This is it. This is home. This is life, delight, triumph, rest, endless joy. This is the Presence of God. Its name is heaven.
All the images are sketched for us to show all that heaven is: there is endless life, just as the river flows from God’s throne, and right through the city (vv.1-2). God rules, and from His Lordship comes endless life. The tree of life, from which Adam and Eve were banished, now bears superabundant fruit, bringing forgiveness to the nations (vv.2-3). That tree (the same as the word sometimes used in the New Testament for the Cross) means that the curse of the old creation is now reversed, as all the redeemed fellowship with God and the Lamb (vv.3-4). He is their light, joy and confidence (vv.4-5). Is all this too good to be true? Of course. But it is true (v.6).
John is desperate for us to trust what he reports. His vision is confirmed by an angel (v.6), and the angel commands him to let the message run, since it is such an urgent one (v.10). The nearness of God’s Kingdom – and its final consummation – demands a response, before God comes in final judgement (v.11).
If Jesus is returning, then we must face up to His promises. He promises to reward all, according to how we have lived (v.12). He promises that those who have been made clean through faith in His blood are blessed (v.14); likewise, He promises that those who have spurned His grace will be spurned (v.15). Where will we be?
A deep longing for heaven comes from the hearts of all the redeemed. We want to reply with all that we are to the Bride’s invitation (v.17). We want to be with Him, and we want to receive the gift of life from Him (v.17). Until that great day we pray, watch, believe and wait in faith. He is coming soon. He really is. Amen, come, Lord Jesus (v.20).
A Prayer to Pray
Lord Jesus, what do I say? Your promise is staggering. Dare I believe that Your bitter cross is my sweet source of life? Dare I believe that one day You will roar into this world to bring it to its judgment, and bring Your own to Your joy? Lord, I do believe, and I worship. Give me the grace to believe deeply, joyfully, expectantly. Amen.