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).
Rev. 21:1 – Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea no longer existed. 2 I also saw the Holy City, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared like a bride adorned for her husband. 3 Then I heard a loud voice from the throne: Look! God’s dwelling is with humanity, and He will live with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death will no longer exist; grief, crying, and pain will exist no longer, because the previous things have passed away.
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. 7 The victor will inherit these things, and I will be his God, and he will be My son. 8 But the cowards, unbelievers, vile, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars – their share will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.” (HCSB)
A brief summary
Verses 1-8 appear to offer us a brief summary of what is described in more detail in the remainder of chapters 21-22. John sees a new heaven, a new earth, and a new Jerusalem. The Greek word John uses for “new” is kainos, which means “different from the usual, impressive, better than the old, superior in value or attraction,” according to the Theological Dictionary of the New Testament. In other words, God does not simply annihilate the old order of things and start again from scratch; He purges the sinful and fallen cosmos and restores it to its pristine beauty.
Steve Gregg explains in Revelation: Four Views, “One way of understanding the structure of these final chapters is to see this whole segment (vv. 1-8) as an outline or summary of the remaining portion of the book. A remarkable correspondence exists between the progression of thought in these first verses and in the remaining chapters” (p. 492).
- In verse 2 we see the New Jerusalem, explained more fully in Rev. 21:9-21.
- In verse 3 we see that God dwells among men, described in more detail in Rev. 21:22-27.
- In verse 5 we see the renewal of the world, for which we are provided more information in Rev. 22:1-5.
- In verse 5 we also see, “These words are faithful and true,” which is expanded upon in Rev. 22:6-10.
- In verse 6 we see Jesus declare His work completed, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega,” more fully revealed in Rev. 22:11-15.
- In verses 6-7 we see a final blessing, the water of life to all who thirst, expanded upon in Rev. 22:16-17.
- And in verse 8 we see the final curse upon the rebellious, repeated in Rev. 22:18-19.