by the faith of the Son of God.” Not our strength but his, not our will but his has reconciled us to God and blotted out our sins. He is glorious and good. Come to him and believe upon his name.

He Reveals His Majesty and Makes Promises to Support Our Weak Faith

Why does Jesus Christ say, “Alpha and Omega, first and last?” So that by revealing his majesty to us, we may rest in him. Rest in him. Look for no other life and strength but what we find in him. Does a certain promise of God seem too hard to believe? Or a trial too severe? Alpha and Omega, first and last. And, he loves us. He died for us on Calvary. Does a sin in our life seem pointless to resist? Defeat seem certain? Alpha and Omega, beginning and end. Continue to trust him. He will never fail us. Why does he say that his reward is with him? So that we will aspire to serve him with every ounce of our being. When all is said and done, you will not stand before the court of public opinion, stand or fall by your spouse’s opinion, or by your own self-judgment. You will look into the eyes of Jesus Christ, into his lovely face. He will not ask you how good you were, but whether you trusted his goodness. He will not ask you how much you knew, but how much you used what he taught you to serve him and others. He will ask you about your love and service to his body, about the feet you washed. It must be the desire of every Christian’s heart to offer to Jesus Christ some gift of love, some service of faith, some use of his grace. He is worthy. He is coming.

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