Revelation 22:1-11 Sermon – Eternal Blessings
A survey was given to over 700 people. The question asked was “If you could say in one word what you want more of in life, what would that be?”
Not surprisingly, the top answer was “happiness.” Happiness is what everyone seems to be pursuing, but few people are finding. They aren’t finding it because they aren’t going to the source.
In today’s passage, we will see that God gives happiness/joy to all who belong to Him, not only now, but for eternity.
I. 7 Eternal Blessings
Key verse: Revelation 22:7 “And behold, I am coming soon. Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.”
The word for “blessed” here is the Greek word “makarioj.” It is pronounced “mak-ar’-ee-os. It means to be well-off, fortunate, happy.
Many people would pay a lot of money for the secret to eternal happiness. And it is given to us right here in this passage for free. The blessings that we will see in this passage are freely given by God to those who keep the counsel and warnings in this book.
First we will look at 7 eternal blessings and then at what we are supposed to keep to receive those.
A. The river of the water of life
The angel shows John around the New Jerusalem like a tour guide. The first thing he shows John is the river of the water of life. It is bright as crystal. Its waters are beautiful.
But more than its beauty is the life the water brings. Without water you cannot live. It is the most essential ingredient there is for life.
Jesus promised living water to His followers.
John 4:14 – But whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.
When a person is saved he drinks living water from Jesus. Our heart then contains a spring of water. We have spiritual life. And Jesus promises that one day that will well up to eternal life. We see the fulfillment of that promise of eternal life here in Revelation 22.
The water comes from the throne of God and the lamb. The water represent eternal life that we have in Christ. There is no other source. How many rivers of life does John see here? One. One river from one God. God is the source of physical life, spiritual life, and eternal life. There is no other road of salvation.
See also that this river flows through the middle of the street. That is a little hard to envision, but it shows us that the water is freely accessible. Everybody there can drink it.
Application: You can walk into a bookstore and find hundreds of thousands of self-help books telling you how you can have your “Best Life Now.” Each one contains all kinds of promises and methods for achieving a great life or finding happiness. You don’t need all of those books. You really just need one. The Bible. God is the giver of life. He is the source so go to Him for wisdom, not to the world.
B. The Tree of Life
The next thing on John’s tour is the tree of life. The last time any person saw the tree of life was in the Garden of Eden. Perhaps that tree was a reflection of (or a seed from) the heavenly tree. After Adam and Eve sinned they were driven out of the garden and banned from eating of the tree, which was protected by a cherub. That was an act of grace because if they ate of the tree, then they would be condemned to an eternity trapped in their sinful flesh.
Now that sin has been wiped out, all of God’s people are free to eat of the tree of life. It is not restricted any longer. No angels are guarding it. In fact, an angel is showing it to John.
The river of life and the tree of life show us that that place will be permanent.
There a few interesting things about the tree of life. Firstly, it was on both sides of the river. That is rather curious. Have you ever seen one tree on two sides of a river? Some trees have very large root systems and the various trunks that come up are part of the same tree. Regardless of how it works, it shows us that its fruit is accessible. One can imagine walking down this beautiful street, taking some water from the river for a refreshing sip, and picking a fruit to nibble away at while continuing your stroll. It is a very peaceful scene.
1. 12 fruits 12 months
The tree also has twelve kinds of fruit, one kind for each month. That represents the variety there will be in heaven. I will be honest with you. I am happy about that. In some depictions of heaven, we float around in the clouds and play harps forever. That sounds really boring to me. Obviously God can do anything and when we are with Him nothing will be boring. But I like variety. God created an amazing variety of plants and animals and stars and galaxies.
How many plant and animals species do you think exist on earth?
Scientists estimate there are around 8.7 million species of plants and animals. That is a lot of variety! God could have just created a few, maybe cows and sheep and chickens. Have you ever played the road trip “spotting game” where you make a list of things to look for? Imagine playing that game with just a few animals or plants. There is another cow. There is another one. Oh look, a cow.
God didn’t do that. As Creator, He created so many things for us to look at and enjoy. Each one motivates us to glorify Him for His creativity and power. I believe the tree of life with twelve different fruits shows us that heaven will be the same way. You don’t always eat exactly the same thing. You won’t always do exactly the same thing. There will be great variety. And all of that variety will point us to glorify God.
Now we have limited time to explore the even the limited variety of earth. Then we will have unlimited time to explore the wonders that will only then be revealed. That’s an exciting thought.
2. Leaves of the tree for the healing of the nations.
Revelation 21:4 – He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
So how will God accomplish all of these things in this verse? It appears that at least in part it is through this tree.
Do you like tea?
If so, you can look forward to one day making tea from the leaves of the tree of life.
Regardless of the exact method God uses, the point is that He will heal all people. All of the marks of sin in your life will be healed. All of the hurt inflicted on you by others will be healed. All of the marks from abuse and racism, healed. All of the damage that has been done by strife, war, hate, and violence will be healed.
That brings us to the next blessing.
C. Nothing accursed
Nothing dirty or sinful will be there. One of the best aspects of being there is that temptation won’t be. Here we struggle against temptation. Even the fleeting thought of dishonoring the King won’t enter into your mind.
I look forward to the day when I won’t need to struggle against sin anymore. Often I feel like Paul in Romans 7 as he described his inner battle with sin, doing the things he didn’t want to do.
Your mind will be perfectly pure.
D. He is there
“the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it”
Someone once said that he wouldn’t want to go to heaven if God wasn’t there. God’s presence is the highlight. Did you ever notice that the Bible doesn’t describe heaven very much. We get a bit of information, but there a lot of unanswered questions. People often ask me questions about heaven and mostly my answers are, “I don’t know.” God didn’t tell us more because we don’t need to know it. What we need to know is that He is there. And that is enough.
E. Seeing Him face to face
Revelation 22:4 They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads.
He will not only be there, but we can see Him and visit with Him face to face.
Question: What do you most look forward to about being with God.
F. No more darkness
Revelation 22:5 – And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light.
Darkness is a place to hide. Criminals come out at night. There will be nothing to hide. We will walk in the light as He is in the light and have perfect fellowship with one another (1 John 4:6-7).
G. Reign forever and ever
Revelation 22:5 – They will reign forever and ever.
2 Timothy 2:12 – If we endure, we will also reign with him.
There are a number of passages in Scripture which indicate that believers will reign with God. That can be confusing.
- How can we reign if He is reigning?
It doesn’t mean that we share His throne or glory. But it is a great promise. We are part of His kingdom. We are part of His team. We are on the winning side. We reap in the blessings.
As part of His team, He delegates some authority or responsibility to us. We will have some areas of authority under His rule. From this, we also see that there will be work in heaven. Commence the groans.
Work in itself is not bad. Before sin came into the world, God commanded Adam and Eve to cultivate the garden. They worked. That work was fulfilling and enjoyable. It was only after sin came into the world that work changed. Part of the curse was that you would have to toil and labor. Work would be difficult and wearisome. It would be accomplished through sweat.
Reigning requires work. There will still be work. But it will be fulfilling. Someone once said, “if you love your job you will never work a day in your life.” The work that we do there will not feel like work. Work done well for God brings with it a great sense of achievement. So put another way, you will be productive.
- And how can all believers reign? If all believers are reigning, then who are the subjects?
Someone asked me this question recently. It may be that each person has their own sphere or activity which they are overseeing. In a church for example, one person may oversee one ministry as the “leader,” but in another ministry he is following another.
So probably this means that, like in the church, all believers will have an important role in God’s kingdom. Every single person will have areas that they serve as overseers or organizers, all for the purpose of worshiping God.
Application: The church now is a reflection of what the kingdom will be then. Just as every believer will reign then, so every believer should serve now. God has given you a spiritual gift. Are you using it for Him? Or are you watching others do the work? If you want to practice for reigning in His kingdom then, start serving now. If you don’t know what to do, come and see me and I can help you get started.
II. Keeping The Words Of The Prophecy (how do you get the blessing?)
Revelation 22:7 “And behold, I am coming soon. Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.”
We are almost finished with our study of Revelation. And we have seen a lot of amazing things in this book: beasts, rulers, miracles, signs, cosmic battles, horsemen, plagues, and most importantly God on His throne, and Christ and His victory over Satan. In the last two chapters we have seen some of the blessings God has in store for His people.
We have been studying for months. What are we supposed to do with all of this information. Simple. We are called to keep the words of the prophecy. We are called to obey. This verse teaches us clearly that the blessings are for the one who obeys.
So as we near the end of our study in Revelation I want to review the commands in Revelation that we are to obey. The following is a list including almost all of the direct commands we are to obey from this book. They can be divided into four general categories.
One of the themes of the book of Revelation is that believers are to overcome. Every church had to overcome a specific obstacle or temptation.
A. Ephesus – Overcome apathy and robot-like Christianity (2:7)
B. Smyrna – Overcome persecution (2:11)
C. Pergamum – Overcome false teaching (2:17)
D. Thyatira – Overcome sexual immorality (2:26)
E. Sardis – Overcome apostasy and dead Christianity (3:5)
F. Philadelphia – Overcome complacency (3:12)
G. Laodicea – Overcome self-reliance (3:21)
We chose the theme “overcoming through Christ” for this past year largely because it is a major theme of the book of Revelation. We are His church and we live in the midst of a dark world. Forces of the enemy and of this world seek to draw us away from the Lord. Many methods are used.
Some are external. Some face pressure from family or society to conform to the world’s standards. Maybe it is a parent saying, “It’s OK to be a Christian, just don’t be too radical.” The world tempts us to sin with promises that you will “enjoy it” and “no one will know.”
Other temptations come from within the visible church. False teaching subtly comes in and takes control of people’s minds, leading them away from the safety of God’s Word.
And other temptations are from ourselves. We are tempted to grow complacent. The fervor that we had years ago for the Lord may grow cold if we are not careful.
And one of the worst temptations is self-reliance. We are tempted to rely on ourselves to overcome these things rather than going to Christ for help.
Take a moment and look at this list of seven things we need to overcome. Which one is the biggest challenge for you?
God calls us to conquer these things. That is message of Revelation that we are to keep. The one who conquers will be blessed. Each one of these churches was given a promise of blessing IF they overcame. The book of Revelation shows us what we are up against. And we are called to fight. We are called to conquer.
In a recent Bible study, we were looking at Revelation 12, where the angels fight a war against Satan and his demons and drive them out of heaven. We asked why God didn’t just say the word and banish the bad guys immediately? The answer we came to is that He wanted the angels to fight. It was good for them to be participate in the war. And the same is true for us. God does not call us to be just spectators, watching these supernatural events unfold. Each of us is to actively fight against evil, both in the world and most importantly in our lives.
Application: Are you fighting in this battle? Or are you passively observing. Think about which of these seven things you need to overcome. Make it a matter of pray. Actively seek the Lord’s help. Pick up the sword. And fight.
Another command we see echoed throughout the book is to endure, to be faithful until the end.
Revelation 13:10 – Here is a call for the endurance and faith of the saints.
Revelation 14:12 Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus. And I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Blessed indeed,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!”
Persecution is going to get worse. Believers will be reviled for their faith. Those taking the name of Christ will have a target on their backs. Many will be martyred. Deliverance is not promised. They are called to endure to the end.
If believers at that time are called to endure the most wicked government in world history, then we must certainly endure now. To receive God’s blessing, we must keep the command to endure.
It is easy to trust in and follow God when things are going smoothly, but how about when things are difficult? In the last year many have you faced situations which are very hard to endure:
- Family separation
- Chronic pain
- Visa problems
- Health issues
- Failures in business or school
- Deaths of loved ones
- Hostility and pressure from the world
Revelation is a call to endure to the end. It is much easier to start than to finish. According to some statistics 17% of people drop out of marathon races and don’t finish. I expect the number is much higher for people who profess Christ.
If you think about your own circle, you can probably remember a number of people who used to be faithful church goers who disappeared. I can think of many I have known over the years. Many of the temptations facing the churches we saw before are reasons: complacency, persecution, lost their first love, and sexual immorality.
What is the solution?
Philippians 1:6 And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
We trust in Christ’s power in our lives. At the same time we are to cooperate with Him. A marathon is finished one step at a time. When you are tired and thirsty and weak, each step can be a challenge. If you think about the finish line so far away it would be easy to get discouraged. One step at a time.
The Christian life is the same. Every day is a new battle. Each day we are called to be faithful and endure. Once you add up all of those steps, and all of those days, it will take you to the finish line, where the eternal blessings await.
Stay Awake (Be Alert)
A third warning we are to keep from Revelation is to stay awake.
Revelation 16:15 “Behold, I am coming like a thief! Blessed is the one who stays awake, keeping his garments on, that he may not go about naked and be seen exposed!”
Be ready. God tells the church what He is going to do ahead of time so that we will not be caught by surprise.
Armies are to be ready all of the time. Would be attackers are not going to call up and say, “tomorrow we are invading.” So armies continually train and prepare for war to break out at any moment. They go through drills. They exercise. They keep fit. They are disciplined.
How would you get ready? We get ready the same way. To stay awake means to be alert. We are to be conscious of the fact that time on this earth is short and that Jesus’ return could happen at any time. A lot of it is having the right mentality, the mentality of a soldier. When you have the right mentality, the Christian disciplines will follow.
A fourth command we are to keep is to come out and be separate.
Revelation 18:4-5 – “Come out of her, my people,
lest you take part in her sins,
lest you share in her plagues;
for her sins are heaped high as heaven,
and God has remembered her iniquities.
In the book of Revelation we see two systems. It is God’s kingdom against Satan’s kingdom. Satan’s kingdom is all about the here and now. It is about pleasure, power, luxury, riches, greed, and the flesh. That system is completely set against God. There is no common ground between the two systems.
You cannot have one foot in each. Just as water and oil don’t mix, so we are to be different from this world. Our motivations and our goals are to be different. The way we spend our time and money is to be different. Our value system and beliefs are different. This is how Paul puts it:
2 Corinthians 6:14-16 – Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? What agreement has the temple of God with idols?
As we have gone through this book, one message should be ringing loud and clear. This world and its system is bound for destruction. Why would you yoke yourself to this world and tie your future to it when its fate is sealed?
Here are just a few practical ways to remain separate from this world:
- Don’t date or get married to unbelievers.
- Don’t educate your children the same way the world does.
- Don’t spend your life pursuing the same goals the world does (riches, IRA, early retirement).
- Don’t tie your personal happiness to things the world says are most important (getting a top degree, owning a house, etc.)
God commands us to be separate.
If our salvation was dependent on us keeping 100% these four commands we would be in trouble. We are all sinners and we all fall short.
Revelation 2:16 – Therefore repent. (Revelation 3:3, 9:20-21)
So another command we see throughout Revelation is to repent. Ultimately only the person who repents of his sins and places his faith in Christ will receive these eternal blessings.
If you have never placed your faith in Christ and repented of your sins, I would invite you to do that today. Talk to your lighthouse host or tell the small group leader online.
Verse 6 says these things must “soon take place.” In verse 7 Jesus says, “I am coming soon.” In verse 10 it says, “the time is near.”
The time is getting closer and closer. Jesus is going to return and He is going to bestow eternal blessings on those who keep His commands. We are almost to the end of our study in Revelation and we have learned a lot. All of that knowledge will be useless unless we keep it. We have been challenged to overcome, to endure, to be separate, to stay awake, and to repent. Let us faithfully keep these words as we depend on Christ.
- Memorize Revelation 22:7 to each other.
- What do you most look forward to about being with God?
- Which one of the five commands from Revelation to keep (overcome, endure, stay awake, be separate, repent) will you focus on and how?
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