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Revelation 22:1-5 | "The Lamb is All the Glory in Emmanuel's Land"

It’s amazing how clear things become in the final chapter. Whether it be the final chapter of a book, the end of a season, or life itself, the end often brings clarity to what has been true all along the way. Perhaps nothing brings more gravity to the weightiness of life itself than recognizing that it will soon be over. The final chapter of God’s revelation ends with a similar weightiness that brings clarity to the past, the present, and the future. Themes that began in Genesis that have reverberated throughout the story of Scripture become even clearer in this final chapter. Revelation 22 continues to reveal that (Fallen Condition Focus) we are often far too satisfied with less than all that God intended. As we immerse ourselves in this text, I hope that this final chapter will help you to see your life from an eternal perspective. … because what we actually value will determine how live … “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matt 6:21). (AIM) In our text tonight, God gives us a foretaste of ultimate glory that we might know how to live.

Outline. We are going to look at three overlapping themes that rise from this text … (1) Abundant Life; (2) Freedom in Christ; and (3) the Glory of God … Abundant Life, Freedom in Christ, and the Glory of God.

1 - Abundant Life: Revelation 22:1-2

Context. In the book of Revelation, Jesus offers a perspective of history in light of its final outcome through the apostle John. John begins this text by using symbolic illustrations to try and describe the indescribable glories of heaven. This revelation of future realities gives us a hope that we can see, smell, taste, hear, feel, and thus savor and live for.

Lifegiving Waters. The angel continues his tour with the apostle John through this celestial city … and in v1, shows him “the river of the water of life.” Woven into creation itself is the illustration of the vivifying effects of water. Most planet earth type documentaries revolve around water returning to a dry and parched land. When the waters return, they produce banks of luscious, vibrant flourishing. Wherever the water goes, life emerges. Entire spectrums of glorious, vibrant color burst forth. God often uses this imagery to portray the vivifying work of His Holy Spirit. In Genesis 1:2, the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters before creation burst forth. The one who delights himself in the law of the LORD in Psalm 1 is “like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season.” In Jeremiah 2:13, God says that “My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.” When Jesus comes, He causes the blind to see, the deaf to hear, the lame to walk, and those who were dead back to life! Like living water to parched land, He restores life … yet He promises that something better is coming! John 7:37-39 serves as a key text for understanding the river of the water of life here. Here, Jesus invites anyone who thirsts to “come to me and drink … 38 Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said (quoting Isaiah 44:3), ‘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’” And, in this final chapter, we see this beautiful Trinitarian theme repeated … v1 “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 2 through the middle of the street of the city.”

Lifegiving Spirit. This crystalline river gives us an image of God’s pure, vivifying presence amongst people who are parched, barren, and spiritually dead! … Amongst those who long for a deep satisfaction but who continue to settle for the fleeting veneer of momentary pleasures. God’s Spirit reveals to us something of the light of the holiness and the glory of God and, in this light, the wretchedness and the unworthiness of our sin. He convicts us of sin and judgment and righteousness … causing us to hate the lie of sin that leads to death and love the truth of God that leads to life. God the Father and God the Son have delighted from all eternity to share their eternal goodness through God the Spirit. Like a river, the Spirit brings life. I love the description that Michael Horton gives of the Spirit… “The Spirit is an extrovert, always going forth on mission with His Word, creating an extroverted community that can at last look up to God in faith and out to the world in love, witness, and service.”[1] Like the river that began in Eden and then flowed throughout the world, the Holy Spirit flows from the throne of God and the Lamb to bring life.

Nations at the Tree of Life. Practically speaking, we see this most clearly in the book of Acts, where all of the nations that were dispersed at the tower of Babel in Genesis 11 begin to be brought back together by the Spirit as promised to Abraham in Genesis chapter 12. The Spirit applies Christ’s work by regenerating people from every age and from every nation, tribe, people, and language to create one universal church. Their thirst will be quenched … and they will be eternally satisfied as we read in v2 about … “the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month.” Jew and Gentile, male and female, young and old, rich and poor, slave and free, black and white … will all gather by this river … each having regained access to the tree of life based on the merits of Christ … and will each experience a perpetual spring to enjoy God and one another in the garden of the new Eden.

Truth and Application. God the Father and God the Son offer abundant life through God the Spirit. What God offers is not simply a ticket out of hell to paradise one day … but abundant life through His Spirit today. God is the fountain of life to those who turn from their sin and trust Him. Where might you be trying to live out of your own cistern? Where are the world, the flesh, and the devil are stealing, killing, and destroying life that God designed good? Do your spouse and your kids know when you’ve spent time with Jesus … when you’ve been planted by His Word?

God offers abundant life through His Spirit. The second theme that we see is freedom in Christ from the curse of sin. 11:17

2 - Freedom In Christ: Revelation 22:3

Genesis. No one who has ever lived has lived without a first-hand experience of the curse of sin—death, judgment, and life separated from God and His good design. Sin is so alluring because it masks itself with a veneer of good … but it never has the substance to deliver what it promises … and it will draw you in over and over again until one day the doors lock behind you … and you’ll find yourself eternally quarantined with nothing but guilt, shame, and a bad memory of the fleeting pleasure of sin. There is a reason that hell is compared to a beautiful prostitute. Sin always looks better through the front windshield than it does in the rear-view mirror … and its’ affects are far broader than you could ever imagine.

Constitution. To illustrate, imagine someone spilling a pot of coffee on the Constitution of the United States such that the entire document was soaked. The ink would be blurred. Every fiber of the parchment would be stained and warped and … as it began to dry out, it would begin to crack. In the same way, the curse of sin affected every square inch of the constitution of our being. Though a vestige of what was intended could still be seen, the stain of the curse of sin would blur the truth and warp our thoughts, emotions, our decisions … everything about us. While we were not as bad as we possibly could be, we had severed ourselves from our only lifeline. Our first-hand knowledge of the depths of the curse of sin should cause us to see verse 3 as one of the most glorious verses in all of Scripture … V3 … “No longer will there be anything accursed.” Why? Why will there be no more curse? There will be no more curse because the Lamb on the throne became the curse for us … look at the end of v3 … “but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him.” Because in the same way that an animal was sacrificed as a blood offering to cover the nakedness of Adam and Eve in the garden, Jesus gave His own blood that we might be clothed in His righteousness! In the same way that the earth was baptized by water in the days of Noah, Jesus was baptized by the curse of death for the sins of the world … that the world would never again have to experience God’s wrath. He was nailed to a tree as the curse for sin so that we might again have access to the tree of life. We like sheep had gone astray—each turning to our own way—yet He became the Lamb who was pierced for our transgressions and crushed for our iniquities … that we might be freed from sin’s curse, healed of sin’s power, and be wholly restored to live at peace with God and one another.

Holy. Understood in these terms, to be holy is not something that we have to muster up. To be holy is our greatest joy and our deepest delight … to know Christ and be found in Christ and to be like Christ. Jonathan Edwards helpfully states: “Our hungering’s and thirsting’s after God and Jesus Christ and after holiness can’t be too great for the value of these things, for they are things of infinite value … Therefore, endeavor to promote spiritual appetites by laying yourself in the way of allurement.” To be holy is to be whole … wholly liberated from the tyranny of self … wholly conformed to God’s good design … wholly free to love God and to love others.

Joni Earackson Tada. Joni Earackson Tada gives us a beautiful picture of the type of holiness and freedom that we should long for. In July of 1967, Joni was paralyzed from the shoulders down after diving into the shallow waters of the Chesapeake Bay. Despite her physical struggles with pain, quadriplegia, and cancer, hear what she hopes for in heaven … “Don’t be thinking that when I get to heaven that I am most looking forward to a new body, free of cancer or pain, or quadriplegia … don’t be thinking that when I get to be with Jesus, I’m going to relish in mostly jumping up and kicking and doing aerobics … No(!) … what I am most looking forward to is a new Heart. I want a glorified heart that is free of sin, free of selfishness, free of self-centeredness, free of fear of the future, free, free, free...a heart that is no longer trapped by circumstances or resists God or looks for an escape or tries to justify itself when it is wronged. When I get to heaven, that will be glory for me.”[2]

Truth and Application. My question to you tonight is what does glory look like for you? And how does that glory affect the way that you are living right now? Where are you choosing to live under the curse rather than the throne of God’s grace? To be free in Christ is to be free from the power of sin and long to be free from its’ presence. Do you want to be free like Jesus was free? … free from the tyranny of self … free from the bondage of sin … free to love and forgive even your vilest enemy? Free to not be consumed by your own self-image and vain glory … but rather to be totally consumed by your love for God … such that there is nothing in this life that is more valuable to you than His glory?

Abundant life … freedom in Christ. And finally, the glory of God.

3 - The Glory Of God: Revelation 22:4-5

See His Face. Then, in the twinkling of an eye, we’ll turn … and what we have trusted by faith we will know by sight. V4 … We’ll see His face, and His name will be on our foreheads.” Like the thrill of a son or a daughter turning and seeing their father after an extended deployment … our ecstasy will be multiplied a hundredfold when we turn and see His face … The face of Him who knit us together in our mother’s womb … The face of Him for whom our souls find their deepest delight … The face of Him for whom the prophets longed to see but couldn’t … The face which bled from a crown of thorns that we might receive the crown of life. We will see Him in all of His glory without any hindrance of shame or remnant of the curse. Everything that John has seen in heaven so far—the luscious landscape fed by a lifegiving stream … the endless supply of the sweetest of fruits … the gates made with the finest of pearls … the floors plated with the purest of gold and whose walls sparkled with the rarest of jewels—all of these will pale in comparison to the glory of His presence … such that not only will there be no more night … but that even the light of an oil lamp and the light of the sun are put in the same category when they are compared to the infinite, glorious light of God! V5 … And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever. The light of a lamp and that of the sun are like the glory of a short-lived match compared to the infinite radiance of God’s divine glory shown in the face of Jesus. Again, this is not something that we have to wait for … it is given in some measure now … Second Corinthians 4:6 “For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”

Glory in Giving. And here again in our text, we see that God’s glory is a glory of giving of Himself. We wrestle with the idea of God seeking His own glory because we are born selfish and sinful … wanting to take rather than to give … but God is not like us. His seeking His own glory is in seeing His goodness multiplied. His glory is our good. Our good is a byproduct of us seeking His glory. And one day, v4 … His name will be on our foreheads. His name—representing His character—will be given to us. Aaron prayer in Numbers 6:25 for the Lord to “make His face to shine upon us” is answered in full. The work that God began God will complete as you and I are made to be wholly restored to His image and likeness.

Bass Notes. When I was in college, I took a social dance class. The teacher would often call those of us who were less musically inclined to come put our hands on the speakers so that we could learn to hear and feel the bass notes. The more we learned to keep in step with the bass notes, the more the dance became a joy. The bass notes of God’s Word is His glory. As the fountain of life itself, God delights in seeing His goodness multiplied. When you come to the Lord in the morning, put your hands on His Word and ask Him to help you hear the bass notes. Ask Him to satisfy you in the morning with His steadfast love. Ask Him to continue to conform you to His image … for your good and His glory.

Reign. V5 ends by stating that we will reign forever and ever. What does it mean that we are going to reign … and what are we going to reign over if there is no more sin … and all of the nations have been gathered to worship together? Theologians answer this in various ways. When we look at all of the allusions to the earliest parts of Genesis in this text—the river flowing through Eden giving life, the satisfaction of the tree of life, of walking with God in the garden, and the lack of any curse—I tend to think that to “reign forever and ever” is a fulfillment of God’s original commission to multiply and fill every square inch of this new Eden with His glorious image restored in us.

Application. How does this future glory impact us today? In a general sense, what we hope for determines what we live for. The way that we spend our time, energy, and money reflect where our hope truly lies. In the chorus of an old hymn, Have the things of earth begun to grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace? More specifically … Is your heart more invested in the fleeting pleasures of Amazon or the eternal treasures of Eden? If your heart more invested in your reputation or the eternal glory of God? Are there people that you know who beam with the glory of God … that you can tell that they have been with Jesus … that every time you’ve been with them its been like a mini-retreat?

Conclusion. Brothers and sisters … the final chapter of what lies ahead has already been written … and it’s been written by Him who shed His own blood … proving that He is the One who is faithful and true … that He is who He says He is … and will do what He said He’s going to do. This is the best final chapter in history. If you have never turned from your sin and trusted Christ, turn now, be saved, and begin to experience the restoration of the good life you were made for. If you are in Christ, this is your inheritance. Bask in the glory of this! Live for this. Let the certainty of this future impact the way that you live today.

Abundant life through the Spirit, freedom in Christ from the curse of sin, and the glory of God forevermore.

Postscript. In Pilgrim’s Progress, Mr. Standfast at the end of his journey to the Celestial City, says that “the thoughts of what I am going to, and of the conduct that waits for me on the other side, doth lie as a glowing Coal at my heart. I see myself now at the end of my Journey … I am going now to see that Head that was Crowned with Thorns, and that Face that was spit upon, for me … I have formerly lived by … faith, but now I go where I shall live by sight, and shall be with Him, in whose company I delight.”[3]

[1] Michael Horton, People and Places as found in Gregg R. Allison, Sojourners and Strangers: The Doctrine of the Church, Foundations of Evangelical Theology Series (Wheaton, Ill: Crossway, 2012), 118. [2] Revive Our Hearts, True Woman ’14: Joni Eareckson Tada—A Different Kind of Freedom, 2014, begins at 31:45, [3] John Bunyan and W. R. Owens, The Pilgrim’s Progress, New ed, Oxford World’s Classics (Oxford [England] ; New York: Oxford University Press, 2003), 283.


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