There are at least seven promises given to us in Revelation 22 that confirm Jesus’ victory over Satan, sin and death. These promises also assure us that all the effects of the Fall are reversed in Christ’s finished work and the salvation He has provided for us by grace through faith.
In the previous post, we looked at promises 1-4. We conclude our brief survey now.
Promise No. 5: Light (v. 5)
Before creation there was darkness (Gen. 1:2), but God, who is light, brought light into the universe. Just as darkness is the absence of light, so evil is depicted in Scripture as darkness because it is an absence – perhaps more accurately, a shunning – of God’s holy presence. Eternal separation from God is called “outer darkness” (Matt. 8:12).
While Jesus suffered the wrath of God for the sins of the world there was darkness over the whole land (Mark 15:33). Unbelievers love darkness rather than light because their deeds are evil (John 3:19). Jesus came to deliver us from darkness (John 12:46). Darkness is associated with Satan and his kingdom (Acts 26:18; Rom. 13:12; Col. 1:13).
But in the New Jerusalem there is abundant light; in fact, there is no need of the sun, moon or stars, or of any artificial light, because God provides light for us. Why is this light promised to us? Because Jesus is the light of the world (John 8:12).
Promise No. 6: Reward and punishment (v. 12)
Because of our sin, we are under the wrath of God; our wages are death (Rom. 6:23). But Jesus came to deliver us from the bonds of sin and death. All those who believe in Him will not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16). This salvation is by God’s grace through faith, apart from works (John 5:24; Rom. 4:4-5; Eph. 2:8-9; Titus 3:5-7).
Even so, there is to be a final reckoning for all people with Jesus, who is the Judge of all people (John 5:22). Believers will stand before the judgment seat of Christ to be rewarded for faithful Christian service – or to lose rewards God intended for us (see Rom 14:10-12; 1 Cor. 3:14-15; 2 Cor. 5:10). This is not a judgment of our sins and does not result in anyone’s loss of salvation because Jesus was judged for us on the cross; rather, it is a time to give an account of our lives before Jesus and to receive His rewards for our faithfulness.
In a similar manner, unbelievers will stand one day before the great white throne to give an account of their lives (Rev. 20:11-15). This is not a last chance for salvation, for all are thrown into the lake of fire after judgment. But it is a time in which unbelievers will acknowledge the Lordship of Christ and be punished for their acts against the kingdom of God. Just as there are degrees of reward in heaven, there are degrees of punishment in hell; God is a just God. For believers, the greatest reward is Jesus Himself and the privilege of spending eternity with Him.
Promise No. 7: Entrance into the New Jerusalem (v. 14)
Adam and Eve were denied access to the Garden of Eden after the Fall. In fact, God placed cherubim at the entrance to the garden to keep them out. But in the New Jerusalem, access is freely granted to those who by faith “wash their robes” in the blood of the Lamb, while those outside the city gates demonstrate their unbelief through sinful lifestyles (Rev. 22:14-15; see also Rev. 21:8, 27).
This is possible only through Jesus, who is “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6); “the door” (John 10:9); “the resurrection and the life” (John 11:25); “the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright Morning Star” (Rev. 22:16). Just as access into the holy of holies was denied to all people, except the high priest on the Day of Atonement, access to God has been denied to all people because of sin; but Jesus, our great high priest, entered the holy of holies in heaven with His own blood and secured our salvation.
That’s why, upon His death, the veil in the temple, separating the holy place from the holy of holies, was torn in two from top to bottom (Matt. 27:51; see also 2 Cor. 3:14, 16). Christ’s flesh is likened to the veil, which, when torn, provides access to God (see Heb. 10:20).
We often do great harm to ourselves and to the testimony of Christ by arguing over the symbols and details of the Book of Revelation. While the symbols are important – and certainly meant something to first century readers as they mean to us – an extreme emphasis on them can prevent us from seeing the glorious truth that in the Apocalypse God urges us to persevere in our faith amidst a wide range of trials because He controls human history and will be faithful to all His promises.
In the end, we will see Him face to face, drink from the pure spring of living water, and dine at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. As John, the Spirit and the Bride say, so let us say, “Come, Lord Jesus” (Rev. 22:17, 20).
For a verse-by-verse study of the Book of Revelation, get The Searcher’s Guide to the Apocalypse: A Verse-by-Verse Quest to Understand the Book of Revelation.