I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I heard and saw them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed them to me; but he said to me, ‘You must not do that! I am a fellow-servant with you and your comrades the prophets, and with those who keep the words of this book. Worship God!’
And he said to me, ‘Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near. Let the evildoer still do evil, and the filthy still be filthy, and the righteous still do right, and the holy still be holy.’ ‘See, I am coming soon; my reward is with me, to repay according to everyone’s work. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.’
Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they will have the right to the tree of life and may enter the city by the gates. Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and fornicators and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practises falsehood.
‘It is I, Jesus, who sent my angel to you with this testimony for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.’
The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come.’ And let everyone who hears say, ‘Come.’ And let everyone who is thirsty come. Let anyone who wishes take the water of life as a gift.
I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to that person the plagues described in this book; if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away that person’s share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.
The one who testifies to these things says, ‘Surely I am coming soon.’
Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all the saints. Amen.
And so the New Testament concludes with a shout and a roundabout exhortation to do the laundry. Or at least that’s how I imagine the final verses of Revelation 22. Amen.
This is a passage loaded with small nuggets that might provoke one to pause and wonder. John, who names himself, worships the angel with the message rather than God. “You must not do that! I am a fellow servant” says the messenger. John is instructed not to seal up the words of the prophecy. The reality of a world where the filthy and the evildoer continue to be filthy and to do evil while the righteous do right and the holy are holy remain unchanged.
John has a vision of the risen Jesus who is coming soon. Clean robes required, good news surely for those whose washing machines are on often or who have an account at the cleaners. Bad news for those listed in verse fifteen, which for some reason includes our beloved dogs. Clean robes and pets are not a great combination but a reason to exclude?
Here we are given a vision of the end of time. Mixed with the condemnatory words are powerful words of welcome. Come. Come. Come.
The words of condemnation are tough ones. While some particular classes of sinfulness are listed might we wonder and worry who are the ones who love and practice falsehood? I might ponder as I reflect on this passage if I am adding to it or taking from it, practices condemned in verses eighteen and nineteen.
What I hold onto is that through all this confusion is that Christ is with his people. I notice that all who are thirsty are invited to drink and the water of life is available as gift. Come. Drink. (And keep on top of the laundry.)
I heard the voice of Jesus say, ‘Behold I freely give the living water; thirsty one, stoop down and drink and live.’ I came to Jesus, and I drank of that life-giving stream; my thirst was quenched, my soul revived, and now I live in him.
H. Bonar (1808-89) Rejoice and Sing #349
The Rev’d Sarah Moore, Transition Champion, the National Synod of Scotland and Assistant Clerk of the General Assembly.