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The New Jerusalem (Continued): Epilogue
Summary —The River of the Water of Life. The Tree of Life. The Divine Light of the City. Its Heavenly Purity. The Lord's Promise to Come. The Church Says Come. The Curse Upon Those Who Add to or Take from this Book.
1, 2. And he shewed me a pure river of water of life. A symbol of the eternal life flowing from the Son of God as a fountain, which has been bestowed upon all who dwell in the heavenly city. Bright as crystal. Radiant with glory. The shining light which comes from the river shows the glory of the heavenly life. Proceeding. The fountain of this life is the throne of God and it has been bestowed by the Son. 2. In the midst of the street of it. In the Revision this is attached to the preceding verse. It is the river of life that runs in the street. On each side of the river, watered by it, stands the tree of life … yielding its fruit every month. The thought is that it is always fruitful, not limited to certain seasons of fruit bearing. The leaves of the tree were for the healing, etc. We are not to conclude that there were diseases to be healed, but that in the city were the means which banished disease and death. The student cannot fail to trace the correspondence with the home of the sinless race in Eden. There was there “a river that went out of Eden to water the garden.” Here there is a river, “bright as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb.” There was a tree of life in Paradise. In the New Jerusalem, on either side of the river stands the tree of life bearing twelve manner of fruits, or rather fruit twelve times a year, every month. The river and the tree are symbols of the life bestowed by the grace of God. The river flows from the throne of God and the Lamb; from the fountain whence life and immortality come. The tree yields its fruit at all times, so that the supply never fails. Everything about the tree is healthful. Even the leaves are for the healing of the nations. There is a book, a river and a tree of life. Christ is the life, and all refer in some way to Christ. Trees and rivers presented most attractive features in an oriental city, and are beautiful emblems of the full supplies of life, grace and bliss that shall pervade the heavenly city.
3–5. And there shall be no more curse. The curse came upon those in Paradise on account of their sins. There shall be no more curse, for no sin shall ever enter the New Jerusalem. Every curse that has ever blighted the life of man, must be ascribed to sin. Not a throe of pain has ever been felt by the human body, not a pang has ever pierced the human heart, or a shadow of sorrow passed over the human spirit, which was not due, either directly or indirectly, to transgression. As sin can never pass the gates of the Celestial City, there will be no more pain. 4. They shall see his face. See Matt. 5:8. They shall enjoy the visible presence of the Lamb. His name shall be in their foreheads. Written by God's finger. It shall always be seen and known that they are his. 5. And there shall be no night there. The city is a city of light lighted by the divine presence, but the meaning goes beyond this. The soul shall have no nights of sorrow there. They shall reign forever and ever. They shall be Christ's assistants in the rule of the glorified earth.
6, 7. These sayings are faithful and true. The Visions of Revelation have now ended. What remains is intended to emphasize the “sayings” of the preceding chapters. 7. Behold, I come quickly. These words are repeated in verses 12 and 20. It is the coming of Christ that is meant. It may be that the reference is to his coming to work out “the things which must shortly be done,” or he may refer to his final coming, which was not far away according to the divine measure. Blessed is he that keepeth the sayings. Such an one will be found faithful when the Lord comes.
8, 9. I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel. See on these two verses the notes on 19:10. There John attempts to worship the angel and is prevented. Among the idolatrous tendencies that early showed themselves in the church was angel worship. This not only rebukes it, but the worship of any being, earthly or heavenly, who is not divine.
10–12. Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book. To seal them would mean to conceal them and store them away. But they are not to be hidden. The time had come for the fulfillment to begin. 11. He that is unjust, let him be unjust still. This is not a command, but a warning. He that is fixed in injustice and unrighteousness, let him go on. The future judgments revealed in the preceding visions show that he shall reap that he has sown. But the holy and true, let them be encouraged to press on; they have their reward. The reason that the saints may be sure of this is next given. 12. Behold, I come quickly, and my reward is with me. Then the unjust and the holy shall each be rewarded according to his works.
13–16. I am Alpha and Omega. See notes on 1:8. The three titles given here have a similar signification. 14. Blessed are they that wash their robes. See the Revision. Those who have their robes washed are those whose sins are forgiven, and who obey Christ. These have the right to enter the city, for no sinner can enter there. 15. Without are dogs. In an oriental city the dogs, an unclean animal, are seen in great numbers in the streets, and are a disagreeable feature. These are taken to represent one type of sinners. Others with different characteristics are also given. All are without. None of them ever pass through the portals of the New Jerusalem. 16. I Jesus. The Lord is still Jesus, that is the Savior. Have sent mine angel to testify. See 1:1. Here at the close where the Lord speaks in personal communication to John, he speaks of himself by the name Jesus. I am the root and the offspring of David. See Chap. 5:5.
17–20. And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. Twice (verses 7 and 12) the Lord has said, “I come quickly.” In verse 20 John repeats that the Lord saith, “Surely I come quickly.” The subject of these verses is the coming of the Lord. The Bridegroom has promised to come, and in verse 17 the Bride responds to the promise of the Bridegroom by inviting him to come. The church, filled with the Spirit, stands with hands extended, “loving his appearance,” inviting the coming, and eager for the coming of the Lord. Let him that heareth. Let all who have heard the gracious promise join in the invitation and say, “Come.” Let him that is athirst come. Let all thirsty for the water of life come and partake of it freely. Whosoever will. To will to come is the essential thing in order to coming to Christ. 18. If any man add to these things. See Deut. 4:2, and 12:32. The whole spirit of the Scripture is against adding to or taking from the Lord's words. This is a warning against spurious revelations. 19. If any man take from. This could be done by denying, or explaining away the words of prophecy. To do either is a deadly sin. Indeed, to tamper with the Divine word in any way is sinful. 20. He which testifieth. It is John who now speaks and exults that the Lord has promised soon to come. He adds his prayer for the coming. 21. The grace of our Lord. The usual apostolical benediction.
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