Grace & Peace: Revelation 116

“I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star. And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely” (Revelation 22:16-17).

Jesus famously asked the Jews how David could have called the Messiah Lord when the Messiah was to be descended from David (Matt. 22:42, 45). How could David’s son be someone that David himself would bow down to? We have the same issue here. Jesus had sent His angel to testify to the churches all the contents of this book, and here at the conclusion, He says I am the root and the offspring of David. He is the root of David, the one from whom David arose, and he is also the offspring of David, the one who descended from the line of David.

In addition, Jesus claims that He Himself is the bright and morning star. This morning star was the planet Venus, often visible as the last of the stars in the morning. He had promised the saints in Thyatira that He would give them the morning star (Rev. 2:28), which means that He will give them Himself. Peter had used the same imagery when he said that the hope of believers would be realized when the day dawns, and the morning star would arise in their hearts (2 Pet. 1:19).

An invitation to come is then issued, and it is worth asking to whom the invitation is directed. Is it a prayer for the Lord Jesus to come? He had promised a short time before to come quickly (vv. 7, 12). And right after this, John prays that the Lord would come quickly (v. 20). It would be easy to assume that this is making the same point. But this appears to be a different invitationan invitation to the one who is thirsty. The one who desires to partake of the water of life is invited to come and drink from the water of life. This appears to be an evangelistic invitation. The Spirit issues the invitation, and the bride of Christ gives the same invitation. Furthermore, the one who hears the words of this book adds his *amen* to it.

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Kirkers Read: Worshipping God Aright

As we get to what is often esteemed as the more tedious books of the Bible (i.e. Leviticus) it is imperative for us to remember who this God who is making these demands regarding how His people worship Him. Remember that Leviticus is a worship manual for God’s people. We confess that, “There is but one only, living, and true God, who is infinite in being and perfection, a most pure spirit, invisible, without body, parts, or passions; immutable, immense, eternal, incomprehensible, almighty, most wise, most holy, most free, most absolute; working all things according to the counsel of his own immutable and most righteous will, for his own glory (WCF Ch.II Sec.1).” This is the God whom we worship.

Now, since God is the Creator of the world, and since He has called us, His people, to worship Him, we should remember to worship Him according to His prescriptions and not according to our whims. Worship is not a flailing emotional catharsis for the worshipper. Rather, as Paul tells us, it is our reasonable service unto the God who has mercifully saved us (Rom. 12:1-2). Again, as the Westminster Confession puts it, “To him is due from angels and men, and every other creature, whatsoever worship, service, or obedience, He is pleased to require of them (WCF Ch.II Sec.2).”

So as you read Leviticus, along with Hebrews, remember that what is presented in shadowy form in the Levitical sacrifices and ceremonies are presented in Hebrews as the glorious midday sun. One Puritan described Leviticus as looking at someone you know and love dearly but with a veil over their face. Because you know Christ, you can discern His form and features through the veil of the Mosaic Law and Ordinances. Remember that the worship God demanded in Leviticus has not changed, but the sacrifice has changed. We still come to God through the mediatorial blood of another, but under the New Covenant, we come through the blood of the Lamb of God. We come through the blood of a sacrifice who rose back to life and ever pleads our cause before the Father. We worship God through Jesus Christ, and the power of the Holy Ghost.

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Grace & Peace: Revelation 115

He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still. And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last. Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie” (Revelation 22:11–15).

The massive judgments outlined in this book are imminent. A final appeal for repentance is given in the form of saying that there is no real time for repentance. The one who is unjust might as well stay that way. The one who is filthy . . .  let him be filthy still (v. 11). The same thing goes for the righteous and holy. That all this is tied to the nearness of the disasters is seen in the next phrase—“behold, I come quickly” (v. 12). Telling the filthy and the unjust that there is no time might stir them up to act while there is still (almost) time.

The Lord is coming quickly, and He has every man’s paycheck in hand. Every man will have the response of God apportioned in accordance with his work. This theme comes up in Scripture again and again (Matt. 16:27; 25:31ff; Rom. 2:6; 1 Pet. 1:17; Rev. 20:13). This is in no way conflicts with our salvation being all of grace, and entirely apart from works, as we can see in the arguments that Paul makes. The book of Romans is all about salvation by grace through faith, and yet one of the texts cited above is from early on in Romans. And we see how grace and works harmonize in his words elsewhere.

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:8–10).

We have been saved by grace through faith, and not of works. No man has any cause for boasting. We are not saved by good works, but we are in fact saved to good works. We are created in Christ Jesus to good works, works that were ordained beforehand for us to walk in. As foreordained works, this means that they necessarily follow salvation by grace. And, as such, there is no inconsistency when God uses them as an infallible indicator that salvation by grace has in fact occurred.

Another passage that highlights the consistency of grace and works is this one:

“Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure” (Phil. 2:12–13).

We are to work out our salvation, but this is only possible as we are working out what God is working in. And so it is that we are saved by works—the work of Christ on the cross, and the works of the Spirit within us, which works are, from our perspective, entirely and utterly gracious.

All the glory goes to Christ, who is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and end, and the first and last (v. 13). All the reprobate are judged by their works, and their wages are nothing but justice. All the saints are judged by the white linen of their righteous deeds, and are received into glory, and together they join their voices to praise the one who gave them that white linen. All their robes were cut from one bolt of cloth, and that cloth is the entire possession of Jesus Christ, and those with whom He shares it.

The seventh and last benediction in this book is then given. Blessed are those who do His commandments (v. 14). Keeping the commandments of God is itself a gift and grace, and those who walk in God’s ways are permitted to walk up to the tree of life and partake of it. Those who walk in His ways are permitted to come through the gates of the glorious city. They have free access to the City of God, being full citizens of it.

Excluded from the City (in this last and glorified state) are the evil-doers. The first category mentioned is that of dogs. There are various possibilities here. One is that Jews used to use this term to describe the Gentiles, but this would be odd since we have just seen John describing the glory and honor of the nations (ethnoi, Gentiles) streaming into the City (Rev. 21:26). Another usage is where Paul turns the epithet around, and applies it to the Judaizers (Phil. 3:2). This is possible, but given the nature of the other sins listed, it seems out of place. The last possibility, and the most likely one, is that it is referring to homosexuals

“Thou shalt not bring the hire of a whore, or the price of a dog, into the house of the Lord thy God for any vow: for even both these are abomination unto the Lordthy God” (Deut. 23:18).

This is referring to a male homosexual prostitute, and it is telling that the prohibition is banning the profits of such activity from being brought into the “house of God.” This is the same kind of context that John is talking about. So who is excluded? Who may not come in to defile the translucent city? Outside are the dogs, the witches, the pimps and johns, the abortionists and other murderers, those who bow down before senseless images, and whoever loves a lie, and loves to make them up.

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