As I finish this podcast, I am really thankful for this year-long experience. If you are one of the faithful ones who have listened through most of 2014— whether or not you are ending on December 31 or some days/weeks/months later, I want to congratulate you. Way to go! I hope these podcasts have been a blessing for you— as they have been for me. I hope that nothing that I have said has caused you to stumble or decreased your desire to read or listen to God’s Word. I started this project in the hope that my four grandchildren would— in some future year, listen to this series of recordings. If you are Luke Fields, Laura Fields, Ava Baughn, or Joel Baughn, know that Grampa loves you and that I desired to share spiritual treasures with you. I am proud of you and wish that we could have shared these readings in person. To all of you in the family of Christ Jesus our Savior, I send warm greetings and love. May the Lord bless you in 2015!
We turn for the second time to Isaiah 66. Isaiah ends with blessings and promises that foreshadow Revelation, such as these:
12This is what the LORD says:
“I will give Jerusalem a river of peace and prosperity.
22“As surely as my new heavens and earth will remain,
so will you always be my people,
with a name that will never disappear,”
says the LORD.
The wealth of the nations will flow to her.
In stark contrast to the promises and blessings, Isaiah also ends with vivid warnings against judgments and punishments that are like those in Revelation:
24And as they go out, they will see
the dead bodies of those who have rebelled against me.
For the worms that devour them will never die,
and the fire that burns them will never go out.
All who pass by
will view them with utter horror.”
Jesus himself repeatedly quoted that verse about the worms and the unquenchable fire. (Mark 9)
We turn to Revelation 22, the last chapter in the Bible. In chapter 21 we heard the invitation to receive free life-giving water for anyone who is thirsty, and that invitation is repeated in today’s chapter. The culmination of everything promised and the healing of everything sick and broken occur here— from the Garden of Eden and the start of sin, the tower of Babel, and all the rest. God says, “Look, I am making all things new.” There is again symbolism in every aspect of the New Jerusalem— including even the shape of a huge cube. As noted above at the end of Isaiah, in stark contrast to the eternal blessings for God’s people are the vivid ending warnings of eternal judgment in the last two chapters of Revelation.
In Rev. 22:8-9, most translations make it sound that John made the same mistake twice—, bowing down again to the angel that was showing everything to him, as he did in chapter 19. But the Greek in those verse in chapter 22 can be understood to be retelling that event that happened in chapter 19, and I think that makes better sense. That’s how I will read it today. The probable reason that John included the story twice was to emphasize that angels should not be worshipped. It is likely that he repeated the story in order to combat a heresy that was current during his time and even can be seen in some forms to the present day.
1b On each side of the river grew [the/a] tree of life,
8b And when I heard and saw them[— as I said before], I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed them to me.
16b I am both the [founding] source of David