and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his part from the tree of life and from the holy city, which are written in this book.Revelation 22:19(NASB)
The story of redemption in the Bible stretches from the creation of the world to the making of a new heaven and a new earth. From the fall of the first man, Adam, who rebelled against God and whose sin caused destruction to reign upon the earth (as the icy fingers of death began to be wrapped around the throat of every man), to the coming of the prophesied Messiah; the perfect Man Who came to save His people from their sin and graciously gives the water of life freely to whosoever will come and drink. And Scripture tells us that Jesus is the last Adam, and the only way to salvation.
The scarlet thread of redemption streams through the 66 books of God's holy Word and traverses the march of time, as the Lord's plans and purposes are gradually revealed and graciously opened up to men's understanding. As the perfect character of the all-powerful and omniscient Lord is unveiled to humanity, we discover that the Good Shepherd of the sheep is the holy Son of God - the second Person of the Trinity Who took on mortal flesh so that He could become our Kinsman-Redeemer and sacrifice His sinless life to save the sheep of His pasture. He is the Word made flesh - God incarnate - the only truth.
From the disappearance of the Tree of Life in Eden when Adam fell, to its glorious restoration in the book of Revelation, we trace the intertwining events and intriguing happenings in God's story of redemption and the restoration of mankind into fellowship with His Creator and Saviour. Holy men of God prophesied of His first coming as hundreds of prophetic words were perfectly fulfilled. Hundreds more are waiting to be brought to completion with the Rapture of the Church, the Great Tribulation, the return of Christ Jesus to set up His Millennial Kingdom on earth reigning as King of kings and Lord of lords, and the making of a new heaven and a new earth where sin and death are gone forever.
The book of Revelation references and expands prophecies that are yet to be fulfilled, but its main purpose is to reveal Jesus (Who was, and Who is, and Who is to come). And while the whole of Scripture is God's Word which can never be broken, this final book of the Bible is special, for it not only promises its readers a blessing in chapter 1, but in this final section it also gives some serious warnings: "I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his part from the tree of life and from the holy city, which are written in this book."
God's Word of life is unchanging and unchangeable, and verse 19 warns that the punishment for anyone who tampers with the words in this book of prophecy will have their names removed from the Book of Life. If a believer subverts God's Word, he will not lose his eternal salvation but will lose some or all of his heavenly reward, forfeiting his benefits found in the Tree of Life and the Holy City. However, the unbeliever who is foolish enough to take away the words of this prophecy will receive the gravest of punishments - eternal separation from God in the Lake of Fire.
While the promise of blessing in chapter 1 is a wonderful encouragement to believers, the warnings in this final chapter of Revelation should be chilling to anyone, both believers and unbelievers who tampers with God's Word or distort its meaning. There is a high price to pay for those that would pervert the Revelation of Jesus Christ, by twisting biblical truth in order to deceive others.
And while these warnings are specifically addressed to those who would mess with the truth in the book of Revelation, the principle stands firm throughout the whole of Scripture: "For the Word of God is living and effective. It is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating as far as the separation of soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and is able to judge the ideas and thoughts of the heart."
May we walk worthy of our calling as we watch for the any day return of our God and Saviour. Maranatha! Come, Lord Jesus!
Heavenly Father, as I reflect on Psalm 138 where You say, "I have exulted My Word above My Name," I start to understand how important these two warnings in Revelation 22 are. May I personally never add to or take away from Your Word and give me discernment to reject any teaching or organisation that adds to or takes away from the Bible. Thank You for Your Word that is so precious to You and to me. In Jesus' name, AMEN.