Dr. Andy Woods
The Identification by Omission, Revelation 22:18-27
Let’s take our Bibles and open them to Revelation 22. You’re saying great; we’re going to finish the Book of Revelation today. No, no, no! [laughter] A little ways to go. But good things come to those who wait. Amen.
We’re in a section of the Book of Revelation, obviously the end of the book where we’re seeing now creation as God always intended it before sin entered the picture, the new heavens and the new earth. Chapter 21:1-8, we worked our way through that, it’s a description of the eternal state in general. And once you get to chapter 21:9 through chapter 22 verse 5, and we may finish that section today, you start to see a description of the city that is part of the eternal state called the New Jerusalem. And that city is our ultimate home. By the way, did you know that’s where your citizen-ship is? The Bible says our citizenship is where? In heaven, Philippians 3:20. [Philippians 3:20, “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ;”] So we ought to become familiar with this city that we will inhabit one day and we’ve looked at a lot of things related to that city.
And we come now to chapter 22:1-5 where we take a look at the content of that city. [Revelation 22:1-5, “Then he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb,  in the middle of its street. On either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.  There will no longer be any curse; and the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His bond-servants will serve Him;  they will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads.  And there will no longer be any night; and they will not have need of the light of a lamp nor the light of the sun, because the Lord God will illumine them; and they will reign forever and ever.”]
And that’s why I have entitled this message “The Identification by Omission.” In other words, you can tell an awful lot about something, not just based on what is there but what is not there. What is absent? And as we get towards the end of this message, if time permits I’m going to show you ten things that are not going to be present in this eternal city.
But here is sort of the outline, before we get to that, that we’re going to work through. The first thing we noticed about this city is its river. Revelation 22:1 says this:” Then he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb.” And you’ll notice here, I guess about the fifth one down, that it mentions in Eden a river flowing out of Eden–Genesis 1 and 2, Genesis 2:10 to be specific–but the eternal state is somewhat different where the river doesn’t flow out of Eden; the river flows out of God’s throne. One of the things that’s interesting is to notice the dissimilarities between Eden, Genesis 1 and 2, and the eternal state, Revelation 21 and 22. There’s a lot of similarities but there’s an awful lot of differences, which I’ll point out to you as we continue to progress.
But God wants us to understand that the destination of the Christian is not the Garden of Eden; it’s different, it’s not a garden, it’s a city. The story of the Bible is from a garden to a city with a cross in between. And why doesn’t God just put us back into a garden. He doesn’t put us back into a garden because man in Eden was under probation; he hadn’t been tested yet. And so in Eden there was a tree of knowledge, to rebel against God should mankind choose that route. But you’ll notice that in the eternal state not only is the river described just a little bit different but there is no tree of knowledge. There is no opportunity to rebel against man because man has already been put through his test. He’s no longer on probation as he was in Eden and now he’s in his permanent environment.
It’s very interesting here that it talks in Revelation 22:1 about this river, the water of life clear as crystal coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb. [Revelation 22:1, “Then he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb.”] Now notice that the throne of God is now the throne of the Lamb and there’s been a merger in the two thrones. That’s not what we read earlier in the Book of Revelation, if you can remember that far back, that was what, 1973 or something we were studying that. But Revelation 3:21 describes the fact that Jesus today is not seated on David’s throne. [Revelation 3:21, Jesus says, “I will grant him” future tense, “to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down” aorist tense, “with My Father on His throne.” Notice the distinction between the throne of God in heaven, the throne of the Father, and the throne of Jesus Christ. Those are two different thrones.
You see, right now Jesus is not on David’s throne; He is on the Father’s throne in heaven where He is not functioning as King but as high priest after the order of who? Melchizedek. But one of these days He’s going to come back to the earth and He’s going to actually sit on His own throne as King in the thousand-year kingdom, ruling this world from Jerusalem. And only after that whole time period elapses will those two thrones merge together. And not until you get to the eternal state you’ll see the throne of God and of the Lamb arguing that there’s one throne now instead of two.
You say well why is this a big deal? This is a big deal because we’re living in an era where church leaders and church theologians are trying to bring in the kingdom, which is a waste of time. First of all, the kingdom that you create I’m not sure I want to be part of it and I’m not sure if you want to be part of the kingdom I create because the church was never given the task of bringing God’s kingdom to the earth. But there’s a school of thought that says we are in the kingdom now and Jesus is now reigning on David’s throne now in heaven, and that would violate Revelation 3:21 which says there’s two thrones. Jesus is not reigning on David’s throne now contrary to what many, many people will try to convince you of. He is on the Father’s throne and He will be on His own throne after the tribulation period, during the millennial reign of Christ, and only when that time period runs its course and we move into the eternal state will there be a merger of the two thrones.
And the argument that’s being made today is well, there’s just one throne because there’s going to be one throne in the eternal state so there must be one throne now, therefore Jesus is running things from David’s throne now because we’re in the kingdom. And they’re taking realities from the far right-hand side of the screen, the eternal state, things that haven’t happened yet, and they’re making it sound as if that’s normal today. The fact of the matter is there are a lot of things in the eternal state that aren’t normal today. There’s no such thing as death in the eternal state, yet death is a reality today. We could go right on down the list.
So don’t let people fool you into this idea that Jesus is on David’s throne now, He is NOT on David’s throne, He’s on the Father’s throne. But those two thrones one day will merge together in the distant future and that’s what we’re seeing here.
We move away from the throne to the trees that are involved in this particular city. Notice, if you will, verse 2, it says, “In the middle of the street,” by the way, the streets are made of what? Made of gold. “In the middle of its street on either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves on the tree were for the healing of the nations.” Again, notice the difference between the Garden of Eden situation and what we’re reading about here. If you drop down to about the seventh one or so down it talks about a tree of life in the middle of the garden. [Genesis 2:9, “Out of the ground the Lord God caused to grow every tree that is pleasing to the sight and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.”] This is trees of life, the way I’m understanding it, throughout the city on either side of the street.
It’s also interesting that you don’t have a tree of knowledge here; you had one in Eden but not here. Why? Because probation is over. Whatever choice people have made has run its course. And one of the questions you get from people is well, is there going to be food in the eternal state? If you look very carefully at verse 2 it talks about “the tree of life bearing twelve kinds of fruit.” Heaven itself, in this case the eternal state, is going to be a very literal, real, physical existence that you will experience in a resurrected body.
And why wouldn’t it be that way? God designed this world with food in it. You’ll see food in Genesis 1, Genesis 2, why would there not be food in the eternal state. You say well am I really going to be able to eat in my resurrected body in the eternal state? Well we know this from 1 John chapter 3 and verse 2, we know that “when He” that’s Jesus, “appears, we will be like Him,” in other words, the resurrected body that He had is similar to the resurrected body that we will have one day. [1 John 3:2, “Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is.”]
And guess what Jesus did in His resurrected body? He ate! In fact, in John 21:19 Jesus says this in His resurrected body, and I like this, one of my favorite verses in the Bible. It says, “come and have breakfast.” [John 21:19, “Now this He said, signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He *said to him, “Follow Me!”]
So, don’t think of heaven and eternity as some kind of non-corporeal type of experience where we’re just kind of in distant body spirits sitting on clouds etc. It’s an actual physical real literal existence, so literal that it involves food, at least there’s fruit there, it doesn’t say longhorn steak and those kinds of things, which I think would be hard because there’s no death in the eternal state so I’m not sure you could kill an animal and have a steak; maybe you can, I don’t know. But I do see actual food taking place.
Now one of the things that’s very interesting to ask, is there actually going to be time in heaven? When the eternal state comes will time as we know it be a thing of the past. I used to believe that and I believed that because the eternal state is different than the millennial kingdom. The millennial kingdom has time in it, it’s a thousand years. The eternal state lasts forever. The millennial kingdom is temporary, the eternal state is forever. And I used to look that and I used to say well time won’t be around any longer, I used to call it timeless. And it is true that the eternal state lasts forever but I think the concept of time itself will continue and you see evidence of that there in verse 2 where it says, “yielding its fruit every” what? “every month.” Isn’t that part of a calendar system? Isn’t that part of a time system? In fact, when we actually study the concept of time, days, months, years, etc. on a calendar what you discover is God is the One that came up with those things.
We’re told by many people that man came up with the calendar. No, He didn’t. This is a statement that God made in Genesis 1:14 on day four of creation. Man does not come into existence until day six. And we read these words “Then God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night, and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years;”
Now that’s before man ever existed; God is saying I am the author of time and time increments. And so therefore it’s not surprising that in the eternal state you have a reference to time or increments of time, months, etc. seem to continue on. Certainly, the eternal state goes forever, but that doesn’t negate the fact that in the eternal state and in the New Jerusalem you could also have days, months, weeks, and years. So, it’s interesting how a verse by verse study of the Bible sort of corrects a lot of our misconceptions of things. I stopped calling the eternal state timeless at that point because time, as far as I can tell, seems to continue.
And he goes on there in verse 2 and it talks about the tree of life and it says, “and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.” And you say well what’s wrong with the nations. Well, the nations were corrupted; the corruption of the nations goes back to the tower of Babel because at the tower of Babel the world was coming together having only one language and they were building a stairway into heaven. They were trying to create a society without God.
In fact, Josephus, when he comments on what was happening at Babel makes the statement that they were trying to build a tower so far into heaven that they would be impervious to the flood, which God had brought in judgment earlier in the same book. They were trying to build a society where God doesn’t exist. They’re trying to build a society that will never be judged again. This is what is called the New World Order, a one world system of economic, politics and religion that excludes God.
They even had their own religious system happening. And God, of course, disrupted it and He said if they get away with this nothing which they purposed to do will be impossible for them. [Genesis 11:16, “The LORD said, “Behold, they are one people, and they all have the same language. And this is what they began to do, and now nothing which they purpose to do will be impossible for them.”] And so the spread of the mother-child system went into every culture and every language when God confounded the only language that existed at the time at the tower of Babel.
Based on our best understanding of tradition, essentially what was happening is Nimrod, who was the architect of this system, was married to a woman named Semiramis. The two of them had a child whose name was Tamous; Tamous was killed by a wild animal and was miraculously brought back to life through satanic powers. And this created a system of worship of the mother and the child. And so when God confounded the language every culture took with them a little piece of the tower of Babel with them. And according to Alexander Hislop and his book, The Two Babylons, you can find remnants of the mother/child system somewhere in every culture and every language.
And so the nations are in a state of corruption. In fact, Jesus, in Luke 21:25 talks about the dismay of the nations. [Luke 21:25, “There will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth dismay among nations, in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves,”] Clarence Larkin puts it this way in his Revelation commentary, concerning the tower of Babel, this was the origin of the nation. But the nations were not scattered abroad over the earth until Satan had implanted in them a virus of a false doctrine that has been the source of every false religion the world has ever known. The nations are messed up in other words. The nations are corrupted when you look at the root of where the nations came from. And that’s why this tree is so significant to the nations because the tree is for their healing. God is bringing them back to His original design for them.
The tree of life there in Eden is always very interesting to study. Genesis 3:22, after man fell God said this: Then the LORD God said, ‘Behold, the man has become like one of Us, knowing good and evil; and now, he might stretch out his hand, and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever.” God did not want our forbearers to go back into Eden in their fallen state and eat from that tree again and live forever because He didn’t want them to live forever in that fallen state. And so God barred entrance, reentrance I should say, into Eden, Genesis 3, end of the chapter where He stations cherubim with flashing swords preventing reentrance into Eden.
So there is some sort of quality in the tree of life that gives healing and yet you get to the eternal state here, you get to the New Jerusalem and you see open access to the tree of life. And this is what brings the nation into a state of health. The doctrine of the nations is a very interesting doctrine to study because there are many people today and you see it a lot in America’s immigration policies, the desire amongst George Soros to remove the borders around the United States, to deny the fact that we should have a common language and a common culture and a common currency because we’re all part of the world community.
So we’re living in a time period where the doctrine of the independent nation is being challenged by what we would call the globalist, the one-worlders. And yet what you discover here is God created nations. Yes, they need help and healing, they have sort of a contaminated origin but God Himself is in favor of individual nation states. He’s in favor of America, for example, being the United States of America and not being absorbed into some sort of nebulous hemispheric region.
Deuteronomy 32:8, Acts 17:22, many passages, speak of the doctrine of the nation state which God created at the tower of Babel. [Deuteronomy 32:8, “When the Most High gave the nations their inheritance, when He separated the sons of man, He set the boundaries of the peoples according to the number of the sons of Israel.” Acts 17:22, “So Paul stood in the midst of the [a]Areopagus and said, “Men of Athens, I observe that you are very religious in all respects.”]
And it’s interesting that the doctrine of the nations continues even into the millennial kingdom. Zechariah 14:16 and verse 18 talks about the nations in the millennial kingdom. Revelation 12:5 talks about Jesus in the millennial kingdom ruling over the nations. [Zechariah 14:16, “Then it will come about that any who are left of all the nations that went against Jerusalem will go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to celebrate the Feast of Booths.” Zechariah 14:18, “If the family of Egypt does not go up or enter, then no rain will fall on them; it will be the plague with which the Lord smites the nations who do not go up to celebrate the Feast of Booths.” Revelation 12:5, “And she gave birth to a son, a male child, who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron; and her child was caught up to God and to His throne.”]
And you even get into the eternal state, backing up here just for a minute, Revelation 21:24. Revelation 21:26, even here, Revelation 22:2, and you see this concept of nations. [Revelation 21:24, “The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it.” Revelation 21:26, “and they will bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it;” Revelation 22:2, “in the middle of its street. On either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.]
God is not against nations; nations apparently will continue on after He returns. God wants the existence of nations today. And I bring this up because a lot of people will sort of put you on a guilt trip if you’re patriotic in any sense; they say well, you’re ethnocentric, and they throw all these words at you but I think God is in favor of patriotism, not just here in the United States but every nation and culture worldwide. God has never wanted everything to merge together under one leader, a Nimrod like character, as what was happening at the tower of Babel. And yet we know from our study of prophecy that that is what Satan is trying to do in the end times.
In fact, once the restrainer is gone Satan has his day in the sun through an antichrist, Nimrod sort of being a prefigurement of the antichrist, where the antichrist for a season will contradict God’s philosophy of the individual nation state ushering globalism, the new world order, a one world system of economic politics and religion that excludes God, trying to erase the borders, erase the nation state. And yet he gets his day in the sun and yet he’s quickly overruled by Jesus at His second coming and the precedent that was established at Babel, the continuation of the nation state continues on into the millennial kingdom and even into the eternal state itself.
It’s fascinating to get the mind of God on all of these things. It’s so interesting how the Bible will comment on political issues. All the issues that we’re fighting about today, guns, abortion, capital punishment, border security, inheritance tax, we could go on and on and on and on talking about different issues. It’s amazing to me how the Bible speaks directly to these things and how, when we go out and vote we ought to be people that are informed by the Bible. We ought to hold to certain principles that the Bible holds to and try to find candidates that are the best we can find somewhat consistent with what God says. And that would be an example of being salt and light in the culture.
He continues on here in verse 3 and he talks about the fact that even the curse itself is going to be erased. Notice verse 3, we’ve seen the river, we’ve seen the trees, notice what’s missing from the eternal state… no curse. What does it say here, “There will no longer be any curse; and the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His bond-servants will serve Him.” The curse itself is erased in the eternal state. You say what’s the curse? The curse, Romans 8:19-22, is the bondage that the earth is in now and has been in ever since the fall of man in Eden.
[Revelation 18:19-22, “For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God.  For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope  that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God.  For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now.”]
We know from Romans 8:22 that the whole creation is personified as groaning, “eagerly” awaiting, verse 19 of Romans 8, eagerly awaiting the manifestation of the sons of God,” the angels who are going to return with Jesus Christ to the earth and take the chains off of this world that we’re in that’s suffering and groaning. This is why we are to pray “Thy kingdom” what? “Thy kingdom come.” I’m looking forward to the time period when the curse is completely reversed.
And you say well can you tells us a little bit more about the curse. I’m glad you asked because Genesis 3 informs Revelation 22, I mean, you can’t appreciate the curse being removed until you understand what the curse is and was in Genesis 3. I like what W. H. Griffith Thomas says here in this quote, he says “This chapter” Genesis 3, “is the pivot on which the whole Bible turns. In other words, if you don’t understand what happened in Genesis 3 you have no idea of what the rest of the Bible is really talking about. You have no idea why Jesus had come into this world to die on a cross if you don’t understand Genesis chapter 3.
And I find it very interesting that Satan today, more than any other part of the Bible I can think of, is attacking early Genesis. Psalm 11:3 says, “If the foundations are destroyed what can the righteous do?” If you get soft on Genesis 1-11 and you start saying things like Adam and Eve really weren’t real people, they’re just sort of symbolic of humanity in general, and maybe the flood didn’t cover the whole earth, and you really don’t believe in Noah’s ark, do you? These kinds of insinuations then there’s no explanation as to why God is doing everything else He does in the Bible, including sending Jesus Christ.
That’s why with our youth group one of the trips we took, and yes, I joined the youth group for this trip, a 53-year-old member of the youth group. We went to the art exhibit in Kentucky where they have an actual full replica of what Noah’s ark, given the measurements we have in the Bible, probably looked like. And it’s a wonderful thing to take yourself through, it’s a wonderful thing to take kids through, children through, teenagers through, because they’re told over and over again that Genesis 1 through 11 is just a myth. And yet, you’re actually seeing a replica of probably what it looked like, walking through it. You take it at face value.
So Genesis is under attack because Genesis 3 is the pivot from which the whole Bible turns and in Genesis 3 we have the curse, the fall of man has happened and God, as a result, Genesis 3:14-19 issues judgment on the human race and individuals, and the earth.
[Genesis 3:14-19, “The Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you more than all cattle, and more than every beast of the field; on your belly you will go, and dust you will eat all the days of your life;  And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel.”  To the woman He said, “I will greatly multiply your pain in childbirth, in pain you will bring forth children;”  Then to Adam He said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat from it’; cursed is the ground because of you; In toil you will eat of it all the days of your life.  “Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you; and you will eat the plants of the field;  By the sweat of your face you will eat bread, till you return to the ground, because from it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”]
And this why the earth is in a state of bondage today; this is why we have the struggles today that we have. And what God said is two things to the serpent, two things to the woman, two things to the man. Now why is God dealing with them in this order. He’s dealing with them in this order because this is the order of sin, the serpent sinned first, so here are your two judgments serpent. The woman sinned second, so here are you two judgments to the woman. The man sinned third, remember, Eve just gave some fruit to her husband and he took from it and ate it, here are two judgments to the man.
What did he say to the serpent exactly? He said in Genesis 3:14 that your body is now altered, you’re now having to sort of crawl on the earth in humiliation. And He told the serpent at that point that there was coming one from the seed of the woman who would one day crush his head. And that’s what Satan is working in history to try to stop. We tried to cover some of that this morning in our Sunday School class on the sons of God and the daughters of man in Genesis 6, but to the serpent two judgments.
And then to the woman two judgments, they’re both in Genesis 3:16, “To the woman He said,
“I will greatly multiply your pain in childbirth, in pain you will bring forth children; Yet your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.” Now childbirth is not the curse, some of you say well how would you know anything about it? Well here’s my answer, I don’t know much about it other than driving my wife to and from the hospital but procreation existed before the fall. God, before the fall, said “Be fruitful and multiply.” So, childbirth itself is not the curse. The curse is the process is now painful. And can I get an amen from any of the ladies in the room?
And another curse that came is now there’s relational conflict within marriage. You say well I wish the Bible was more relevant to daily life. Well, you can’t get more relevant than that. Marriage become difficult, marriage becomes hard, and you’ll see all of that in Genesis 3:16. In fact Genesis 3:16 is describing a power struggle within marriage. This is not the way God wanted it but this is the repercussions of the fall. So, our relationship to God vertically being damaged through the fall inhibited our relationship to one another right down into the most intimate relationship you can have with another human being on planet earth, called marriage. And that’s why the Book of Ephesians, chapter 5, verses 22-33 is such a big deal because Ephesians 5 says the husband is to love his wife as Christ loved the church.
[Ephesians 5:22-33, “Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord.  For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body.  But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.  Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her,  so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word,  that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.  So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself;  for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church,  because we are members of His body.  For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one FLESH.  This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church.  Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband.”]
That is the answer to the curse of chauvinism where the man has a basic impulse to dominate his wife, override her through brutality. But that passage also says the wife is to submit to and respect her husband; that is the answer to feminism where the woman has a natural desire to grab control of the marriage. So Genesis 3:16 is describing a power struggle within the marital relationship, it’s not what God wanted, it’s a ramification of the fall and the only escape valve, the only escape hatch that you have is as a couple in marriage you have to covenant yourselves to walking out the principles of Ephesians 5.
Ephesians 5 is the solution to the problem described in Genesis 3:16. That’s why when a young woman wants to get married and oh, I really like this particular person and he’s such a great guy and you ask well is he a Christian? Well… he believes in a higher being. Essentially what you’re doing is you’re yoking yourself to someone who has no idea what the problem is, and he has no idea what the solution is. The only way a marriage can ever work, given this problem, is the two of you have to be committed moment by moment to walking out Ephesians 3:5. [Ephesians 3:5, “which in other generations was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit;”]
Now I don’t have the most marriage experience on planet earth, we have been married for 20 years, and I can tell you just categorically in our marriage when there’s a problem it relates to, 99% of the time, one of us or both of us have gotten outside of Ephesians 3:5 and we’re going back to our naturalistic impulses that we automatically have because of the fall. Ephesians 5 will counter your natural impulses if you have, both as a woman and as a man within marriage. But marriage becomes difficult because of the curse. Those are the two things He said to the woman.
And what does He say to the man? Get out and get a job, painful labor. See, the woman is in labor when she is bearing children, now the man is in labor because he now has to work, not for enjoyment as he was able to do prior to the fall. You see, industry, creativity, productivity, those kinds of things are not the curse because prior to the fall man was, Genesis 2, tilling the garden, working the garden, and so it was a certain service situation where you worked but you worked on things you wanted to do. You worked on enjoyable things. But now with the fall of man, man has to work by the sweat of his brow; he has to work just to survive. That was never the design of God.
And then He tells him here also “from dust you are to” what? “dust you shall return.” [Genesis 3:19, “By the sweat of your face You will eat bread, Till you return to the ground, Because from it you were taken; For you are dust, And to dust you shall return.” The process of death starts. Methuselah lived 969 years, Adam lived 930 years, but as you get into the post flood you start to see the ages of people dramatically curtailed for now we’re living in a world where if you make it to 70 or 80 years old, as Moses says, you’re considered fortunate because death is not a reality. It was never a reality before.
And so think of living in a world where all of that is erased and things are rolled back to the way God intended. And that’s the significance of verse 3, which says “There was no more curse. Genesis 3:19, [Genesis 3:19, ‘” By the sweat of your face You will eat bread, Till you return to the ground, Because from it you were taken; For you are dust, And to dust you shall return.’”
It’s interesting to me that even in the millennial kingdom itself, the thousand-year kingdom, which precedes the eternal state as we have studied. The curse is rolled back but it’s not totally eliminated. There still is death, Isaiah 65:20. [Isaiah 65:20, “No longer will there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, or an old man who does not live out his days; for the youth will die at the age of one hundred and the one who does not reach the age of one hundred will be thought accursed.”] There still is sin, Ezekiel 45:22. [Ezekiel 45:22, “ On that day the prince shall provide for himself and all the people of the land a bull for a sin offering.”]
There still is rebellion, Zechariah 14:16-18. That’s why there’s a giant rebellion at the end of the millennial kingdom as Satan is let loose out of his abyss to deceive the nations, Revelation 20:7-9.
[Zechariah 14:16-18, “Then it will come about that any who are left of all the nations that went against Jerusalem will go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to celebrate the Feast of Booths.  And it will be that whichever of the families of the earth does not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, there will be no rain on them.  If the family of Egypt does not go up or enter, then no rain will fall on them; it will be the plague with which the Lord smites the nations who do not go up to celebrate the Feast of Booths.  This will be the punishment of Egypt, and the punishment of all the nations who do not go up to celebrate the Feast of Booths.
Revelation 20:7-9. When the thousand years are completed, Satan will be released from his prison,  and will come out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together for the war; the number of them is like the sand of the seashore. And they came up on the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, and fire came down from heaven and devoured them.”]
And this is why Jesus must reign during that time period with a rod of iron. The rod of iron, Psalm 2:6-9, Revelation 12:5 becomes very important because that’s the only thing keeping humanity in check during that time period. At least the mortal to survive the tribulation period and begin to repopulate the earth. [Psalm 2:6-9, “But as for Me, I have installed My King Upon Zion, My holy mountain.”  I will surely tell of the decree of the Lord: He said to Me, ‘You are My Son, Today I have begotten You.  ‘Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance, And the very ends of the earth as Your possession.  ‘You shall break them with a rod of iron, You shall shatter them like earthenware.’” Revelation 12:5, “And she gave birth to a son, a male child, who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron; and her child was caught up to God and to His throne.”]
We, as the church, will be in resurrected bodies at that time so we see a mixture of mortals and resurrected people dwelling together in the millennial kingdom but not the eternal state. And think of a time period when the curse is completely gone. I mean, the eternal state and the New Jerusalem is going to be so incredibly wonderful it’s even going to surpass the millennial kingdom itself because the curse is not just restrained anymore, the curse is removed. It’s pulled out of the world and this is why prior to the eternal state God had to take our existing world and destroy it by fire and replace it ex nihilo, something out of nothing, with a brand-new heavens and a brand new earth.
And why does God have to do that? Because the world that we’re living in today is in a state of bondage, it’s in a state of decay. Now you don’t reach these conclusions except by taking God exactly at His Word in early Genesis. If you throw out early Genesis you don’t have any under-standing of these things. You don’t even have an understanding of why the world is going to move in the direction that it’s going to move into. And so the curse itself is removed.
And then you get into verses 3-5 and what we discover here is the presence of God. And you’re saying to yourself praise the Lord, the sermon is almost over, there’s only one more point in the outline, we’re going to beat the Baptists to the cafeteria today. Sorry to disappoint you because this point has seven sub points. But I’ll try to get through them as fast as I know how.
Seven concepts communicating in verse 4 and verse 5 and the end of verse 3 the direct presence of God. Some of them we’ve already read there in verse 3, God’s throne is there. The throne has now emerged, David’s throne and the Father’s throne have now emerged. And this river clear as crystal is flowing out of that particular throne. And verse 3, as we have read, the Lamb is there. [Revelation 22:3, “There will no longer be any curse; and the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His bond-servants will serve Him;”] Jesus is there. Everywhere Jesus is, is a good place, right? That’s why people followed Jesus in His earthly ministry everywhere He went. And that’s why when you attend a church or think about joining a church or think about fellowshipping with a church you don’t ask what denominational philosophy is in place; you ask is Jesus there? Is Jesus really the head? Or is it just a board of human leaders?
You know, so many decisions are made in modern day Christianity and you just say well that was not the Lord, that was the board. And we don’t want to be like that at Sugar Land Bible Church, we don’t want to be like that in any church. We want to be following the direction of Jesus Christ. That’s a fellowship worth being a part of and that’s why this eternal state is such a wonderful thing because Jesus is there. Verse 3, “There will no longer be any curse; and the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it,” now look at this, end of verse 3, “and His bond-servants will serve Him.”
The third thing that you see here describing God’s presence is the activity of “His bond-servants.” Who would those be? That would be us, wouldn’t it? In fact, the Greek word for bond-servant is the Greek word for doulos, which means slave. In fact, when the apostles introduced themselves, like for example the apostle Peter in 2 Peter 1:1, he didn’t introduce himself in his letter the way we introduce ourselves today in Christianity. Look at all the radio stations I’m on, look at how many books I’ve written, look how big my church is. He introduced himself, Peter did, as a “bondservant,” a doulos. That’s what we are, we’re servants and slaves of the Most High.
And what are we doing in heaven in the eternal state? Just sitting on a cloud? NO, it says “His bond-servants will serve Him.” So, don’t think of heaven and the eternal state as just being bored out of your mind forever. Think about something that’s on your heart that you’ve always wanted to, you’ve always wanted to explore, write a book, research a project, extract things from the earth, create music. And you’ve always wanted to do it but the problem is you really can never get around to doing it because you’re so busy working to survive. And so, there’s this aching nag in all of us, gosh, if money was no issue, here’s what I would rather be doing. And think of living in an environment where the curse is gone, you no longer have to labor by the sweat of your brow just to survive. And the only thing really left to do is to pursue the desires of your heart because those aren’t even the desires of your heart, God is the one that put those desires in your heart. And so, you have the freedom, economically, to pursue music, to pursue worship, to pursue industry, creativity, and I think what you’ll see in the eternal state is creativity will just explode over the earth as humanity is unshackled.
It says, “His bondservants will serve Him.” There’s a lot of Christians out there that will say I’m just not interested in serving the Lord. Here’s the deal folks: if you start serving the Lord now, and by the way, we need people to serve the Lord in this church. You say well what part of the church do we need help with? Let me see if we can be quiet here for a moment and listen to the voice of God. Children’s ministry… [Said softly] You guys hear that? A voice from heaven said children’s ministry. [Laughter] I think Casey Cunningham is always looking for volunteers. We’ve got VBS coming up. Howard Hendricks, one of the greatest teachers ever, I believe, in Christianity told us as seminarians if you want to test your mettle as a teacher, teach the kids because until you can put things on the bottom shelf, the way you have to do with kids you can’t really teach anybody.
A lot of teachers what I call the gift of ambiguity where it’s kind of like I call the Genesis 1:1-3 sermon. It’s nebulous and without void and substance. Laughter [Genesis 1:1-3, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.  The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters.  Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”]
But when you’re teaching kids you’ve got to be clear, you’ve got to be precise, you’ve got to be able to communicate in very simple terms and if you think you’re called into teaching in any sense… and my wife and I did this when we were in Dallas, and you would not believe the Sunday School class with these kids that we had. Now I say “we” because I did about 10% of the work, and she would let me talk at certain junctures. But she had all of these activities, games, and finally we figured out by doing this we were basically running the whole church because all the adults were coming in and the elders were coming saying what’s going on with these kids, they love coming to church. And so we were sort of testing whether we, in fact, were called to ministry or not just by teaching children.
Whatever God has laid on your heart to do I would just encourage you to do this, to serve the Lord! Because that is preparatory not only for the ministry that He has for you now but it is preparatory for all eternity because it says here that His bondservants (that’s us) will serve Him.
What else are we going to see there in eternity. Look again at verse 4. “They will see His face and His name will be on their foreheads.” Now this is interesting to me, “They will see His face” because that’s not normal in the Bible. In fact, 1 Timothy 6:16 says God is clothed” in unapproachable light.” [1 Timothy 6:16, “who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see. To Him be honor and eternal dominion! Amen.”
God said to Moses in Exodus 33:20 “you cannot see My face.” [Exodus 33:20, “ But He said, You cannot see My face, for no man can see Me and live!”] John 1:18 says no one has seen God at any time. [John 1:18, “No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.”]
But here it’s describing a situation where the sin barrier is gone, the curse is totally gone and you see God, not through a glimpse or a shadow but you see His face, you see Him exactly as He is. And by the way, He’s going to give you… in fact He’s already given you a new name. When you look there at the end of verse 4 it says, “His name will be on their foreheads.” [Revelation 22:4, “they will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads.”]
Why would I need a new name? Because the moment I trust Christ as my Savior I am a new what? Preacher in Christ Jesus. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” Now would it not be sitting for a “new creature” to receive a new name? Why would we need a new name? Because we have a new identity. You know, it’s interesting, you go through the Bible and God is this specialist in giving people new names. Abraham’s name was changed from Abram to Abraham, father of the nations, revealing not who Abraham was at the time of the name change but who he would be in God. Jacob’s name was changed to Israel.
Simon Peter, his name was changed to in the Aramaic Cephas Petros (rock, meaning stability. And I guarantee you this much, he didn’t receive that name based on his current character because he was as unstable as water. Just as Reuben was described in the Old Testament, “you’re as unstable as water.” [Genesis 49:4, “Unstable as water, you shall not excel.”] That was Peter. And yet God gave Peter the name not based on who he was but who he would become. And it’s so encouraging to note that that’s how God looks at us. He doesn’t see us as we are. He sees us on the basis of what we would become in Him and the name is changed accordingly.
It’s no different for you. You have on you a new name. In fact, you may not even know this, you’ve got three names on you. Did you know that? Revelation 3;12, Jesus says, “’He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he will not go out from it anymore; and I will write on him the name of My God,” that’s name number one, “and the name of the city of My God” that’s name number two, “the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God, and My new name.” That’s name number three. Why does God have to write His city on me? Because our citizenship is where? In heaven. So, He gives us a new name according to His city. He gives us a new name according to Jesus. He gives us a new name according to God the Father. And so it’s an amazing time.
As you move into verse 5 he talks about illumination. Look at verse 5, Revelation 22:5, notice what it says, “And there will no longer be any night; and they will have no need a lamp nor the light of the sun, because the Lord God will illumine them….” Now I want you to know that this is not just mentioned here; it’s mentioned in the passage we studied earlier in the prior chapter, Revelation 21:23. [Revelation 21:23, “And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb.”]
Two times God says in the eternal state there’s not going to be a need for the sun or the moon or the stars or any other secondary source of light because God is there, Jesus is there. Is not Jesus, John 8:12, called the light of the world? [John 8:12, “Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.”]
Doesn’t 1 Timothy 6:16 tell us that God Himself is clothed in unapproachable light? “1 Timothy 6:16, “who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see. To Him be honor and eternal dominion! Amen.”] And if that’s true why would you need a sun when you’ve got THE SON!
Why would you need a sun (s-u-n) when you’ve got the presence of the Son, Jesus Christ, S-o-n? Again they’re even put in the millennial kingdom. The millennial kingdom which precedes this time period, there is sun, moon and stars. In fact, Isaiah 30:26 says the sun is going to be seven times brighter than it currently is, but not in the eternal state. No sun or secondary source of light is even necessary. [Isaiah 30:26, “The light of the moon will be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun will be seven times brighter, like the light of seven days, on the day the LORD binds up the fracture of His people and heals the bruise He has inflicted.”]
Hey, kind of like the beginning of the Bible, where God said, Genesis 1:3, “Let there be light and there was light.” And some Bible commentators foolishly say well, all that means it the clouds moved and the sun came out. That’s not what it’s saying. The sun didn’t even exist until day number four. This is talking about something at the very beginning of the creation week. You don’t think God needs the sun, do you? For life? In fact, God intentionally did it this way because He knew, Deuteronomy 4:19 that man throughout the ages of time would worship the creation rather than the Creator. Man would become a star gazer, a moon worshipper. A sun, s-u-n worshipper. [Deuteronomy 4:19, “And beware not to lift up your eyes to heaven and see the sun and the moon and the stars, all the host of heaven, and be drawn away and worship them and serve them, those which the LORD your God has allotted to all the peoples under the whole heaven.”]
And God said let me just keep the record straight on this, every time you worship an object you’re worshipping a secondary source. Check the record book and check the end when those things that you’re so enthralled with and worshipping won’t even be needed anymore because God is the true source of light. Everybody… you run into these people that are worried about the sun disappearing or sometimes they used to say it’s expanding, they used to call that global warming. But before that they said it’s shrinking, they called that global cooling. Everybody’s worried about the sun, are we getting too close to the sun. I don’t give that a second thought because God doesn’t need the sun because He Himself is the source of light.
And what you’ll notice is all of the things now that are missing from the eternal state, that’s why we entitled this sermon Identification Through Omission. You can tell a lot about something by what’s not there as well as what’s there. There’s no Satan. There’s no sea. There’s no death or mourning, or crying, or pain. As we’ve talked about there’s no sun, there’s no moon, there’s no temple, there’s no night, there’s no evil, there’s no tree of knowledge. There’s not even an opportunity to go back into rebellion against God. And as we’ve talked about you’re dealing with a universe where the curse that’s inflicting us today has been completely and totally removed from it.
And the last point here on my outline is the reign of the Servant-King throughout the ages. Look at the end of verse 5, “And they” that’s us, “will reign forever and ever,” wait a minute pastor, I thought you said we were slaves. We are! But when you become a slave of God what does that entitle you to be? A king! Joseph Dillow wrote a book. I don’t know if I agree with every little nook and cranny of the book, it’s got some helpful things in it, but I’ll tell you one thing I like about the book is the title. It’s called The Reign of the Servant Kings. And that summarizes all of it beautifully: we are serving the Lord throughout the eons of time in the economy of God where who is the greatest? The servant. And the servant somehow is reigning as King under the delegated authority of Jesus Christ in that role of servanthood.
Isn’t that what Jesus said in Mark’s Gospel? How the Gentiles rule over you with great authority but it shall not be that way amongst you for He who is the greatest must become the greatest servant of all. [Mark 10:44-45, “Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all.  For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many”] You give your life away to people as a servant and what you’ll start discovering it authority and that authority follows you throughout the ages of time where we have the reign of the Servant King.
And notice how long this reign last? Forever! That’s an awful long time! Mark Hitchcock, my friend, writes this: “Christ will rule over His kingdom on this present earth for one thousand years, and He will reign forever.” As will we. “The future kingdom of God has two parts or phases. Phase one is the millennial reign of Christ on this earth (Revelation 20:1–6), and phase two is the eternal state.” (Revelation 22:5). As I once heard it described, the Millennium is the front porch of eternity.” [101 Answers to the Most Asked Questions About the End Times (Sisters, OR: Multnomah, 2001), 212.]
I once heard it described this way: The millennium is the front porch of eternity. And what is that thousand-year reign of Christ, which I can’t wait to come, that’s just the front porch as we transition away from the millennial reign of Christ into the eternal state, that’s the house. And that reign under the delegated authority of Jesus Christ goes on and on and on and on and on to throughout the ages and Jesus makes good on His promise to us as the church in Revelation 5:10 where He says “You have made them to be a kingdom of priests to our God and they will reign upon the earth.” That’s your future. Authority in the millennial kingdom and authority in the new earth that’s coming.
And so it’s a terribly exciting process, isn’t it? That’s why I love the study of Bible prophecy, it gives us hope in a world that’s gone astray. It gives us hope in circumstances that many of you find yourselves in and they’re not favorable. But you give your mind to these things and you start to see that what’s happening to you today, Romans 8:18, doesn’t even compare to the glory that’s about to be unveiled. [Romans 8:18, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”]
And so that takes us to the end of the eternal city and the only thing we have left to talk about is verses 6-21. Don’t panic, we’re not doing that now but it’s the epilogue. You see, chapter 1, verses 1-8 was the prologue and what we have here now is an epilogue. You say that’s should take us five to ten minutes. No, there’s some very heavy and important things for us to learn, even in that epilogue because ALL Scripture, even the epilogue, is God-breathed and profitable. So we’ll be looking at the epilogue next week.
The transition into the gospel this morning is a very easy one. It’s do you want to be hooked into these promises or not. And don’t hold out for a better deal, I don’t think there is such a thing. You get hooked into these promises, not by being an overcomer yourself but by believing in the one who overcame in our place. Jesus said in the Upper Room, “Take heart, do not let your heart be troubled,” and He speaks there of how He has overcome the world. Because of His overcoming and our receiving what he’s done in our place as a free gift by way of faith, we become overcomers and we become locked into this glorious future. And you can have that status right now as I’m speaking, simply by trusting or believing in what Jesus has done.
It’s not a matter of joining a church, walking an aisle to receive these things, giving money. It’s a matter of privacy between you and the Lord where you hear the gospel and you respond to it by way of faith. In other words, you receive what He has done for you as a free gift. The Bible says as many as received Him they become sons of God. You can’t become a son or a daughter or a child of God based on what your parents believed, what your denomination does, it’s personal, between you and the Lord where you personally, as an individual receive this free gift by way of faith. And that ties you into a future automatically which is unfathomable, it’s indescribable. So, if the Spirit of God is convicting anybody today of their need to respond to that message and receive it I would encourage you to do that right now, even as I’m speaking.
Shall we pray. Father, we’re grateful for this last chapter of the Book of Revelation and the hope that it gives us in a hopeless age. Help us to leave here as thinking of ourselves as the victors that we are, that You’ve made us into. We’ll be careful to give you all the praise and the glory. We ask these things in Jesus’ name, and God’s people said…. Amen!