12 Then I was told:
I am coming soon! And when I come, I will reward everyone for what they have done. 13 I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.
14 God will bless all who have washed their robes. They will each have the right to eat fruit from the tree that gives life, and they can enter the gates of the city. 15But outside the city will be dogs, witches, immoral people, murderers, idol worshipers, and everyone who loves to tell lies and do wrong.
16 I am Jesus! And I am the one who sent my angel to tell all of you these things for the churches. I am David's Great Descendant, and I am also the bright morning star.
17 The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!”
Everyone who hears this should say, “Come!”
If you are thirsty, come! If you want life-giving water, come and take it. It's free!
18 Here is my warning for everyone who hears the prophecies in this book:
If you add anything to them, God will make you suffer all the terrible troubles written in this book. 19If you take anything away from these prophecies, God will not let you have part in the life-giving tree and in the holy city described in this book.
20The one who has spoken these things says, “I am coming soon!”
So, Lord Jesus, please come soon!
21I pray that the Lord Jesus will be kind to all of you.
The epilogue contains four final assurances and four final appeals:
Assurances – An angel gives the first assurance concerning the truth and validity of the words of Revelation (v 6). Jesus gives the second assurance that he is “coming soon!” The word “soon” means quickly or suddenly. The threefold repetition of this word (vv 7, 12, 20) stresses the imminence of Christ’s return and how important it is for us to be ready to meet him when he comes (I have a business card on my desk that says, “Perhaps Today!”). The third assurance from Jesus is a guarantee that everyone who endures to the end will be rewarded (v.12). The fourth assurance guarantees that Christ is complete (v 13) and ceaseless (v 16). Jewish rabbis say, “Since God was the beginning, he received his power from no one; since he was the middle he shared his power with no one; and since he was the end, he never hands his power to anyone.”
Appeals – The first appeal is for the words of the prophecy to not be sealed (v 10). John is told to leave Revelation unsealed because “these things will happen soon” (v 10). The second appeal is for Christians to persevere until Christ returns (v 11). The third appeal is for sinners to be saved before it’s too late (v 17). The third appeal has three elements. The “Spirit” is the One who convicts of sin, righteousness and judgment to come (see John 16:8-11). The “bride” is the Church who has been given the responsibility to proclaim the gospel and invite sinners to repent and receive Christ by faith. “Everyone who hears” are the believers who have been commanded to go into all the world and make disciples (see Mark 16:15). The fourth appeal is couched as a warning (vv 18-19). No one should change a word of Revelation because it’s God’s truth. We must neither add to it by making it say more than it says or subtract from it by making it say less than it says.
Concerning the fourth appeal, pastor and expositor Ray C. Steadman says, “Don’t take away its meaning by emphasizing the symbolic at the expense of the literal. Do not destroy its intent by literalizing everything in it and ignoring the meaning of the symbols. Most important of all: Believe it!”
Thank you Lord that the conclusion of your story is about grace: “The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen.” Revelation 22:21 (NIV).
Lawson is the President of Scripture Union Canada and the Managing Editor of theStory™. Lawson takes every opportunity to enthusiastically invite people of all ages to connect with Jesus and His Story. He says, “We have been given the greatest story ever - God's Story! Should we not, with all our might and energy immerse ourselves in it? I believe we should. For without the Story we really have nothing to offer the millions who hunger and thirst for something more. But, with God’s Story we have what everyone needs!” Publications: Bible Engagement Blog; Children’s Ministry Basics Blog, Bible Engagement Basics; Bible Beginners