Making everything new – Revelation 21:5-6

Light from heaven

Previously: God’s dwelling is with humanity – Revelation 21:3-4

The scripture

Rev. 21:5 – Then the One seated on the throne said, “Look! I am making everything new.” He also said, “Write, because these words are faithful and true.” 6 And He said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give water as a gift to the thirsty from the spring of life.” (HCSB)

Making everything new

In verses 5-6 John writes, “Then the One seated on the throne said, ‘Look! I am making everything new.’ He also said, ‘Write, because these words are faithful and true.’ And He said to me, ‘It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give water as a gift to the thirsty from the spring of life.’

In the creation, God makes everything out of nothing (ex nihilo) and declares all He has made to be good. Sinless perfection is the norm until Adam and Eve fall into sin, bringing death upon themselves and entropy upon the created order. From the garden, however, God provides atonement through a substitutionary sacrifice and a promise that the “seed” of Eve will crush Satan’s head and set things right.

We get glimpses of the world set right throughout scripture. Yahweh defeats the false gods of the Egyptians and parts the Red Sea for His people. A widow finds an abundance of oil and flour after she offers the last of her supply to the prophet Elijah. A leper is healed after bathing in the Jordan River. An army of 185,000 Assyrians is struck dead in a single night. And the prophets of old share inspiring predictions of a world restored, where the lion and the lamb lie down together while the child plays over the cobra’s den.

Messiah appears

Then the Messiah appears, giving us a foretaste of the ultimate glory that is ours: He forgives sins; receives worship; heals the sick; makes the lame walk again; raises the dead; cleanses the temple; dies on the cross to pay our sin debt; rises from the dead to conquer Satan, sin, and death; and, after promising to return one day to fulfill all things, He ascends into heaven and sits at the Father’s right hand, serving today as our Mediator and Intercessor. He provides us with regeneration, making us new creatures by His grace through faith.

Yes, we still live in a sinful and fallen world, but the position of Christ at the Father’s right hand and the presence of the Holy Spirit as our guarantee of future resurrection and glorification provide the confidence we need to wait eagerly for Jesus’ return.

Everything God touches He makes new. Even His judgment of the wicked is the removal of death and decay from the creation. Now, at last, in Rev. 21:5 Jesus declares that He is fulfilling His promise to make everything new. His promise in Matt. 19:28 of “the regeneration,” or the Messianic Age, is at last upon us. Not only are repentant sinners made new through regeneration, but the entire creation is purged of sin and its effects so that the pristine beauty of Eden is fully restored. The faithful walk with God in the cool of the day as He pitches His tent among redeemed humanity.

Jesus tells John in verse 5: “Write, because these words are faithful and true.” Matthew Henry observes: “The truth and certainty of this blessed state are ratified by the word and promise of God, and ordered to be committed to writing, as matter of perpetual record. The subject-matter of this vision is so great, and of such great importance to the church and people of God, that they have need of the fullest assurances of it; and God therefore from heaven repeats and ratifies the truth thereof. Besides, many ages must pass between the time when this vision was given forth and the accomplishment of it, and many great trials must intervene; and therefore God would have it committed to writing, for perpetual memory, and continual use to his people” (Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: Complete and Unabridged in One Volume, p. 2484).

Faithful and true

The written word of God is faithful and true (2 Tim. 3:16-17), and so is the living Word of God (Rev. 19:11). Throughout His earthly ministry, Jesus repeatedly affirms the veracity of the scriptures, reminding His listeners that the written word of God testifies of Him. In John 5:39-40, Jesus tells the religious leaders of His day: “You pore over the Scriptures because you think you have eternal life in them, yet they testify about Me. And you are not willing to come to Me so that you may have life.”

In a very real sense, to deny the infallibility of God’s written word is to deny its fulfillment in the Word who became flesh. And to profess faith in the truth of God’s written word and yet to deny such key truths as the virgin birth of Christ, His miraculous deeds, and His physical resurrection is a futile attempt to separate the written word from the living Word. Jesus does not merely know the truth; He is the truth (John 14:6).

And His affirmation of scripture as an unbreakable collection of God’s written revelation puts His reputation as the eternal Son of God squarely on the line. Both the written and living Words are true – or neither one is true. We walk on perilous spiritual ground when we cherry pick what to believe about God’s Word.

It is done!

In verse 6, Jesus adds, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give water as a gift to the thirsty from the spring of life.” In declaring, “It is done,” Jesus may be alluding to His triumphant shout on the cross, “It is finished!” At Calvary, He completes the work of redemption, and now, seated on His heavenly throne, He completes the work of judgment. A similar cry is made from the throne in Rev. 16:17: “Then the seventh [and final angel] poured out his bowl into the air, and a loud voice came out of the sanctuary from the throne, saying, ‘It is done!’” Jesus’ words also appear to set the new creation in the context of the old; Psalm 33:9 reminds us, “For He spoke, and it came into being [it was done, KJV, NASB]; He commanded, and it came into existence.”

John Gill provides additional commentary: “The end of all things is come; it is all over with the first heaven and earth; these are no more, and the new heaven and earth are finished…. The whole election of grace is completed; every individual vessel of mercy is called by grace; all the saints are brought with Christ, and their bodies raised, and living saints changed, and all together are as a bride prepared for her husband; and the nuptials are now solemnized; all the promises and prophecies relating to the glorious state of the church are now fulfilled; the mystery of God, spoken by his servants, is finished; the kingdom of Christ is complete, and all other kingdoms are destroyed; the day of redemption is come; the salvation of the saints is perfect; what was finished on the cross, by way of impetration, is now done as to application; all are saved with an everlasting salvation” (Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible, found at http://biblehub.com/revelation/21-6.htm).

One other thought should be expressed here regarding Jesus’ words, “It is done!” When God speaks of matters, whether past, present, or future, we can be certain it is true. In His omniscience, God knows all events stretched across eternity; there is nothing tentative in His voice when He tells us, “It is done!”

Events that are yet future to us – such as our resurrection and glorification – are as certain as if they already occurred. That’s why the apostle Paul could write, “For those He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brothers. And those He predestined, He also called; and those He called, He also justified; and those He justified, He also glorified” (Rom. 8:29-30). The full range of our benefits as children of God – from foreknowledge to glorification – are spoken of in the past tense, expressing Paul’s confidence that what God has begun in us He will complete (see Phil. 1:6).

Alpha and Omega

Next, the One seated on the throne gives us His titles of honor as a pledge that what He has promised will come true. “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End,” he says. Alpha is the first letter in the Greek alphabet, and omega is the last. These letters appear together three times in the New Testament in the phrase “the Alpha and the Omega.” Twice they refer to God the Father (Rev. 1:8, 21:6) and once to God the Son (Rev. 22:13).

In addition, we see the Father and Son identify themselves as “the Beginning and the End” (the Father in Rev. 21:6; the Son in 22:13), and we see Jesus identify Himself as “the First and the Last” (Rev. 1:17; 2:8, and 22:13). This illustrates the close relationship between the Father and Son and establishes their co-equality and co-eternity.

Jesus makes this clear throughout His teachings, and the eyewitnesses of His ministry understand His claims of deity. For example, in John 5:18 we read, “This is why the Jews began trying all the more to kill Him: Not only was He breaking the Sabbath, but He was even calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God.”

In John 10:30 Jesus declares, “The Father and I are one.” The Jews are determined to stone Jesus, and when He asks them why they respond, “We aren’t stoning You for a good work … but for blasphemy, because You – being a man – make Yourself God” (John 10:33).

A few chapters later Philip implores Jesus, “Lord, show us the Father, and that’s enough for us.” Jesus responds, “The one who has seen Me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father?’ Don’t you believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me? The words I speak to you I do not speak on My own. The Father who lives in Me does His works. Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me. Otherwise, believe because of the works themselves” (John 14:8-11).

Other passages could be cited, but the point is that in Revelation 21 God assures us His promises are true because He is the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End, the Alpha and the Omega – the eternal, sovereign Creator and Ruler of all things.

The HCSB Study Bible notes: “‘The Alpha and the Omega’ appears in juxtaposition to ‘the One who is, who was, and who is coming’ (Rev. 1:8), as well as to ‘the Beginning and the End’ (Rev. 21:6) and ‘the First and the Last’ (Rev. 22:13). The phrase sums up the entirety of God’s sovereign power over all things, specifically His control over all human history. ‘The Alpha and the Omega’ has the power to begin and end all things in accordance with His decree, and the phrase provides strong affirmation of Jesus’ death and messianic lordship” (p. 2228).

The Dictionary of Bible Prophecy and End Times adds: “The prophetic meaning of the title for the early church was to reinforce their faith in God as sovereign over their personal circumstances. He is Lord of creation and Lord of the new creation. He is victorious over every contender, and no rival power can keep him from accomplishing his purpose and plan. Knowing that God is in control of history encourages Christians who are being threatened by worldly powers. While economic, religious, and military powers such as Rome may seem invincible from a human perspective, they are in reality under the ultimate control of the Triune God, who holds all of time and eternity in his hands” (pp. 21-22).

Water as a gift

Finally in verse 6, the One seated on the throne says, “I will give water as a gift to the thirsty from the spring of life.” This promise draws deeply from the Old and New Testaments and speaks of eternal life received by God’s grace through faith. David writes in Psalm 36:8-9, “They are filled from the abundance of Your house; You let them drink from Your refreshing stream, for with You is life’s fountain …” Proverbs 14:27 states, “The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, turning people away from the snares of death.”

In Matt. 5:6 Jesus tells His listeners, “Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness are blessed, for they will be filled.” The righteousness of which He speaks is His own; believers are clothed in the righteousness of Christ and their spiritual thirst is satisfied. Jesus tells a Samaritan woman, “If you knew the gift of God, and who is saying to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would ask Him, and He would give you living water…. Everyone who drinks from this water will get thirsty again. But whoever drinks from the water that I will give him will never get thirsty again – ever! In fact, the water I will give him will become a well of water springing up within him for eternal life” (John 4:10, 13-14).

One of the most graphic illustrations of the spiritual water offered to those who believe comes in John 7 during the feast of tabernacles, a feast in which water plays a significant role. On the seventh day of the feast, the Temple water-pouring ceremony, which is performed each morning throughout the week, takes on great importance. Jewish tradition holds that it is on this day that God decides whether there will be rain for the next year’s crops. Instead of three silver-trumpet blasts, there are seven sets of three blasts. Rather than one circuit around the altar, the priests make seven circuits.

The day is known as the Hoshana Rabbah, or “Great Hosanna.” It is during this ceremony that Jesus stands up and shouts, “If anyone is thirsty, he should come to Me and drink! The one who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, will have streams of living water flow from deep within” (John 7:37-38). The Jewish leaders are infuriated; some want to seize Him, but no one lays a hand on Him A debate ensues among the people, many of whom do not realize, or will not believe, He is the Son of David, born in Bethlehem, the Messiah (John 7:40-44). The chief priests and the Pharisees rebuke the Temple officers, who had the authority to arrest Jesus for disturbing the ceremony, but the officers reply, “No man ever spoke like this” (John 7:46).

In Revelation 7, as John sees a vast multitude from every nation, tribe, people, and language worshiping around the throne, one of the elders tells him, “For the Lamb who is at the center of the throne will shepherd them; He will guide them to springs of living waters, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes” (v. 17). In Rev. 22:1 we read, “Then he showed me the river of living water, sparkling like crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb.” And in verse 27 we read, “Both the Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ Anyone who hears should say, ‘Come!’ And the one who is thirsty should come. Whoever desires should take the living water as a gift.”

All of these passages assure us that God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – is our supply of eternal life, which begins the moment we trust in Him and extends into eternity future. God is indeed the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last, and as the sovereign Lord of the universe He graciously supplies all we need for an intimate, everlasting relationship with Him.

Next: The victor will inherit these things – Revelation 21:7-8

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