The final Word (D’var) in Revelation is Salvation (Yeshua).
An examination of Revelation 22.
Rev 22:1 And he (Angelic messenger) showed me a pure river of mayim chayim (living waters), clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of G-d and of the Lamb.
The, “he” here refers to the angelic messenger of the previous chapter. The river is described as pure so as to emphasize the fact that it is pure at its source (G-d) and flows in a city that is pure at its source (G-d). The river is not only faultless and without blemish at its source, it also remains faultless, clear and pure wherever it flows in the new earth. Hence it is clear as crystal.
These mayim chayim (living waters) have been fruitful from the very beginning:
“Now a river flowed out of Eden to water the garden:” –Genesis 2:10
The psalmist sees the river of living waters and prophecies saying:
“There is a river whose streams make glad the city (Jerusalem) of G-d, the holy dwelling places of the Most High. G-d is in the midst of her (Jerusalem), she will not be moved; G-d will surround her (Jerusalem) when morning dawns (New Creation).” –Psalm 46:4-5
The prophet Joel also alludes to the living waters:
“And in that day the mountains will drip with new wine,
And the hills will flow with milk,
And all the brooks of Judah (Praise) will flow with water;
And a spring will go out from the house of HaShem
To water the valley of Shittim.” –Joel 3:18
The prophet Zechariah also prophecies concerning the mayim chayim (living waters):
“And in that day mayim chayim (living waters) will flow out of Jerusalem, half of them toward the eastern sea and the other half toward the western sea;” –Zechariah 14:8
With the crystal clear purity of the river, the fruit of mayim chayim (living waters) in the Tanakh, and the identifying of its source as being the two persons of the unity of G-d, we can conclude that the river is itself a metaphor for the Ruach Ha-Kodesh (The Holy Spirit).
“Now on the last day of Sukkot (Feast of Booths), Hoshana Rabbah (The great save us now), Yeshua stood and cried out, “If anyone is thirsty, let him keep coming to Me and drinking! He who believes in Me, as the Scripture says (Isaiah 58:11), ‘From his core being will flow mayim chayim (rivers of living waters).’” And this He spoke of the Spirit, Whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Yeshua was not yet glorified.” –Yochanan/John 7:37-39
Rev 22:2 In the midst of the city between the main street and the river, was the Aytz Chayim (tree of living), which produced twelve varieties of fruit, yielding her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the health and wholeness of the nations.
Some English translations, like the NIV read, “Down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life”. The reason for this seems to be misplaced desire to connect the trees of Ezekiel’s vision (Ezekiel 47:12) to the Aytz Chayim, tree of life. The trees of Ezekiel’s vision are present, however the tree of life is a singular symbolic spiritual entity and should not be confused with the other trees present in the Olam Haba (World to come). We should note that the Greek xulon (tree) is singular.
The Aytz Chayim (tree of life) was in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:9), then, following the sin of Adam and Eve, humanity was kept from eating of its fruit (Genesis 3:22) and both the tree and the garden itself were guarded by Cherubim (plural: angelic beings/guardians).
“So He drove humanity out; and at the east of the garden of Eden He stationed the cherubim and the flaming sword which turned every direction to guard the way to the Aytz Chayim (tree of life).”
Here in the new creation the Aytz Chayim is restored to redeemed humanity and is accessible to all of G-d’s people. It is noteworthy that the trees of the knowledge of good and evil are not present. There is no longer knowledge of evil because that knowledge is confined to the lake of fire. In the Olam Haba (World to come) we will know only the good. By accepting Messiah we have agreed to a future filled with good alone.
Rabbinical Judaism teaches that the Aytz Chayim (tree of life) is in the midst of paradise, and its body covers all of the garden; and that in its fruit are five hundred thousand different tastes; and that there are no varieties or fragrances like it (on the present earth). –Yalkut Simeoni, par. 1. fol. 7. 1
The Greek word, “therapiah”, from which we get the English word, “Therapy”, is almost universally translated as, “Healing” in the English Bible. However, the Greek word can also mean, “Attendance”, and is interpreted by some to mean, “Health” and “Wholeness”. Due to the fact that at this point in the chronology of the Revelation there is no longer any sin, suffering, illness or death, it seems redundant to have leaves for healing. Therefore I believe the better translation is, “the leaves of the tree were for the health and wholeness of the nations.” In other words, the leaves are health sustaining rather than healing.
In modern Rabbinical Judaism, Aytz Chayim (tree of life eternal) is used as a title for the Torah.
“It is a tree of life to those who hold fast to it (Torah),
and all who cling to it find happiness.
Its ways are ways of pleasantness,
and all its paths are peace.
Help us and guide us, inspire us and provide us
With the wisdom only Your Torah can reveal.
Cause us to learn, return us to You Oh L-rd
And renew us just as in days of old.” –Siddur (Jewish Prayer Book)
In fact, while many of our people have yet to see and understand this prayer’s deeper meaning, we continue to chant it each Shabbat following the Torah service. May the day come speedily and soon when every Jew will understand that Yeshua is the goal of the Torah (Romans 10:4), that He is the Word essence of G-d.
We are in fact praying:
“Yeshua is the tree of life to those who hold fast to Him (The goal of the Torah),
And all who cling to Yeshua find happiness. His ways are ways of pleasantness,
And all His paths are peace (Sar Shalom: Prince of Peace).
Help us and guide us, inspire us and provide us with the wisdom only
Your (G-d the Father) Yeshua (Living Word: Torah) can reveal.
Cause us to learn, return us to You Oh L-rd
And renew us just as in days of old.”
Rev 22:3 And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of G-d and of the Lamb shall be in the city; and His servants shall serve Him:
“People will live in it (Jerusalem), and there will no longer be a curse, for Jerusalem will dwell in security.” –Zechariah 14:11
While the Greek reads, “there shall no longer be any accursed thing”, the root is clear, all cursed things are born of the curse that came upon creation at the inception of sin. Sin and death are no more: Messiah made this possible by becoming a curse for us on the cross, defeating the hold that sin and death had previously had on our lives (Galatians 3:13). Now, having judged creation, G-d has permanently imprisoned sin and death outside of His new creation. Therefore the better reading is, “there shall be no more curse”.
“The name of the city from that day shall be, HaShem Shamah (The L-rd is there).’” –Ezekiel 48:35
It stands to reason that we His servants will serve Him. This service is worship and worship is the nature of action (Romans 12:1). In this world we are always worshipping: in any given moment we’re either worshipping G-d or something/someone else, whereas in the Olam Haba (World to come) we will worship G-d alone.
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of G-d’s rachami (mercy), to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to G-d—this is your true temple act of worship.” –Romans 12:1
Rev 22:4 And they shall see His face; and His name shall be on their foreheads.
In the present fallen world no human being may see G-d’s face (unveiled person) and live, but in the Olam Haba (World to come) all the redeemed will have this privilege.
“But He (G-d) said, “You cannot see My face, for no human being can see Me and live!” –Exodus 33:20
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see G-d.” –Matthew 5:8
The Name of G-d on the foreheads of every believer indicates His authority over the entire being. The desire of every believer’s core being is that G-d would reign on the throne of our existence, this finds its ultimate fulfilment in the New Jerusalem. His Name on the head (rosh: beginning) of our being is a seal of eternal belonging, security, safety and peace.
The Name of G-d upon the forehead is also an allusion to the priesthood of all believers:
“You shall also make a plate of pure gold and shall engrave on it, like the engravings of a seal, ‘Kadosh l’cha HaShem (Holy to the L-rd).’ You shall fasten it on a blue cord, and it shall be on the turban; it shall be at the front of the turban.” –Exodus 28:35-37
“’And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words that you shall speak to the sons of ethnic Israel.” –Exodus 19:6
“But you are a chosen race, a royal Priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to G-d, so that you may proclaim the praises of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvellous light;” –1 Peter 2:9
Additionally, the Name of G-d on the forehead of the redeemed reminds us of the nature of this mark as it appears in the chronological progression from a symbol of protection, governance and prayer (tefilin: prayer boxes) (Rev. 9:4), to a symbol denoting ethnic Israel’s unique calling and position (Rev.14:1), and finally to combine all these aspects together with the exception of protection, which is no longer needed and is therefore renewed with security when the, “Mark” of Yeshua is translated into the “Name” of G-d (Father, Son and Spirit) (Revelation 22:4).
Rev 22:5 And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for Hashem G-d gives them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever.
“No longer night” is a metaphor for the absence of all evil. Once again, in the light of HaShem there is no need for sun and moon (that doesn’t mean the sun and moon will not exist).
The redeemed will reign over the universe with G-d, as part of a royal family of priests.
Rev 22:6 And he (Angelic messenger) said unto me, “These sayings are faithful and true”: and Hashem G-d of the holy prophets sent His messenger (angel) to reveal to His servants the things which must shortly be done.
The phrase, “trustworthy and true” is also seen in Revelation 3:14 and 19:11 and applies to both that which has preceded and that which is about to be said.
HaShem’s “servant” may well refer to Yeshua Himself, Who is the one who appeared to Yochanan at the beginning of the book (Rev. 1:1) in order to unveil Himself to His servants.
“Shortly take place”, is obviously written to represent time as G-d measures it outside of time and space. While many of the things in Revelation had begun to take place soon after its writing, many are yet to come. After two thousand years we can hardly read, “shortly” in human terms.
Rev 22:7 “Behold, I come quickly: blessed is he that keeps the D’varim (Words) of the prophecy of this book.”
These are of course the words of Yeshua Himself. Yeshua, Whose testimony is the spirit of prophecy, reminds the faithful to keep hold of both the essence (D’var) of His word and the prophecy of the book of Revelation. Surely this is because He is aware that when persecution and suffering come upon the believer, the words of His unveiling will comfort them in both a practical and transcendent way.
Rev 22:8 And I Yochanan (John) saw these things, and heard them. And when I had heard and seen, I fell down to worship before the feet of the messenger (angel) which showed me these things.
What would cause Yochanan to fall down at the feet of this messenger, given that he had recently made the same mistake?
In order to understand this properly we must understand the first century CE Jewish understanding of the existence of personal guardian angels and what each person’s angel/messenger might look like, remembering that this messenger is Yeshua’s angel (Rev. 22:16), as testified to by the first person quote, “Behold, I come quickly”.
The Brit Ha-Chadashah (NT) affirms the Jewish notion that every person is assigned a guardian angel/messenger that resembles the person to such a degree that both its appearance and voice are identical to the person the angel is guarding, or representing. Yeshua, “G-d with us”, is fully G-d and fully human, therefore, as a human He is assigned an angel: it is Yeshua’s angel (who resembles Him in appearance and voice) whom Yeshua sends to Yochanan (John). One can understand the conundrum Yochanan is faced with and the natural mistake he makes based on what he is seeing and hearing from this messenger of Yeshua.
“When she recognized Peter’s voice, because of her joy she did not open the gate, but ran in and announced that Peter was standing in front of the gate. They said to her, “You are out of your mind!” But she kept insisting that it was so. They kept saying, “It is his angel.” But Peter continued knocking; and when they had opened the door, they saw him and were amazed.” –Acts 12:14-16
“See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels (messengers) in the heavens are always looking upon the face of my Father in the heavens.”
Rev 22:9 Then he said to me, “Perceive and understand, don’t worship me: for I am your fellow servant, and one of your brothers the prophets, and of those who keep the D’varim (Words) of this book: worship G-d.
This messenger appeared to be the humanoid form of Messiah but was in fact Yeshua’s, angel (as explained in the previous notes and confirmed in Rev. 22:16). Simply put, he is saying, “take a closer look, I’m Yeshua’s messenger, not Yeshua Himself, don’t worship me, worship G-d”.
The prophets here refer to both the prophets of the Tanakh (OT) and the prophets of the Brit Ha-Chadashah (NT). The messenger also claims to be the fellow servant of all who believe, “and of those who keep the D’varim (Words) of this book:”
Rev 22:10 And he (Angelic messenger) said to me, “Do not seal up the sayings of the prophecy of this book: for the time is near.”
Where Daniel was told to seal up the prophetic message given to him until the latter days, Yochanan is told to make known the message given to him in the latter days.
“But as for you, Daniel, conceal these words and seal up the book until the end of time; many will go back and forth, and knowledge will increase.” –Daniel 12:4a
Rev 22:11 He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is unclean, let him be unclean still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still.
These words are a drash on the words that follow G-d’s command to Daniel to seal up the book.
“Many will go back and forth, and knowledge will increase.” –Daniel 12:4b
G-d knows who will repent and act in righteousness and who will not, to those who would repent this reads as a warning whereas to those who resist G-d it reads as a statement of their temporal freedom to choose to go back and forth doing what is evil.
Simply put, those who continue to wilfully resist G-d will be given over to their own choices to perform evil acts while those who repent and are redeemed in Messiah will, through Messiah, continue to be sanctified, set apart and inspired to act in righteousness.
Reflecting on Leviticus 11:43 the Rabbis’ say:
"if a man defiles himself a little (with unclean creeping things), they (unclean creeping things) defile him much; the result is, that they let, or suffer him to be more defiled; if below (on earth), they defile him above (in preparation for the judgement); if in this world, they defile him in the Olam Haba (world to come); if a man sanctifies himself a little, they (Right actions, clean things) sanctify him much; if below (on earth), they sanctify him above (For redemption); if in this world, they sanctify him in the Olam Haba (world to come).'' –T. Bab. Yoma, fol. 39. 1.
Rev 22:12 “For behold, I come suddenly; and my reward (wages) is with Me, to give every person according to what each one has done.
Yeshua will come like a thief in the night (1 Thessalonians 5:2), He will arrive suddenly like the flood of Noah. Like Noah (Luke 17:26-30; Matthew 24:37-39), those who belong to Him will be redeemed, while those who have rejected Him will perish. His reward is with Him, the Greek misthos meaning, “what is due”. This is a warning to be heeded by those who hear it. “The wages of sin is death but the gift of G-d is eternal life” (Romans 6:23).
Rev 22:13 I am Aleph and the Tav, the source and the goal, the first and the last.”
In both Hebrew and Greek thought the first and last letters of the alphabet quoted together indicate the complete nature of all things, therefore all things exist and have their being in G-d.
Rev 22:14 Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have free access to the Aytz Chayim (tree of living), and may enter through the gates into the city.
Those who wash their robes are those who have received the free gift of G-d, the gift of salvation through the redeeming blood of the Lamb (Yeshua). G-d has provided the water that cleanses us from all sin, but He will not force anyone to wash in it, that is a decision we must make for ourselves. The Groom proposes to the bride but unless she accepts His proposal there will be no wedding.
The Aytz Chayim (Tree of life eternal) is just that, the symbol of the sustaining eternal life of G-d. The Hebrew Chayim is in its plural form denoting intensity and longevity. Where our sin separated us from life, G-d’s redemptive love reconciled us to life.
The redeemed will inhabit the entire new earth, however intimate relationship to G-d is symbolized by the act of entering into the city (New Jerusalem).
Rev 22:15 For outside and away, are dogs (euphemism), and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever continues to love and construct lies.
“Outside”, means outside of the new creation, consigned to the lake of fire and eternal punishment. Outside of the new creation does not mean outside of G-d. The sacrificial love of G-d continues in that He must seal eternal punishment within Himself because, “In Him all things exist and have their being” (John 1:3; Romans 11:36; Acts 17:28; 1 Corinthians 8:6; Colossians 1:16-17 ).
In Jewish thought the term, “dogs (kevel)” is synonymous with those who don’t follow the G-d of Israel, Homosexuals (Deuteronomy 23:18-19), and enemies of Israel. It is never used, as some have foolishly suggested, to refer to pets. In centuries past dogs were a symbol of defilement, darkness and uncleanness. They would roam the streets of Middle Eastern villages at night like rabid wolves, scavenging for food among the refuse (Matthew 15:26; Luke 16:21).
“For dogs have surrounded me;
A band of evildoers has encompassed me;" –Psalm 22:16
"Deliver my soul from the sword,
My only life from the paw of the dog.” –Psalm 22:20
Speaking of this same psalm the Zohar says:
"When a man dies, if he be worthy (or righteous) he descends in the likeness of a lion to receive his soul, but if not, in the likeness of a dog. –Raya Mchimna in Zohar in Numb. fol. 95. 2.
“Yeshua replied, ‘It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.” –Matthew 15:26
The term, “dogs” is first in the list of evil doers because it encompasses all of the subsequent titles.
Rev 22:16 “I Yeshua (Jesus) have sent My messenger (angel) to testify to you regarding these things that are before the churches. I am the root (source) and the offspring (goal) of David, and the bright and morning star.
“The Revelation of Yeshua Mashiyach (Jesus Christ), which G-d gave Him to show to His servants, the things which must soon take place; and He sent and communicated it by His messenger/angel to His servant Yochanan (John).” Revelation 1:1-2
This is once again an indication of the close correlation between Messiah and His angel/messenger, who was sent to Yochanan. In the present verse Yeshua’s servants are further explained as the members of the churches (Ecclesia).
Yeshua is the root of David because He existed before David was born (Micah 5:2; John 8:58) and through Yeshua everything was made (John 1:1-14). Yeshua is also David’s offspring, the promised son of David Who would be the Messiah and King of Israel (Matthew 1:1).
“Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Yishai,
And a branch from his roots will bear fruit.” –Isaiah 11:1
The phrase, “Bright morning star” infers that Yeshua’s light shines more brightly than any other. He shone at the dawn of creation and as the creative Word of G-d His light is uncreated.
“A star shall come forth from Jacob, A sceptre shall rise from Israel,” –Numbers 24:17
Some Jewish scholars interpret the title of psalm 22:1 as, “Morning Star”, rather than, “Doe of the morning”. The Psalm itself is considered by the same scholars to refer to the Messiah (Apud Kimchi in loc.).
Rev 22:17 And the Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” And let each one that hears say, “Come”. And let each one who is thirsty come. And whosoever will, let him take the mayim chayim (living waters) freely.
Illuminating the words of the prophet Yishaiyahu (Isaiah: the prophet Yeshua quoted most often during his earthly ministry), the final paragraph of Revelation 22 extends the ancient invitation of the G-d of redemption and love:
“Come, all you who are thirsty,
come to ha-mayim (the waters);
and you who have no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
Without money and without cost.” –Yishaiyahu/Isaiah 55:1
The Holy Spirit and the Bride (redeemed humanity) say, “Come”. Some say that they are inviting those who don’t yet believe, to come to faith in Yeshua. Others say they are inviting Yeshua to return. I believe they are saying both these things.
In turn, “let each one that hears say, ‘come’” means that each one who, “hears (Heb. Root Shema: hear, receive, understand, comprehend, and accept)” will also say, “Come” to both the lost and the Messiah.
“Each one who is thirsty” are those who have realized their spiritual need for the mayim chayim (living waters) of Yeshua, these too are invited to, “Come”.
The gift of life eternal is offered here at the end of the book as a type of altar call. The readers and hearers of the book will be in each of the categories of people called upon, therefore this is their opportunity to respond.
The mayim chayim (living waters) are free, but G-d will not force us to drink, life eternal is offered and in Messiah we must forsake death in order to receive it. These waters are not free because they have no cost, rather they are free because G-d has paid the ultimate price through the death and resurrection of His Son, so that He could provide us with access to something no human being could ever afford.
To put it concisely: The gift of eternal life is free, not because it has no cost but because G-d has paid its price at the cost of His Son’s blood, so that we who have no means of payment might receive that which we don’t deserve. This is the sum of chesed (Loving kindness, grace) and rachum (mercy), it is born of G-d, Who is Ahavah (Love).
G-d did not create us as robots preprogramed to love Him, He is no narcissist; love cannot exist without freewill. Rather He made freewill possible so that those who choose to respond to His love might experience the ultimate true love relationship. Every human being is faced with the choice to accept or refuse G-d’s love. The accepting of it is eternal life but the refusal of it is eternal death.
Rev 22:18 For I testify unto every person that hears the words of the prophecy of this book,
Messiah Yeshua has testified to sending His messenger (v.16), now Yochanan testifies to the truth of what he has recorded at Yeshua’s instruction. By two witnesses every matter is established. In fact the words of the Revelation have been established by G-d the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, by the messenger of Yeshua and Yochanan.
If anyone shall add to these things, G-d shall add unto him the plagues that are katuv (written) in this book: Rev 22:19 And if anyone should take away from the D’varim (words) of the book of this prophecy, G-d shall take away his part out of the sefer chayim (book of living), and out of the holy city, and from the things which are katuv (written) in this book.
Yochanan identifies the book of Revelation as being part of the wider living Torah of HaShem by quoting from the Torah itself to support the weightiness of these words of Yeshua which Yochanan has recorded.
“You shall not add to the word which I am commanding you, nor take away from it, that you may keep the instructions of HaShem your G-d which I command you.” –Deuteronomy 4:2
Yochanan’s warning refers to the book of Revelation, however the same principle should be applied to the entirety of Scripture, the complete Bible, from Bereshit to Revelation. From beginning to unveiling, from source to goal.
Notice that both the Hebrew, “katuv (written)” and the Hebrew, “D’varim (Word essence)” are used. This is a warning not only against tampering with the physical written words but also against tampering with the ethos (core principle) and pathos (passion, emotion) of the Word (D’var Ha-emet), Yeshua. We are not to undermine the character of the Messiah Who holds the universe together in His role as the living Word of G-d (John 1).
As explained previously, those who are being blotted out of the book of life are those who are continually refusing G-d’s grace. It is they who will seek to claim that certain parts of the Scripture are mistakes or invalid or no longer relevant or myth or fabrication. This warning should serve to remind us that our Scriptures as a whole are sacred and binding. They bind us in freedom but they are unbound by others at their peril.
“To the Yehudim (Jews) who had believed Him, Yeshua (Jesus) said, “If you abide in my d’var (Word), you are truly my talmidim (disciples). Then you will know ha-emet (the truth), and ha-emet (the truth: D’var Ha-emet is a name for both the Torah, and the Messiah) will set you free.”
Rev 22:20 He which testifies these things says,
Ultimately it is G-d’s testimony that holds the most weight. Yeshua alluded to this when He explained:
“I have testimony weightier than that of Yochanan (John the Immerser). For the works that the Father has given me to finish—the very works that I am doing—testify that the Father has sent me. And the Father who sent me has himself testified concerning me. You have never heard his voice nor seen his form, nor does His word dwell in you, for you do not believe the one He sent. You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life. “I do not receive glory from human beings,” –John 5:36-41
“Surely I come quickly”. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Yeshua (Jesus).
Again Yeshua reminds us to be alert and prepared for His coming. In response together with Yochanan and the entire Ecclesia we say, “Amen (So be it, agreed)! Come Lord Yeshua!”
Rev 22:21 The chesed (love, charity and grace) of our Lord Yeshua Mashiyach (Jesus Christ) be with you all. Amen.
It seems fitting that the Scriptures should end with the message that binds each book to the other, the universal message of G-d’s saving chesed (love, charity and grace), offered to all humanity through His Son Yeshua.
The Hebrew Brit Ha-Chadashah (NT) translates the Greek charis as chesed (love, kindness). I read this last line of the unveiling of Yeshua this way:
“The Loving kindness, charity and grace of our Merciful Lord Salvation Himself, Yeshua, be with you all. So be it!”
Speaking of Himself Yeshua says, “These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation.” (Rev. 3:14). He is the agreement to G-d’s work of redemption.
The final Word (D’var) in Revelation is Salvation (Yeshua). The goal (end) of Revelation is Yeshua.
© Alastair Brown 2015
Spiritual leader of Beth Melekh Community, Auckland, Aotearoa, N.Z.