The book of Daniel is to the Old Testament what Revelation is to the New Testament – an apocalyptic work full of prophetic imagery, with sufficient common application for the reader who trusts in the sovereignty of God and sees His hand in the world today. Daniel’s life bridges the entire Babylonian captivity (605 – 539 B.C.). He is God’s mouthpiece to the Jewish and Gentile world declaring God’s present and future plans.
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 the effects of the Fall are reversed in Christ’s finished work at Calvary 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 to His promises.
Seven promises in Revelation 22
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 absolutely 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 writing 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).
Promise No. 2: The tree of life (v. 2)
There was a tree of life, along with a tree of the knowledge of good and evil, in the Garden of Eden (Gen. 2:9; 3:22). When mankind fell into sin, God banished Adam and Eve from Eden lest they partake of the tree of life and be forever locked in a sinful state. Note in Genesis that trees God created were pleasing to the sight and good for food. In Revelation we see that the tree of life yields food year round, and its leaves provide medicine for healing. Whether this is to be taken literally or symbolically is up for debate, but it’s clear that the tree of life is beautiful and provides what is needed for eternal life and health. Jesus, in His resurrected body, ate and drank, and there is promised a Marriage Supper of the Lamb in heaven, so it’s not unreasonable to conclude that the tree of life does indeed provide food for believers. Meanwhile, the healing of nations will have been completed in the destruction of death (see Rev. 20:14; Ezek. 47:12). Interestingly, access to the tree of life is granted to us only because Jesus died on a tree (Gal. 3:13).
Promise No. 3: No more curse (v. 3)
Curses came as a result of man’s sin (Gen. 3:14-19). Life on earth and procreation became exceedingly more difficult and humans suffered two kinds of death – spiritual and physical – as a result of their rebellion. But in the New Jerusalem the curse is lifted. Mankind lives forever in the presence of God and finds no difficulty gaining access to abundant food and water. In the curse, humans are removed from direct access to God, but in the New Jerusalem that access is restored. And while people were cursed as a result of their sin, Jesus, who knew no sin, became a curse for us (Gal 3:13; see Deut. 21:23).
Promise No. 4: Seeing the face of God (v. 4)
After Adam and Eve sinned, they hid themselves from God and felt both shame and fear (Gen. 3:8). Sin does that. It separates us from God and denies us access to Him because of His holiness and our sinfulness. Even devout servants like Moses were not allowed to see the face of God (Ex. 33:20-23). But Rev. 22:4 tells us that in the life to come, believers will see God face-to-face and enjoy the intimacy that Adam and Eve experienced before they fell into sin. How is this possible? Because Jesus took upon Himself our sins and bore the wrath of God on the cross. He experienced spiritual death (“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Matt. 27:46) and physical death (“And Jesus … yielded up his spirit” Matt. 27:50). But in His death, burial and resurrection He restored us to a right relationship with God and we have His promise that one day our faith will be made sight. The phrase “his name will be on their foreheads” in Rev. 22:4 signifies God’s ownership of us and His promise to protect us.
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 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 will provide 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 “wash their robes” (by faith 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 made 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 descendant of David, the bright morning star” (Rev. 22:16). Just as access into the holy of holies was denied to all Jews, 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, provided 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 do to us – an over emphasis on them can prevent us from seeing the glorious truth that in the Apocalypse God is urging 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).
Where we are:
Part 1: Judgment
Part 2: Historical Interlude
Part 3: Salvation
When this takes place:
Chapter 10 takes place during the reign of Ahaz, Judah’s wicked king.
Isa. 10:21: The remnant will return, the remnant of Jacob, to the Mighty God.
The Lord will use Assyria as the rod of His anger against unrepentant Israel. Then He will punish the king of Assyria for his arrogance and welcome a remnant of Jacob. “In just a little while My wrath will be spent,” the Lord tells His people, “and My anger will turn to their (Assyria’s) destruction” (v. 25).
The sovereign hand of God is clearly revealed throughout this chapter. In verses 1-4 He laments the injustice of His people and promises to punish it; in verses 5-11 He refers to Assyria as the rod of His wrath; in verses 12-19 He promises to rebuke Assyria for its prideful acts of aggression; in verses 20-26 He declares that a remnant will return to the Mighty God; and in verses 27-34 He reassures His people that the yoke of Assyrian oppression will fall from Israel’s neck.
Crooked statutes (Isa. 10:1-4)
Israel’s leaders are guilty of several evil acts: 1) enacting crooked statutes; 2) writing oppressive laws; 3) preventing the poor from getting fair trials; 4) depriving the afflicted of justice; 5) hurting widows; and 6) plundering the fatherless. By preying on the vulnerable, the leaders are violating God’s law (see Ex. 22:22; 23:6; Deut. 15:7-8; 24:17-18). As a result, the whole nation will go into captivity. The leaders will have no one to help them, just as they refused to help their fellow countrymen in need. “Those who had defrauded the poor and made unjust laws for their own profit would lose all their wealth and cringe among the captives, or fall among the slain” (Larry Richards, Lawrence O. Richards, The Teacher’s Commentary, S 374).
Assyria: tool of God’s wrath (Isa. 10:5-19)
Verses 5-11 show how God is using Assyria as “the rod of My anger” (v. 5), while 12-19 warn the arrogant Assyrian king that even he is subject to Almighty God. The destruction of the northern kingdom by Shalmaneser was foretold in chapter 9 and accomplished in the sixth year of Hezekiah’s reign (see 2 Kings 18:10). Now, God foretells the judgment of the southern kingdom (Judah) at the hands of Sennacherib, the Assyrian king, and this is accomplished in the 14th year of Hezekiah.
“The knowledge that the aggressor is wielded by God puts the question of wicked men’s success in its proper context, by showing that it serves the ends of justice when it seems to defy them (6-7), and it is neither impressive in itself (15) nor ultimately unpunished (12),” writes D.A. Carson in The New Bible Commentary (S. Is 10:5).
While God will use Assyria to punish a “godless nation” – strong words for Israel in verse 6 – the Assyrian king sees Israel as one of many nations he intends to destroy. His sights also are set on Egypt and Ethiopia (Isa. 20:1-6). Matthew Henry comments: “When God makes use of men as instruments in his hand to do his work it is very common for him to mean one thing and them to mean another, nay, for them to mean quite the contrary to what he intends. What Joseph’s brethren designed for hurt God overruled for good, Gen. 50:20. See Mic. 4:11, 12. Men have their ends and God has his, but we are sure the counsel of the Lord shall stand” (Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: Complete and Unabridged in One Volume, S. Is 10:5).
Assyria already has conquered the Aramean cities of Calno, Carchemish, Hamath, Arpad, Damascus, and Israel’s capital of Samaria. Because the Assyrians believed these cities had greater gods than Jerusalem, the taking of the capital of Judah would be relatively easy. Assyria’s motives clearly are political and expansionist. However, God ultimately will strike down Assyria because of the king’s “arrogant acts and the proud look in his eyes” (v. 12). Five times in verses 13-14 the king uses the word “I” and twice he uses the word “me” to describe his achievements, attributing them entirely to his own military might rather than to God.
So how will the Lord bring haughty Assyria low? First, He compares Assyria to a tool in His hand – an ax, saw, staff, or rod – and then He vows to afflict the people with “an emaciating disease” and a “burning fire” (v. 16). God will destroy the Assyrian army like trees consumed in a forest fire. So few soldiers will be left standing that a child may count them. This is fulfilled years later when, in 701 B.C., 185,000 Assyrian soldiers surrounding Jerusalem are killed (Isa. 37:36-37). Then, in 609 B.C., the Assyrians fall to the Babylonians.
The remnant will return (Isa. 10:20-26)
Isaiah now contrasts the defeated remnant of Assyria (v. 19) with the repentant remnant of Israel, which will learn to depend on God rather than on alliances with idolatrous nations such as Assyria and Egypt. This is partly fulfilled in the days of Hezekiah, but it appears this will be more completely fulfilled in the days after the defeat of Antichrist and the return of Israel to the Lord (see Rom. 9:27-28).
Isaiah assures his readers that they need not fear the Assyrians. After God uses them to punish His own people, He will turn His wrath on the Assyrians, dealing with them as He did with the Midianites and the two Midianite leaders (Judges 7:1-25). The Lord of Hosts also will destroy the Assyrians – referred to figuratively as “the sea” – as He did the Egyptians in the days of Moses.
Target of God’s wrath (Isa. 10:27-34)
The route the Assyrian invaders would take in their assault on Judah begins at the northern boundary of Judah at Aiath (another name for Ai) about eight miles from Jerusalem and continues to Nob, two miles north of the city. The sites of eight of the 12 cities mentioned in this passage are known today, according to The Bible Knowledge Commentary. But Assyria will not succeed in its plan to take Jerusalem. The Lord God of Hosts will intervene and cut down the invading troops as if they were trees, chopping off their branches “with terrifying power” (v. 33). “In the end history will turn to destiny, and the plans and promises of our Sovereign Lord will be perfectly fulfilled” (The Teacher’s Commentary, S. 375).
Gary V. Smith comments: “Sometimes righteous people do not know why they suffer, but at other times God clearly reveals that people are being punished for their sins (as in Isaiah 10). In such cases, it is always wise for the sinners to return to God and rely on him. Trusting in other men or nations will only lead to disappointment. The only true source of hope is to lean on Almighty God and fear only him” (The New American Commentary: Isaiah 1-39, p. 267).
Copyright 2008 by Rob Phillips