The Final Words of Revelation

 

A Holy Supper Address

Rev. James P. Cooper

Toronto – June 12, 2011

  1. Today we are going to be looking at the last few verses of the last book of the New Testament.
    1. Already covered briefly in the Children’s Talk, but now we will look at them for the guidance they can provide for those of us in adult states.
  2. Rev 22:8-21
    1. Now I, John, saw and heard these things.
      1. Opening the senses of the spiritual body by special permission and
      2. Under the direct protection and care of the Lord Himself.
    2. And when I heard and saw, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel who showed me these things. {9} Then he said to me, “See that you do not do that. For I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren the prophets, and of those who keep the words of this book. Worship God.”
      1. The use and role of angels.
        1. The Greek word annelos, from which the English word “angel” comes, literally means “messenger.”
        2. Just as the atmosphere of the earth serves to soften and modify the energy radiated from our Sun so that life can exist on earth, the heaven serve to receive, modify, and pass on the life they receive from the Lord so that it arrives in our minds in a form suited to our present worldly states.
        3. Although angels are closest to us, nearest to our own states and thus more familiar, yet they are people who lived and walked on earth just as we do, they are not gods, nor are they separate creations distinct from human beings. We are to worship the Lord, only.
    3. {10} And he said to me, “Do not seal the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is at hand. {11} “He who is unjust, let him be unjust still; he who is filthy, let him be filthy still; he who is righteous, let him be righteous still; he who is holy, let him be holy still.”
      1. When the time is at hand, when the body has passed away and the spirit has entered the spiritual world, the time for change has passed.
      2. This is important. That’s why the Lord has put so many warnings through so many different prophets in the Word.
        1. Parable of the Talents: the master returns suddenly.
        2. Parable of the Ten Virgins: the bridegroom does not come when expected.
        3. Lots of other parables.
        4. Direct statements that the time of His coming will be unknown, like a “thief in the night.”
      3. Here comes another warning – every person is going to get exactly what they deserve.
    4. {12} “And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work. {13} “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last.”
      1. Coming “quickly” does not mean soon, but rather a sense of certainly.
      2. In Exodus 3:15 Jehovah gives His name to Moses as “I AM I WHO AM.”
        1. Tenses – or rather the lack of tense – are important.
        2. Before Abraham was, I am.
        3. Greek has lots of tenses, a more complex language than Hebrew, so qualifications are added to make it clear that this “person” transcends time and place, and in fact is the creator God.
    5. {14} Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have power in the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city.
      1. Again, you get what you deserve.
      2. How do you deserve to enter into the city? Keep His commandments.
      3. This leads to the question of what happens to those who do not keep His commandments?
        1. And reinforce the idea that the commandments here mentioned are the Ten Commandments by listing some examples of the behaviours that are contrary to them.
    6. {15} But outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie.
      1. By what right does He have to command us in this way?
    7. {16} “I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things in the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star.” {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.
      1. We know what happens to those who refuse to be led by the Lord, we know that such people exist, but yet the Lord wants to make it clear that all are created for and destined to go to heaven. The invitation has been given – over and over – it is entirely up to us whether or not we choose to take the water of life or not.
    8. {18} For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; {19} and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book. {20} He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming quickly.” Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!
      1. A lot of people would use this statement to say that this is a warning about the Writings because they “add“ to the Bible.
        1. From a point of view of history and the literal sense, that can’t be so. When the book of Revelation was written the Bible, which is a collection of ancient books, did not exist when the book of Revelation was being written.
        2. Or, we can look at it from the point of view of which Bible are we adding to? The Revised Standard Version used by the Roman Catholic church includes at least 10 more books than the King James Version (and its modern derivatives) used by the Protestants.
          1. The additional books are called “Apochrypha” and are regarded as “books proceeding from godly men,” but not Divinely inspired.
          2. In the New Church we add the Epistles to that group of books giving us the Gospels and Revelation as Divinely inspired, and the rest as “good books for the church.”
            1. This statement can only mean that people are warned from adding to the book of Revelation itself.
        3. From the point of view of doctrine, the Writings don’t add to the Word, they open it up to show what has always been there, but hidden.
      2. The 22nd chapter of Revelation, the New Testament, and Scripture and with the familiar phase that we use as the benediction in most of our services of worship:
    9. {21} The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.
      1. Grace” means the delight of truth, and we are all being invited to be delighted by learning about the Lord and begin to live the life that leads to heaven.
      2. He wants nothing more than to give all of us lasting happiness, and He is showing us the way for us to attain it.
      3. Amen. He affirms the truth of it.
  3. Conclusion
    1. This chapter is a summary of the Doctrine of the New Church.
      1. It talks about the Lord as the Creator of the Universe, outside of time and space.
      2. It talks about the Word – the commandments.
      3. It talks about the Life of Charity – shunning evils and keeping the commandments.
      4. It reminds us that each one of us is going to face a judgement; and once that judgement comes it will be too late to make a fundamental change in our character.
      5. Which all leads to the obvious conclusion that we should not delay, but we should look to the quality and nature of our lives immediately, and begin the work of changing ourselves for the better, for “the Lord is coming quickly” at a “time that we do not know.”
      6. And if we do, we are promised His grace, and a life of happiness to eternity in heaven. Amen.

First Lesson: PSA 19:7-11

The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul; The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple; {8} The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes; {9} The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; The judgements of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. {10} More to be desired are they than gold, Yea, than much fine gold; Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. {11} Moreover by them Your servant is warned, And in keeping them there is great reward.

Second Lesson: Apocalypse Revealed 949

REV 22:12 “And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work.” This symbolically means that the Lord will surely come, and His presence is heaven and the felicity of eternal life for everyone in accordance with his faith in the Lord and his life in obedience to the Lord’s commandments.

Behold, I am coming quickly” symbolically means that the Lord will surely come, namely, to execute judgement and to establish a new heaven and a new church. …. “My reward is with Me” symbolically means that the Lord’s very presence is heaven and the felicity of eternal life….

To give to everyone according to his work means, symbolically, to do so in accordance with a person’s conjunction with the Lord through faith in the Lord and living in obedience to His commandments. This is the symbolic meaning because good works symbolize charity and faith internally, and at the same time the effects of these outwardly. And because charity and faith come from the Lord, and are received in accordance with a person’s conjunction with Him, it is apparent that these are what are symbolically meant. The meaning here thus coheres as well with what has been said before….

[2] People know that charity and faith come not from man, but from the Lord. And because they come from the Lord, they are received in accordance with a person’s conjunction with Him, and a conjunction with Him is formed through faith in Him and living in accordance with His commandments. Faith in Him means a confidence that He will save, and this confidence is found in people who turn to Him directly and refrain from evils as being sins. Such a faith is not possible in others.

We said that “My reward is with Me” symbolically means that the Lord’s very presence is heaven and the felicity of eternal life, for the reward is an inward bliss, called peace, and a consequent outer joy. This is possible only from the Lord, and whatever comes from the Lord not only emanates from Him, but also constitutes His very presence. For the Lord cannot emit anything from Himself without His being present in it. Indeed, He is omnipresent in everyone in accordance with some conjunction, and the conjunction depends on reception, and the reception on love and wisdom, or if you please, on charity and faith, and charity and faith on the person’s way of life, and the person’s way of life on an aversion to evil and falsity, and an aversion to evil and falsity on knowing what evil and falsity are, and on repenting then and at the same time looking to the Lord.

[3] …But this arcanum can be understood only by people who are wise owing to their receiving the light of heaven from the Lord. It is for them what we wrote in two works, one being Divine Providence and the other Divine Love and Wisdom, where we showed that the Lord Himself is present in people in accordance with their reception, and not some Divine quality apart from Him. This is the concept that angels have when they conceive of the Divine omnipresence, and I do not doubt that some Christians have a similar concept. Amen.

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