January 31 - Message Update

Coming to Our Conclusion – Revelation 22:7–21 – Elder Chris Wu

 

 

In these last verses of Revelation through John, God has a final exclamation point to stamp on His story to show us, and as we’ll see, it’s the punctuation mark we’ve been waiting for since the beginning of time.

 

We keep running into promises unkept or underdelivered. We know what it means to hope for a happy ending and be disappointed. But God has seen to it that the final word we hear from Him is a rock-solid guarantee – the only rock-solid guarantee that can really be trusted, because it’s sealed in blood. It’s the promise and hope that the ultimate happily ever after is on the horizon: Jesus is coming.

 

1.  He is Conclusively Coming (vv. 7–11, 18–20) The first thing I think we have to conclude from these last verses of Revelation is that Jesus is conclusively coming. Or in other words, it is sure and it is soon. If this whole language of, “I am coming,” sounds familiar, it’s been a key theme throughout all of Revelation, a clear part of the message. Something like 37 times in Revelation we hear the word “come” – and the overwhelming majority of these refer to Jesus, the Messiah, coming.

 

So, when we surmise that Jesus is conclusively coming, it’s not based on a hunch or some trendy prognosticator or even just wishful thinking. It’s not a stretch based on some vague biblical references. It’s not because we just want it to be a sure thing. It’s based on the fact that God has said it time and again. And that means at least two things for us: we have no reason to doubt it is true and we have no reason to be unprepared when it comes true. It is sure and it is soon.

 

This is the language of certainty. This is to leave no doubt in our minds that no matter how dark it seems today, just as certain parts of Revelation seemed dark, nothing can overturn the fact that Jesus is coming. No blip in history can alter the impending result. No president or supreme court judge or political coalition. No raging pandemic or economic downturn. No persecution of the church or force of evil. Jesus’ coming is so sure and so soon.

 

This “time is short” feeling is the reaction we’re meant to have. God is not talking about length of time strictly in terms of years. He’s talking about the fact that in the program of creation, we’re now in the last bit – the last days, the last times. There’s no other big revelation or event coming in God’s plan for creation but this one. This is it. So, the time of repentance just before His coming is now, not later. Let those who are going to repent, repent! What are you waiting for? Nothing else is coming! This is why Jesus warned His followers to be ready, since no one knows the exact “timing” – instead, it will be like a thief in the night coming when nobody expects it (Matt. 24:42–44). Jesus is conclusively coming. And more than that, His coming is the conclusion all of creation has needed since the beginning.

 

2. His Coming Will Be Conclusive (vv. 12–16) It’s one thing to say that Jesus is conclusively coming – but if His coming does not bring a conclusion to all of this mess on earth, why would we look forward to it or place our hopes in Him? Look back on the story of Revelation and these final words and happily affirm: His coming will be conclusive. It will be final and fulfilling.

 

This isn’t just a major theme of Revelation. It’s a major theme of all Scripture! Jesus says here that He is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. These are the exact words we heard in the beginning of Revelation and it’s a fitting bookend here at the end. Being the Alpha and Omega is more than just saying, “A to Z, first and last” – it’s also saying Jesus is at the center of all of creation’s story. He’s not just the first and last part – He is the end for which everything has been heading!

 

Jesus’ coming is not just a certain ceremonial event, but rather the resolution of all history and the beginning of an eternal kingdom where indeed, there will be justice for all the heinous unrighteousness of this world, mercy and forgiveness for the faithfully repentant, and unending peace – true shalom.

 

I think one good thing that’s come out of this pandemic for us in the west is that it’s opened our eyes and given us time to better digest the amount of poverty, sickness, injustice, and struggle in the wider world. More people are suffering everyday than we, in our comfortable and insular lives, had let us realize. The kind of life that most people experience on earth. Good and right does not always get rewarded and evil and wrong are not always called to account. How desperately we need not a better president or congress (though we certainly need at least that), not a vaccine for the virus threatening to overcome our bodies (though we certainly need at least that), not a reformed criminal justice system that seeks the good of our neighbor (though we certainly need at least that) …we need a Messiah who will make all things new. Not incrementally improve on a broken system and broken world, but One who will recreate it.

 

John’s vision begs us to set our sights higher, to wait for and hope for that ultimate reality where we wash our robes white by the blood of the Lamb, eat from the tree of life, and dwell in the city of God forever. Jesus is certainly coming, and hallelujah, His coming is conclusive, tying together all the strands of history to bring about a new heavens and a new earth where finally, righteousness reigns.

 

3. In His Coming We Will Find Our Conclusion (v. 17) The last takeaway we turn to is similar to what we’ve just said, but it’s more personal. Look at verse 17: The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.

 

Yes, Jesus is conclusively coming, and His coming will be conclusive for all creation – but it also beckons us to come to Him and find our conclusion. That is, when Jesus comes at the conclusion of history, He will come to us and we will come to Him – and there we will find quiet for our restlessness, and quench for our thirst. Yes, He is coming. And we, along with the Holy Spirit, invite His coming. And as we do that, there is this coming of our own that we do.

 

Are you like me, and you yearn for rest? To come to the end of myself? To find myself complete and full without the fear of failure? Without having to clear a bar. Here in the face of that, Jesus says in John 7:37–38: “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” He says to us today, “Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)  Jesus made that offer during His earthly ministry, and He brings it to full conclusion here at the end of all ends.

 

He evokes the life-giving promise of Isaiah 55: “Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.”

 

I think this last point reflects something about Revelation that maybe we need to digest before we really start to embrace all the other parts the way we should. I say that because it’s vitally important we don’t see Revelation as this esoteric, abstract… just plain weird ending to history and the Bible. Its call and message are more universal and more intimate than we realize, and this call to the waters helps us see that truth. Jesus’ coming matters for all creation, all the world…and that emphatically also means His coming matters for me. It’s the moment we’ve been waiting for, and it’s the moment I’ve been waiting for. It’s what the world needs, and it’s what I need.

 

As we think on Jesus’ conclusive coming, His coming that brings final conclusion to the cry for justice and righteousness in this world, let me invite you to listen with a heart that personally cries out, “Come!” A heart that knows that in His coming, we also find our conclusion.  A heart that loves Jesus and faithfully trusts in Him, not simply because it’s the right thing to do or because it’s intellectually convinced of it …but because it is so thirsty for the life-giving water without price. And here at last, Revelation confirms, our fountain has come, and will come.

 

Be still and listen, meditate, on these words from God in Isaiah 55,

1 “Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. 2 Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to Me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food. 3 Incline your ear, and come to Me; hear, that your soul may live; and I will make with you an everlasting covenant, My steadfast, sure love for David ... 6 “Seek the LORD while He may be found; call upon Him while He is near; 7 let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the LORD, that He may have compassion on him, and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon. 8 For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, declares the LORD. 9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts. 10 “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, 11 so shall My word be that goes out from My mouth; it shall not return to Me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it. 12 “For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall break forth into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. 13 Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress; instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle; and it shall make a name for the LORD, an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.”

 

Yes. Thank you for the promise of Revelation, Lord. Thank you for the sure hope we have in Jesus’ coming, the coming that will finally make all things new. The coming that will bring justice and righteousness where we have failed to stand. That will bring love and forgiveness where we have hated. The coming that will answer our souls’ cry and quench the deep thirst we all have to be whole, to have fullness of life, to be without exception Yours. Build in us a deep hope and trust and longing for Jesus’ coming. Cause us to build our lives around the expectation that soon H e will be here. Draw us to the waters without price, that we would drink freely and finally be satisfied. Thank you for the promise of Revelation, Lord. We joyfully agree with John: “Amen, come Lord Jesus!”

 

Praise Songs: King of Kings, Before the Throne, All Who Are Thirsty, Doxology