Rev. 22:10 – He also said to me, “Don’t seal the prophetic words of this book, because the time is near. 11 Let the unrighteous go on in unrighteousness; let the filthy go on being made filthy; let the righteous go on in righteousness; and let the holy go on being made holy.” (HCSB)
Don’t seal the prophetic words
The angel has another command for John in verse 10: “Don’t seal the prophetic words of this book, because the time is near.” Looking back to the Old Testament, we see that at least three times Daniel is prohibited from sharing what has been revealed to him because those things are for “many days in the future,” or “the time of the end” (see Dan. 8:26; 12:4, 9). In stark contrast, and in light of the return of Christ in the last days, John is instructed not to seal these prophetic words because the time of their fulfillment is at hand. Perhaps in Revelation we are witnessing the unsealing of the visions Daniel was instructed to hold fast.
But other commentators suggest that a better way to understand the angel’s command here is to compare it with the voice from heaven in Revelation 10, which booms, “Seal up what the seven thunders said, and do not write it down!” John has been faithfully recording what he sees and hears, but in the middle of his visions he is told that this particular message is to remain hidden.
We should not assume that the message from the seven thunders is finally unveiled at the end of the book, because we receive no indication of what that message might be. Perhaps there simply are some things God determines should not be shared.
The apostle Paul has a unique experience in 2 Corinthians 12 in which he is taken up into the third heaven – presumably where the throne of God resides – and hears “inexpressible words, which a man is not allowed to speak” (v. 4). Is it possible that the words of the seven thunders are so awe-inspiring, so wonderful, so frightening that there is no earthly way to express them?
Rev. 22:8 – I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. When I heard and saw them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who had shown them to me. 9 But he said to me, “Don’t do that! I am a fellow slave with you, your brothers the prophets, and those who keep the words of this book. Worship God.” (HCSB)
Don’t do that!
In verse 8, John identifies himself one last time as the one to whom these visions are given. “I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things,” he declares. This harks back to chapter 1, in which the apostle calls himself Christ’s “slave John, who testified to God’s word and to the testimony about Jesus Christ in all he saw” (1:1b-2). He begins verse 4 with, “John: To the seven churches in Asia.” Shortly thereafter he writes, “I, John, your brother and partner in the tribulation, kingdom, and endurance that are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos because of God’s word and the testimony about Jesus” (1:9). As in his Gospel and letters, so in Revelation John is careful to emphasize the importance of eyewitness testimony concerning the person and work of Jesus Christ.
He begins his first epistle with these words:
What was from the beginning,
what we have heard,
what we have seen with our eyes,
what we have observed and have touched with our hands,
concerning the Word of life –
that life was revealed,
and we have seen it and we testify and declare to you
the eternal life that was with the Father
and was revealed to us –
what we have seen and heard
we also declare to you,
so that you may have fellowship along with us;
and indeed our fellowship is with the Father
and with His Son Jesus Christ (1 John 1:1-3)
Rev. 22:6 – Then he said to me, “These words are faithful and true. And the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, has sent His angel to show His slaves what must quickly take place.” 7 “Look, I am coming quickly! The one who keeps the prophetic words of this book is blessed.” (HCSB)
The time is near
John notes in verse 6, “Then he [the angel] said to me, ‘These words are faithful and true. And the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, has sent His angel to show His slaves what must quickly take place.’” This is followed immediately by the words of Jesus, who declares, “Look, I am coming quickly” (v. 7). Again, in verse 12, the Lamb says, “Look! I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me to repay each person according to what he has done.” Once again in verse 20 Jesus says, “Yes, I am coming quickly.” The angel adds to this sense of urgency the following command in verse 10: “Don’t seal the prophetic words of this book, because the time is near.”
Both Jesus and the angel assure John that what he has seen should be shared immediately because the fulfillment of these visions is imminent and the coming of Jesus is soon.
Rev. 22:1 – Then he showed me the river of living water, sparkling like crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb 2 down the middle of the broad street of the city. The tree of life was on both sides of the river, bearing 12 kinds of fruit, producing its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree are for healing the nations, 3 and there will no longer be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and His slaves will serve Him. 4 They will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads. 5 Night will no longer exist, and people will not need lamplight or sunlight, because the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign forever and ever. (HCSB)
The Source of life
The first five verses of the final chapter of Revelation describe four prominent objects in the New Jerusalem: (1) the river of living water, (2) the broad street of the city, (3) the tree of life, and (4) the throne of God and of the Lamb. Each of these relates in some fashion to God, who is the Source of life. Let’s take a closer look at these elements.
The river of living water. John describes the living water as “sparkling like crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the broad street of the city” (vv. 1-2). In Rev. 21:6, 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. We see that promise fulfilled in Revelation 22. The Greek word potamos is translated “river,” “flood,” or “stream” and is used metaphorically in John 7:38 to describe the blessing of eternal peace and satisfaction found in Christ. That same figurative application is used throughout Revelation, pointing us to the Source of eternal life.
Our verse-by-verse study of the Book of Revelation is nearly complete. For several years now, we’ve been 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.