Another glorious description follows. "And he showed me a river of water of life, bright as crystal, going out of the throne of God and of the Lamb." The last words indicate a new governmental form of deep interest. It is not now lightnings and thunders and voices: these were the characters of provisional judgment that filled the interval after the church was gone, and before the reign with Christ. But when Christ and the church peacefully reign, that is the imagery which suits. "In the midst of its street and of the river, on this side and on that, [was] life's tree" - not merely as the original one, but now according to the fulness of the provision of God's grace for man on the earth, yet also for man in glory - "bearing twelve fruits, in each month yielding its fruit; and the leaves of the tree for the healing of the nations." In Eden's paradise there was no "healing" power; there was the tree of life, but only death for the disobedient. Man on the earth has his portion in the goodness of a God who is manifesting His kingdom; and from the heavenly city is provision for healing the nations; whereas "the nation and kingdom that will not serve 'Zion' shall perish."
"And no curse shall be any more: and the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him, and they shall see his face, and his name [shall be] on their foreheads. And night shall not be any more; and they need no light of lamp, and light of sun; for the Lord God shall give them light; and they shall reign unto the ages of the ages." The reign for a thousand years is not all. In another way as here the saints shall reign without limit. (See Rom_5:17.) The pure in heart shall see God, as they shall serve Him in glory. The description closes in verse 5
After that we have suited admonitions to the end of this book. On these a few words may suffice.
Verses 6, 7, commend these sayings afresh; and the coming of the Lord is urged in connection with them. "And he said to me, These words are faithful and true; and the Lord, the God of the prophets, sent his angel to show to his bondmen the things which must shortly come to pass. Behold, I come quickly: blessed is he that keepeth the words of the prophecy of this book." Responsibility is here impressed in this respect, as we have seen before also.
But it is added, "And I John am he that heard and saw these things. And when I heard and saw, I fell down to do homage before the feet of the angel that showed me these things. And he saith to me, See [that thou do it] not: I am fellow-bondman with thee and with thy brethren the prophets, and with them that keep the words of this book. Do homage to God. And he saith to me, Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book." Again the character of it, as derived from Christianity having already taken its place, is here asserted. In Daniel's time, expressly to Daniel himself, the book was to be sealed, and even the old oracles were sealed then: not so John's. "And he saith unto me, Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book: for the time is at hand." In Daniel's time it was not at hand. But now Christ is come, and is dead, risen, and glorified. To the church the end is always near. In her own course, and in the matters of her portion, the church does not know time at al!. All that instinctively belongs to the body of Christ is unearthly and unworldly. The church is heavenly; and in heaven are no times or seasons. There may be lights of the heaven to mark times and seasons for the earth; and to the lamp of prophecy we do well to pay heed. But the church consists of souls called out from the earth, and is not of the world: consequently to the Christian the time is always at hand.
When Christ at God's right hand was announced even from the very beginning, He was ready to judge the quick and the dead. He remains in this condition of readiness from the time when He sat at God's right hand till the present. The church goes on according to the will of the Lord, who might according to His own purpose lengthen or abridge the space. It is entirely in God's hand, and in none other's. Whereas for the Jew, there are necessary dates and momentous changes that must take place; and hence, as Daniel represents the Jew, we have the difference kept up. To the Christian this book is not sealed. All is opened, and this because we have the Holy Ghost dwelling in us; "for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God."
Therefore we find in connection with the book a most solemn warning: "Let him that is unrighteous be unrighteous still; and let the filthy be filthy still ; and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still; and he that is holy, let him be holy still." Here is intimated that the time will come on earth, when the testimony of grace terminates. All after that is fixed for good or ill. With this too the Lord's coming is fitly connected. "Behold, I come quickly; and my reward [is] with me to render to each as his work shall be. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end. Blessed [are] they that wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter in by the gates into the city. Without [are] the dogs, and the sorcerers, and the fornicators, and the murderers, and the idolaters, and every one that loveth and maketh a lie." When the hour comes that is spoken of here, it is not for us, but for those who will be found after we are gone. All is then fixed. There will be no time for seeking mercy at the last: whatever the state in which the Lord at His coming will find men, all is closed up and fixed. We see that it is in connection with the foregoing, not His coming for such as do keep the sayings of it, but for those whom He shall find here below, "to give to each as his work is."
Further, Jesus here introduces Himself, as well as sends His angel. '"I Jesus sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, the bright the morning star. And the Spirit and the bride say, Come: and let him that heareth say, Come: and let him that is athirst come: let him that will take life's water freely." Thus the name of Christ, not merely as the Root and the Offspring of David but as the bright Morning-star, calls out responsively the heart of the church, and this too under the guiding activity of the Holy Ghost. The church cannot hear of Him as the bright Morning-star without at once desiring that He should come. She does not say, it is true, "Come quickly." This would not be fitting for the church or for the Christian. Patience or endurance of hope is what becomes us. Nor could it have had weight, even if suited. But it is blessed that He says, "I come quickly"; and it is only Christ who in scripture ever says so. We as properly say, "Come." Desire as we may that He should come quickly, we leave this to Him, because we know His love and can trust Him. If He tarries, it is not that He is "slack concerning his promise," but that His long-suffering brings salvation to many. And who could defraud either the soul of salvation, or the Lord of showing it? It is Himself thus presented and as the bright Morning-star who brings into activity the church in her due expression of affection as bride. Here at the end we are outside the governmental strain of the book, as we see for the saints individually at the beginning of the parenthesis in Rev_1:5-6.
"And the Spirit and the bride say, Come." It is to Jesus. To whom else could they say it? The bride breathes out the word to the Bridegroom; and the Holy Spirit is He that gives fervour to her desire that Christ should come. But there is a message also to others. There is a word, even if one entered little into the bride's consciousness, to him that hears: "Let him that heareth say, Come." He is encouraged to repeat the same cry. As a believer, be not afraid though you may know but little; for the Lord neither forgets nor slights real faith, however unintelligent. Has He not this class in view when He invites those who hear His voice to say, "Come "
The bride properly represents such as enter into the normal possession and enjoyment of the privileges nearest to Christ: if there are many who fall short of this practically, they are provided for in grace. "Let him that heareth say, Come." At least they know the Saviour's love and hear His voice, and, far from these being left out, they are invited individually to say, "Come." To hear Him may not be the appropriation of all; but it is an incalculable boon for the soul, the turning-point of all blessing. It is just the way into all, if it be not the entrance upon all and its enjoyment actually. "Let him that heareth say, Come." There is nothing in the coming of Jesus to harm or disturb him; there is everything in His coming to soothe, cheer, and satisfy. At that moment he will be changed and conformed to the image of God's Son. The image of the man of dust shall give place to that of the Heavenly One, who shall transform our body of humiliation into conformity to His body of glory according to the working whereby He has power even to subdue all things to Himself. At once and for ever he shall be like Himself inwardly and outwardly: what can be so assuring to the saint?
But while there is such a bridal, and such a believer's, call for Christ to come, it is not overlooked how many there are insensible to Him. To such His coming could be no joy, but in their state dismay and despair. The hope of His coming draws out on their behalf the deep feelings and earnest appeals of those who wait for Him. Hence the added calls of grace, "And let him that thirsteth come; he that will, let him take life's water freely." Not either of these classes outside is asked to say, "Come." This would be vain, untrue, and profane, till they have drunk life's water in His name. But even as they are, grace calls on each of these to come to the still accessible and ready and unfailing Saviour. Be one ever so overwhelmed with sense of sin, ever so conscious of having paid the penalty of long turning from the Fountain of living waters, "let him that thirsteth come." Jesus ever lives, and is ever near, now to give life's water. Yea, if only made willing by God's grace to receive the indispensable boon, which neither believer nor church can supply, Jesus stoops to his need: "he that will, let him take life's water freely." But, O reader, forget not that grace despised ends in judgment; and the deeper the grace, the more sure and severe God's judgment; and Jesus the Lord shall pronounce and execute it.
Then follows a tremendous warning against any meddling with the words of this book: "I testify to every one that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, if any one add unto these, God shall add unto him the strokes that are written in this book; and if any one take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the tree of life, and out of the holy city, that are written in this book." Its integrity is thus guarded, if any warning could alarm audacious self-confident man.
"He that testifieth these things saith, Yea, I come quickly. Amen: come, Lord Jesus." What care to keep the hearts of His own fixed and fervent and constant in the blessed hope! And this, not only by His assurance, but by the revealed and ready response of the inspired writer. We misread prophecy, if we put off that hope. "The grace of the Lord Jesus [Christ be] with all the saints. Amen." So ends this book, and the Bible.