By Stephen W. Hiemstra
And the LORD God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed…The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. A river flowed out of Eden to water the garden (Gen 2:8-10).
What is your picture of heaven?
I think that rural people dream of a heavenly city while urban people long for the solitude of a garden. Here the Apostle John has a vision of a heavenly Zion with the garden of Eden planted right in the middle of it.
Yet it is the image of God himself that dominates John’s vision: The sun shall be no more your light by day, nor for brightness shall the moon give you light; but the LORD will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory (Isa 60:19). The headwaters of the river of life proceed precisely from God’s heavenly throne (v. 1).
Even here salvation is not universal. The angel says: Let the evildoer still do evil, and the filthy still be filthy, and the righteous still do right, and the holy still be holy (v. 11). Our own hearts testify to the judgment that awaits us if we forsake the Lord by our actions.
For example, do we long for, like John: Come, Lord Jesus (v. 20)? Or is our lament reserved for the latest Apple IPhone?
Judgment does not escape those who arrogantly add and subtract from these prophecies—plagues are decreed! False teachers beware! Even Balaam refused to prophesy for love of money or to curse God’s chosen (Num 24:10). Are we as wise?
Revelation is not a book to be read with a spirit of complacency. We are presented with stark images and hard choices. Our guidance is, however, simple:
Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book (v. 7).
1. Describe the river of life. What is significant about it? (vv 1-2)
2. What curse are we talking about in verse 3? (Hint: Genesis 2:16-17)
3. How do you know you are saved? (v 4)
4. What is the significance of God providing the light in heaven and the absence of night? (v 5)
5. What is true? Who is blessed? (vv 6-7)
6. What mistake does John make a second time? Why is it important to know? (vv 8-9)
7. Who is the angel and what does he say? (vv 10-20)
8. What is odd about verse 11?
9. What does the word, recompense, mean or imply? (v 12)
10. What does Jesus say about time? How do you interpret it? (v 13)
11. What is the warning about adding and subtracting? (vv 18-19) Who is Balaam? (Num 24:10)
12.What is your favorite picture of heaven? Why?
13.What questions would you like to pose about the Book of Revelation?
Chapter 22 of Revelation: Amen, Come, Lord Jesus!
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Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net, Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com.
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