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"Teaching the things concerning the kingdom of God..."
FROM THE CANDLESTICK TO THE THRONE
“And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely” (Rev. 22:17).
A number of commentators who have exegeted this passage of scripture have been of the persuasion that when the Spirit and the bride say, Come, and he that heareth says, Come, it signifies that both heaven and the church desire the coming of the Lord. The idea is that all these are speaking to the Lord and are earnestly praying for His coming again.
However, the internal evidence in the verse refutes that view entirely. First of all, if that were true, the Spirit would be calling for the Lord to come. Now, the Spirit does make intercession for us, but there is no evidence in scripture that the Spirit prays to the Lord for Him to do that which is only the Spirit’s desire. Secondly, the Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” The Spirit in this case is the Spirit of the Bridegroom, for it is the Spirit in association with the bride that issues the call to come, and as such, if the Spirit were praying to the Lord, He would be praying to Himself! The Spirit of the Bridegroom dwells in the bride. Hence it is through the Spirit that the bride says, “Come.” This also shows that it is Christ who is speaking through the bride imploring men to come…the Spirit and the soul, the Bridegroom and the bride, for the Lamb’s wife has made herself ready, the union has been consummated, the wedding feast has been lavishly spread, and now, blessed be God! the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!”
Now let us notice the next part of the invitation. “And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will let him take the water of life freely.” The theme of “come” is continued here, and it most definitely is not addressed to the Lord nor does it concern His coming. The invitation is addressed to the world of mankind — to all who are thirsty, to come and quench their spiritual thirst by drinking of the water of life. If the first half of the verse were asking the Lord to come, and the second half asking men to come, we would have an unexplained and unreasonably abrupt shift in focus. Therefore it is better to interpret the first half of the verse by the second half and understand the entire invitation to be addressed to mankind.
are approaching the conclusion of John’s record of his visions, of what he saw
and heard while on
great preacher once said that God’s favorite word is “Come.” It echoes in every chapter of the Bible. One could
yes, at the time of this invitation to “come” the river of life is issuing from
the throne of God and of the Lamb in the midst of the holy city. It heals everything that it reaches, removing
the curse from the earth. There are no
it not seem wonderfully significant to you that in the closing pages of the book
of Revelation, when the Spirit of God reveals the final and ultimate revelation
of God to creation through the glorious City of
smoke of their torment rises day and night, the scripture says of those in
God’s lake of fire. If this were a
literal lake of fire, filled with the spirits of the damned for all eternity,
in that realm there would be no day or
night. Day and night relates only to
our present condition on earth, not the spirit world. The fiery dealings of God are upon the proud,
the self-centered, the carnal minded, the rebellious, the blasphemers. Is
judgment the last word? Is the lake of fire the concluding word? Is the
torment of the damned the final
word? NO! Is there no escape? Ah, beyond the judgment, beyond the
the Lord Jesus passed through
obvious but extremely important point to remember is this: Where you find
sinners, there you will find sin. The
people Christ seeks for are not generally “nice” people who just happen not to
know Jesus. Yet if we are going to reach
them and make an impact on their lives
we must learn to put sin in its place, as our example, the firstborn Son of
God, did. Jesus knew the woman’s sin
needed to be dealt with — but not until her heart was won by the love of
God. In fact, her sin could not be dealt with until she received an
infusion of life! You see, the preachers get it all
backward. As I have listened to
preachers by the score striving desperately and even frantically to get men to
repent and be saved, my heart is often filled with sadness because the message
they preach is made weak and futile by their failure to grasp the infinite
purposes of that omniscient mind who prepared so great a salvation in Christ
before there was a world or a sinner in it.
Those who preach the “salvation message” nearly always begin to laying a
“guilt trip” on the people they are preaching to, reminding them of how
terrible their sin is, how horribly it offends a holy God, and what its tragic,
eternal end is in hell and damnation.
After a long discourse of gloom and doom, they then quickly offer them a
way out — coming to Jesus. Yet, Jesus
the woman at the well He began by
offering her living water. He told her that if she would ask Him for
this water, and drink of it, that it would become in her a great artesian well
of water springing up and overflowing in life more abundantly! Nothing was said about her sin. The issue wasn’t sin. The issue was LIFE! She needed life! Only life could deal with her sin. Jesus was not there to condemn her, He was
there to save her! And He knew the
process. Condemnation will
of us today receive unsolicited credit card applications in the mail. The accompanying letters usually begin the
same way: “You have already been approved to receive this card!” Being told we have been approved for
something we haven’t applied for can sound strange. But in a way it can remind us of how God’s
love is extended to us: unconditionally.
We don’t have to worry about trying to earn God’s favor. God loves and accepts us in spite of who we
are or what we have done. Sometimes
people make promises accompanied by certain conditions. They say, “I will love you as long as you
stay thin,” or, “I will pay your tuition, but only if you enroll at this
college.” Sometimes what appears to be a
gift is actually a veiled attempt to manipulate someone into meeting certain
expectations. God’s promises are nothing
The following story illustrates so powerfully God’s attitude toward mankind.
Once upon a time two brothers, who lived on adjoining farms, fell into conflict. It was the first serious rift in years of farming side by side, sharing machinery and trading labor and goods as needed. Then the long collaboration fell apart. It began with a small misunderstanding and grew into a major difference, and, finally, exploded into an exchange of bitter words followed by weeks of silence.
One morning there was a knock on John’s door. He opened it to find a man with a bag of carpenter’s tools. “I am looking for a few days work,” he said, “perhaps you would have a few small jobs here and there where I could help you?” “Yes,” said the older brother, “I do have a job for you. Look across the creek at that farm. That’s my brother’s. In fact, it’s my younger brother. Last week there was a meadow between us, but he took a bulldozer to the river embankment and now there is a creek between us. Well, he may have done it to spite me, but I will go one better. See that pile of timber by the barn? I want you to build me an eight foot fence so I won’t need to see his place or his face anymore.” The carpenter said, “I think I understand the situation; show me the nails and the post-hole digger and I’ll be able to do a job that will please you.”
The older brother had to go into town, so he helped the carpenter get the materials ready and then he was off for the day. The carpenter worked hard all that day, measuring, sawing, nailing. About sunset when the farmer returned, the carpenter had just finished the job. The farmer’s eyes opened wide and his jaw dropped. There was no fence there at all. Instead there was a bridge — a bridge stretching from one side of the creek to the other — a fine piece of work, handrails and all. The farmer’s younger brother was coming across, his hand outstretched. “You are quite a fellow to build this bridge after all I’ve said and done.” The two brothers stood at each end of the bridge and then they met in the middle, taking each other’s hand. They turned to see the carpenter hoisting his toolbox onto his shoulder. “No, wait! Stay a few days. I have lots of other projects for you to do.” “I’d love to stay on,” the carpenter said, “but I have many more bridges to build.” “For if when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life” (Rom. 5:10).
“Oh,” someone replies, “the story of Lazarus, and the rich man who in Hades lifted up his eyes, being in torments, teaches us that there is no bridge between heaven and hell, between the saints in glory and the sinners in doom, no way to escape the tormenting fire.” I shall speak very plainly about that. In the first place the story of the rich man and Lazarus is usually considered without any reference to its setting. Near the close of Jesus’ ministry He had eaten dinner with a Pharisee, at which time He not only healed a man with dropsy, but gave some pointed instructions about how to give a dinner party. When He left the house, great throngs followed Him (Lk. 14:25). Many of this crowd were publicans and sinners. In Luke 15:1-2 we read: “Then drew near unto Him all the publicans and sinners to hear Him, and the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them.” It is against this background of criticism from the scribes and Pharisees that the teaching of Luke 15 and 16 is given. That whole discourse is called a parable. “And He spake this parable unto them, saying…” (Lk. 15:3). The Greek is very definite in making the word for parable clearly a singular noun. It is “the parable this.” Five seemingly separate stories enter into His teaching to proclaim the truth of “THIS PARABLE.” His usual method of teaching all but the inner circle of His disciples was by use of parables. “All these things spake Jesus in parables unto the multitudes; and without a parable spake He nothing unto them” (Mat. 13:34). “But privately to His disciples He expounded all things” (Mk. 4:34).
Now, it is not my purpose to explain the meaning of the parable in this writing, for that is another story altogether. I would be remiss if I did not point out, however, that while the story itself is a parable, in all parables there must be a correspondence between the type and the antitype or they fail to have validity as parables. Let me illustrate. Jesus spoke a parable, saying, “Behold, a sower went forth to sow.” He then explained how the seed fell upon various kinds of soil, and the result from each. Now, since this is a parable, it is obvious that Jesus is not just relating a series of facts; He is not talking about a certain literal farmer sowing actual seed such as wheat or corn. Each part of the story is a symbol, a metaphor, an illustration of something else, and we know, of course, that the sower is the Christ, the seed is the word of the kingdom, and the soils are different kinds of hearts. But — if there were no such thing as seed, and no such activity as sowing, and no actual soil in existence, then the parable would have no basis, no strength, no meaning — it would not be a parable at all, but merely a fantastic, unrealistic, imaginary fairy tale! It is the FACT of seed, sowers, and soils that gives the parable its strength and meaning.
in the story of Lazarus and the rich man, if there is no such thing as Hades,
and if there is no sense of suffering of punishment in Hades, then the application
of the parable fails. There must be some
reality to these things or the parable is not a parable at all! But in the parable Lazarus is said to be “in
Abraham’s bosom.” The phrase “Abraham’s
bosom” was a well-known one, current among the people of
The rich man wanted Lazarus to come and cool his tongue. He had been a very bad man, and so was tormented in the hell he had created for himself. But when he asked that Lazarus should cross, Abraham said, “Between us and you there is a great gulf fixed; no one can cross it.” Abraham couldn’t cross that gulf. It was a fixed gulf to him and to those who were with him. Abraham could not cross that abyss, nor could Lazarus. There is no denying that. But, oh, may the blessed Spirit of God give understanding to all who read these lines — THE CHRIST CROSSED THAT ABYSS. There is the difference! You say that Abraham said, “Between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, that they who would pass from hence to you may not be able, and that none may cross over from thence to us.” Let me remind you that, though Abraham said that, the Christ did not. That is right, Abraham, you could not bridge it! And even if you could, you did not have the keys to the gates. But the Christ, when He arose, grasped the keys of both death and Hades and He holds those keys in His omnipotent hand. The Christ crossed that gulf, and HIS SALVATION BRIDGED IT. Christ bridged it! The Christ Himself IS THE BRIDGE! It is no use talking nonsense, saying that the gulf was not bridged. It was not bridged at the time Jesus told that story, but when He arose and grasped the keys of death and of hell, He made a way for His banished to return.
was bridged by Jesus Christ, and there is not any gulf that He cannot
bridge. I believe it! If there is, then He is not God, because there
is no gulf that God and His love cannot bridge.
Jesus Christ has bridged the gulf between God and man, between
Oh, the love that drew salvation’s plan!
Oh, the grace that brought it down to man!
Oh, the mighty GULF THAT GOD DID SPAN —
some will ask, what about all those scriptures which speak of the end of the
wicked, how they shall be cut off, burned up, utterly perish, etc .? Certainly, these are very true, and
memoirs, John B. Gough tells of a personal experience when he was addressing
the inmates in a particular penitentiary.
Among those convicts was a Scotch woman, whose general character is best
indicated by the name her fellow-prisoners gave her. They called her “Hell-fired Sal.” Mr. Gough began his address, “Ladies and
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found…
Schuler related the following. Tony
Orlando, a friend of mine, made the song, “Tie A Yellow Ribbon To The Old Oak
Tree” famous. Not long after he made it
a hit, I said to him, “Tony, do you know where the story of that song comes
from?” He said, “No.” I shared with him how the author was inspired
by a true story of a man who committed a terrible, terrible deed. He had violated the trust that his wife and
his family had in him. It was so bad
that charges were pressed and he was found guilty. He was sent to jail. During his imprisonment, he didn’t hear from
his wife, nor his family, who still lived in
years ago brother Vern Goss shared this word in one of his monthly
articles. Years ago a preacher came to
this area with a tent crusade declaring, “God will save from the gutter-most to
the uttermost.” Uttermost means an extremity, an end, a frontier, an edge, the
The story is told of a seminary professor who, walking through campus one day, came upon a custodian reading the Bible during lunch hour. The professor asked what he was reading. “The book of Revelation,” the custodian replied. “I’m sure you don’t understand what it means,” said the professor condescendingly. “Actually, I do,” he responded. “It means Jesus wins.”
Full redemption given, the measure of God’s grace,
Reconciling unto Him those of every race.
In His love and mercy, atonement made complete;
The veil of flesh now rent in twain, that hid the mercy seat.
The Spirit of life given, according to His plan,
To bring His body into one, thus form the perfect man.
A seed to bless all nations, and reconcile through grace
Those that once rejected Him, will find in Him their place.
The restitution of all things, it is God’s sovereign plan;
The love of God now flowing in all the barren land;
Reaching every nation, restoring one and all!
dead will rise in u
<![if !supportLists]>— <![endif]>Mildred Eslick Garner
immensity of the measurement of the city of
“Let him that heareth say, Come!” The camel caravans that moved through the ancient world did not usually keep close together. Sometimes as much as half a mile would separate the units. But when the leader saw water in the distance, it was his duty to turn around, and with a wave of his arm, cry, “Come! Water!” The next man would do the same, and the next, and the next, until the whole long line of riders had heard the news that water was at hand. Having heard, it was the duty of each to pass the word on to someone else. And that is where we are today, calling to our fellow travelers on this earth, “Come! for all things are now ready.” All saints are not actually joining in the cry. He that “heareth” would apply especially to a believer who is not in concert with the Spirit and the bride, that is, the Bridegroom and the bride. Multitudes of believers do not believe the call is for every man, especially those who wander in the outer darkness and those who have made their bed in hell. To all who are of the persuasion that the great white throne judgment and the work of the lake of fire eternally seals the doom of the billions of lost men and women out of the ages, I say today, as the Spirit and the bride say today, and will still be saying in the age and ages to come — forsake your false teaching, get over your limited view of God’s great and unconditional love and eternal purpose, and join us in the cry to creation — “Come!”
“And let him that is athirst come.” This invitation is extended to all those souls
who are “athirst.” Those in whom God has
wrought exercises and desires through His dealings which have not yet been met. The answer to them all is CHRIST — and Christ
is experienced as the living stream of the water of life and the divine and
incorruptible power of the tree of life.
God will satisfy the thirsting soul!
There is no craving so fierce and intolerable as the craving of
thirst. This is due to the fact that the
deprivation of liquid is a condition with which all the tissues of the body
can sympathize. Each atom of the body
joins in the cry, and the expression is concentrated in the parched mouth and
the dry feverish lips. The great craving
of thirst is used in this verse to symbolize the craving of the soul. How intense and utterly demanding it is! The thirsting one is called to come and find
the deepest satisfaction of all his lack and need in the City of
am deeply impressed that in the Revelation, only a few verses after we are told
that “whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the
lake of fire,” a great voice out of
heaven announces, “I am Alpha and
“And whosoever will, let him take the water
of life freely.” Finally, grace goes
out to the widest limits: “Whosoever will, let him take the water of life
freely!” He may not even thirst. It supposes one with whom there is little
depth or earnestness of desire, but he needs this life whether he knows it or
not, and the invitation reaches even him.
It is not even said that he is to come. He has not to move even a single step;
the water of life is flowing freely close to him; he has but to take it.
It is the all-inclusive call of infinite grace! The final emphasis is on the word freely.
Glorious sovereign grace! The
love of God, so touching and tender, is addressed here to all those who even
faintly have been made conscious of the need of living water. Let them not hesitate. Let them take
it. It costs nothing. It costs them
nothing! The price has been paid,
the provision has already been made.
There is no qualifying, for it is a
gift, and a gift is given, not
because of the worthiness of the recipient, but because of the goodness of the
Giver. Hence, let them take and drink
freely! It is
we approach the conclusion of the Revelation Jesus comes on stage, as it were, in
front of the curtain for the epilogue. Through the visions of John men are
privileged to look behind the curtain of time into the drama of the ages. We have seen a God of love who reveals
Himself in the Lamb in the midst of the throne.
We have seen a God who rules throughout history. We have noted the judgments which fall upon
To be continued… J. PRESTON EBY
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