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 this regard, we should view Revelation not merely as a book of frightening – and often confusing – imagery, but as a book of warm and assuring promises about God’s sovereignty over human affairs and angelic conflict. In the end, we who read, hear and heed the words of this prophecy are indeed blessed because we know the God who created all things is faithful.
Promise No. 1: Living water (v. 1; see also Rev. 21:6; 22:17)
There was a river in the Garden of Eden (Gen. 2:10) that served as the source of four other rivers. But when Adam and Eve were banished from the Garden they lost access to this pure source of water and drank from streams now affected by the Fall. A person may live for up to 40 days without food but only three days without water. The body itself is made up largely of water, so water is essential to life. Jesus often spoke about water as an image of eternal life supplied by the Holy Spirit (see John 4:10-14; 7:37-39).
In the New Jerusalem, we see a river of pure, living water flow from the throne of God and of the Lamb, and all whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life may drink freely from it. Ezekiel also had a vision of pure water in the glorious future temple (Ezek. 47:1-12; see also Zech. 14:8). This living water depicts the Holy Spirit who inhabits the human spirits of believers but is cut off from unbelievers (Rom. 8:9).
We are nearly through with our verse-by-verse study of the Book of Revelation, focusing on four major views of the so-called Apocalypse of John.
You may read the commentary to date either by clicking on End Times or Revelation in the drop-down menu (Topics) to the right.
Whether you’re a preterist, who sees the events of Revelation as fulfilled in the first centuries of the Christian era; a historicist, who views the events of Revelation as unfolding throughout the course of history; a futurist, who sees most of Revelation as yet unfulfilled; or an idealist, who sees Revelation setting forth timeless truths concerning the battle between good and evil, there are important truths the Lord reveals to all of us in this book.
We would do well to approach Revelation with caution — and with great anticipation, knowing God will fulfill all His promises to us. We also should be comforted by the fact that Revelation is the only book in Scripture specifically promising a blessing to those who hear its prophecies and keep them.
Previously: Salvation, glory, and power – Revelation 19:1-5
Rev. 19:6 – Then I heard something like the voice of a vast multitude, like the sound of cascading waters, and like the rumbling of loud thunder, saying: Hallelujah, because our Lord God, the Almighty, has begun to reign! 7 Let us be glad, rejoice, and give Him glory, because the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has prepared herself. 8 She was given fine linen to wear, bright and pure. For the fine linen represents the righteous acts of the saints. (HCSB)
The marriage of the Lamb has come
In verse 6, John once again hears something like the voice of a vast multitude, further described “like the sound of cascading waters, and like the rumbling of loud thunder.” Likely, this is the same heavenly choir we encounter in verses 1-3, but it is singing a different tune. Rather than praise God for his righteous judgment of the notorious prostitute, the multitude now exults in the coming reign of the Lord and the marriage of the Lamb.
“Hallelujah, because our Lord God, the Almighty, has begun to reign!” the choir sings. We should not imply from these words of celebration that our eternal and omnipotent God has ever failed to reign. The earth – indeed the whole universe – is always under His watchful eye and sovereign hand.
However, these heaven dwellers know full well that Satan, too, has a kingdom. He rebelled against God and took a vast number of fallen angels with him. He usurped the dominion God entrusted to Adam through deceit. As the god of this age and the prince of a dark kingdom in opposition to God, he is the “strong man” of whom Jesus speaks in Mat. 12:29. But in coming to earth and putting on the veil of the flesh, Jesus has entered the strong man’s house and bound him.
Since His finished work on the cross 2,000 years ago, the Lamb of God has been plundering the strong man’s goods – the souls of people – and bringing them into the kingdom of heaven. The judgment of Babylon the Great signals the complete collapse of Satan’s rebellious kingdom. Yet we should comfort ourselves in knowing that the reign of God over all creation has never been in jeopardy.
Rev. 18:11 – The merchants of the earth will also weep and mourn over her, because no one buys their merchandise any longer – 12 merchandise of gold, silver, precious stones, and pearls; fine fabrics of linen, purple, silk, and scarlet; all kinds of fragrant wood products; objects of ivory; objects of expensive wood, brass, iron, and marble; 13 cinnamon, spice, incense, myrrh, and frankincense; wine, olive oil, fine wheat flour, and grain; cattle and sheep; horses and carriages; and slaves and human lives. 14 The fruit you craved has left you. All your splendid and glamorous things are gone; they will never find them again.
15 The merchants of these things, who became rich from her, will stand far off in fear of her torment, weeping and mourning, 16 saying, Woe, woe, the great city, dressed in fine linen, purple, and scarlet, adorned with gold, precious stones, and pearls, 17 for in a single hour such fabulous wealth was destroyed! (HCSB)
The merchants’ lament
The merchants’ lament echoes that of the kings but focuses on the prostitute’s costly apparel and accessories. They mourn the fact that such wealth is laid waste in so short a time.
The Greek word translated “weep” in verses 9 and 11 means a loud lamentation as opposed to private grief. Those who built their empires with merchandise cannot buy a storehouse large enough to contain their anguish. Take note that the merchants do not sorrow over the fate of the prostitute but over the loss of their business with her. It is a most excruciating grief because it is completely self-absorbed.
Rev. 18:6 – Pay her back the way she also paid, and double it according to her works. In the cup in which she mixed, mix a double portion for her. 7 As much as she glorified herself and lived luxuriously, give her that much torment and grief, for she says in her heart, “I sit as a queen; I am not a widow, and I will never see grief.” 8 For this reason her plagues will come in one day – death and grief and famine. She will be burned up with fire, because the Lord God who judges her is mighty. (HCSB)
Pay her back
The voice from heaven calls, “Pay her back the way she also paid, and double it according to her works. In the cup in which she mixed, mix a double portion for her” (v. 6). To whom is the Lord speaking? Perhaps His angels, who execute judgment, or perhaps the earth’s wicked who unwittingly carry out God’s justice, thinking they are conquering a vanquished foe.
Twice there is a reference to double payback. We have seen this before in scripture. The Lord speaks through Isaiah that Judah will be comforted after she has received from the Lord’s hand “double for all her sins” (Isa. 40:2). This is a way of saying that Judah’s sentence is fully satisfied before God. In a similar manner, the Israelites are promised in Isa. 61:7, “Because your shame was double, and they cried out, ‘Disgrace is their portion,’ therefore, they will possess double in their land, and eternal joy will be theirs.”