Are you familiar with Revelation 23?
Probably not because the Book of Revelation ends with chapter 22. However, that isn’t the end. Our future as God’s people is never-ending.
Here’s what the Apostle John saw in his vision of Heaven and our future with God.
And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river, was the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. And there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve Him. They shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads. There shall be no night there: They need no lamp nor light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them light. And they shall reign forever and ever. Revelation 22:1-5
Notice the references to the first chapters of Genesis in the last chapter of Revelation –
- water of life
- tree of life
- God’s face
God gave humans everything needed to reign with Him, but we lost it through Adam’s sin. However, we receive it back in great abundance through Christ’s sacrificial defeat of the works of the devil (1 John 3:8). God created humans to reign with Him – and reign we will.
Our Future Reign
The vision of our future with God ends with verses 1-5 of Revelation 22. What follows in verses 6-21 contain an angel’s directive to John concerning not sealing the words of the prophecy, final words from Jesus Christ to the seven churches mentioned at the beginning of the Revelation, and a warning not to add to or take away from the prophecy.
Revelation chapters 19 – 22 reveal to everyone who reads them the final moments of the last days. You can compare the words in these chapters with what Jesus told His disciples when He was with them on earth and what the prophets spoke thousands of years ago.
What I’d like to focus on in this study is the last sentence in verse 22:5 – “And they shall reign forever and ever.” Notice these key words:
- shall reign
- forever and ever
In Bible study we first observe words, word structure, and context. Once we are satisfied that we have seen everything there is to see in the text and context, we move to questions for interpretation. Once we are satisfied that we have asked and thoroughly answered every question arising from the text and context, we move to interpreting the text. Once we are satisfied that we have accurately interpreted the text, we move to applying the text as prescribed by the process we have followed.
We find the meaning of the word “they” in the context – “His servants shall serve Him. They shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads. There shall be no night there: They need no lamp nor light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them light. And they shall reign forever and ever.”
The word “they” refers to God’s servants. Who are God’s servants? We also learn who they are by reading the context – “And the nations of those who are saved shall walk in its light, and the kings of the earth bring their glory and honor into it. Its gates shall not be shut at all by day (there shall be no night there). And they shall bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it.” Revelation 21:23-25
God’s servants are those “who are saved.” Who are the saved? “… only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life”(Revelation 21:27b). How does one get his or her name written in the Book of Life? “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son” (Revelation 21:6-7).
As we continue to ask questions for understanding and interpreting the text, we reach backward in the Book of Revelation to arrive at these words – “To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen” (Revelation 1:5-6). The saved who will inherit all things are those who believed Jesus Christ loved them and washed there from their sins in His blood shed on the Cross.
As Paul said and wrote so clearly concerning salvation:
Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household. Acts 16:31
… that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. Romans 10:9-10
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. Ephesians 2:8-9
If you believe in Jesus Christ the way Paul has written, you are saved.
Having said that, let me add another word. Salvation is not repeating a little prayer saying you believe in Jesus, then go on your merry way to live your life in any way you want. Salvation is not what you get from growing up in a Christian family or going to a church. If that’s what you think, I highly recommend you read the Gospels, Acts, and apostolic letters again. Then, read them again.
Salvation means you trust in Christ for your life and are committed to serving Him forever and ever. Many people who think they are saved will wake from the sleep of death to face the wrath of God. Jesus made that clear in one of His early sermons about His Kingdom.
Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ Matthew 7:21-23
Jesus continued to echo that message throughout His earthly ministry.
Then they also will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’ Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life. Matthew 25:44-46
If you wonder whether the word “they” in Revelation 22:5 refers to you, ask yourself why you wonder that. What about your belief and/or behavior would cause you to question whether you will be one of the “they” who are God’s servants who will serve Him forever and ever. Trust me – it’s worth your time now to think about your future in Heaven. When Jesus judges – will you be on the right side or the wrong side?
When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. Matthew 25:31-34
Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels. Matthew 25:41
Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire. Revelation 20:11-15
My prayer is that you will be on the ‘right’ (righteous) side when Jesus comes into His Kingdom. You will be one of the “they” of Revelation 22:4 – “They shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads.”
God created humans to reign with Him –
Then God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth. Genesis 1:28
The word “dominion” in Hebrew is radah and means “to rule, to dominate.” God created humans to rule the earth with Him. However, there was a stipulation to that rule. Humans were God’s creation. They were created in God’s image and likeness, but they were not God. They would rule with Him by serving Him. Even as they ruled and dominated the earth, their service would include obedience to their Creator.
Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, ‘Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die. Genesis 2:15-17
Satan, a powerful angel who was disobedient to God, moved in quickly to subvert humanity’s special relationship with God.
Then the serpent said to the woman, ‘You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil. Genesis 3:4-5
Adam and Eve bought into Satan’s lie and we have history as evidence of the results of that lie. God created angels and humans to serve Him. That’s what we see in Revelation 22:3 – “His servants shall serve Him.”
God’s intention when He created the first heaven and first earth was that humans would rule and reign with Him. That is God’s intention for the new heaven and the new earth as well. Remember how Revelation begins:
To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen” Revelation 1:5-6
Those people who God loves and have had their sins washed in the blood of Christ are “kings and priests.” Kings and priests of what?
Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away. Revelation 21:1-4
Come, I will show you the bride, the Lamb’s wife.’ And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, having the glory of God. Revelation 21:9-11
But I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light. And the nations of those who are saved shall walk in its light, and the kings of the earth bring their glory and honor into it. Its gates shall not be shut at all by day (there shall be no night there). And they shall bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it. But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. Revelation 21:22-27
We will be kings and priests of a new heaven and new earth.
And have made us kings and priests to our God; And we shall reign on the earth. Revelation 5:10
The Greek word for “reign” is basileuó and means “to be king, to rule.” We will be with Christ and share in His reign on the earth.
None of this should surprise us. The apostles made it quite clear that God’s people would rule and reign with Him.
This is a faithful saying: For if we died with Him, We shall also live with Him. If we endure, We shall also reign with Him. 2 Timothy 2:11-12
Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? 1 Corinthians 6:2
And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. Revelation 20:4
Before we might think too highly of ourselves, let’s remember that Christ is King of kings and Lord of lords. We will rule and reign with Him, but we are His servants – “the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve Him (Revelation 22:3). May we never forget who rightfully sits on Heaven’s Throne.
We will look at “forever and ever” in the next part of our series, Revelation 23 – Our Future Reign.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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Hi!Yes,familiar with Revelation. I just recently finished reading/studyiing my Bible. It’s good!It’s a temporary home.