There’s a phrase we use in our house often. My kids can recite it by heart. It first came about when my son asked me if Indiana Jones got crushed by the giant boulder. He had never seen Raiders of the Lost Ark, a problem I remedied as quickly as possible. But he knew Indy had to run from a boulder, and he wanted to know how that ended. I refused to tell him, saying he needed to discover that on his own. He said, “Why won’t you just tell me?” My answer, and the phrase we’ve all since memorized, was this: “Let the storyteller tell the story in the way they want to tell it.”
In other words, let’s not spoil the ending. Let’s get there honestly. Let’s let others do the same. If you jump to the ending, you may discover what happens, but you will have missed so much of the context for why it matters.
Here we are, in the last chapter, not only of Revelation, but of the entire Bible. Revelation 22 tells us that Jesus is coming again, and soon (vv.7,20). With that promise comes a call for believers to “keep the words of the prophecy of this book” (v.8). Those two details carry so much importance in light of the context of the book of Revelation, and the whole of Scripture. How so?
Jesus is coming again. When we go all the way back to the beginning of the Bible, we find God at work creating everything we know and calling it good. We see Him make mankind in His image, and we see humanity rebel against Him. Then we hear the clink of the flaming swords of Eden as our first parents are cast out of the garden. What follows is an ongoing struggle between God and His people. Will we ever be reconciled? Will that reconciliation be the kind that lasts? Revelation 22 reveals the answer: Yes.
Until that day, we are to “keep the words of this book” (v.9). What will God’s reconciling work in Christ look like? Will it be empty tolerance, or intimate affection? The call to obey Scripture reassures us that God’s eternal plan for His people is one of relational intimacy. We are not merely tolerated by God. We are loved. We are kept. We will live in an ongoing eternal relationship with Him, and in this life, we practice the life to come by seeking to live according to the Word of our God, who does not change.
This is how the Storyteller has told the story. We are called to persevere in obedience and live in light of the reality that Jesus is coming back, knowing that when He does, it will be as a Bridegroom coming for His Bride. And all will be well. Forever.
“Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!” (Revelation 22:20).
Written by Russ Ramsey