There is no more hopeful chapter in the Bible than the last. Here is God’s great answer to our human fallen nature and here is the culmination of the truly awesome work of Jesus Christ on the cross. This is the chapter that gives us the answer to all the questions that have haunted mankind through the ages. Where did we come from? What went wrong? How can it be made right? How will this all end?
The center of it all is Jesus Christ, and he is shown here in ALL of His glory. He is not a defeated martyr on a cross. The final revelation of Jesus Christ is one of overwhelming victory and absolute authority. He is the beginning and the end, the fulfillment of the predictions of all the Old Testament prophets. He is one with such inherent authority that all John can do is fall down in awe and wonder.
Here we see a river of life flowing from the throne of God; we see a tree of life whose leaves are for the healing of the nations of the world (and oh, don’t we need healing!). We see that there will be no more curse and no more night. We have been told in previous chapters there will be no tears, no shame and nothing impure. We can only imagine what this will be like, and even then, we fall short.
But all of this is not for everyone. There are some who will be excluded from this paradise. This is only for those who have been washed in the blood of the Lamb, whose sins have been forgiven. There will be no liars, no one who is sexually immoral, no murderers or idolaters there. Yet, amazingly, John calls out an invitation for anyone who is thirsty to come and drink of this water, to partake of this paradise.
How is it that mankind can be forgiven and creation redeemed and restored to its original purpose? The answer to that is also here in this chapter – it is wrapped up in the story of three trees.
In the very beginning of the Bible, in the first part of the book of Genesis, there is a special tree in the garden: the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. This is the one tree which man was forbidden to eat. In the beginning, it was the disobedience of this rule that caused the horrors of sin mankind has faced to this very day. Yet, here at the end of the Bible, we see another tree – the Tree of Life – that brings hope and healing. The healing that comes from that tree is only possible because of another kind of “tree” – the cross of Jesus Christ. Jesus bore the curse of sin and absorbed the punishment of sin for all mankind. We are told: “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us – for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone that is hanged on a tree’ – so that the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles” (Galatians 3:13-14).
The paradise that was lost in the garden of Eden was restored through the work of Jesus on the cross. This is why everything can be restored and that is why the Lamb of God, Jesus, sits on an everlasting throne and rules all things alongside the Father.
Jesus Christ has restored all things by his death on the cross. This final chapter of the Bible is the answer to the opening chapters where we saw the horrible destruction of sin unleashed. The final verse of the Bible reveals the cure for all things – that which restores all things to God and to original purpose and function: “The Grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen.”
No wonder he will be the center of unbroken praise forever and ever. I say let’s begin the praise right now!