Daily Bible Studies & Sermon Notes


Revelation 22:3-22:5
Pastor Steve Schell
Revelation 22:3
Verse 3: Several curses resulted when Adam and Eve ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil: Eve would face sorrow in childbirth (Ge 3:16), Adam would have to labor hard to grow food in weed-infested ground (Ge 3:17-19), but worst of all, they and all the generations that would follow them would endure spiritual and physical death. Spiritual death meant separation from God and physical death meant aging, dying and afterward their bodies decaying (Ge 3:19). Both types of death were passed on to all their descendants (1Co 15:21, 22). But thankfully God did not leave us in that condition. He sent His Son to rescue us. By means of His death and resurrection Jesus immediately removed spiritual death from believers, but the curse of physical death still remains. Believers still age, die and decay, yet we do so with hope looking forward to the moment when we too will be resurrected (1Th 4:13, 14). John’s words, “There will no longer be any curse” assure us the suffering and death which began with our first ancestors will have no place in the New Jerusalem. We will live in complete, undiminished blessing with no aspect of any curse remaining whatsoever.

Revelation 22:3
Verse 3 (continued): Throughout the Bible God’s throne is always pictured as being located in heaven: a spiritual realm where He dwells separated from the earth or dimension in which humans live. In fact, even John saw the throne in heaven earlier in these revelations (Rev 4:2-11), but now as he gazes at the New Jerusalem he sees the throne in its midst. The re-location of this throne has enormous spiritual meaning. It is telling us the separation between heaven and earth is gone. God is fully dwelling among His people, not in a distant heaven (Rev 21:3). The two realms have converged. Verse 3 (continued): The final statement of this verse, “and His bondservants will serve Him” implies that God’s people will minister to Him as the priests and Levites did in the tabernacle/temple (Heb 13:10). The word John used here for “serve” is often associated with the ministry they performed. This certainly does not mean we will offer animal sacrifices, etc., but it reminds us that a special priestly caste will no longer exist. All of God’s people will freely draw near and minister to Him through worship and obedient service. This is not to say that the concept of priesthood has ended and all have become “common,” but rather that all will be elevated to that level. Every citizen will be “set apart” to offer the highest forms of worship and service to God.

Revelation 22:4
Verse 4: When Israel arrived at Mount Sinai the people were cautioned not to come near the mountain. God told Moses, “Go down, warn the people so that they do not break through to the Lord to gaze, and many of them perish” (Ex 19:21). Later when Moses himself asked to see God’s glory he was told, “You cannot see My face, for no man can see Me and live” (Ex 33:20). Paul, writing to Timothy, referred to God the Father as One “whom no man has seen or can see” (1Ti 6:16). So, John’s statement, “they will see His face” reveals an enormous change in the relationship between God and humans. Something completely impossible before will become normal. The citizens of this city will have undiminished knowledge of the One they worship. Paul foresaw this day when he said, “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known” (1Co 13:12).

Revelation 22:4
Verse 4 (continued): In his first letter John explains the miracle which must take place before a human being can see God’s “face.” He said, “We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is” (1Jn 3:2). In this case John is referring to seeing Jesus at the rapture and his point is that for us to see the full glory of Jesus we too must be resurrected because without new bodies we can’t endure the impact of His undiminished glory. But once our new bodies can behold the glorified Jesus, we will also be able to behold the Father. However, in what form we will see Him is uncertain because there is now a profound difference between the Father and the Son. Jesus is not only the divine Son of God, but He is also a resurrected man and therefore will be visible to all. But the Father remains entirely a spiritual being, so what it means to “see His face” is something we must wait to discover.

Revelation 22:4
Verse 4 (continued): By having “His name on their foreheads” the citizens of this city will be marked by God and set apart like high priests. The high priest wore a turban with a small gold plate located on the front directly over his forehead (Ex 28:36-38). It was engraved with the words, “Holy to Yahweh” (translated: “the Lord”). In this way God’s name was written on his forehead indicating he belonged to God and that his thoughts were to be submitted to His revealed will. As we saw earlier there will be no separated area for a temple in this city (Rev 21:22) nor a special group of people who serve as priests (Rev 20:6). All believers will be “priests of God and of Christ” (Rev 20:6) having the Father’s name, the name of the New Jerusalem and Jesus’ new name written on their foreheads (Rev 3:12).

Revelation 22:5
Verse 5: At first glance this verse appears to simply restate a truth given earlier that the glory of God will light the new city (Rev 21:23). His visible presence will be so intense there will be no need for sunlight or lamplight. If this is John’s point he is restating the truth as a way of reinforcing it. Yet it’s also possible this verse continues to develop the theme of priesthood. As we’ve seen, God’s people will serve Him as priests (v 3), they will see His face and His name will be written on their foreheads. The most privileged service the high priest could render was entering the Holy of holies once a year to offer sacrificial blood on the Mercy Seat on the Ark of the Covenant (Lev 16:2, 12-14; He 9:1-7). This took place on the Day of Atonement. But we should be aware there was no source of light in the Holy of holies. God intended that the room be lit by the shekinah glory which rested above the ark (Lev 16:2). However, in later years both the Ark of the Covenant and the shekinah were gone. The room was dark leaving the high priest only the glow from the coals in his incense censer to light his way (Edersheim, The Temple, Eerdmans, reprinted 1988, pp. 313, 314). So John’s statement that the citizen-priests of this city will not need a lamp or sunlight may point to the fact the shekinah has returned in abundance. Only now the entire city has become the Holy of holies.

Revelation 22:5
Verse 5 (continued): This verse contains another mystery. It says, “they will reign forever and ever” but it is not evident over whom or what believers will reign. Daniel was told, “the saints of the Highest One will receive the kingdom and possess the kingdom forever, for all ages to come” (Da 7:18). We saw earlier that such rule had definite meaning during the Millennium (Rev 20:6), but we’re left to wonder as to how it will apply in the new heavens and earth. A possible clue may be given in verse 15 (Rev 22:15) where we’re told unbelievers still dwell outside the gates of this city. But we cannot construct any sort of governmental system based on this statement alone. We must simply rest assured that all believers will reign with Him in some way. We don’t need to know more than that for now.
 


Return to Daily Bible Studies