The Book of Revelation with commentary by Dr. Henry M. Morris and paintings by Ramona Lowe
The paintings are a work in progress and the finished pieces are highlighted in red on Page 2

Page 174

Closing the Book of God

     In this last section of the last chapter of the last book of the Holy Scriptures, the Lord Jesus Christ gives a final invitation to salvation, as well as a final warning not to change or to augment even a word of Scripture, and then a final promise of His imminent return.  He has revealed to us all the great events of the future throughout the remainder of the Church Age, the tribulation, the millennium, and the last judgment.  The new earth will come, and the new Jerusalem, and we have been given just a glimpse of the glories of the ages to come.  But nothing in all this grand epic can be more urgent and more important than these final words with which the Lord Jesus terminates His written revelation to man.

Revelation 22:16.     I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches.  I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star.

     There has been no mention of the Church since the beginning of Revelation 4.  After the letters to the seven churches, representing all the churches of the Church Age, and the events described in them, the institution of the local church seems to have vanished from the scene.  No churches are seen in the Book of Revelation during the tribulation or the millennium, nor are they mentioned even in the new earth.  In the latter, of course, all the resurrected inhabitants of the new Jerusalem seem to correspond to the Bride of Christ, which is the “church of the firstborn, assembled in heaven.”  In this present world, the “church” is an assembly “called out” from the world.  The very word in the Greek (ecclesia) means “called-out ones.”  In the new world, on the other hand, all people will be the people of God, and all the ungodly will have been “cast out.”

     As far as the tribulation is concerned, there will probably still be many liberal religious organizations calling themselves churches, but all true churches will have been raptured at the coming of Christ to the earth’s atmosphere, so these “liberal churches” are accordingly not even identified as churches.  These will all be amalgamated in the syncretistic religious organization of the great harlot Babylon and will themselves be eliminated when the worldwide religious worship of the beast is ordained at the middle of the tribulation.

     Now that the Book of Revelation is almost complete, however, the Lord again calls attention to the fact that it is intended primarily for instruction of the true churches, during our present age, concerning things to come.  It was, indeed, John’s letter to the churches (Revelation 1:4), but it also came from the angel (Revelation 1:1) and from the Holy Spirit to each church (Revelation 2:7).  Preeminently it was from Christ Himself, who had purchased each church with His own blood (Acts 20:28) and who had sent the angel to convey through John all these wonderful revelations to it.

     Then comes a final and unique identification of Himself, the last of the many distinctive names by which He is called in Scripture.  Although the churches, including the seven churches of Asia, were by this time largely composed of Gentile believers, the Lord was still lovingly solicitous of His ancient people Israel, and so He would remind the churches once more that He was still a kinsman of King David, both His progenitor and His descendant.

     He had already been called a “root of David” (see in Revelation 5:5); now He also calls Himself David’s “offspring” (Greek genos, a word which can carry a variety of meanings depending on the context, all the way from that of an immediate child to the much broader concept of “nation” or “kindred”).  The claim is actually that of being the God/man.  There is no other way that one could be both an ancestor and descendant of the same person.  Jesus Christ is both David’s Lord and David’s son (Matthew 22:41-46).  He is Creator of all nations, yet specially identified with His chosen nation, occupying forever both the throne of the universe and the throne of Israel.

     The final title is “bright and morning star.”  This title is nowhere else applied to Christ, so it would seem that a special significance is intended in its use here at the very end of the Scriptures, relating the climactic end of the purposes and works of God.  This is also the only occurrence of a unique word for “morning” (Greek orthrinos, a term applied by the Greeks primarily to Venus, in the brilliant rising of the planet in the early dawn).  When Christ had promised the “morning star” to the overcomers (Revelation 2:28), He had used an entirely different word (Greek proinos) for “morning.”  Here he identifies Himself as the special and unique bright morning star.

     The angels of God are frequently called “stars” in Scripture, and on one occasion were called “morning stars” (Job 38:7).  There was one angel, however, identified as “Lucifer, son of the morning” (Isaiah 14:12), who had led the heavenly rebellion against God and who, undoubtedly, is identical with Satan, that old serpent.  The name “Lucifer” is translated in many versions as “Daystar,” referring again especially to Venus, the brilliant “star” of early dawn (Hebrew heylel, the bright star of the dawning).

     These two words are used only once each in the Bible: heylel in the Old Testament, referring to Satan, and orthrinos in the New Testament referring to Christ, with both connecting symbolically with the bright rising dawn-star.

     The conclusion seems inescapable that the Lord Jesus intended for this unique appellation to call final attention to the fact that He, not Satan, was the rising star whose coming would herald the dawn of eternal day.  The entire history of the world and the entire Word of God had been occupied, directly or indirectly, with the great conflict of the ages between Christ and Satan, the seed of the woman and the great red dragon.  Satan had claimed to be the rising star of the heavens, who would exalt his throne above the stars of God and ascend above the heights of the clouds (Isaiah 14:13, 14), but now his star had fallen from heaven, and he was entombed forever in the lake of fire.

     The Lord Jesus Christ, on the other hand, was the true morning star, the “bright” morning star, the one whose light would never be dimmed and could never be cast out of the sky.  This is, thus, a blessed reminder to all His people in the churches, that they should watch through the night for His coming, not being led astray by Lucifer, who had aspired to rise above God but whose rebellion would soon be put down.  Satan would deceive many, in fact, the “whole world” (Revelation 12:9), but we need not be “ignorant of his devices” (2 Corinthians 2:11).  If he is faithfully “resisted” in proper knowledge of who he is and who Christ is, he will flee (James 4:7).  Thus it is, whether or not they have understood the full significance of the term, the redeemed people of Christ have, through the ages, always loved and rejoiced in this glorious name of their Savior, “the bright and morning star.”

Revelation 22:17.     And the Spirit and the bride say, Come.  And let him that heareth say, Come.  And let him that is athirst come.  And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.

     The immediate response to this gracious and triumphant word from the Lord Jesus is a mighty cry from the Holy Spirit of God and from the holy city, the bride (Revelation 21:2, 9, 10).  It is as though the glorious city itself calls out its invitation for all the world to hear.  But then, also, this cry is anticipated even in this present age as the Holy Spirit, indwelling each believer (whose home and citizenship positionally are already in the new Jerusalem) utters His invitation by way of the heartfelt emotion of the believer.  Their souls and lips alike earnestly and continually call out, “Come!”  The vision is of the future, but the future issues its plea even in the present.  No doubt, it is first of all addressed to the Lord Jesus Himself.  Three times in this chapter, He has promised to “come quickly” (verses 7, 12, 20) and the final exhortation is clearly directed to Him:  “Even so, come, Lord Jesus” (v. 20).  All through the centuries the Holy Spirit has wrought within each believer’s heart an earnest desire for the Lord’s return.  In fact Christ Himself exhorted us to watch and long for His return (Luke 21:35-40).  The Apostle Paul indicated we should “love his appearing” (2 Timothy 4:8).

     This plea to Christ to come is evidently the only recorded prayer of the Holy Spirit.  Possibly it is especially this prayer of which the apostle speaks in Romans 8:26: “Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered,” while “we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body” (Romans 8:23).  Furthermore, “he that hath an ear, let him hear” (Revelation 2:7) and, as he hears and receives the blessing promised to those who truly hear (with the heart) the words of this prophecy (Revelation 1:3), the one who hears also must surely join in the earnest plea for Christ to come.

     But there is another side to this invitation.  Not only do the Spirit and the Bride and the new hearer desire Christ to come back to the world: they also long for the world to come back to Christ.  So the invitation is like the two sides of a coin.  On the one hand, it is, “Come, Lord Jesus!”  On the other, it is “Come to the Lord Jesus!”

     The two invitations are certainly complementary.  In the last days, men will scoff:  “Where is the promise of his coming?” (2 Peter 3:4).  But He has not forgotten.  “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to usward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).  If we are, indeed, “looking for and hasting unto the coming [or “hastening the coming”] of the day of God” (2 Peter 3:12), we should be seeking by all means to invite men to Christ.  “Account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation” (2 Peter 3:15).  When He returns, He will “reconcile all things unto himself” (Colossians 1:20) but, until then, He “hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation,” so that “we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God” (2 Corinthians 5:19, 20).

     Thus the invitation to “come,” goes out also to all men who need Christ, going out through the Spirit, through the Bride, and through each hearer of this gracious word.  Men and women need the pure water of everlasting life for their thirsty souls and the supply is abundant for the taking.  “There is a river, the steams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High.  God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved” (Psalm 46:4, 5).

     Furthermore, the invitation is to “whosoever will.”  The mystery of God’s election ultimately can only be explained and revealed through the divine perspective of God Himself, who alone knows the end from the beginning and who, therefore, “worketh all things after the counsel of his own will” (Ephesians 1:11).  Our minds are of mere creatures in space and time, but His Mind created space and time, and we therefore cannot at present fathom matters which relate to His own omniscience.  Whether, and how He conditions and constrains our wills to conform to His will, we simply cannot know and it is presumptuous for us to try to explain divine prerogatives in human terms.

     But we do know this, for He has said it!  If any person has any least desire to taste the water of life, he can come.  In fact, he is urged to come, to drink deeply, to plunge into the great river proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb, and then never thirst again!

Revelation 22:18.     For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book.

     Now as the book of prophecy is complete, the Lord Jesus gives a most sober and serious warning concerning what has been revealed and written.  He has told us everything He intends to tell us; therefore, let no man or woman or angel presume ever to come with additional revelation from God.  We have the actual words of the Lord (Greek logos, same word as translated “sayings” in v. 7), and He has promised to bless all who keep them.  Precise words are needed to convey precise thoughts; we will think the thoughts He desires us to think if we believe the words He says, and no other words are needed or appropriate.

     Therefore, He promises an extremely severe judgment on those who ignore this warning.  If anyone presumes to come forward with some supposed new “revelation” and claims it to be from God, that very fact will demonstrate that he does not really know the Lord at all.  Therefore, since he has not “kept the word of my patience,” the Lord cannot apply to such a one His promise to “keep [them] from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth” (Revelation 3:10).  Even though he or she may profess to be a Christian, he will not be raised to meet the Lord at the rapture of the Church, but will instead be “cast…into a bed…into great tribulation” (Revelation 2:22).  The “plagues that are written in this book” are, of course, unique to this book and to the world in its coming time of great tribulation, so this can only mean that such false prophets will participate in that period of travail.

     Some may suppose that the warning only applies to someone who would suggest adding, say, a chapter or two to the Book of Revelation, but not some completely new “book of Scripture.”  This interpretation, however, would only trivialize the whole matter.  John was a very old man at the time he wrote and he was well known personally to all the seven churches of Asia.  It is obvious that no one would ever venture to come forward with a new appendix supposed to be added to John’s Book of Revelation.  Such an imposter would immediately be branded a liar and a charlatan, even without this warning at the end of John’s book.  Consequently it is not such a trivial possibility as this about which the Lord was concerned.

     However, the danger was indeed very real that false prophets would arise later and would come to the churches with epistles and gospels and apocalypses which they would claim had been received by divine inspiration.  Such people might ask that their words be accepted as new Scriptures, thus leading people away from “the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone” (Ephesians 2:20).  John was the last of the apostles, and the Apostle Paul had said that “prophecies, they shall fail [same word as “vanish away”]… when that which is perfect [that is, “complete”] is come” (1 Corinthians 13:8, 10).  Now that all of Christ’s revelation concerning all the ages to come had finally been delivered to the churches through His last living Apostle, the beloved John, the Scriptures had been completed.  It would be the height of presumption, even blasphemy, for anyone to come along later and pretend to “add unto these things.”  The very act would prove him or her to be a false prophet.

     If anyone questions this, let him say, then, how else would God ever be able to tell us when His revelation was complete.  It would have to be open-ended, and the churches would have no way of ever distinguishing the false and the true.  The New Testament contains many warnings of false prophets and false teachers who would arise, presuming to speak for God but actually undermining the foundational witness of His true prophets and apostles (Matthew 24:24; Galatians 1:8, 9; 2 Corinthians 11:13-15; 2 Peter 2:1-3).  The danger was very real, and John himself had previously warned his readers concerning them (1 John 4:1).  The entire history of the church, from apostolic days to these latter days, has been plagued with such false prophets and their supposed “revelations.”  Some, such as Mohammed, have led whole nations away from the truth, and the total effect of all of them has been incalculably tragic.  No wonder, therefore, that the Lord appends such a sober warning and severe penalty concerning this deadly danger to the final revelation which He would give through His last apostle.

     One question might be asked, however.  How could such false prophets as Mohammed, Joseph Smith, Mary Baker Eddy and others go through the plagues of the great tribulation when they were dead long before the great tribulation began?  The plethora of pseudoprophets plaguing Christendom in the last generation could go into the tribulation, but what about the false prophets of previous generations?  This problem is probably resolved, however, in the fact that there are varieties and degrees of punishments reserved for all who enter the lake of fire.  To the extent that individuals may not have “received the due reward of their deeds” in this life (Luke 23:41), there is an eternity of equalization still awaiting them.

     In any case, there is surely a most grave punishment specified here by the Lord for anyone who would add anything to the final and complete written Word of God, as consummated here in the wonderful Book of Revelation, the final inspired record of the great future events that will transpire when the Lord returns.  In view of the latter-day proliferation of all kinds of cults and winds of doctrine which are now sweeping the world, most of them based on some great charismatic personage and his claims to divine illumination and authority, the warning is more needed today than ever before.

Revelation 22:19.     And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.

     Now if it is a crime of deadly seriousness to add to the words of Scripture, it is even more wicked and dangerous to take away from them.  Adding false scripture to true Scripture at least leaves the latter, with its saving gospel, intact.  Trying to “cut off” (same Greek word as “take away”) certain unwanted words of God from the Bible, on the other hand, will dilute or destroy its saving message of living truth.  That is why the influences of the cults, with their pseudorevelations, as bad as they are, still are not as deadly as those of the so-called “liberals,” who have specialized in cutting out or explaining away all those portions of the Holy Scriptures which offend their humanistic prejudices and evolutionary presuppositions.  All of the Scriptures have been attacked by such people, but none so much as the books of Genesis and Revelation.

     The cults add to the words of the book of this prophecy, the liberals take away from them, and both are regarded by the Lord as blasphemies deserving of the most serious punishment.  “The Scripture cannot be broken,” He said (John 10:35).

     Moses had issued a like warning concerning his own divinely inspired writings in the Pentateuch.  “Ye shall not add to the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it” (Deuteronomy 4:2).  That is, no later “editor” or “redactor” should ever presume to change or rearrange the words of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, or Deuteronomy.  In view of the high veneration in which Moses and the Law were held by ancient Israel, and the meticulous care with which the scribes copied the manuscripts of their Torah, we can be completely confident that these writings have been transmitted accurately to us since the time of Moses himself.  If not, it is inconceivable that any such redactor would include Deuteronomy 4:2 in his edited version of Moses’ writings.  Yet, modern “higher critics” have arrogantly done to these writings exactly what Moses commanded not to be done, and they have presumed to ascribe their present form to a variety of later writers and editors, merely to suit their own evolutionary fancies.

     Moses’ warning, of course, applied strictly only to his own books, and did not preclude God’s later use of other prophets to convey other scriptures to God’s people.  In fact, prophesying of Christ’s coming, God said through Moses: “I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him.  And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him” (Deuteronomy 18:18, 19).  That this prophecy had been fulfilled in Christ was confirmed by the Apostle Peter, in his great sermon at the temple gate (Acts 3:20-26).

     The Lord Jesus, in turn, had called His own apostles and prophets, had given them the words His Father commanded (John 17:8) and had promised these words would all be brought to their remembrance through the Holy Spirit (John 14:26), so that they in return could record them for others.  He promised also that the Holy Spirit “will guide you into all truth” and that “he will shew you things to come” (John 16:13).  “He shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you” (John 16:14).

     This New Testament revelation was to be given through His chosen apostles and prophets, “Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit” (Ephesians 3:5).  In fact, these apostles and prophets to whom were now being given the New Testament Scriptures were said to constitute the foundation of the great “building” of living believers which was to be erected by the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 2:19-22).  Once the foundation is laid, of course, then it does not continue to be laid at intervals during the erection of the superstructure.  The apostles, all of whom, as one condition of their apostleship, had seen the Lord after His resurrection (1 Corinthians 9:1), laid the foundation of the Church in the Scriptures they wrote, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.  John was the last of these, so his final book is the last block in the foundation.  Nothing more is to be added, because it would be superfluous and distracting; nothing can be removed because it would undermine the structure and eventually cause the whole building to collapse.

     The penalty for removing anything from the “book” (Greek biblos, the word from which we get “Bible,” the book) is nothing less than removal of one’s name from the Lamb’s book of life.  Those who add extraneous pseudorevelations to the completed revelation of God may be cast into the great tribulation, but there may still exist the possibility of repentance on their part before they die.  Those, on the other hand, who presume to judge and reject any part of God’s true revelation will, by that very attitude, demonstrate that they are irreconcilably antagonistic to the revealed will of God.  They have read and understood the Word of God and then repudiated it.  Therefore, their names, as with all other names, which had been entered in the book of life at the time of conception, sadly will be removed from the book (Revelation 3:5) by the Lord whose word they refused, and they must then be consigned forever to the lake of fire (Revelation 20:15). 

     This constitutes a most serious indictment and sober warning to any who would tamper with the Holy Scriptures.  Lest anyone still object that it applies only to the Book of Revelation, it may be noted, historically, that the various atheists and humanists, as well as the motley array of modernists, liberals, higher critics, and other pseudointellectuals in Christendom who have rejected or questioned, ridiculed or allegorized away the books of Daniel, Isaiah, Jonah, Acts, Peter, or any other books of the Bible have also, invariably, done the same to the Book of Revelation, to the Book of Genesis, and the other books of the Pentateuch.  The first and last books of the Bible have constituted a touchstone, as it were, so that the attitude of men and women toward these books always seems to determine their real attitude toward all the Scriptures.  Therefore, the Lord had Moses stress the divine integrity of his writings (Deuteronomy 4:2) and John stress the inviolability of Revelation.

     Not only will such people cut themselves off from the book of life but also, as the Lord reminds them, form all the blessings that He wanted them to have. He has “no pleasure in the death of him that dieth” (Ezekiel 18:32), and has prepared a beautiful eternal home with indescribable joys and satisfactions, as very sketchily reported in John’s book, for “whosoever will.”  For those who “will not,” however, He will not compel them to come.  Since they have rejected His Word, thus rejecting Him as He is, perhaps professing all the while to believe in “another Jesus” of their own invention, they would be indescribably miserable if forced to abide in His presence.  Sadly, therefore, He must separate their names from His book, and them from the blessings of His presence, forever, in the lake of fire.

     Not only should humanists and religious liberals take warning from this serious pronouncement.  There are many professing evangelical believers who consider it fashionable and intellectual to “dialogue” with unbelieving critics and often even to compromise Scripture in order to retain their favor.  The Apostle Peter also warns against the real possibility of such pseudointellectuals becoming “they that are unlearned and unstable [who] wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction” (2 Peter 3:16).

     Only the Lord knows, when the line of irreconcilable unbelief has been crossed, and one’s name has been erased from the book of life.  But such a warning, at the very end of the Bible, surely should constrain each reader to examine his heart, and to be sure that he believes without question or distortion “every word of God” (Proverbs 30:5).

Revelation 22:20.     He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly.  Amen.  Even so, come, Lord Jesus. 

     One last promise to return quickly, and the great prophetic testimony of Jesus Christ (Revelation 1:2; 19:10) is ended.  “These things” include all the events and promises and warnings of the Book of Revelation, culminating in the grave injunction not to change even a word of the completed Scriptures.  Even though His promise to return was made almost 1,900 years ago, His coming is always imminent, and each passing year brings it nearer.  From the standpoint of eternity, His coming will be very soon, even though on the scale of human time it may seem long delayed.  In any case, His coming is sure.  And when He does come, all the events prophesied to accompany His coming, as testified by Him in this book, will be fulfilled speedily and certainly.

     To this wonderful promise, John can only reply with a deep-felt “So be it!”  He had seen as no one before or since has ever seen, the glories of the world to come, and he could only henceforth long earnestly for the day of its reality to hasten.  The final prayer of the Bible, beseeching the Lord to come quickly as He had promised, was John’s prayer, but it has also been echoed on the lips of countless Christians through the centuries ever since.  “I will come again,” the Lord had promised, even before His death on Calvary (John 14:3), and believers will continue to utter this prayer until the very moment He returns.

     And even though Christians in every generation have always, quite properly, anticipated His possible coming in their own lifetimes, it is surely true that believers of this present generation are expecting His imminent return with greater conviction and in greater numbers than ever before in history.  More believers are praying for His return than ever, and perhaps this in itself may betoken His soon coming. 

Revelation 22:21.     The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.  Amen.

     In closing, John adds his personal greeting and prayer for his own friends in the seven churches, who will soon be reading and hearing his amazing record of things to come.  The Holy Spirit, however, is also sending this same message to all churches everywhere, and He would convey the same greeting and exhortation to them, for there is no more fitting way to close the Book of Revelation, and the entire written Word of God, than this.

     “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ!”  Paul begins his epistles (not including Hebrews) with a similar greeting (Romans 1:7; 1 Corinthians 1:3; 2 Corinthians 1:2; Galatians 1:3; Ephesians 1:2; Philippians 1:2; Colossians 1:2; 1 Thessalonians 1:1; 2 Thessalonians 1:2; 1 Timothy 1:2; 2 Timothy 1:2; Titus 1:4; and Philemon 3), and he ends each epistle (including Hebrews) with a similar farewell (Romans 16:24; 1 Corinthians 16:23; 2 Corinthians 13:14; Galatians 6:18; Ephesians 6:24; Philippians 4:23; Colossians 4:18; 1Thessalonians 5:28; 2 Thessalonians 3:18; 1 Timothy 6:21; 2 Timothy 4:22; Titus 3:15; Philemon 25; Hebrews 13:25).  Peter begins each of his two epistles with a similar salutation (1 Peter 1:2; 2 Peter 1:2) and so does John in one of his (2 John 3).  And, of course, John begins his epistle of Revelation with the same testimony: “Grace be unto you, and peace” (Revelation 1:4).  The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ illumines every page of the Holy Scriptures.

     The Christian life begins by grace, is sustained by grace, and thus should always manifest grace.  When we fail, as we often do, there is still forgiveness through grace, for He is “the God of all grace” (1 Peter 5:10), and His “grace is sufficient” (2 Corinthians 12:9).  “God is able to make all grace abound” (2 Corinthians 9:8) to all who believe and obey His Word.

     And in the ages to come, John’s simple farewell prayer for his friends will become a magnificent prophecy fulfilled in all the redeemed.  The “exceeding riches of his grace” will be manifest toward us in all “the age to come” (Ephesians 2:7) through Christ Jesus; and “the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ” will, indeed be with us, and upon us, and in us, forever.

     To which we can only answer, with John, and with deep thanksgiving: “Amen!”

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