Revelation 22 - "Surely, He is Coming Soon"
We come to the last chapter of the Bible. And our last portrait of Jesus during this Easter season. Last week we saw that Jesus is glorious. This glory is based upon what he has done and his faithfulness to do what he says he will. New Heavens and New Earth is the place where God dwells with his people. It is a place that we are called to proactively invite others to come to.
Before we get into our text this morning, I want you to do me a favor and think about what you have been spending your time thinking about. Remember what wins our attention wins our affection. Or that which we spend time mulling over in our minds is the thing that will take our hearts.
What is it for you? Vacation. Quietness. Getting away. How to get that co-worker to not be so annoying. Maybe it’s just getting through the day. Maybe you’re so busy that you don’t think you have time to think. Running kids from one thing to the next. Coordinating schedules. What is it that’s consuming your thoughts. Over time, that’s what will own you.
We have to have our eyes lifted and focused on something and someone else. We have to have our faces planted toward heaven. Not in a, “I can’t wait until this is all over”. That’s escapism. // God’s not calling us to escape. He’s in the business of shaping. He shines his countenance on us to give us peace. Not to pluck us out of the world. But to shine light on life so that we no longer live just to get by or to pay bills or to get through the school year. There’s so much more to living! Everyday is replete with the grandeur and splendor and beauty of God. The great story of redemption is that God shines his light so that we get glimpses of what could be. And when we see it, to take part in it!
If we don’t see our lives in the larger story that God is writing, we will be in danger of giving up. Of closing up.
This last chapter reflects the Temple imagery from Ezekiel in Ezekiel 47. God’s Spirit had left the Temple when Israel went to Babylon for their sin. But he promised them while they were in Exile that he would be with them. The Place they had coveted and hoarded needed rest from their greed. So his Spirit left the Temple. We saw last week that the New Heavens New Earth is a City. It’s a City that’s a Temple.
First we see in our text that the Temple is also a Garden. This reaches back to Eden. Adam and Eve were to keep and tend the Garden. They were to expand the edges of the Garden as they were faithful to God and cultivated more. There’s fruit. // Like a River that flowed out of Eden, so this Garden has a River. // The Tree of Life is there. But it’s not just in the middle, but all along the banks of the River. V.2: On either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. Abundant Life! Expanded Eden.
V.3: No longer will there be anything accursed. The serpent slithered into the Garden. God doesn’t deal with evil by putting up fences. We already know that the gate is always open. Rather, he has dealt definitively with evil. It is no more.
The Temple is a Garden. But more importantly, the key difference is that God and the Lamb will be there forever and ever. God walked in the Garden of Eden in the cool of the day. But in this expanded, world-encompassing Garden, God will be there at all times. He’s always here now. But hidden.
So what are we to do? The rest of our chapter can be summed up with two final points: Because Jesus is coming soon, we live differently now. Look at vv.6-7: “These words are trustworthy and true. And the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, has sent his angel to show his servants what must soon take place.” 7 “And behold, I am coming soon. Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.” Also end of v. 9: “Those who keep the words of this book.” Also, end of v.11: “Let the righteous still do right.” V.12: “Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done.”
We don’t live differently because God has got his arms crossed and brows furrowed. It’s because our hearts have been captured by that which is beautiful and awe-inspiring. V.4: They will see his face. // The New Eden is not simply wonderful because there is no more sea, no more night, no more crying, no more mourning. It is amazing because God is there. >> Is your life changed because you’re beholding God’s goodness and mercy and grace? Amazed at his amazing grace to you a sinner?
It’s only when our hearts are kindled anew with passion for God that we live differently. When we muster up strength to obey, it doesn’t bring God glory. If I do something for my wife because I’m supposed to…that’s not as compelling as doing something for my wife because she is lovely and awe-inspiring and has captured my heart.
I’ve asked before: In what way is your life different than those that don’t know Jesus? Just going to church? There’s got to be more to life! Our hearts need to be captured by God. Lot of Christians sound like everyone else—weather, complain, criticize. No grace in the mouth or heart. Our last point is a very practical way to live differently.
Because Jesus is coming soon, we invite. Can you imagine having unlimited tickets to the greatest party ever? The host of the party gave you a taste of the cake. You heard your favorite band kill it on stage. And the host said, “Invite anyone you want. Here are unlimited tickets.” We have tasted. We have heard. We have seen. God is giving us the invitation to go and invite. If we don’t, then we haven’t savored. We don’t believe that this is the greatest party and the greatest news.
But Matt, it’s not that easy! Of course it’s not easy! Define easy. But if our hearts are convinced. If in our guts we have been satisfied in living water and living bread…then the fears are as nothing. It’s not easy, but it’s life giving! It’s compelling. My friends. It can be that easy. What kind of finance doesn’t tell people she’s engaged?!?
Three times Jesus says, “I am coming soon” (vv.7, 12, 20). We can sit and argue when that will be. But that’s a waste of time and there are people longing for more in their lives. Answers. Purpose. We can’t be content to get our stuff together before we go. It is in the going that we find our hearts satisfied.
That’s the danger of the people of God. We can quickly and easily begin to be sidetracked from our real mission…our real purpose in life. How do we get off our purpose? We begin to think that we need more knowledge than obedience. We see all the things we do not know. We get overwhelmed. So we read book after book after book. Listen to sermon after sermon after sermon. Lecture after lecture after lecture. And we delay in our obedience. Yes, we ought to know the essential beliefs of the Christian faith. But much of our learning as Christians is on-the-job training.
You will never know exactly the right thing to say. Sure, you need to be prepared and know the essentials, but you will never be able to respond to every single rebuttal to our faith. You weren’t meant to. We use it as an excuse to remain comfortable.
Purpose of Sunday morning to equip you to go out. This is not all that church is supposed to be! When I say invite, it’s to a Wedding Feast. Inviting to Sunday morning is one way…but it’s got to be more than that. It’s to a life. They may not come to Redeemer, but another church. That’s fine! We’re not building Redeemer. God will do that. But we are called to share life. To invite to a bigger story.
Maybe it’s an email or a text or a coffee with a question. What is one way you can proactively reach out to someone to tell them this good news?
What we learn from our passage is that our faith is not simply about having apologetic answers. It’s about helping people find their deepest longings satisfied in God. Life. No death. The face of God.
V.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.”
There are people all around you who are thirsty. Who are hungry. If you say, “I don’t know any.” Then it’s on us to go and say “Hello.”
When we come to the end of our lives, I don’t want us regretting that we didn’t talk to that person. None of us will be taking our last breath and say, “I am so glad I played it safe.” Our lives are so short, friends. The party is too great. The joy is too immense to simply be content with safe and secure and well-respected lives.