Revelation 22:1-5

Sermon preached on October 27, 2008 by Laurence W. Veinott. © Copyright 2008. All rights reserved. Other sermons can be found at

Many years ago I attended a minister's meeting on Cape Breton Island in a little village called, Marion Bridge. It's a village that would later be made famous in the song, "Out on the Mira" which says,

"I'll trade you ten of your cities for Marion Bridge."

People in Cape Breton tend to love their island and that song tells about it. During the meeting one of the ministers was giving a talk on the new heaven and the new earth. The premise of his talk was that there was going to be a continuity between the old earth and the new earth. Even though the old earth was going to be burned with fire, it would be renewed and there would be made new. In other words, the new earth wouldn't be entirely new, it would be made from the old. But the guy who was giving the talk wasn't being clear about it and all of us there were confused about whether he was saying that there would be a completely new earth or whether it would be made from the old. Some people are like that. They can talk and talk and you have no idea what their main point is. Finally, one of the other ministers there asked him point blank whether the earth was going to be completely new or whether it was going to be made out of the old. The speaker paused for a moment and then said,

"Let me put it this way. I expect to spend eternity on Cape Breton Island."

Now I'm not so sure that there will be a Cape Breton on the new earth. I hope so. But what I do know is that the Bible tells us that in the final state

there are allusions to the Garden of Eden and that these allusions should cause us to see how greatly we are going to be blessed in the future.

There's the mention of the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month and its leaves being for the healing of the nations. We first heard of the tree of life in Genesis 2:9 we read,

"And the LORD God made
all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—
trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food.
In the middle of the garden were the tree of life…"

There's also a mention of a river. Here in Revelation it is called the river of the water of life and it flows from the throne of God and of the Lamb. In Genesis 2:10 we also read about a river. Right after the mention of the tree of life, we read,

"A river watering the garden flowed from Eden;"

Here in Revelation we are told how we will serve God and reign with Him. Again, we see those themes in the Garden of Eden. In Genesis 1:26-28 we read,

"Then God said,
'Let us make man in our image, in our likeness,
and let them rule over
the fish of the sea and the birds of the air,
over the livestock, over all the earth,
and over all the creatures
that move along the ground.'
So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.
God blessed them and said to them,
Be fruitful and increase in number;
fill the earth and subdue it.
Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air
and over every living creature that moves on the ground."

We see the same themes here in Revelation. In verse 3 we are told that the people in heaven will serve God and then in verse 5 we are told that they will reign with him. These allusions, together with some new elements have much to teach us about our final state. The main thing they teach is that if you're a Christian your future state is going to greatly exceed the blessings that Adam and Eve had in the Garden of Eden.

Your future is going to encompass the glorious realities that the Garden of Eden merely pointed to.

Your future will be much higher and better than Adam's situation in the Garden of Eden. It will be the best possible paradise. Your future will be filled with absolute delight.

Do you ever think about how wonderful it must have been for Adam and Eve in the Garden? It must have been wonderful for them to walk and talk with God. It must have been wonderful for them to have bodies that were not subject to disease or accidents. I mean, wouldn't it be great if you could ride a motorcycle without fear of getting into an accident? Wouldn't it be great to be a farmer and not have to worry about weeds, bad weather or thorns? Wouldn't it be great to have things get better instead of break?

A few weeks ago I was talking to Natalia about the drain in one of our bathroom sinks. A month or so before that Marg had mentioned to me that it was pretty well plugged. So I had taken a plunger and some drain cleaner and spent about 10 minutes unplugging the drain. But I never mentioned it to anyone. Some weeks later I asked Natalia about the drain and she said to me,

"Oh, it was plugged awhile ago but it fixed itself."

I had to smile at that. That's not usually how things work. Things in our world naturally go from working to not-working. If something is broken—whether it's a light bulb, a TV or a car—it usually stays broken. Things don't naturally fix themselves.

But before Adam sinned it was different. There was no Murphy's law then. There was no world that was corrupted by sin. Back then Adam had a perfect wife (at least for awhile). Wow, that must have been great. Can you imagine that, guys?

The point that needs to be made is that everything about our final state is going to be better than what it was in the Garden of Eden. We are going to be raised so much higher than Adam. There are many things here that show that but one of the main was is that

there is no curse there.

There are three things to note about this.

The first is that there is no possibility of curse.

In the Garden of Eden there was the possibility of curse. In Genesis 2:16-17 God said to Adam,

"You are free to eat from any tree in the garden;
but you must not eat
from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil,
for when you eat of it you will surely die."

Adam was greatly blessed in the Garden of Eden. He had communion with God. He had dominion over the birds and the animals. But there was the possibility of curse. There was the possibility of sin. And Adam sinned and lost everything.

In glory there will be no possibility of sin or rebellion against God. There will be no possibility of curse. Many things in our text point to this.

First there is the mention of the river of the
water of life. In Revelation 21:6 we read that the water of life that the Alpha and Omega would give to those who were thirsty. It's in the context of the New Jerusalem and how they people will be God's people and He himself will be their God. It's all of God's grace. Herman Hoeksema writes, (Behold, He Cometh, p. 683)

"the meaning is that God will constantly supply all that is necessary to have and to enjoy eternal life. The life that is here spoken of is true, eternal life in fellowship with God. And water of life is all that is necessary to sustain and to replenish that life."

We are told that the river flows from the throne of God and the Lamb. Our life comes from God, from what the Lamb, Jesus has done for us. He is our life. He has given us His Spirit and our life is sustained by our drinking of the river that flows from Him. It's not a river that dries up, but continually flows from the throne of God. Those who enjoy that water are blessed.

The picture there reminds me of Psalm 1. It says about the man who delights in the law of the Lord and who mediates on his law day and night, (verse 3)

"He is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither.
Whatever he does prospers."

We will be there and we will be sustained and nourished by God.

The image of the
tree of life confirms this. The tree of life in the Garden of Eden was a means of giving life to man. It had the power to give man perpetual life, even after he sinned. That's why God barred Adam and Eve from Eden. Genesis 3:24 tells us that after God drove the man out,

"he placed on the east side
of the Garden of Eden
cherubim and a flaming sword
flashing back and forth
to guard the way to the tree of life."

It is the tree of life. It is the means by which we will live forever. As its described here we see that the tree of life is not one tree, but many of one species. The tree of life never stops bearing it's fruit. There are twelve crops of fruit. Twelve is the number of the church and this means that it bears, (Hoeksema, p. 712)

"a fulness of fruit for the entire church… There is never any want of fruit, and therefore never any want of life and immortality."

All this is confirmed by the end of verse 5 which says that we,

"will reign for ever and ever."

These things will last, they are forever. There will be no end to them.

The second thing to note about the mention that there will be no more curse there is that it means that

the effects of sin will have been done away with.

The curse of sin has been done away with. The curse of sin is misery, suffering and death. The curse of sin is the wrath of God. In our final state there will no longer be any curse. As we read in Revelation 21:4 about God's action toward the redeemed,

"He will wipe every tear from their eyes.
There will be no more death
or mourning or crying or pain,
for the old order of things has passed away."

All the negative and evil consequences of sin will have been eliminated for us. This is especially evident from what we read in verses 4 and 5. For what we see there is that there will be

a restoration and fellowship with God on an unparallel scale.

The curse of sin is alienation and separation from God. But that will be nowhere to be found in the New Jerusalem. In verses 4 & 5 we read,

"They will see his face,
and his name will be on their foreheads.
There will be no more night.
They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun,
for the Lord God will give them light."

We will see His face. It's a vision of God—and a vision that transforms. In 1 John 3:2 the apostle wrote,

"Dear friends, now we are children of God,
and what we will be
has not yet been made known.
But we know that when he appears,
we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is."

We will see His face. We know from a number of passages in the Old Testament that no one could see God and live. The point was that sin had so corrupted us that a view of God's glory threatened people with personal disintegration. You'll remember Isaiah's fear when He saw the vision of God on His throne. He said, (Isaiah 6:5)

"Woe to me! I am ruined!
For I am a man of unclean lips,
and I live among a people of unclean lips,
and my eyes have seen the King,
the LORD Almighty."

We see the same thing in Exodus 33:20 where Moses asked to see God's glory. God said to him,

"you cannot see my face,
for no one may see me and live."

God put Moses in the cleft of a rock and put His hand over Him as He passed by. Then, after He had passed by, He removed His hand and Moses saw His back. (See also Judges 13:22)

But when we've been made like Jesus, we will bask in His glory. His name will be on our foreheads. We are His, His forever. Vern Poythress writes, (The Returning King, p. 192)

"The final state restores the unbroken, idyllic communion between God and man. But the apex of history is ever so much more magnificent than the beginning. The garden is now also a city, and the light has completely driven out the night."

The third thing to note about there not being any curse is that fact that

this enables full service of God.

Our text says that there will be no more curse and then mentions the rule of God—His throne and then says,

"his servants will serve Him."

Right now we can serve God but our service is very defective. As we read in Isaiah 64:6,

"all our righteous acts are like filthy rags;"

But then we will be able to serve God as we should, unencumbered by sin.

What will life on the new heavens and the new earth be like? It will not at all be like what most people visualize when they picture people playing harps and lounging around on the clouds.

No. Life on the new heavens and the new earth will be about serving God and ruling creation for Him. As verse 5 says,

"And they will reign for ever and ever."

This old earth is pretty exciting. There are so many things to learn that show the glory of God. There are so many discoveries to be made. There is so much to learn. There is so much to do.

The new heavens and the new earth will show the glory of God in ways that will astound and amaze us. We will be with God, enjoying Him, and serving Him. There will be such satisfaction, such contentment, such people, so joy. How wonderful it will be.

Now, what are some applications from this?

First of all,

what great comfort and hope you should take from these words.

Verse 6 says,

"These words are trustworthy and true.
The Lord,
the God of the spirits of the prophets,
sent his angel to show his servants
the things that must soon take place."

There are three ways that these words are impressed upon us. First, the angel declares that they are trustworthy and true. Second, these words are from God, delivered through His angel. Third, they must soon take place.

There is much skepticism in the world. Thy mock and ask, "Where is the promise of His coming?" But it is coming. Christians, look forward to it. Live for it.

Secondly, how you should be thankful to God.

All these blessings will come to us through grace, through the work of the Lamb, Jesus Christ. The river flows,

"from the throne of God and the LambÖ"

It's all of grace, all because of God's love. Praise Him. Thank Him.

Lastly, for those of you who aren't Christians,

know assuredly that if you don't go to Jesus you will experience the opposite of this.

We are told about this in Revelation 21:8. John wrote,

"But the cowardly, the unbelieving,
the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral,
those who practice magic arts,
the idolaters and all liars—their place will be
in the fiery lake of burning sulfur.
This is the second death."

And in Revelation 21:27 we read,

"Nothing impure will ever enter it,
nor will anyone who does
what is shameful or deceitful,
but only those whose names
are written in the Lamb's book of life."

You need to be cleansed. You need Jesus.

And in Revelation 22:14-15 we read,

"Blessed are those who wash their robes,
that they may have the right
to the tree of life and may go
through the gates into the city.
Outside are the dogs,
those who practice magic arts,
the sexually immoral, the murderers,
the idolaters and everyone
who loves and practices falsehood."

Go to Jesus today. Escape that most horrible fate.