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Note: This blog post is part of a series titled "Studies in the Book of Revelation." To view all parts, click the link below.
Revelation 22:17 gives the final invitation,
17 And 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 wishes take the water of life without cost.
The invitation is given by three entities: the Spirit, the bride, and the one who hears. One might think that the invitation would be given to those who have ears to hear, but in this case the invitation is given to those “thirsty” ones who have not yet heard. These are the lawbreakers outside the city that are referenced in Revelation 22:15. The Spirit creates the thirst within men’s hearts, drawing them to the bride, which is the New Jerusalem. In other words, they are invited to be part of the bride-city, which is pictured as a marriage relationship with Christ.
This great invitation is a shortened version of Isaiah 55:1-3, which says,
1 Ho! Every one who thirsts, come to the waters; and you who have no money come, buy and eat. Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. 2 Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, and delight yourself in abundance. 3 Incline your ear and come to Me. Listen, that you may live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, according to the faithful mercies shown to David.
In other words, John refers us to the invitation given by the prophet Isaiah, who invites us to “come to the waters.” John tells us that the “waters” are “the water of life” that flow “from the throne of God and of the Lamb” (Revelation 22:1). It also refers back to the “spiritual rock” (1 Corinthians 10:4) in the wilderness, out of which flowed water to the people (Exodus 17:6; Numbers 20:11).
Because “the rock was Christ” and it was struck, it portrayed Christ, who was to be struck down by His death on the cross in order to bring the water of life to the people. The water, then, was costly, but He paid the price so that it could be available to “you who have no money” (Isaiah 55:1). Hence also, John says the water is given “without cost” (to the invited ones).
Adding to the Word
Revelation 22:18, 19 continues,
18 I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God shall add to him the plagues which are written in this book; 19 and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the tree of life and from the holy city, which are written in this book.
This injunction does not refer to the Bible as a whole, but to “the prophecy of this book,” that is, the book of Revelation. Even so, what is true for the book of Revelation is equally true for the entire word of God. It is an extension of the law in Deuteronomy 19:14,
14 You shall not move your neighbor’s boundary mark, which the ancestors have set, in your inheritance which you shall inherit in the land that the Lord your God gives you to possess.
The word of God sets the boundaries of revelation in the Kingdom. Any personal revelation ought to support and to clarify the revelation that God has already given. This ought not to restrict personal revelation, for all are admonished in Scripture to hear His voice. But we should view the Scriptures as a boundary mark of truth, and all personal revelation should conform to the parameters of Scripture. Ultimately, the Spirit and the Word should agree as one.
In the beginning, we read in Genesis 2:16, 17,
16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; 17 but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you shall surely die.”
Later, when the serpent tempted Eve, he said to her in Genesis 3:1, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?”
Eve’s answer added to God’s injunction, for we read in Genesis 3:2, 3,
2 And the woman said to the serpent, “From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; 3 but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, lest you die’.”
She added “or touch it” to God’s word, which the serpent was able to exploit. It is self-evident that she had to touch the tree before eating of its fruit. When she did, and found that nothing bad happened to her, she was easily convinced that God’s word was untrue, and this emboldened her to eat of its fruit.
This shows also how the traditions of men (adding to the word and thereby nullifying it) have turned many aside from following the genuine commands of God. Jesus thus quotes Isaiah in Matthew 15:8, 9 chiding the Pharisees and scribes for forbidding men to eat with unwashed hands (the issue in Matthew 15:2). There was no such law, and yet they criticized the disciples as if they were sinners for eating without first pouring water over their hands to cleanse them.
When men believe that their additions to the word of God are genuine truth from God, they stumble when someone disagrees or departs from those man-made precepts. When this becomes a sin to them, then they come under the natural consequences of violating the law. These natural consequences are called “plagues” in Revelation 22:18. In Deuteronomy 28:15 they are called “curses,” that is, the curse or judgment for sin that is written in the law.
Signing the book
Revelation 22:20 says,
20 He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming quickly.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. 21 The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.
Although the messengers (angels) were the agents by which the words of this prophecy were conveyed to John, the words were actually from “the Lord Jesus.” So He signs His name to the book at the end, and John, the notary, bears witness to His signature with his “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.”
The book of Revelation is given a title in the opening statement of the book in Revelation 1:1, which literally reads, “The Unveiling of Jesus Christ.” The word apokalupsis literally means to unveil, reveal, or manifest. It is about Christ’s coming, as He is unveiled slowly throughout the pages of history until the full unveiling at the end of time.
To a few He is unveiled very early, as men and women come to drink of the water of life in the early ages of earth history. As time passes, Christ is unveiled to more and more people. At the end of the Pentecostal Age, when the first resurrection raises all the overcomers from the dead, He begins to be unveiled to greater numbers of people, as the Kingdom of Light is established with Christ’s jurisdiction over specific portions of the earth itself. The Spirit is poured out, and much of the earth sees the light of Christ.
Then at the Great White Throne, all will see Him, as they are summoned for judgment. Yet even then, the newly-converted sinners who have bowed their knees and have sworn allegiance to Him will have only one or two veils removed from their eyes. It is as if they have entered the gate into the outer court (Passover) and have been filled with the Spirit (Pentecost). But they will have to grow to maturity during that final Age until they are set free in the great Jubilee. Only then will they be fully in the image of Christ and are qualified to see the unveiled Christ in His full glory.
The unveiling of Jesus Christ is a historical process, even as each individual sees Christ increasingly unveiled over his life time. In the end, it requires absolute perfection to see the unveiled Christ without fear and without separation.
Come, Lord Jesus.