Revelation Hope – Final Blessings and Warnings

Understanding the Final Message

Read Revelation 22:6-21

These verses in the final chapter repeat many of the thoughts found in the prologue we examined in our first session. (see Revelation 1:1-8).

Both the prologue (beginning) and the epilogue (end) reveal important ideas to keep in mind as we read this book.

It is as if we had guide posts at the beginning and end to help us line up points between correctly.

We have also noted guide posts in between to keep us from detouring and getting lost.

Many of the ideas in the epilogue appear more than once, so rather than repeat them each time they appear in Revelation they are gathered into five groups.

Each group contributes towards restating what Revelation teaches us in its own unique way.

Real people will inhabit the new earth, just as the Creator originally intended..

The Big Picture

Revelation contains messages from Jesus for all of His followers.

Throughout the history of the Christian church, Jesus’ followers have found hope, meaning and purpose from the Book of Revelation, especially during tough times.

The second half of Revelation concentrates on the final battle over worship.

When the gospel call is finally proclaimed to the world, there will be a reaction against it by a counterfeit.

False religious powers will unite with political powers to try and enforce worship while God’s message calls people to worship Him as the Creator.

The test of true religion will be an acceptance of the death of Jesus on our behalf, which in turn leads to obedience to the commandments of God as a sign of loyalty to our Creator.

This session highlights the importance of Revelation’s messages for us and stresses we should not add to or delete from what Jesus has revealed to His church through John.

A. Revelation Comes from Jesus Through His Angel to Encourage His Followers.

Revelation 22: 6, 13 and 16

The opening words of Revelation—“the revelation of Jesus Christ”—set the tone for how the rest of the book should be understood (see Revelation 1:1).

Revelation unveils the path of the future for the church until Jesus returns to claim it as His bride.

We are to understand Revelation as Christ Himself unveiling events to us, so we are equipped to see deceptions ahead and maintain a right relationship with Him.

Any interpretation that deals with political events—be they wars or individual nations— has missed the point of why Revelation was written.

The prophecies of this book were given for a moral purpose.

They are to help us remain spiritually alive and alert, and keep our covering of Christ’s righteousness (see Revelation 16:15).

Revelation contains messages from Jesus to His church, warning of dangers ahead.

It also contains promises of hope, meaning and purpose behind all that will happen to those who wish to faithfully follow Jesus.

The response He seeks from His church is found in the promises made to the seven churches:

• He desires His church to return to its first love.
• He wants His church to be faithful, even when persecution comes.
• He warns His church not to compromise with paganism and the cultural pressures of society.
• He wants His church to resist the teachings of false prophets.
•He wants His church to be authentic when most other churches around them fail to be.

He promises His church He will help them get through the tough times they will experience.

He calls for full committal of life.

He promises His church He will help them get through the tough times they will experience.

B. Revelation Repeats the Promise of Jesus Returning to this World Again.

Revelation 22: 7, 10-12, 20

The prophecies linked to Jesus Christ returning to this world are given to not just satisfy our curiosity about the future but to give us hope and meaning as we face disappointments and difficulties.

Understanding that Jesus has forewarned of hazards ahead they help us keep our faith and loyalty to Him.

We are warned there will come a time when God will close the door of opportunity to become one of His followers.

When this happens, such as people are, that is how they will remain for eternity.

It occurs just before Jesus returns (see verse 12) to reward His followers who have remained faithful.

While those who are in a right relationship with the Creator are gathered up, those who are not are left behind and destroyed.

Revelation has relevance for all Christians throughout the Christian era.

C. The Angel Messenger in Revelation Stresses the Need to Worship Only the Creator.

Revelation 22: 8, 9

John is so moved by what he has just seen regarding the New Jerusalem that he falls before the feet of the angel to worship; the angel tells him that God alone is to be worshipped.

In this experience, we can see the issues over worship, as earlier revealed.

When the end-time crisis erupts, the whole world will follow a false system of worship, excluding the faithful followers of the Lamb who have chosen to worship the Creator alone.

While Revelation is relevant for all Christians, the last half of the book has special emphasis on the final war concerning worship between the two opposing “trinity powers” and their followers.

As the final proclamation of the gospel goes to the world, it will be countered by a false system of worship, led by a coalition of religious forces appearing to be Christian.

In Revelation 13, image worship is set up, which is said to be an abomination to God.

Apostate religious powers are standing on holy ground by enforcing worship.

The forces of Babylon are a coalition of the dragon, the beast and the false prophet, empowered by unclean spirits (see Revelation 16:13-14).

God’s response is symbolised by three angels proclaiming His messages to the world:

• The first is the true gospel in the setting of God’s judgment. It also is a call to worship God as Creator.

• The second is a warning against the counterfeit gospel upheld by Babylon, which embraces all false religion.

• The third is a call to people to make a decision on which side they will be found in the final showdown.

As with the proclamation by Elijah, a call will be made to divide the world into those who worship the Creator and those who accept a false form of worship.

Rightly understood, the book of Revelation is a call to worship God as the Creator.

Here is how Revelation describes this final call and those who deliver it to the world:

They appear at the close of earth’s history (see Revelation 12:17).

• They are described as the rest of the offspring of the woman (see Revelation 12:17).

•They point people to the prophecies of Daniel and Revelation (see Revelation 10:5-7).

• Their message to be proclaimed comes at the close of Daniel’s time prophecies (see Revelation 10:5-7).

• They proclaim the commencement of God’s judgment (see Revelation 14:7).

• They point people to the important truths regarding the judgment coming from an understanding of the heavenly sanctuary (see Revelation 11:1, 2).

•They stress the importance of keeping the commandments of God as a fitting response to the gospel (see Revelation 12:17, 14: 12).

•They call people to the keeping of the seventh-day Sabbath as a memorial to the Creator (see Revelation 14:7).

•They possess a prophetic, visionary gift (see Revelation 12:17, 1: 2, 19:10).

•They warn against the end-time deception, as found in Revelation 13 (see Revelation 14: 8, 18:1-4).

Important teachings emerge in the end-time crisis:

• The gospel unites and divides the world.

• An important response to the gospel is keeping the commandments of God (see Revelation 12:17, 14:12).

The first four commandments dealing with the “who, how and when” of worship are in focus.

The observance of the seventh- day Sabbath is an important way of distinguishing God’s people during the end-time crisis.

Observance of this day reveals those people who have chosen to worship the Creator rather than the counterfeit trinity.

• A correct understanding of what happens to those who are dead is important in combating the deceptions of unclean spirits in the end-time crisis.

• The language used to describe the experiences of the church as it faces this end-time worship contest is similar to the experiences of Christ as He faced death on Calvary.

The faithful followers of Jesus will endure similar afflictions to what Christ endured.

Jesus warned His followers: “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.

If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own.

As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world.

That is why the world hates you.

Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’

If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also … They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the One who sent me” (John 15:18-21).

Revelation 11:8 talks about the execution of the two witnesses “where also their Lord was crucified.”

The two witnesses are symbolic of Jesus’ followers who have prophesied in sackcloth for 1,260 days, a time period that echoes the duration of Christ’s ministry on earth.

The two witnesses’ ministry is authenticated by miracles of grace and mercy, as was the ministry of Christ.

On the other hand, the beast from the earth also opposes the two witnesses.

It works miracles and calls fire down from heaven just as they do.

We can anticipate from this that the end-time testing over worship occurs when Jesus’ faithful followers face opposing forces that also claim to be the true followers of the Lamb.

During His ministry here on earth, Jesus was not only preaching and teaching the truth about God and salvation.

Toward the end, He openly attacked the religion of the Pharisees and Scribes, the religious leaders of His day.

This made them angry and caused them to want Him put to death.

The same happens when the church has finished its testimony Revelation 11:7 pictures a beast coming up from the Abyss to attack the church and put it to death.

The church exposes the religion of Babylon as being full of unclean spirits and makes a call for God’s people to come out of her.

As with Jesus’ death, secular powers unite with religious powers against them (see Revelation 17).

Now the church is following in the footsteps of her Lord, who said if we are to follow Him, we must be prepared to take up our cross.

Revelation 13:11-18 predicts a time of great trial for Jesus’ followers.

But, as with the death of Jesus, there will be a great final victory (see Revelation 11:11, 12).

D. A Warning not to Add or Take Away from the Prophecies of this Book.

Revelation 22: 18, 19

It is important to be aware that we are dealing with unfulfilled prophecy.

Jesus warned us that prophecy is best understood after it has been fulfilled (see John 14:29).

Therefore, we need to stay with what is clearly revealed in Revelation and resist the temptation to add to what is revealed by speculating on its meaning.

At the present time, there are many voices in the religious world feeding on sensationalism.

Often their speculations can look convincing,  as they take events from the newspapers of the day.

However, when time proves their speculations wrong, it causes a loss of faith in the minds of many who believed in them.

On the other hand, we are warned of the  serious consequences of removing words from the prophecies in Revelation.

Where Revelation warns of dangers to come to God’s  people, the temptation will always be to neglect those warnings, or fail to share them with others because they may be unpopular and different.

This will be particularly difficult when false religious powers appeal to signs  and wonders as evidence that God is with them.

We need to stay with what is clearly revealed in Revelation

Twelve points revealed about the end time:

If we stay with only what is revealed in Revelation, here is what we will find

1. A worldwide proclamation of the gospel.

This is to be given by the angel with a mighty voice just before the close of probation (see Revelation 14:6, 7 and 18:1).

Empowered by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, it is the final gospel call that precipitates the end-time events (see Matthew 24:14).

This proclamation results in a worldwide confederacy of the saints, who are identified as:

• The rest of the offspring of the woman (see Revelation 12:17).

The 144,000

(see Revelation 7:1-8)

(see Revelation 7:1-8)

• A great multitude that no man could number (see Revelation 7:9-17).

• The called and faithful followers of the Lamb (see Revelation 17:14).

• The ones who watch and keep their garments intact (see Revelation 16:15).

They proclaim the messages of the three angels (see Revelation 14:6-11), which involve the true gospel and a warning against the counterfeit.

It calls people to make a decision for one side or the other.

Their final call to the world is pictured as the resurrection of the two witnesses (see Revelation 11:11-13).

2. A worldwide religious confederacy proclaims a counterfeit of the gospel.

This arises in opposition to the preaching of the true gospel.

It is a proclamation to worship the counterfeit trinity made up of the dragon, the beast and the false prophet, as described in Revelation 13.

It gets its power to deceive from the unclean spirits (see Revelation 16:13, 14).

It is a false Pentecost (see Revelation 13:13), and deceives people through miraculous signs and by bringing fire down from heaven.

In the end, all false religion comes into unity with Babylon and accepts a false form of worship.

It is a false Pentecost (see Revelation 13:13), and deceives people through miraculous signs and by bringing fire down from heaven.

3. A worldwide civil and secular unity.

This confederacy, which develops parallel to the religious confederacy, is also called by many names:

• The river Euphrates (see Revelation 16:12, 17:15).

• The kings of the whole world (see Revelation 16:14).

• Many waters (see Revelation 17:1 and 15).

• The kings of the earth (see Revelation 17:2; 18:3-9).

•The earth dwellers (see Revelation 17).

•The beast (see Revelation 17).

• The ten horns (see Revelation 17).

• The cities of the nations (see Revelation 16:19).

• Seven mountains (see Revelation 17:9).

• Seven kings (see Revelation 17:9).

The development of this unity is not outlined in detail.

It seems to become viable when a significant group, symbolised by 10 kings, decides to join the group in supporting the beast (see Revelation 17:12, 13).

God is always in control in bringing worldwide attention to the gospel, flushing out the great end-time counterfeit and precipitating the political confederacy.

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God’s people are especially empowered to give a loud cry, calling the rest of God’s people to come out of Babylon (see Revelation 18:1-8).”

“The unholy trinity performs powerful deceptive miracles as a means of persuasion.”

4. The valley of decision.

Both sides are working to gain followers from the secular centre: those who take neither side in the end-time religious polarisation.

God’s people are especially empowered to give a loud cry, calling the rest of God’s people to come out of Babylon (see Revelation 18:1-8).

Many respond to the loud cry close to the end, possibly even some from among those who identified with the beast (see Revelation 11:13).

Many have committed to Babylon in their actions, even though they are not fully with her in mind and heart.

The mark of the beast is received in the mind by those truly committed to Babylon.

Those who conform for economic reasons receive it in their hand.

The unholy trinity performs powerful deceptive miracles as a means of persuasion.

When that fails with some, there is increasing use of force to coerce those who refuse (see Revelation 13:11-17).

God is always in control in bringing worldwide attention to the gospel.

5. The world’s secular and false religious confederacies unite.

The unity would seem to be brought about by unclean spirits (see Revelation 16:13, 14) coming out of the mouths of the powers of Babylon.

They go out to gather the kings of the earth for the battle of Armageddon.

Even today, we know secular people are sometimes influenced by the New Age Movement and the séance room.

Those who do not believe are also caught up in this final deception.

The imagery of Babylon committing fornication with the kings of the earth suggests that those in Babylon and those who are part of the secular/political unity have much to offer each other.

Sexual imagery is applied—the prostitute Babylon allures her clients, the kings of the earth (see Revelation 17:1, 2).

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“Those who do not believe are also caught up in this final deception.”

When Babylon receives the plagues, there is much lamenting from those who have gained economically from their alliance with Babylon (see Revelation 18).

A series of images show there will be a religious/political unity in the end time:

• Babylon on the river Euphrates.

• The prostitute on the waters.

• The woman on the beast.

6. The followers of Jesus are singled out for destruction.

When the counterfeit trinity unites the whole world, those who do not conform and receive the mark of the beast will be singled out for economic sanctions and finally, a death decree (see Revelation 13:11-17).

God’s restraining influence is taken away when the four winds are released (Revelation 7:1-4)

God’s restraining influence is taken away when the four winds are released

7. The close of human probation.

Human probation ends after the close of the gospel commission at the sounding of the seventh trumpet (see Revelation 10:7).

Because everyone on earth has made a decision for or against the gospel, the heavenly temple is now empty (see Revelation 15:5-8).

The righteous are to remain righteous for eternity; the unrighteous will remain unrighteous for eternity (see Revelation 22:11).

From then onwards, people remain on the side they have chosen.

Those who have made their decision to reject Christ and the gospel’s invitation continue to blaspheme God.

The wicked decide to rid the earth of His people; they are influenced by evil spirits and become more like them.

On the other hand, those who trust in Christ will experience death and destruction all around them.

As they have to depend on Christ for their lives, their faith develops and becomes stronger.

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From then onwards, people remain on the side they have chosen.”

8. Those who oppose the Creator seek to destroy God’s people.

Those who want to destroy God’s people seek to execute the death decree (see Revelation 13:15).

They enter into the battle of Armageddon to make war with the Lamb (see Revelation 17:14).

The threat to God’s people could be symbolised by the rising of the waters of the river Euphrates—the Euphrates dries up when God delivers His people.

Many of God’s people will lose their lives and be martyred before the close of probation (see Revelation 20:4, 16:6).

This will not happen after the close of probation, as they have God’s seal of protection (see Revelation 7:1-4).

9. Christ intervenes on behalf of His people.

At the very moment when two worldwide confederacies try to crush the followers of Jesus, the Lamb will overcome the powers threatening them (see Revelation 17:14).

Those who have been deceived by the miracles of Babylon now see through the deception and turn on Babylon; the river Euphrates dries up (see Revelation 16:12, 17:16).

God is still in Control 

10. Those who were deceived turn on their deceivers.

Babylon is exposed and revealed as a fraud. She is destroyed by the powers she depended on for support.

God remains in control and encourages the break-up of the union (see Revelation 16:19).

Babylon falls and splits into three parts.

The end-time unity falls apart when they realise they cannot win against the Creator.

The same nations that destroy Babylon regret what they have done.

There is mourning from those who have benefited from their association with Babylon (see Revelation 18).

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“Christ gathering up His people is likened to the grain harvest (see Revelation 14:14-16)..”

11. Christ finishes the destruction of the wicked at His second coming.

Anyone left alive will die in the great hailstorm and earthquake of the seventh plague (see Revelation 16:17-21) and the second coming of Jesus (see Revelation 14:17-20, 17:14, 19:11-21).

Those who are destroyed are likened to the wine harvest, associated with the crushing of grapes (see Revelation 14:17-20).

12. Christ gathers up His people.

Christ gathering up His people is likened to the grain harvest (see Revelation 14:14-16).

This happens during the first resurrection at the beginning of the 1,000 years. Those who take part are blessed and holy; they live and reign with Christ for 1,000 years.

Characteristics of people loyal to God in the end time:

  • They are loyal to Jesus
    (see Revelation 14:1-5).

  • They reflect His character (see Revelation 14:1-5).
  • They are faithful to the covenant because they keep the commandments of God (see Revelation 12:17, 14:12).
  • They have the seal of God on their foreheads (see Revelation 7:1-4). The seal of God is the seal of the covenant, which is the Ten Commandments.

    The Sabbath commandment contains all the information needed in an ancient covenant seal—the name of the lawgiver, His title and territory.

  • They preach the messages of the three angels, as found in Revelation 14.
  • They will have the gift of prophecy working in their midst (see Revelation 12:17).
  • Like Jesus, they preach the true gospel but also warn against false ones. They alert the world to the deceptions of the beast, its image and the miracles performed by the Land beast.

“They reflect His character”

  • They will also warn people about end-time deceptions performed by the unclean spirits. To be capable of doing this, they need to have a correct understanding of what happens at death (see Revelation 18:1-4)
  • Although they are symbolically described
    as 144,000 (see Revelation 7:1-8), John also saw them as a great multitude that no-one could count—from every nation,
    tribe, people and language (see Revelation 7:9-17).
  • They will emerge at the end-time contest to
    face issues over worship and the full wrath of the dragon, as found in Revelation 13.

    They are called “the rest of the offspring of the woman—those who obey God’s commandments and hold to the testimony
    of Jesus” (Revelation 12:17).

    The Greek term used here is Loipos, meaning “the remaining ones” or the “rest.” This verse is telling us that in the end time, those who are faithful to Jesus will face the full wrath of the dragon, as expressed in Revelation.

    Despite all that happens, they remain loyal to Jesus and keep the commandments of the covenant.

Throughout human history, there has been a historic remnant, a present remnant and a future remnant.

In the days of Israel, there was past remnant of those who remained loyal to God and His covenant in times of crisis.

They survived war, destruction, apostasy or other calamities to continue as God’s chosen people.

Toward the end of the Old Testament, God was telling Israel through His prophets that there would be a future remnant.

Somehow, Israel did not understand that God’s future remnant would also include people from the nations around them

(see Isaiah 19:23-25, Isaiah 56: 1-8)

(see Isaiah 19:23-25, Isaiah 56: 1-8)

When Jesus came preaching and teaching among the people, many who should have been preparing the world for His coming rejected Him.

However, there was a remnant from Israel who did accept Jesus (see Romans 11:1-5) and they were joined by a large number of others, the Gentiles.

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“Toward the end of the Old Testament, God was telling Israel through His prophets that there would be a future remnant.”

While Israel had been given a special message from God to present to the world, not all Israelites accepted Jesus, yet a large number of Gentiles did.

At the end, John saw a great multitude that no-one could count from “every nation, tribe, people and language standing before the throne” (Revelation 7:9).

They are identified in Revelation 7:14 as having come out of the great tribulation with washed robes, making them white in the blood of the Lamb.

Throughout history, God has had people faithful to Him, even in the darkest hours.

Surely today, He also has a message to encourage and guide His people.

It is important that we do not add to or delete any of the messages Jesus has sent to His church.

A Final Invitation

Revelation 22: 14,15 and 17

Verse 14 invites us to accept Jesus by having our stained and dirty robes washed clean.

This is the only way we have the right to enter the holy city.

By contrast in verse 15, those without the right are described as carrying on their immoral practices.

They did not receive the washing performed by the cleansing blood of Jesus and chose to carry on their lives apart from Him.

Verse 17 has a beautiful invitation for all of us to come and accept the free gift of eternal life, likened to someone who is thirsty being offered water.

It is an offer open to whoever is thirsty.

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“Truly, this book reveals Jesus Christ, just as it claims to.”

Truly, this book reveals Jesus Christ, just as it claims to.

Verse 7 tells us: “Blessed (or happy) is he who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.”

It is not enough to hear and then give mere lip service; we need to act on our belief.

Revelation calls for us to surrender our lives to Jesus and live out what it teaches in our lives.

Only then will we find that this book brings us happiness through knowing God accepts us because of our relationship with Jesus.

When we have this, life takes on renewed hope, meaning and purpose.

Revelation calls for us to surrender our lives to Jesus and live out what it teaches in our lives. When we do this, life will take on renewed hope, meaning and purpose.

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