Appropriately so, the vision of the new heaven and earth constitutes the final vision of the book of Revelation (Rev. 21:1–22:5). What remains are various closing words of instruction from the Lord, delivered first through the mediation of an angel (22:6–11) and then by the Lord Himself (vv. 12–20).
Today we are looking at the closing comments from God that come to John through the angel. As we look to today’s passage, we see a correspondence to Revelation 1, which creates bookends for the main section of the work. First, we have a reminder that Jesus is coming soon (v. 7; see 1:1, 7). This reminds us that consummation of God’s plan is imminent because we are living in the final era of redemptive history. All the work necessary to bring the new creation has already been done by Christ; we await only the consummation. The time before all things are finished is indeed short from God’s perspective, so we must be ready for it. Second, God pronounces a blessing on those who hear and keep the book of Revelation (22:7; see 1:3). The book of Revelation came to us not to encourage eschatological (last things) speculation but to warn us of the coming judgment so that we will be prepared to repent and cling to Christ until the very end. Only those who do so will experience life in the blessed new creation.
Once more, the glories of the moment overwhelm John and he is tempted to worship the angel, and once more, we see that this message is truly from God because the angel who represents Him commands John to worship the Lord alone (22:8–9; see 19:10). As the church father Athanasius of Alexandria writes, “To God alone appertains worship, and this the very angels know, that though they excel other beings in glory, yet they are all creatures and not to be worshiped but worship the Lord.”
John is told not to seal up the book he has written, “for the time is near” (22:10). Earlier in redemptive history, Daniel had to seal up his vision of the end, for the final part of God’s plan of salvation lay far ahead of him. With the coming of Christ, this is no longer the case, so John’s vision must be published and kept (Dan. 12:4). In this final era, Jesus and His gospel form a dividing line between the unrighteous and the righteous. He forces people to make a decision as to whether they will be on God’s side. Those who choose against Him become more confirmed in their evil (Rev. 22:11).