"Behold, I am coming quickly! Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book."
Revelation 22 - Quick Links
2 In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river, was the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.
Revelation 22:1 - And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb.
The same angel who showed John the heavenly Jerusalem from the high mountain in the last chapter has now brought John inside the city. This angel is one of the seven angels who had the seven Bowl judgments and may have been the same angel who showed John the great harlot city of Babylon, showing John the contrast between the two cities:
Revelation 21:9-10 - Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls filled with the seven last plagues came to me and talked with me, saying, "Come, I will show you the bride, the Lamb's wife." And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God....
Revelation 17:1 - Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and talked with me, saying to me, "Come, I will show you the judgment of the great harlot who sits on many waters...."
John describes what he sees inside the heavenly Jerusalem. There are several similarities between the holy city and the garden of Eden, but note that the tree of life from the garden is now located in the heavenly Jerusalem:
The passages below suggest that God did not just relocate the tree of life from the garden of Eden to the heavenly city, but He moved the entire garden along with the tree of life twice: first from the surface of the earth to the center of the earth after evicting Adam and Eve, and then from the center of the earth, where Jesus went after His death, to Heaven after His resurrection. Note that the tree of life is in "Paradise," and the Greek word translated "paradise" can also mean "garden" (source):
Luke 23:43 - And Jesus said to him, "Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise."
2 Corinthians 12:3-4 - And I know such a man - whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows - how he was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.
Revelation 2:7 - "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God."
Just as Eden was the center of the original creation, the "Paradise of God" within the heavenly Jerusalem will be the center of the new creation where God has His throne located in the heavenly tabernacle with a river flowing out from it:
Psalms 46:4-5 - There is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacle of the Most High. God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved; God shall help her, just at the break of dawn.
Revelation 22:3 - And there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve Him.
God's eternal throne also belongs to the Lamb who was slain to bring salvation to the world:
Revelation 7:9-12 - After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, saying, "Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!" All the angels stood around the throne and the elders and the four living creatures, and fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying: "Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom, thanksgiving and honor and power and might, be to our God forever and ever. Amen."
The river that flows from God's throne in the city is described as "water of life." Physical water sustains life, so living waters are a picture of eternal life provided by the Lord who is the source of all life. He alone is the source of our salvation (John 14:6) given through the power of the Holy Spirit:
John 4:13-14 - Jesus answered and said to her, "Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life."
John 7:37-39 - On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, "If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water." But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.
Psalms 36:7-9 - How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God! Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Your wings. They are abundantly satisfied with the fullness of Your house, and You give them drink from the river of Your pleasures. For with You is the fountain of life; in Your light we see light.
Isaiah 12:2-3 - "Behold, God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid; 'For YAH, the LORD, is my strength and song; He also has become my salvation.'" Therefore with joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.
Isaiah 55:1-3 - "Ho! Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat. Yes, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, and let your soul delight itself in abundance. Incline your ear, and come to Me. Hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you - the sure mercies of David."
Jeremiah 2:13 - "For My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, and hewn themselves cisterns - broken cisterns that can hold no water."
Jeremiah 17:13 - O LORD, the hope of Israel, all who forsake You shall be ashamed. "Those who depart from Me shall be written in the earth, because they have forsaken the LORD, the fountain of living waters."
1 Corinthians 10:1, 4 - Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea... and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ.
Revelation 21:6 - And He said to me, "It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts."
Revelation 22:17 - And the Spirit and the bride say, "Come!" And let him who hears say, "Come!" And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.
The river is "clear as crystal," which speaks of purity, as discussed in Revelation 21:11. The following passages show that the area around God's throne also looks like crystal, or glass:
Revelation 4:6 - Before the throne there was a sea of glass, like crystal. And in the midst of the throne, and around the throne, were four living creatures full of eyes in front and in back.
Ezekiel 1:22 - The likeness of the firmament above the heads of the living creatures was like the color of an awesome crystal, stretched out over their heads.
Revelation 22:2 - In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river, was the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.
There is a street on either side of the river flowing with living waters. Recall that the street that runs through the heavenly Jerusalem is of pure gold:
Revelation 21:21 - The twelve gates were twelve pearls: each individual gate was of one pearl. And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass.
The river of the water of life also flows through the city. Some artists depict the river cutting through the street, where the pathway of the street serves as banks of the river, which fits the description John gives. John then sees the tree of life on either side of the street and the river. The one tree being in the middle of the street and at the same time on each side of the river might mean that the root system extends on each side of the river and the pathways of the street, as portrayed in the picture in the following link: Tree of Life Art.
It is unclear if the twelve different kinds of fruit the tree bears are a new crop of all twelve every month, or if there is a different type of fruit that the tree produces each month that would act as a calendar of sorts to mark the times and seasons, including the feasts of the Lord, like the luminaries do in the original creation. Yes, time will continue to march on in the eternal state, but time will not be a constraint like it is now in the fallen world.
The phrase "each tree yielding fruit each month" makes it sound like there are numerous trees, but the translators added the word "tree" in the NKJV that is not in the original Greek. The Amplified Version does not include the added word and it reads much more clearly that there is only one tree of life - the same tree from the Garden of Eden, the Paradise of God that symbolizes eternal life (Genesis 2:9, 3:22-24, Revelation 2:7, 22:14):
Revelation 22:2 (Amplified Version) - ...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 be a similar river in the Millennium that acts as a type and shadow of the river in the eternal state that will flow from the temple in the earthly Jerusalem:
Zechariah 14:8-9 - And in that day it shall be - that living waters shall flow from Jerusalem, half of them toward the eastern sea and half of them toward the western sea; in both summer and winter it shall occur. And the LORD shall be King over all the earth. In that day it shall be "The LORD is one," and His name one.
Joel 3:18 - And it will come to pass in that day that the mountains shall drip with new wine, the hills shall flow with milk, and all the brooks of Judah shall be flooded with water; a fountain shall flow from the house of the LORD and water the Valley of Acacias.
Ezekiel 47:1-5 - Then he brought me back to the door of the temple; and there was water, flowing from under the threshold of the temple toward the east, for the front of the temple faced east; the water was flowing from under the right side of the temple, south of the altar. He brought me out by way of the north gate, and led me around on the outside to the outer gateway that faces east; and there was water, running out on the right side. And when the man went out to the east with the line in his hand, he measured one thousand cubits, and he brought me through the waters; the water came up to my ankles. Again he measured one thousand and brought me through the waters; the water came up to my knees. Again he measured one thousand and brought me through; the water came up to my waist. Again he measured one thousand, and it was a river that I could not cross; for the water was too deep, water in which one must swim, a river that could not be crossed.
The tree of life is not on the earth during the Millennium, but there are trees along the banks of the river that bear fruit every month like the tree of life in the heavenly city. Also, like the tree of life, the leaves of the trees bring healing. Similarly, the water of the river brings life and healing wherever it flows, pointing to the Lamb of God, the source of all life and salvation, as discussed in the last section:
Ezekiel 47:6-12 - He said to me, "Son of man, have you seen this?" Then he brought me and returned me to the bank of the river. When I returned, there, along the bank of the river, were very many trees on one side and the other. Then he said to me: "This water flows toward the eastern region, goes down into the valley, and enters the sea. When it reaches the sea, its waters are healed. And it shall be that every living thing that moves, wherever the rivers go, will live. There will be a very great multitude of fish, because these waters go there; for they will be healed, and everything will live wherever the river goes. It shall be that fishermen will stand by it from En Gedi to En Eglaim; they will be places for spreading their nets. Their fish will be of the same kinds as the fish of the Great Sea, exceedingly many. But its swamps and marshes will not be healed; they will be given over to salt. Along the bank of the river, on this side and that, will grow all kinds of trees used for food; their leaves will not wither, and their fruit will not fail. They will bear fruit every month, because their water flows from the sanctuary. Their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for medicine."
The leaves from both the tree of life in the heavenly city and trees in the Millennium on earth will be used for healing. In the Millennium, people will use the leaves from the trees by the river as medicine for physical healing, and some speculate the leaves might attribute to the longevity of God's people (Isaiah 65:20), foreshadowing the eternal life to come in the new creation.
In the heavenly city, the leaves of the tree of life were for the healing of nations, which might be figurative, making the leaves commemorative of when Christ will reconcile all things to Himself and bring peace to the nations:
Colossians 1:16-20 - For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross.
Zechariah 9:9-10 - "Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, lowly and riding on a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey. I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim and the horse from Jerusalem; the battle bow shall be cut off. He shall speak peace to the nations; His dominion shall be 'from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth.'"
John Walvoord gives another possible explanation of how the leaves can "heal" the nations:
"The word for healing is in the English word "therapeutic." Accordingly, rather than healing, it could be understood as that which brings health. The leaves of the tree, then, would be described as bringing enjoyment of life in the New Jerusalem. Accordingly, as it may not be necessary to partake of the leaves of the tree in order to enjoy the eternal state forever, it apparently provides an avenue by which enjoyment can be enhanced. The healing is also said to extend to the nations, literally, the Gentiles or the peoples. Though frequently used to distinguish Gentiles from Israel, the word would include all races in context such as this."
Revelation 22:3 - And there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve Him.
In the last section, we saw that the tree of life is freely accessible to everyone in the eternal state because there is no more curse in the new creation. Adam and Eve's sin cursed the earth and God drove them away from the garden to keep them from the tree of life so they would not live forever in their fallen state:
Genesis 3:22-24 - Then the LORD God said, "Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil. And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever" - therefore the LORD God sent him out of the garden of Eden to till the ground from which he was taken. So He drove out the man; and He placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life.
When the curse is lifted, the fruit from the tree of life will be free for everyone to eat because Christ redeemed all creation from the curse:
Galatians 3:10-14 - For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them." But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for "the just shall live by faith." Yet the law is not of faith, but "the man who does them shall live by them." Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree"), that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.
Romans 8:18-23 - For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits 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; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body.
The authors in the following two commentaries discuss some reasons why God cursed the earth after sin entered the world, and what it might be like after God lifts the curse:
"It is because of the curse that dogs bite, bees sting and weeds grow. God cursed the earth so that man's environment would be a constant reminder to him that things were not right... that he was out of sync with God and all that God had made. It is because we are sinners that we are continuously out of harmony with the creation, you see. That will no longer be the case in the new heavens and the new earth. There, all will be right; all will be in harmony. There will be no more curse."
Source: Bible Book of Revelation
"None will ever age, nothing will ever be lost, all work will be productive and enduring. The entropy law, the so-called second law of thermodynamics, will be repealed. Information will nevermore become confused, ordered systems will not deteriorate into disorder, and no longer will energy have to be expended merely to overcome friction and dissipation into nonrecoverable heat. Entropy will from now on be conserved along with energy and mass and momentum. Though "time" will continue on forever, "time's arrow" will no longer be directed downward."
Source: Spirit And Truth
The curse also caused separation between God and men, or spiritual death, but Christ died to reconcile men back to God and to restore them to eternal life:
Romans 5:1-2 - Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
Romans 5:8-14 - But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation. Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned - (For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come.
Romans 5:18 - Therefore, as through one man's offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man's righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life.
Now men can dwell once again in the presence of God, freely having access to Him in perfect fellowship:
Revelation 21:3 - And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God."
God's dwelling place is His throne in Heaven:
Psalms 11:4 - The LORD is in His holy temple, the LORD's throne is in heaven; His eyes behold, His eyelids test the sons of men.
Psalms 103:19 - The LORD has established His throne in heaven, and His kingdom rules over all.
Matthew 5:34-35 - But I say to you, do not swear at all: neither by heaven, for it is God's throne; nor by the earth, for it is His footstool; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King.
Acts 7:48-49 - "However, the Most High does not dwell in temples made with hands, as the prophet says: 'Heaven is My throne, and earth is My footstool. What house will you build for Me? says the LORD, or what is the place of My rest?'"
Both the Father and the Lamb sit on the throne of God, because the Lamb overcame His enemies, including death, and now all are subject to both the Father and the Lamb:
Revelation 3:21 - To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.
1 Corinthians 15:24-28 - Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be destroyed is death. For "He has put all things under His feet." But when He says "all things are put under Him," it is evident that He who put all things under Him is excepted. Now when all things are made subject to Him, then the Son Himself will also be subject to Him who put all things under Him, that God may be all in all.
All will become subject to the Lord, so all will serve Him. Since God lifts the curse in the eternal state, serving Him will never be a burden, but only garners reward. There will no longer be a temple in the eternal state because there are no more barriers between God and men and He will dwell with His people. Thus, this comes full circle back to when the Lord had complete, intimate, and unhindered fellowship with Adam and Eve before they sinned, as discussed Revelation 21:22. So, it is unclear what service to God entails, but it will certainly be a form of worship that will serve to honor and glorify God:
John 12:23, 26 - But Jesus answered them, saying, "The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified.... If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor."
It is doubtful that service to God will only be worship around the throne in song and praise. Perhaps the saints will be caretakers over the new creation the way Adam was who tended to the garden of Eden (Genesis 2:15). Whatever service to God looks like in the eternal state, it is certain to bring fulfillment to both God and His people.
The Lord's servants will see His face in the eternal state. This does not mean they will be able to visibly see the Father as some suggest, because Jesus is the only physical manifestation of the Godhead there ever was or will be:
John 1:18 - No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.
Colossians 1:15 - He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.
Colossians 2:9 - For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.
Hebrews 1:1-3 - God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.
Rather, being able to see the Lord's face has to do with having access to the presence of the fullness of the Godhead. Note that God showed Moses His glory as a sign that God's presence would go with His people, but Moses could not withstand the full presence of the Godhead because reconciliation through Christ had not yet come, thus he was unable to "see His face," even though he spoke to Him "face to face" (Exodus 33:11, Numbers 12:8, Deuteronomy 34:10):
Exodus 3:4-6 - So when the LORD saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, "Moses, Moses!" And he said, "Here I am." Then He said, "Do not draw near this place. Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground." Moreover He said, "I am the God of your father - the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob." And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look upon God.
Exodus 33:12-16 - Then Moses said to the LORD, "See, You say to me, 'Bring up this people.' But You have not let me know whom You will send with me. Yet You have said, 'I know you by name, and you have also found grace in My sight.' Now therefore, I pray, if I have found grace in Your sight, show me now Your way, that I may know You and that I may find grace in Your sight. And consider that this nation is Your people." And He said, "My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest." Then he said to Him, "If Your Presence does not go with us, do not bring us up from here. For how then will it be known that Your people and I have found grace in Your sight, except You go with us? So we shall be separate, Your people and I, from all the people who are upon the face of the earth."
Exodus 33:17-23 - So the LORD said to Moses, "I will also do this thing that you have spoken; for you have found grace in My sight, and I know you by name." And he said, "Please, show me Your glory." Then He said, "I will make all My goodness pass before you, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before you. I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion." But He said, "You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live." And the LORD said, "Here is a place by Me, and you shall stand on the rock. So it shall be, while My glory passes by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock, and will cover you with My hand while I pass by. Then I will take away My hand, and you shall see My back; but My face shall not be seen."
There were several times that people saw Christ preincarnate before He came in the flesh, yet they did not die:
Genesis 32:24, 28-30 - Then Jacob was left alone; and a Man wrestled with him until the breaking of day.... And He said, "Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel; for you have struggled with God and with men, and have prevailed." Then Jacob asked, saying, "Tell me Your name, I pray." And He said, "Why is it that you ask about My name?" And He blessed him there. So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: "For I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved."
Joshua 5:13-15 - And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted his eyes and looked, and behold, a Man stood opposite him with His sword drawn in His hand. And Joshua went to Him and said to Him, "Are You for us or for our adversaries?" So He said, "No, but as Commander of the army of the LORD I have now come." And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped, and said to Him, "What does my Lord say to His servant?" Then the Commander of the LORD's army said to Joshua, "Take your sandal off your foot, for the place where you stand is holy." And Joshua did so.
Judges 13:17-22 - Then Manoah said to the Angel of the LORD, "What is Your name, that when Your words come to pass we may honor You?" And the Angel of the LORD said to him, "Why do you ask My name, seeing it is wonderful?" So Manoah took the young goat with the grain offering, and offered it upon the rock to the LORD. And He did a wondrous thing while Manoah and his wife looked on - it happened as the flame went up toward heaven from the altar - the Angel of the LORD ascended in the flame of the altar! When Manoah and his wife saw this, they fell on their faces to the ground. When the Angel of the LORD appeared no more to Manoah and his wife, then Manoah knew that He was the Angel of the LORD. And Manoah said to his wife, "We shall surely die, because we have seen God!"
Hebrews 7:1-3 - For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, to whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all, first being translated "king of righteousness," and then also king of Salem, meaning "king of peace," without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like the Son of God, remains a priest continually.
But the physical manifestation of the Lord in the present world is not the full presence of the Godhead that the redeemed will behold in the eternal state.
As discussed in Revelation 6:16, those who seek the Lord's face or presence are the righteous (Psalms 17:15, 24:4-6, 27:5-9, Hebrews 12:14). Those who want to hide from the Lord's face are evil and/or ashamed, like Adam and Eve who hid from God's presence after they sinned (Genesis 3:8):
1 Peter 3:12 - For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their prayers; but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.
Psalm 34:15-16 - The eyes of the LORD are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their cry. The face of the Lord is against those who do evil, to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth.
Ezra 9:6 - And I said: "O my God, I am too ashamed and humiliated to lift up my face to You, my God; for our iniquities have risen higher than our heads, and our guilt has grown up to the heavens."
God sees everything man does:
Job 34:21-22 - For His eyes are on the ways of man, and He sees all his steps. There is no darkness nor shadow of death where the workers of iniquity may hide themselves.
Hebrews 4:13 - And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.
But God hides His face from those whose sin has not been reconciled through Jesus, being made righteous (Romans 5:10-17):
Deuteronomy 31:17-18 - Then My anger shall be aroused against them in that day, and I will forsake them, and I will hide My face from them, and they shall be devoured. And many evils and troubles shall befall them, so that they will say in that day, 'Have not these evils come upon us because our God is not among us?' And I will surely hide My face in that day because of all the evil which they have done, in that they have turned to other gods.
Micah 3:4 - Then they will cry to the LORD, but He will not hear them; He will even hide His face from them at that time, because they have been evil in their deeds.
Isaiah 59:1-2 - Behold, the LORD's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; nor His ear heavy, that it cannot hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear.
God sets His face against those He judges in wrath:
Jeremiah 44:11-12 - Therefore thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: 'Behold, I will set My face against you for catastrophe and for cutting off all Judah. And I will take the remnant of Judah who have set their faces to go into the land of Egypt to dwell there, and they shall all be consumed and fall in the land of Egypt. They shall be consumed by the sword and by famine. They shall die, from the least to the greatest, by the sword and by famine; and they shall be an oath, an astonishment, a curse and a reproach!'
Ezekiel 38:18 - "And it will come to pass at the same time, when Gog comes against the land of Israel," says the Lord God, "that My fury will show in My face."
But those God reconciles, they will see him "face to face" in His fullness, being able to know Him personally:
Job 19:25-27 - For I know that my Redeemer lives, and He shall stand at last on the earth; and after my skin is destroyed, this I know, that in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!
Psalms 17:15 - As for me, I will see Your face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied when I awake in Your likeness.
Matthew 5:8 - Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
John 17:24 - "Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world."
1 Corinthians 13:12 - For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.
2 Corinthians 3:18 - But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.
1 John 3:2 - Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.
Charles Spurgeon further explains what it means to see the Lord's face:
"By which I understand two things: first, that they shall literally and physically, with their risen bodies, actually look into the face of Jesus; and secondly, that spiritually their mental faculties shall be enlarged, so that they shall he enabled to look into the very heart, and soul, and character of Christ, so as to understand him, his work, his love, his all in all, as they never understood him before....This will be the greatest glory of heaven: to know God, to know Jesus, more intimately and wonderfully than we ever could on earth. It is the chief blessing of heaven, the cream of heaven, the heaven of heaven, that the saints shall there see Jesus."
The Lord's name will be on the foreheads of His servants. Putting or writing a name on someone, or something, denotes ownership much like branding a slave or bondservant. Scripture shows similar branding on the forehead of harlots, who are sex slaves, or spiritual slaves to idolatry, and those who worship the beast in the Tribulation:
Jeremiah 3:3 - Therefore the showers have been withheld, and there has been no latter rain. You have had a harlot's forehead; you refuse to be ashamed.
Revelation 17:5 - And on her forehead a name was written: MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.
Revelation 13:16-17 - He causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads, and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.
God blesses those He has chosen to put His name on:
Numbers 6:23-27 - "Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, 'This is the way you shall bless the children of Israel. Say to them: "The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace."'" "So they shall put My name on the children of Israel, and I will bless them."
Revelation 3:12 - He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more. I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God. And I will write on him My new name.
The following excerpt from "Holman Bible Dictionary" shows the significance of the forehead:
"The Emblem of Holiness was placed on Aaron's forehead (Exodus 28:38). This symbolized acceptance before the Lord...."
"The Bible indicates that a person's character can be determined by observing the forehead. A set forehead indicates opposition, defiance, and rebellion (Jeremiah 3:3). Hardness of the forehead indicates determination to persevere (Isaiah 48:4; Ezekiel 3:8-9)... The forehead is used as a very dishonorable word when read of the harlot's forehead (Jeremiah 3:3), indicating utter shamelessness."
During the Tribulation, the 144,000 servants will have the Father's name written on their foreheads:
Revelation 14:1 - Then I looked, and behold, a Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with Him one hundred and forty-four thousand, having His Father's name written on their foreheads.
A man dressed in linen put a similar mark on the foreheads of men who grieved the abominations against the Lord in Jerusalem, though we do not know that the mark was God's name:
Ezekiel 9:4-6 - ...And He called to the man clothed with linen, who had the writer's inkhorn at his side; and the LORD said to him, "Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and cry over all the abominations that are done within it." To the others He said in my hearing, "Go after him through the city and kill; do not let your eye spare, nor have any pity. Utterly slay old and young men, maidens and little children and women; but do not come near anyone on whom is the mark; and begin at My sanctuary." So they began with the elders who were before the temple.
The context in the passages above shows that protection is part of this "seal," or "mark" of the Lord. Someday all of God's people will be eternally secure from any harm:
Revelation 21:3-4 - And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away."
Revelation 22:5 - There shall be no night there: They need no lamp nor light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them light. And they shall reign forever and ever.
There is no night in the eternal city, because God's glory continually illuminates it, so there is no need of light from the sun:
Revelation 21:10-11 - And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, having the glory of God. Her light was like a most precious stone, like a jasper stone, clear as crystal.
Revelation 21:23 - The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light.
Incidentally, in the original creation, God created plant life a day before He brought forth light from the luminaries, which shows that the light manifest on the first day of creation was probably the manifestation of His glory that sustained the plant life until He made a secondary light source to regulate the temperature of the earth (Genesis 1:3-5, 11-19).
As discussed in Revelation 21:23, the Lamb is the source of the light of God's glory, because it was through His sacrifice that He gives light to men in a fallen world:
Luke 2:30-32 - "For my eyes have seen Your salvation which You have prepared before the face of all peoples, a light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of Your people Israel."
John 1:3-4, 9 - All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.... That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world.
John 8:12 - Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, "I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life."
2 Corinthians 4:6 - For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
Hebrews 1:1-4 - God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become so much better than the angels, as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.
1 John 1:5-7 - This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.
The absence of night implies that the glorified bodies of the saints probably do not need sleep, as they will be in God's eternal rest, this in contrast to rest needed by mortal bodies and the Sabbath day of rest from labor in the original creation:
Genesis 2:2-3 - And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.
As discussed in Revelation 14:12-13, entering God's rest does not mean that we stop being active or stop worshipping God, but that we will get eternal relief from life's toils that involve struggle or pain. The author of Hebrews explains that anyone who accepts the gospel message can enter God's rest:
Hebrews 4:1-5 - Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it. For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it. For we who have believed do enter that rest, as He has said: "So I swore in My wrath, 'They shall not enter My rest,'" although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. For He has spoken in a certain place of the seventh day in this way: "And God rested on the seventh day from all His works"; and again in this place: "They shall not enter My rest."
Hebrews 4:6-11 - Since therefore it remains that some must enter it, and those to whom it was first preached did not enter because of disobedience, again He designates a certain day, saying in David, "today," after such a long time, as it has been said: "Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts." For if Joshua had given them rest, then He would not afterward have spoken of another day. There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His. Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience.
God's servants will reign with Him forever and ever because He redeemed us:
2 Timothy 2:11-13 - This is a faithful saying: For if we died with Him, we shall also live with Him. If we endure, we shall also reign with Him. If we deny Him, He also will deny us. If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself.
The Old Testament saints, Church saints, and Tribulation saints will reign with Christ in His earthly kingdom over the people who live in the Millennium:
Revelation 2:26 - And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations....
Revelation 3:21 - To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.
Revelation 5:8-10 - Now when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song, saying: "You are worthy to take the scroll, and to open its seals; for You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, and have made us kings and priests to our God; and we shall reign on the earth."
Revelation 20:6 - Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.
After the Millennium, all the saints from all dispensations will move into the eternal state and reign with the Lord forever and ever:
Daniel 7:18, 27 - But the saints of the Most High shall receive the kingdom, and possess the kingdom forever, even forever and ever.... Then the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people, the saints of the Most High. His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey Him.
Scripture is silent on exactly what or who God's servants will reign over, but it would make sense if they reign over the new creation as stewards, like Adam was to reign over the original creation when God commissioned him to tend to His garden and take care of the animals:
Genesis 2:15, 19-20 - Then the LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it. Out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them. And whatever Adam called each living creature, that was its name. So Adam gave names to all cattle, to the birds of the air, and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper comparable to him.
John's tour of the heavenly Jerusalem ends, and the rest of chapter 22 is an epilogue that reiterates the purpose of Revelation. Before moving on, we should recognize that the book of Revelation is literally the bookend to God's redemptive story of mankind:
Table Source: Life Application Study Bible
Revelation Flow Chart:
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