Come Lord Jesus

Chatswood Baptist Church https://www.chatswoodbaptist.com.au

Revelation 22:7-21

 

Waiting

 

What are you like at waiting?

I’m not good at it

 

I’m not that good at it? I’ve probably told you about the day I asked Kylie to marry me. It highlights how bad at waiting I am. I had it all planned. I planned to ask Kylie that night at a restaurant overlooking the ocean at sunset. There were meant to be flowers and over dinner I was going to get down on one knee and ask my beloved to be my wife. But I just could wait that long.

It’s hard to remember all the details now but I guess I felt the tension of knowing that I was going to ask her, but I wasn’t sure how she was going to answer. It felt like waiting for the results of an exam which I didn’t know whether I was going to pass or fail. So, I gave up on waiting.

 

That morning we met at the beach and gone for a swim at the Ocean Baths and we were laying there on the concrete on our towels, on our bellies, heads down, next to one another. There were lots of kids running around everywhere and instead of waiting for the right time I just came out with it then and there. I lifted my head and said words to the affect, “So how about it, do you want to get married?” It was totally unromantic, unplanned and it wasn’t how Kylie was expecting to be asked. I really blew it because of my lack of patience.

We are all waiting

 

I’m not good at waiting. How are you at waiting? For us believers we need to be good at waiting for we are all waiting for Jesus. Time and time again, in the Scriptures we are told that we need to be ready for the Lord when he returns. This is how the last book of the Bible ends reminding us that Jesus is coming and that we need to be ready for he is coming soon.

Waiting can be hard

 

But we all know that waiting can sometimes be hard, and this was the case for the churches in Asia Minor to whom the letter of Revelation was written for. Life, while waiting for Jesus, wasn’t easy. The believers in Asia Minor were living at a time when Rome ruled the Mediterranean and Rome not only demanded the allegiance of her subjects but also their worship. It offered the faithful luxury and riches for those who would serve her but suffering and persecution to those who would not play her games and accept her values and drink from her cup filled with her abominations. We saw in chapter 17 that Rome was just another version of Babylon, the ancient city of humanity that opposes God and his people.

Hold on

 

So, the waiting was hard and while some were holding on and persevering, others were in real danger of giving up on waiting and needed encouragement and strengthening. This is what the book of Revelation seeks to do. In the early chapters that were addressed to the seven churches Jesus had told them to hold on to what they had until he came (2:25, 3:11). He told them to be faithful even to the point of death (2:8) and that for those who overcame and held on he would give them the right to eat from the tree of life (2:7) and that they would reign with him over the nations (2:26). In the rest of the book Jesus has told them what soon must take place. He told them what was really going on in our world and showed them using visions and symbol. He showed them how it would all end for Babylon, the city of man and how one day the city of God, the new Jerusalem would fill the earth.

I am coming

 

In this last chapter the Lord Jesus returns and reminds them once again that he is coming, and the waiting won’t be forever. These things must first take place, but Jesus says that he is coming soon. This is repeat three times in the last 14 verses.

Revelation 22:7

“Behold, I am coming soon! Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy in this book.”[1]

 

Revelation 22:12

12 “Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done.

 

Revelation 22:20

20 He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.”

 

In these last verses Jesus reminds us not only that he is coming soon, but that we are to be ready for him and what being ready looks like[2].

Waiting for Jesus

 

What does waiting for Jesus involve? What does it mean to keep the words of the prophecy in this book and be ready and waiting for Jesus when he returns?

Worship God

 

Firstly, we see in verses 8 to 9 that it meant continuing to worship God and him alone. While we are waiting for Jesus we aren’t to forget who we are meant to be worshiping (serving, honouring, living for). Sadly, it can be easy to worship the wrong things while we are waiting for Jesus. Even John seems to have been inclined to make this mistake and I think we hear about here because it is another warning to us to be careful. When John had heard and seen all these things (the vision about what was going on and about to happen in our world and how it would all end) John for a second time (see 19:10) fell at the feet of the angel who had told him these things and for a second time had to be told to not do it.

 

Revelation 22:8-9

 

I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I had heard and seen them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who had been showing them to me. But he said to me, “Do not do it! I am a fellow-servant with you and with your brothers the prophets and of all who keep the words of this book. Worship God!”

The angel had to tell John once again not to do it. The angel like John and the prophets and the apostles and even people like us are just servants who are called to worship and serve God. John recorded this so that while we wait for Jesus we aren’t to be tempted to worship anything or anyone in the place of God. We are to “Worship God!”

The churches of Asia Minor needed to be clear about this. Rome was demanding that it’s subjects worship the Emperor, but the believers were to resist this even if it meant losing their lives. We also need to be clear about this. The temptation for us in our cities is more subtle but it is no less real. Nothing and no one should take the place that only God should have in our lives.  In this world there will be many temptations to worship other things and let them take the place that only God should have for we have hearts inclined towards idolatry. We can make our career our idol or our money or wealth our god or even our family. We behave as though only these things truly matter and everything else, including God, must fall into line behind. We can fall before these things, like John fell before the angel, and give them the importance and reverence that only God should have. But we must guard our hearts against any form of idolatry. We are servants of the living God and we are to worship only him. You have to know who you belong to while you wait for Jesus. You are his servants. You don’t belong to your company or your boss or you wife or husband or son or daughter or even yourself. You belong to and are called to worship the Lord, your God.

Be holy and do what is right

 

What this will mean for God’s people is that we will continue to be holy and do what is right. We see this in verses 10 to 11.

Revelation 22:10-11

10 Then he told me, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, because the time is near. 11 Let him who does wrong continue to do wrong; let him who is vile continue to be vile; let him who does right continue to do right; and let him who is holy continue to be holy.”

These are words that we need to hear and heed to know how to live in these times[3]. This is why Joh is told that they aren’t to be sealed up. What I think John says about how we are to live is that we are to be holy. Now, verse 11 does seem a little oddly put and there are many different opinions as to how this verse should be understood. I think the sense of this verse should be understood: ‘let the wicked go on doing what they are doing but let God’s people go on doing what is right and continuing to be holy in these times.

I don’t think the verse is commanding wicked people to keep on being wicked, but there is a contrast being made between 2 groups of people and how they live while waiting for Jesus. There are those who worship God who are to continue to be holy and do what is right (in his eyes) and there are those who don’t and who get on with their sinful lives.

You’ve got to know what you’re on about in life. While you wait you are called to be living holy lives because he is holy. Is this what life is all about for you? Are you all about living a holy life while you wait for Jesus?  Do you want to become more and more like Jesus or are you all about something else in life: Doing well at work? Succeeding in your business or career? Impressing those around you? Being acknowledged and respected by your peers? Becoming financial secure? Having the perfect family and raising the perfect child? What is it that drives you on while waiting for Jesus? We are meant to be those who are to be holy – set apart of God and becoming more and more like him.

 

Wait for his reward

 

The last thing that I want to draw your attention to is that you wait for his reward. Again, in verses 12 Jesus reminds us that he is coming soon but this time he says that he is bringing his reward with him.

Revelation 22:12-13

12 “Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.

Jesus says he is the judge and that he will bring his reward and he will give to everyone according to what he has done. But what is the reward and to whom is it given? Well this is explained by Jesus in the verses which follow. In verses 14 and 15 we are told who will be blessed and who will miss out.

Revelation 22:14-15

 

14 “Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. 15 Outside are the dogs, those who practise magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practises falsehood.

 

What is the reward?

 

Let’s deal with the reward first. The reward that comes with Jesus is to enter the gates of city and have the right to the tree of life and be a part of the new creation. It’s the new Jerusalem that we heard about last week, the place where God’s dwells with his people forever. In this city is the tree of life and those who overcome have the right to eat from this tree (2:7). This of course a metaphor for having eternal life.  In other places different metaphors for having eternal life are used. We are told in chapter 2 that those who overcome won’t be hurt by the second death (2:11) or have their names blotted out from the book of life (3:5). We are told that they will be given the crown of life (2:10). What all these images are saying is that what we have with God is life forever.

Who gets his reward?

 

But who gets his reward (the reward that is Jesus’ to give)? Who gets to enter this city and eat from the tree? In verse 14 we are told that the blessed are those who have wash their robes. This is a reference back to John’s vision in Revelation 7:14 when John saw a great multitude, too great to count standing before the throne of the Lamb wearing white robes. John was told that these were those who came out of the tribulation who had washed their robes and made them clean in the blood of the Lamb. It’s those who held on to Jesus and have been forgiven and cleansed by him who get to enter the city and receive his reward.

We are to be people who hold on to the testimony of Jesus and trust him to make us right with God and wait for what only he can give us – the reward that he brings with him.

We aren’t to look for our reward here in these cities but get on with living holy lives here and now, lives that reflect God and who he is and that are pleasing to him. Our reward isn’t found here and now, no matter how much we seek it working hard to find significance and meaning here. It isn’t found in the work that we do or the reputation that we have made for ourselves or what we have been able to achieve in our lifetime. Our achievements don’t last for these cities aren’t forever for like us they too will pass away.

There is only one city where the light doesn’t go out and where what we do will last forever. It is the city that God is building through his Son. We can’t see it now but one day it will fill the whole earth. But, now we must be live by faith and be careful not to give into the temptation to think that we can find our reward here and now in these cities that we have built for ourselves. These things are passing away.  Our career won’t last. Your hard work won’t be remembered. Your house that you put so much time into saving up for and working on will one day be sold and passed on to others and you will trade it in for that little unit in that retirement village and eventually even that will be taken away from you. Our lives soon pass and a generation or two down the track we won’t even be remembered. There is only one city where the rewards are forever and never get old. We must learn to wait for his reward and not seek them here for only his reward matters.

 

Come

 

The word that dominates end of the book is the word “come” and I want to conclude by looking at how it is used in verses 17 to 21. There is a warning in these final verses about adding or taking away from this book but with the time that I have remaining I want to look at this word “come” and suggest that is used in two important ways in these last verses. It is used both as an invitation and a prayer.

Come and drink

Firstly, it is an invitation that Jesus issues for thirsty people to come and drink. Jesus sent his angel to give this testimony to the churches and he is Root and Offspring of David, the bright Morning star. He is the King that God has promised, and he is the promise of the new day dawning. So, it is his invitation that goes out to the thirsty to come and drink but it is the work of the Spirit and bride to deliver it.

Revelation 22:17

17 The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And 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.

This verse is sometimes understood to be the Spirit and the bride crying to the Lord Jesus to come. While I think the last couple of verses do this, this threefold cry to come here, I think really seems to be an invitation to the thirsty to come and drink[4]. It’s an invitation to receive the gift of God to enter the city of God and drink from the water of life.

Are you thirsty? Are you thirsty but don’t realise it? Have you been working hard here to find your meaning and significance now in this world but the harder you work the more you realise that you just can’t hang on to it? It doesn’t matter what you do, you know that it is all passing away. You drink but it’s never enough for what you have won’t last and you know that you won’t last no matter how healthy you eat or how many hours you spend pounding the concrete or in the gym lifting weights or on the cross-trainer. You drink here and you always become thirsty again for you just can’t quench your thirst here in this world. But Jesus says come to him and he will quench it. Give up on what you have been doing to find your own significance and meaning and receive the gift that only Jesus can give you because only he laid down his life so that you might live. Some of us don’t like receiving gifts, but, don’t be too proud to receive this gift. Do it today!

But perhaps you have received the gift. Well, friends, once we have received it then this invitation is one that we are meant to pass out to others. The bride of Christ is a reference to the church and our calling while we wait for Jesus is to call other thirsty people to come and to receive the gift of life through Christ. It’s a message that if we have heard, we are meant to then pass on to others.

Don’t forget that this is what you are meant to be doing, brothers and sisters, while you are waiting for Jesus. We aren’t just meant to be getting an education or getting on at work or furthering our career or saving up for that house or even just being focused on our family. We are meant to helping thirsty people to find the water of life. We are to be inviting others to come and drink. We forget this, and we all need reminding of it.

The other day I was reminded that this is what we are meant to be doing when my mum told me about a conversation that she and her older sister had the other day.  My aunt, mum’s older sister is 95 and she was doing the older sister sort of thing and reminding my mum who is the youngest of what she needed to not forget. She told her not to forget to do her piano practice every day and not to forget to keep praying every day for that opportunity to share Jesus with someone. I think that is pretty good advice that we all need to not forget because its our job to be inviting thirsty people to come and drink and have their thirst quenched. So we cry “come”.

Come Lord Jesus

The other way that the word “come” is used in these verses is it is part of a prayer concluding the book. The Lord Jesus reassures us once again that, yes, he is coming soon and John responded, “Amen come, Lord Jesus”.

Revelation 22:20-21

20 He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. 21 The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen.

 

This is a prayer that we are all meant to be praying while we wait. We are to pray for Jesus to come. Our hopes are to be so orientated towards the coming of his kingdom that what we look forward to is it’s coming, and we are to pray for it to come and work towards the coming of Lord Jesus. We seek his kingdom now in this world and our hopes are not to be bound up in ourselves and what can make of ourselves here and now but in Jesus and what the Lord Jesus has done for us and what he is doing now and what he will do when he returns. And this is what we are to be telling others about.

Friends, don’t give up waiting. Don’t become impatient but look forward to his coming knowing that it’s his grace which sustains us while we wait. The prayer that is to be on our lips is “Come Lord Jesus, please come, Amen”.

 

[1] Unless indicated otherwise all Scripture citations are taken from The Holy Bible: New International Version—Anglicised. (1984). (electronic edition). London: Hodder & Stoughton.

[2] This last section can be divided up into parts. The first two parts are introduced words of Jesus, “Behold, I am coming soon!” The last part of the passage is an invitation and warning before the book concludes in verse 21.

 

[3] John is told to not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book because the time is near. We need to hear and understanding them for they make clear the things that must soon take place and how we are to live in this times. Many of the things that John had seen and heard were in fact already taking place and he had seen worse thing were yet to come.

[4] This invitation is very similar to the one that is given to the thirsty in Isaiah 55:1-2.