Final conversation with Jesus and the angel, part 2
Sep 21, 2016
In Revelation 22:12, 13 Jesus interrupts the angel and joins the conversation again, saying,
12 “Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”
This is the second of three times when Jesus tells John, “I am coming quickly.” He said so earlier in verse 7 and will again say so in verse 20. Since the revelation is coming to an end, this also serves as a summation and a reminder that points back to the first chapter of the book. It is also a way of signing the book in order to identify the Author. Recall that in Rev. 1:7 we read, “Behold, He is coming with the clouds,” and the next verse says,
8 “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”
Hence, “the Lord God” who spoke these words in Revelation 1:8 is the One who is “coming quickly” in Revelation 22:12. Jesus is the Coming One, and He is also “the Lord God” and “the Almighty.” Throughout the Old Testament, “the Lord God” normally translates either from the Hebrew Yahweh Elohim (Genesis 2:5) or Adonai Yahweh (Ezekiel 2:4).
Yahweh Elohim depicts the Creator and Covenanter in His relation to His creatures. Adonai Yahweh depicts the Creator as Owner (or “Lord”) of that which He has created. John 1:3 tells us that Christ the Word (the Logos, or Memra) created all things. Paul tells us in 1 Timothy 2:5 that Jesus is the Mediator of the New Covenant—hence, He is the Covenanter as well as the Creator. The name Yahweh Elohim is how we ought to view “the Lord God” in Revelation 1:8.
As for Adonai Yahweh, which is Ezekiel’s favorite term, God is depicted as having the right of ownership over that which He has created. The term not only indicates God’s sovereignty, but also His lawful right. By this title He claims the right to judge and to forgive at will, yet all is done in accordance with His character as the God of Love, Justice, and Mercy.
Therefore, He comes quickly with rewards in hand “to render to every man according to what he has done.” The righteous are rewarded with positions of authority and are given immortality sooner than those who are unrighteous. The unrighteous (during their life times on earth) are also rewarded, but not until they have been corrected and disciplined and have then proven themselves during the age of judgment.
The same “Lord God” in Revelation 1:8 who claimed the title, “Alpha and Omega,” is the Coming One in Revelation 22:13, Jesus Christ Himself. This title is, of course, a Greek way of expressing the Hebrew “Alef and Tav,” the first and last letters of the Hebrew alphabet. The Alef is the First Cause, and the Tav is the sign or signature at the end.
Hebrews 12:2 suggests also that He is “the author and perfecter of faith.” He is the Author of faith, because faith comes by hearing, and no one can hear unless God first speaks. He is the Perfecter of faith, because He develops our faith by testing it with “fire” (1 Peter 1:7 KJV). The Greek word translated “Perfecter” is teleiotes, a consummator. Christ finishes what He starts, and when His work in us is done, we all come forth from the fire fully refined and perfected.
It is His right as the Creator and Owner of all to finish the work that He began at creation, and His success depends upon His ability to keep His New Covenant promise to make all mankind His people and to be their God (Deuteronomy 29:12, 13, 14, 15). Hence, when we come to the end of John’s revelation, we see Jesus laying claim not only to His rights, but also to His ability to complete that which He has authored.
The Blessed Ones
Revelation 22:14, 15 continues,
14 Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter by the gates into the city. 15 Outside are the dogs and the sorcerers and the immoral persons and the murderers and the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices lying.
This entire passage is written from the perspective of present time in John’s day. The prophecies of the future were completed in Revelation 20, and the description of the New Jerusalem (the goal of history) ended in Revelation 22:5. The final section of the book returns to the present in John’s time.
Hence, John tells his readers that some are “blessed” and “may enter by the gates into the city,” while others are restricted by the walls and gates of the city. Believers even now (says John) have access to the New Jerusalem, because they have washed their robes. For some reason, the KJV says incorrectly: “Blessed are they that do His commandments.” The Greek texts read, “who wash their robes,” and Panin’s Numeric New Testament confirms this.
When God gave the Old Covenant to Israel, the people were first instructed to “wash their garments” (Exodus 19:10, 14) to prepare themselves to receive that covenant. The same requirement is found in receiving the New Covenant, except that the garments to be washed are no longer physical, but spiritual.
Washing garments was a requirement for cleansing, when a man touched an unclean animal (Leviticus 11:25) or when a leper was being cleansed after his healing (Leviticus 14:8). When priests were consecrated, they too had to “wash their clothes, and they shall be clean” (Numbers 8:7). All of these cleansing rituals, though acceptable under the Old Covenant, did nothing to cleanse the heart. We are cleansed by the water of the word (John 15:3), which alone is sufficient to render us truly clean before God.
Such cleansing by water of the word is a requirement to “enter by the gates into the city.” Those who are not cleansed must remain outside the city. Among them are those who despise the word (that is, the law). As John sees it, there is no such thing as a lawless believer, because all true believers actually believe the word and the evidence of their belief (faith) is a change of behavior. Faith bears the fruit of righteousness.
Of course, as we have already shown, true believers are imputed righteous long before they are actually made righteous. The word brings continual cleansing, as we drink of the water from the river of life in our life time. Hence, the command to wash our garments has not been cast aside, but rather the form of the law has changed to suit the New Covenant.
The Root and Offspring of David
In Revelation 22:16 Jesus again interjects a statement in this conversation, saying,
16 “I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things for the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, the bright morning star.”
Jesus might have been the revelator throughout the book, but He chose to reveal the future through various angels, culminating with a climactic revelation of the New Jerusalem through the Angel of the Approaching Fullness of God. These revelations were given to instruct the churches, not only the seven churches in Revelation 2 and 3, but all of the churches that would come later as well.
Jesus then identifies Himself by different terms. He is “the root and the offspring of David,” because He is the One prophesied in Isaiah 11:1, 2,
1 Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse, and a branch from his roots will bear fruit. 2 And the Spirit of the Lord will rest on Him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and strength, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.
He is both the “root” and the “offspring” (i.e., the “shoot” or “branch”). This is another way of saying that He is the Alpha and Omega in relation to David. He was David’s son, but at the same time David called Him “lord.” Jesus questioned the Pharisees and Sadducees about this in Luke 20:41-44,
41 And He said to them, “How is it that they say the Christ is David’s son? 42 For David himself says in the book of Psalms, ‘The Lord said to My Lord, “Sit at My right hand, 43 until I make Thine enemies a footstool for Thy feet.”’ 44 David therefore calls Him ‘Lord,’ and how is He his son?”
Jesus was quoting Psalm 110:1, which, according to John Lightfoot, the Jews had commonly applied to Abraham and his submission to Melchizedek (i.e., Shem). It was believed that David wrote Psalm 110:1 with the story of Shem in mind. However, the verse also applied to David himself, who was of the Melchizedek Order (Psalm 110:4).
This was also a well-known messianic prophecy, so the question was how the messiah could be the son of David and yet be the “lord” of David. Sons honor their fathers according to the fifth commandment, but fathers do not normally call their sons “lord.” The point is that David recognized that his descendant, the Messiah, would be greater than himself. Both would be Melchizedek priests, but Jesus would be the ultimate High Priest of that order. In fact, because Jesus pre-existed all men at the beginning of creation, He preceded David and was therefore also his “lord.”
This truth is bound up in the fact that Jesus is both “the root and the offspring of David.” By pre-existing David, He was David’s “root.” Yet when He was born in Bethlehem, He came as “the offspring of David.” For further comments on this, see chapter 15 of Dr. Luke: Healing the Breaches, Book 7.
The Bright Morning Star
In Revelation 22:16 Jesus identifies Himself also as “the bright morning star.” In 2 Peter 1:19 we read,
19 And so we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts.
No doubt Peter was speaking of the same event that Paul referred to in 2 Thessalonians 1:10-12,
10 when He comes to be glorified in His saints on that day and to be marveled at among all who have believed—for our testimony to you was believed… 12 in order that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in Him…
Not only does He “come quickly” as a distinct individual, He also arises IN US in a great show of unity, so that we ourselves appear in glory. The presence of Christ will shine forth from us when the veil of flesh is lifted and we are transfigured. This is the manifestation of the sons of God. It is one of the rewards given to the overcomers, specifically to the overcomers of the church of Thyatira in Revelation 2:28.
The bright morning star was the herald of the dawn. The overcomers too are to shine forth the light of Christ during the dark night, for they too are heralds of the dawn of a new day after the beast systems have run their courses.
This is part 182 of a series titled "Studies in the Book of Revelation." To view all parts, click the link below.
Dr. Stephen Jones