I've done it! Woohoo!! YES! Way to go!
What have I done?
I've finished reading the Bible from cover to cover, that's what! What an amazing journey it's been! I can't tell you the date I started reading in Genesis, but it's been several years. No, I'm not a slow reader. I could have done one of those 'read-the-Bible-in-a-year' studies and been finished a long time ago. But I wanted to take my time and really grasp what I was reading. Mostly I read one chapter at a time and admittedly, there were days when I neglected to read at all, especially while in the Old Testament books. But the deeper I got into God's word, the more important it became to me to make sure I heard from Him every single day. I can't wait to start it all over again in Genesis tomorrow!
So what does the very last chapter in the Bible have to say to us?
"Then the angel showed me [John] the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever." (22:1-5)
What a contrast we see here from the lake of burning sulfur! Here we have a river of life-giving water. Probably the clearest water you've ever seen, flowing down the middle of the streets of gold. And on each side is the tree of life. Can't you picture this scene? I can. I see an enormous, gorgeous tree with twelve different kinds of fruit--some I've never seen before--growing on either side of the river and then meeting up in the middle above the water. The brilliance of the golden streets reflects all around. Everything is so clean and perfect, it's amazing! But as vivid as my imagination can be, I doubt it even comes close to the real deal!
The most wonderful words in Revelation 22, however, are found in verses 12-14. They're spoken by Jesus himself:
"Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city."
Jesus is coming!
That's all I need to know. That's the only place I need to put my hope. No matter what this life throws at me, I can make it because I know Jesus is on his way! I may live to see him return, I may not. It doesn't matter. My robe has been washed in his blood and I will eat from the tree of life and drink from the river of life and walk into the city through the gates! YES!
One day all the prophecies of Revelation will come to pass. In 22:16 Jesus says, "I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches."
He wants us to be aware of what is going to take place. He wants us to understand that there are terrible, eternal consequences to our sin if we don't repent. And yes, he wants to give those of us who love him hope despite all the terrible things that will happen when God finally says, "Enough!"
To sum things up, I enjoyed my time in the Book of Revelation. As I admitted in the beginning, I don't understand it all, but God isn't trying to hide anything from us. The whole purpose of this "revelation" was to give us insight to what is coming. If you have never read the book of Revelation--or you've read it and found it too confusing-- I encourage you to read it again and again. Read it in the way Jesus wanted us to: with open ears to what he's trying to tell us.
"He who has an ear let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches."