THE PARTING WORDS OF CHRIST JESUS
"Behold, I come
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We come now to the last recorded words of Christ to the Church. These are his goodbye until we meet again, words. We should listen carefully, like we would listen to the last words of a dear friend or loved one. In the book of Revelation, Christ has faithfully passed on his Father's words to you and me. It has been eye-opening, has it not? Line upon line, precept upon precept, we have sat at Jesus feet listening to him tell us about himself … ourselves … and the things that are to come. His words have been honest, straightforward and encouraging. He has opened our eyes and hearts to many things … including peoples, politics, players, spirits, personalities and judgments that are to come during the closing days of Earth's history. Then, to top it all off, he has led us by the hand right on out into eternity so we could get a peek at our eternal home, the New Jerusalem and the new earth upon which it will rest. Thank you, Lord Jesus. Amen?
Then he said to me, ’These words are faithful and true.’ And the Lord God of the [NU omits: holy] spirits of the prophets sent his angel to show his servants the things which must shortly take place.’Behold, I am coming quickly! Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.’ Now I, John, [NU inverts: saw and heard] am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I heard and saw, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel who showed me these things. Then he said to me, ’See that you do not do that. [NU omits: For] I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren the prophets, and of those who keep the words of this book. Worship God.’ And he said to me, ’Do not seal the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is at hand. He who is unjust, let him be unjust still; he who is filthy, let him be filthy still; he who is righteous, let him [NU changes: be righteous to do right] still; he who is holy, let him be holy still.’
As the Lord is taking his leave of us here, he first reassures us that the things he has shared with us are absolutely true and dependable. His angel says, These words are faithful and true. He is referring to everything he has said in the book of Revelation. Every word of it is faithful and true. It has been passed on to us from the very One whose nature and name itself is Faithful and True. He always speaks the truth. Therefore, the angel can confidently proclaim, these things will shortly take place and he concludes, blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book. Blessed indeed, aye!?
Child of God, the only solid, dependable, unchanging, reliable, trustworthy thing in this whole vacillating, ambiguous, truth-starved and deceived world of ours is found between the covers of our Bibles. It contains God's written words to you and me and is absolutely faithful and true. It tells us everything we need to know … from the origin of this universe to its end. It tells us who we are, why we're here, where we're going, where sin came from and how God has and will deal with it. It tells us who God is and how we can come into a real relationship with him. How important God's Word is. Here are a couple of scriptures to remind us of these truths:
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. Colossians 3:16
All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. Second Timothy 3:16-17
The second thought that our Lord leaves us with here is, Behold, I am coming quickly. Jesus wants his followers to be filled with the expectancy and anticipation of His imminent appearing. Three times, he repeats these same words here … in verses 7, 12, and 20. Do you think that maybe he feels this is important? Let's take a moment to look at them in greater detail.
…I am coming. Jesus Christ is coming again. He says it here in triplicate and his Word trumpets this great truth in many places. Since these words are addressed to his Church here, he is talking about the Rapture (First Thessalonians 4:16-17; John 14:13). To put the doctrine of the Imminent Return of the Lord Jesus Christ into perspective, it simply means that Christ could appear at any moment. From the moment after he left our world … right on up to this very moment … Christ may have returned … at any time. He wants the hope of his return to be a major focal point of each and every one of his believers. It is to be our sure hope, our prophetic certainty and our daily expectation. James 5:7, says,
Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain. You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.
And again, as we have it in First John 3:2-3,
Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when he is revealed, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. And everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure.
Do Christ’s words, I am coming, grip your heart and life, dear saint? Will they affect your walk today?
…quickly. Granted, this is speaking from our Lord’s point of view. Nevertheless, the countdown to the Rapture relentlessly continues today as surely as a NASA space shuttle's countdown to launch. Don’t you wish we could get a peek at the clock? It has been nearly two thousand years since John first wrote down Jesus’ words, I am coming quickly. So, here we are … way down here in the twenty-first century. Should we not be anticipating his coming more than all the saints that have gone before us? Peter says,
But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some count slackness, but is long-suffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. Second Peter 3:8-9
Hebrews 9:28, says,
…so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for him he will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.
Again, as Paul tells the Thessalonians,
And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come. First Thessalonians 1:10 (KJV)
And again, as we have it in Titus 2:13,
…looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ…
...Now, I John am the one who heard and saw these things. This is his testimony to the things we have read. He wants us to know that what he has shared with us is his eyewitness account. Then he tells us,
…I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel who showed me these things. My, how all these things moved the Apostle John. He was overcome by them. Frankly, he is telling on himself. He is sharing with us that he repeated the same mistake he made back in 19:10 ... once again, falling down at the feet of an angel! But, just as before, the angel wanted nothing to do with it. He immediately replied, I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren the prophets, and of those who keep the words of this book. Worship God.
May we stop and think about this for a moment. Do we worship God? I mean do we really worship him? When there is an opportune moment … maybe while driving our car or some other occasion presents itself, do we lift up our hearts to him and tell him how much we love him and how wonderful he is? Do we ever get on our knees or lift up our hands or sing to him? When we awake in the night, do we think about him and find that we are glad because he is there and, in those quiet moments, we can bask in the wonder of his presence and worship him without distraction or interruption? David knew the joy of such moments. He said,
My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness, and my mouth shall praise you with joyful lips. When I remember you on my bed, I meditate on you in the night watches. Psalm 63:5-6
In the Greek, the angel’s words, worship God, here, are in the imperative tense. This means it is a command. First John 2:5, says,
But whoso keepeth his Word, in him truly the love of God is perfected: hereby know we that we are in him.
So, like the Nike commercial says, Just do it! Obey this command and your love for God will increase and be perfected. Worship God.
The angel continued:
Do not seal the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is at hand. Time is short, beloved. The book of Revelation is intended to be an open book. It is for anyone and everyone to read. No one should be discouraged from reading it. It is very special. Like the rest of the Bible, is not just for the people of God. It is also for those who God is drawing to himself.
He continues, He who is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he who is filthy, let him be filthy still; he who is righteous, let him do right still; he who is holy, let him be holy still. These are sobering and challenging words that Christ instructed his angel to say. I view them as a divine decree. For those who have been made righteous (are right and holy) in Christ ... the decree is, Let them continue forever to be! On the other hand, for those who have been enlightened here by this book of Revelation but are still determined to reject Christ’s love and salvation the decree is, Let them continue forever to be! (unjust still ... filthy still). How sobering. When a heart grows hard towards the Word of God and the Spirit of God who spoke it and applies it … there is no longer any hope. The time for tenderness and change of attitude towards God must take place before that point is reached ... before the human heart has set itself like concrete against the things of God. Hebrews 3:7-8, says,
Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says: ’Today, if you will hear his voice, Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, in the day of trial in the wilderness…
‘And behold, I am coming quickly, and my reward is with me, to give to every one according to his work. I am the Alpha and the Omega, [NU inverts the order: the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last]. Blessed are those who [NU omits: do His commandments] wash their robes that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city. [NU omits: But] Outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie. ’I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you these things in the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star.’
Our Lord’s final words continue here in verse twelve. They are words that have to do with our personal relationship with him. They have seven parts.
Our Lord says:
1. ... my reward is with me. While we are waiting for him to appear, He wants us to keep our priorities straight. This is vitally important because, when he appears, it will be his good pleasure to reward each one of us personally. As you have it in Second Corinthians 5:10,
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.
2. ... I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last. While we are waiting for him to appear, he wants each one of us to keep our theology straight. His clear declaration of who he is here is unmistakable. He is our God. The name, Alpha and Omega, is the same name used by God the Father back in 1:8 and again in 21:6. Christ takes it to himself here and, also, the name, the First and the Last. These are titles held by Jehovah God of the Old Testament. We read in Isaiah 41:4,
Who has performed and done it, calling the generations from the beginning?‘I, the LORD, am the first; and with the last, I am he.’
3. ... blessed are they that wash their robes that they might have the right to the tree of life and may enter in through the gates of the city. While we are waiting for him to appear, he wants each one of us to keep our soteriology (doctrine of salvation) straight. In Second Corinthians 13:5a, Paul says,
Examine yourselves, whether you are in the faith; prove you own selves.
The only ones to enter Heaven will be those whose robes have been washed in the blood of the Lamb. Have your robes been washed in the blood of the Lamb? Are you sure? If this terminology is foreign to you, it simply means you have put your faith in Christ and asked him to save you. He does the washing. Now, there is a problem in the translation at this point in the KJV Bible. This phrase, wash their robes, is correct. But the words, keep his commandments are an emendation (addition by a copyist). They are not a part of the Word of God. Apparently, some copyist didn’t believe that people could be saved solely on the basis of the fact that they were washed in the blood of the Lamb … so he added the words and keep his commandments. I am grateful for the scholarship that is available to us today so that we can easily tell where the Scripture has been tampered with. Aren’t you!?
4. ... Outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie. While we are waiting for his appearing, he wants us to keep our separation from the world straight. The things of this world’s thinking and system have no place in the life of a Christian. They belong to the lifestyles of those who will forever be outside the city of God. By the way, these words emphasize the city’s existence in John’s day as well as our own.
Both the NKJV and the NIV use the word sorcerers to translate the Greek word φάρμακοι (farmakoi) here. It is the word from which we derive our word pharmacy and has to do with drugs. Until our day, it just didn’t make sense to translators to translate it literally. It would probably be best translated druggies or potheads rather than sorcerers. In any case, Jesus is pointing out that all who are outside the city of God are lost and unwashed people who are still in their sins, as enumerated here.
5. ... I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you these things in the churches. While we are waiting for him to appear, he wants us to keep our inspiration straight. Make no mistake about it, this book is the authoritative Word of God. It is the revelation of Christ.
6. ... I am the Root and Offspring of David. While we are waiting for him to appear, he wants us to keep our covenants straight. He declares here, in no unequivocal terms, that he is the Messiah of God’s Davidic Covenant with the Jewish people. Are you a Jew? If so, I pray God has opened your eyes through this book as to who Christ Jesus truly is. He is the Root and Offspring of David. If you are a Gentile (non-Jew), as I am, we must keep in mind that we are his adopted and grafted-in children. We have been grafted into God’s people, the Jews, and thereby have access to their New Covenant. As you have it in Romans 11:18, speaking of us Gentiles and using the analogy of a natural olive tree for Israel,
…do not boast against the branches. But if you do boast, remember that you do not support the root, but the root supports you.
We Gentiles got in by God’s grace, combined with the fact that Israel stumbled over Christ (Romans 11). This should generate a great appreciation on our part for our Lord’s great mercy toward us. As you have it in Romans 9:25-26,
As he says also in Hosea: ‘I will call them my people, who were not my people, and her beloved, who was not beloved. And it shall come to pass in the place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’ There they shall be called sons of the living God.’
All I’ve got to say about that is “GLORY!” … how about you? Everyone needs to keep their covenants straight. Jesus’ words here are aimed at his Jewish people and especially his Messianic Jewish believers. He is the King of Israel, David’s direct descendant through Mary’s line (Luke 3:23-31) and legal heir to throne through Joseph's line (Matt. 1:1).
7. ... I am the Bright and Morning star. While we are waiting for his appearing, he wants us to keep our eschatology (events of the end times) straight. Continuing the theme that he is the Root and Offspring of David, he reminds us, by using this Old Testament title, Morning Star, that he, the Messiah, will appear one bright day to rule the world just as the Word of God has said that he would. The title, or name, Star, is rooted in Numbers 24:17, and emphasizes Christ’s Second Coming. There, we read,
I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near; a Star shall come out of Jacob; a Scepter shall rise out of Israel, and batter the brow of Moab, and destroy all the sons of tumult.
Peter, in his letter to the Jews, also alluded to this prophecy in Second Peter 1:19, saying,
And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts…
The prophet, Samuel, said,
The God of Israel said, The Rock of Israel spoke to me: ‘He who rules over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God. And he shall be like the light of the morning when the sun rises, a morning without clouds, like the tender grass springing out of the earth, by clear shining after rain.’ Second Samuel 23:3-4
What a blessed event it will be when the Morning Star appears for all his covenant people to behold ... and to shine before them forevermore!
But to you who fear my name the Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in his wings; and you shall go out and grow fat like stall-fed calves. Malachi 4:2
And the Spirit and the bride say,‘Come!’ And let him who hears say, ‘Come!’ And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely. For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book. He who testifies to these things says, ‘Surely I am coming quickly.’ Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus! The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.
Here, at verse 17, we come to the closing words of the book of Revelation. The Lord chooses to end his Revelation with an invitation to be saved. He extends it here, three times. What a heart for people Jesus has.
Come, he says. Come to Christ. Come and get the water of life freely. The invitation rises up off this page from three different sources.
First, it comes from the Spirit (Christ’s Holy Spirit).
Second, it comes from the Bride (Christ’s Church).
Third, it comes from all who hear ... who have been able to hear, in other words ... (all the saints who are other than the Church).
All three invite the lost to, Come. I have often heard the opinion that Revelation is a book that is far too difficult for unbelievers or new believers to tackle. But, do you know what I’ve discovered? People in general are very interested in this book. When my youngest son was in High School, he said that the young people there were more interested in this book of the Bible than any other. Its words held a peculiar fascination to them. Christ anticipated that God-given curiosity, and he takes advantage of it here to lovingly invite all of his unsaved readers to Come to him.
…for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost. Luke 19:10
If you are unsaved, dear reader, it is no accident that you have been reading the book of Revelation. Christ’s Holy Spirit has been speaking to you. He is saying, Won’t you come to Christ? If he is speaking to you right now … and you are willing … just bow your head and pray, Lord Jesus, please save me. Thank you for dying for my sins on the cross. Please wash me in your blood and forgive my sins and make me your child. From this day forward, I wish to give my life to you and begin looking forward to your appearing. Thank you for saving me, Lord, Amen. Romans 10:13, promises,
For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. (KJV)
The closing words of the book are a warning against tampering with this book of the Word of God. To those who would add to it, he says, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book. To those who would take away from it, he warns, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things that are written in this book. The penalty for tampering with this book is huge. Not only will it bring punishment, but also, the loss of one’s part in the Book of Life. I believe this means that such a one will lose his or her chance to be saved. It is not referring to the salvation of those who already have it. Only an unsaved man or woman would be so dull and presumptuous as to deliberately mess with the Word of the living God. Perhaps one of the saddest illustrations of this is found in the life of Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence. Jefferson’s 1820, Bible is preserved at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. The amazing thing about it is that Jefferson used a razor to meticulously remove all the passages that had anything to do with miracles or even a hint of the deity of Jesus Christ. When he was done, he pasted what was left into a bound plain page book. Jefferson’s new “bible” had no loaves and fishes, no walking on water, no water into wine, no resurrection and no deity of Christ. He eliminated them all. He dismissed such passages as mere superstition. He left only those parts in his “bible” that he considered more believable and important, as reflected in his work, The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth. Amazing presumption, was it not? An article about him and his bible can be found in the January/February 2009, issue of AARP magazine.
Jefferson’s self-edited bible
The last words of Revelation come like a sweet refrain and a persistent echo … Surely I am coming quickly. John enthusiastically responded, even so come Lord Jesus! John himself says goodbye to us, as well, adding The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen. Thank you, John. Thanks for everything.
Well, there you have it, God’s strange work … as given by the Father to the Son to his angel to John to show to you and me, his servants, things to come. And strange but wonderful things they will be when the words in this book come to pass. Grace and peace … beloved.
Comments, questions, suggestions and insights welcome at: email@example.com.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.