By David Groendyk
The consummation of the book of Revelation, and the consummation for all of history is here in Revelation 21–22. There is much in these two chapters that we could possibly examine and draw applications from, but perhaps the one major theme is that God dwells with man (21:3). The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the midst of his people (22:3), and God’s people will see the face of God (22:4). This has been the number one covenant promise of God for all of human history. We can trace this one particular promise throughout all of Scripture if we wanted to. Genesis 17:8, Genesis 26:3, Exodus 3:12, Exodus 6:7, Deuteronomy 31:23, Joshua 1:5 , Psalm 23:4, Isaiah 41:10, and Matthew 1:23 scratch the surface of all the times God promises to be with his people.
Why is this such a great promise for God’s people? Why is this the culmination of the whole of history—that God will be with his people? Because God is creator, all-glorious, savior, defender, sustainer, satisfier, love, refuge, and more. Can you imagine a greater joy than finally being with this God who has done so much for you? Can you imagine finally laying eyes on the One who has meant so much to you? Can you imagine a relationship with him where sin and doubt no longer throw up barriers to your knowing and experiencing him? Above it all, can you imagine experiencing his glory and majesty and beauty in way that you have never experienced it before? For all of the unspeakable joys there will be in heaven—being reunited with lost loved ones, finally having all of our defects healed and fixed, living in a perfect new creation—the greatest joy will be that you are with God. That is a truth to meditate on and a desire to cultivate. I hope you long to dwell with our God.
Then this chapter almost turns into a psalm or a beatitude by repeating the word ‘blessed’. “Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book” (v. 7) and “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” (v. 14) mark out for us who it is that will experience heaven with God—all those who have had their sins washed away by Christ and keep God’s Word by both hearing and doing it. You and I and anyone else who wishes to be with God must remain true to the gospel in both word and deed. He won’t accept anyone who only pays him lip-service but never lets the gospel change his actions. He likewise won’t accept anyone who rests on the fact that they’ve done a pretty good job following his law and deserve not to be punished like all the bad people. You must cling to Christ’s atonement through faith and demonstrate that faith through your works.
And all the more reason to hold fast to that gospel in word and deed when we recognize the other repeated word in this chapter. “And behold, I am coming soon” (v. 7), “Behold, I am coming soon” (v. 12), and “Surely I am coming soon” (v. 20). This doesn’t mean to say that Jesus is definitely coming back tomorrow, but that he will come “like a thief in the night” (1 Thess. 5:2). He will come suddenly and without warning. Once he does come, he will immediately give out his rewards and judgments. And once he hands out his rewards and judgments, there will be no changing his mind. Your decision, every minute of every day, to cling to the gospel and continue living it out in every area of your life has eternal consequences. You must keep preaching the gospel to yourself and choosing to believe it, lest you find yourself quietly drifting away from God. Keep your eyes fixed on Christ at all costs, and when he comes again, we’ll join the everlasting song, falling at his feet, and crowning him Lord of all!