And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him:
3. no more curse ] The word for “curse” is rather peculiar; it is no doubt meant as a translation of that rendered “utter destruction” in Zec 14:11, of which this verse is a reminiscence.
the throne &c.] Implied already in Rev 21:23 and Rev 22:1. Interpreters compare the last words of Ezekiel cognate prophecy.
his servants ] Note the singular pronoun, implying the Unity of the Persons named.
shall serve him ] See Rev 7:15, and note there.
Fuente: The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
And there shall be no more curse – This is doubtless designed to be in strong contrast with our present abode; and it is affirmed that what now properly comes under the name of a curse, or whatever is part of the curse pronounced on man by the fall, will be there unknown. The earth will be no more cursed, and will produce no more thorns and thistles; man will be no more compelled to earn his bread by the sweat of his brow; woman will be no more doomed to bear the sufferings which she does now; and the abodes of the blessed will be no more cursed by sickness, sorrow, tears, and death.
But the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it – God will reign there forever; the principles of purity and love which the Lamb of God came to establish, will pervade that blessed abode to all eternity.
And his servants shall serve him – All his servants that are there; that is, all the inhabitants of that blessed world. For the meaning of this passage, see the notes on Rev 7:15.
Fuente: Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible
And there shall be no more curse.
The curse abolished
I. The absence of all curse and malediction: And there shall be no more curse. How much is contained in this description of that state, negatively, in the absence of all evil!
1. The curse pronounced after the first transgression. But in the state and time here foreshown, all this will be happily reversed.
2. The curse upon individual persons. Thus it fell upon Cain: Gen 4:11. But there shall be no more of this curse, for there shall be no murderer then or there.
3. The curse has fallen upon cities for their wickedness and impiety. Thus was Jericho devoted to destruction. But this curse shall be no more; for there shall be no iniquity, and so no devastation, neither shall there be any Achan, any one to trouble Gods Israel, and bring a curse upon himself and it, by coveting any forbidden thing.
4. Nations also have been accursed, as Israel Mal 3:9; Isa 43:27-28; Dan 9:11). And how long and grievous has that curse been! how bitter that cup which they have drained! But the time is coming when the blessing shall come upon them as it is promised them Mal 3:12; Zep 3:18.; Jer 31:40).
5. One of the three great portions of the family of man–the descendants of Ham, the third son of Noah, these were accursed: Gen 9:25. And how awfully has this curse been fulfilled! What hundreds of thousands of our fellow-creatures are held in the grievous bonds of slavery! But then there shall be no more hard bondage, no cruel taskmasters, no more severing of the nearest and dearest ties.
6. There was the curse of the sinful confederacy of Babel. But in the world to come there shall be one heart and one tongue.
7. All flesh has incurred the curse of the transgression of Gods law (Gal 3:10). This, in the unbelieving and impenitent, who do not receive and obey the gospel, ends in that most woful, final, and irreversible curse (Mat 25:41). But in the happy state predicted in the text, there shall be no more transgression. The law will be written in indelible characters upon the heart.
8. The Son of God was made a curse (Gal 3:13). But in heaven He suffers no more curse. How great the change!
9. Some, under the pressure of affliction, have cursed the day of their birth. Thus Jobs (Job 3:1), and Jeremiah (Jer 20:14). But in the world to come there shall be no affliction to cause such bitter and passionate feeling. Now Job and Jeremiah bless God that ever they were born.
10. Satan, through Balak and Balaam, sought to curse the people of God (Num 23:7). But in the world to come Satan will not be there, nor Balaam with diabolical counsel to seduce the righteous into sin.
11. A solemn curse is uttered against all corrupters of the gospel of Christ (Gal 1:9). But in the world to come the gospel can be darkened and perverted no more. Then it will be seen in all its effulgence and blessedness.
12. Equally solemn is the curse upon all who love not the Lord Jesus Christ (1Co 16:22). But will there be any in that world who do not love Christ–any who do not worship Him? Not one (chap. 5:13).
II. The presence of the throne of God and of the Lamb.
1. The abiding presence of God.
2. The glorious presence of God.
3. The glorious presence of God in His redeeming love. For it is the throne of God and of the Lamb.
III. The exalted privileges of Gods servants.
1. And His servants shall serve Him.
(1) Perfectly, without sin.
(2) Powerfully, without weariness.
(3) Continually, without intermission or end.
2. And they shall see His face.
(1) All present instrumentalities for the knowledge of God and communion with Him, will be done away.
(2) All present views of God will be infinitely transcended.
3. And His name shall be in their foreheads. It denotes visibility of relation to God, that we are His servants and children, and that God is not ashamed of us, but will own, acknowledge, and glory in us. The mark of our belonging to Him shall be no secret mark, but open and conspicuous, as the graving of Holiness to the Lord on Aarons mitre. (J. T. Parker, M. A.)
The negative happiness of the saints in heaven
I. Who the persons are who shall be thus highly favoured.
1. They have been called by the Word and convinced by the Spirit of sin, of unbelief (Joh 16:9); have been deeply affected on account of it, and alarmed for the consequences (Act 16:30).
2. They have received Christ in the gospel by a lively faith, through which their freedom from the curse is begun in this life (Joh 5:24; Gal 3:13).
3. They love Christ, and consequently are delivered from the dreadful anathemas (1Co 16:22).
4. It is their care and endeavour, as a fruit of this love to Christ, to give sincere, universal, and constant obedience to His commandments (Rev 22:14).
5. They consider it as heaven to be where God and His Christ are, to serve Him, and to enjoy Him for ever (Php 1:23).
6. They are careful to maintain good works, particularly works of charity, towards the members of Jesus Christ (Mat 25:34-41).
II. The happiness of those who shall be thus highly favoured.
1. There will be no more sin in such, or ever done by them, to occasion any curse: they are the just made perfect (Heb 12:23).
2. There will be no more wrath in God to inflict any curse: once He was angry with them on account of sin (Isa 12:1; Psa 38:8), but it shall not be so any more (Eze 16:42).
3. There will be no more sentence passed against them including a curse. Once they were subject to that tremendous sentence (Gal 3:10), but never shall any more (Joh 5:24).
4. Security against every degree of separation from God (Rev 3:12).
5. Exemption from all the evils of afflictions and sufferings which are so common here (Isa 35:10).
6. There shall be no person who is a curse or is accursed among the inhabitants of the New Jerusalem.
III. Whence it is that they are thus blessed.
1. The love of God the Father is the original cause.
2. The death of Christ is the meritorious cause.
3. The Holy Ghost, with His gracious influences, is the efficient cause (Gal 3:13-14; 2Co 5:5; Psa 143:10).
1. How pleasing are the prospects of the real Christian as to a future state!
2. How dreadful the future of the finally impenitent! (T. Hannam.)
The curse abolished
I. There shall be no more curse. In the New Jerusalem the deliverance of the believer from the curse shall be complete. No streak of gloom shall mar the brightness of joys perfect day. All sin shall be shut out, and therefore also all penal consequences of sin. What a great word of salvation is this! Would you seek to realise somewhat the depth of meaning in it? Look abroad at the widespread spectacle of the worlds wretchedness. In the New Jerusalem all that shall have come to an end. There shall be no more cruel oppressions, no more the desolation of war, no more the ravages of famine and plague, no more distress of nations, no more blighted homes and scathed hearts. But look into your own hearts. Each child of God has enough in his own experience to teach him the meaning of the curse, and the blessedness of the deliverance given when there shall be no more curse. Every carking care and gloomy fear, all suffering and all sorrow, constitute parts of the same great curse for sin; and all, from whatsoever cause they spring, the child of God shall shake off in glory. The heavy load of toil, poverty, the hindering body, and death will be done away. Again, the curse of vanity, which weareth out all things, shall, in the New Jerusalem, have worn out itself. On earth, and under the curse, every promise falsifies itself, and every hope deceives (Jer 17:5). Nothing that springs from the root of the flesh ever comes to fruit, but in apples of Sodom and grapes of Gomorrah. Fruitlessness, vanity, is the most malignant power of the curse; it is a worm gnawing at the root of all that is most fair. But in the New Jerusalem the saints shall at length gather the fruit of their earthly lives. But, above all, the saints of God shall, in the eternal glory, be delivered from all spiritual distress. It is sin, spiritual desertion, and doubts, and fears, and shame, that wound the Spirit. And a wounded spirit who can bear? But all these, too, shall have come to an end. What grief, too, does the power of sin still remaining in us cause! What a grief to a true-hearted Christian, that he feels himself making so little progress in the Divine life! Finally, what bitter grief it causes the Christian heart, to mark the dishonour done to God by others, the breaking out of great iniquities, the cold-hearted worldliness of professors, the hardened indifference of sinners alike to the warnings, the rebukes, the invitations of the gospel!
II. The throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it.
1. God shall be present in glory, because there shall be in the Holy City nothing accursed, nothing polluted, and no suffering.
2. There shall be no more curse, because the throne of God and of the Lamb is there. It is by the coming of God and the Lamb into our world that the curse is expelled; and it is in the Divine power of the Lamb of God enthroned in glory that the curse is kept at bay, and never more may enter.
3. The positive blessing of heaven, the weight of glory, consists in this presence of God. The kingly power of the Lamb not only serves to chase from the streets of the Holy City everything that defileth, and everything that can torment; but He Himself is the Sun of the saints gladness and the Fountain of their life. That the Lord God shall dwell among them is ever represented as the sum of His peoples blessedness. (James Hamilton, M. A.)
The curse cancelled, and the kingdom begun
I. The removal of the curse. Many are the curses that have lighted upon earth–the primeval curse, with all the many curses that have flowed out of the first sin. All this is now reversed; the sentence is cancelled; the curse is exchanged for blessing. The atmosphere is purged. The sun scorches not by day, nor the moon by night. Thorns and thistles disappear. Fertility is restored to earth. The wolf lies down with the lamb, and the leopard with the kid; and there is nothing found to hurt nor to destroy in the holy mountain of the Lord. There is the new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness.
II. The eternal throne. The new Jerusalem has come down out of heaven from God. The great kingdom has come.
III. The eternal service. His servants shall serve Him. They serve Him day and night in His temple (Rev 7:15).
IV. The eternal vision. They shall see His face (Psa 41:12).
V. The eternal inscription. His name shall be in their foreheads.
VI. The eternal day. This is stated negatively. No night, no need of lamp nor of the sun! (Isa 9:19). Everlasting day! Everlasting light! Everlasting spring!
VII. The eternal sun. The Lord God giveth them light. The light of heaven and earth, of all things material, and all things spiritual, is to come from the face of Jehovah Himself–the one sun of the universe, the one sun of the soul!
VII. The eternal reign. They shall reign for ever and ever. A bright future is this for every one who has received the testimony of the Father to His beloved Son; for on our reception of that testimony does our right to that Kingdom depend. It is so fair a prospect that it cannot fail to influence us now.
1. It purifies us. For all in it is pure and perfect.
2. It invigorates. The prospect of an inheritance like this nerves us for conflict, and makes us invincible.
3. It cheers. The light will soon swallow up the darkness. The glory will be enough to make up for all.
4. It comforts. Our light affliction will soon be swallowed up in eternal joy. (H. Bonar, D. D.)
The perfect life
No curse any more–thus the last chapters of the Bible are in complete antithesis to the first.
I. God, as Creator and Redeemer, is the very ground and fount of all Our existence, and in that perfect life of the hereafter it must be yet more manifestly true that in Him we live, and move, and have our being (Act 17:28).
1. The throne of God shall be in it–as indicating the absolute supremacy of God. The Lord reigneth now, but His reign is largely a reign of suspension, of waiting, of patience. If He does not crush and destroy His enemies, it is that He is not willing that any should perish (2Pe 3:9); and if He does not immediately deliver His servants from all the seeming evil of life, it is because they need the discipline of pain and conflict, that they may be truly fitted for the perfect life. But to that life He will surely lead them; and even here we see a progress towards that consummation, as regards both the subdual of evil and the deliverance and victory of the good.
2. The throne of God and of the Lamb–as indicating that the supremacy shall be a supremacy of love. The people of God are familiarly known, in the Old and New Testaments alike, as Gods flock; and how significant, then, that the Shepherd of the sheep should be spoken of as a Lamb–a Lamb of the flock of God–one of themselves, sharing their nature, and living their life!
II. The relation to this redeeming God of the redeemed people is set forth under three aspects–service, vision, likeness.
1. His servants shall do Him service. The true idea of rest, not only does not exclude, but demands service, providing there be adequate motive, scope, and strength. And in that life the motive shall be the noblest, the scope amplest, and the strength untiring. How this thought ennobles, by anticipation, the proper training of our faculties here!
2. They shall see His face. As here, so there, there shall be an alternation of working and beholding, of service and of fellowship. Our thought must be evermore replenished from His thought, our affection from His affection, our strength from His strength. Thus the ideal shall be ever growing in our soul, that we may act with growing intensity and success on the real–in that realm, as in this, achieving victory and laying hold of life.
3. His name shall be on their foreheads. Such shall be the resultant alike of vision and of service. Thus, by taking in and giving out, by beholding and serving, shall we become for ever like the God we love. (T. F. Lockyer, B. A.)
The curse abolished
I. The scene of this service shall be as the paradise of God–there shall be no more curse. Here everything connected with our abode renders the most delightful service–for such is the service of God–irksomely laborious. All our religious efforts proceed on this very fact, that we work on an accursed soil; that our iniquity has imposed on us excessive labour; and that in the sweat of our brow we must eat our bread. The land that is on high, inhabited by the servants of God, is subject to no painful or disagreeable vicissitudes.
II. Nor shall the curse extend to the persons of the saints, for there His servants shall serve Him: and do they not on earth, where the curse is found? No: they, it is true, attempt it; but such are their multiplied infirmities, that they confess, when they have done all, they are unprofitable, and deserve not to be viewed even as the hired servant.
III. The curse shall no longer influence the service render to God. His servants shall serve Him. Our obedience on earth scarcely deserves the name; our sinful dispositions render it more like slavery. We no sooner begin to live unto God, but conflict, toil, and fatigue, distinguish our services. Polluted are these services, in fine, as that which is corrupt cannot produce what is pure, servants so feeble and unholy must render of necessity an unprofitable obedience.
IV. The curse pronounced on man, is banished from paradise.
V. It may be observed, that as soon as the first malediction was heard, the historian adds, so he drove out the man. And they shall see His face; shall render their service in His immediate presence, cheered by the complacent smiles of His gracious approbation.
1. By way of improvement, let me urge on you the necessity of inquiring, whether you are the servants of God? And how shall we know? Your own conscience must settle the point.
2. Let the servant of God be cheered by remembering who is his master. Every relative character is well exemplified and sustained by Jehovah.
3. Let us contemplate the happy termination of the sacred volume. It begins with the entrance of crime and the curse; and closes with the abolition of sin and misery, and an assurance of perfect and perpetual sanctity and joy. (Wm. Clayton.)
The throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it.—
The immediate presence of God and the Lamb in heaven
I. What presence of God and the Lamb this presence upon the throne is, which makes heaven, and the happiness of it, to the saints.
1. The presence of His glory. So is the presence of God upon His throne expressed (Jud 1:24). By the glory of God is meant the conspicuous lustre of His perfections shining in the highest excellency of their brightness.
2. A second view of the presence of God upon His throne, that it is the facial presence of God, the presence of His face. For, in the next verse to our text, it is added, His servants shall see His face.
3. His immediate presence, manifested no longer through obscuring mediums, as in our present state.
4. His countenancing presence.
5. The fixed and abiding presence of God and the Lamb.
6. An efficacious and influxive presence.
II. Shew, by comparing scripture with scripture, what manifestation of the glory of God, and of the Lamb, the similitude of a throne points out unto us, as peculiar to heaven.
1. The throne of God in heaven points out, that there is the highest manifestation of His absolute sovereignty and dominion over all.
2. The throne of God and of the Lamb being in this city, hints to us, that as kings use to display all their glory and majesty upon their thrones, so in heaven the shining excellency of His majesty is most bright, and the glory of His perfections most splendid.
3. A throne is the place where the deepest respect and homage of subjects is paid to their sovereign. Heaven is the place where God hath the most solemn worship from His creatures, all His courtiers attending about His throne with a pure love and glowing zeal.
4. A throne is a place where solemn addresses are presented and answered. It is to God in the heaven, upon a throne of grace, that we are directed to come with boldness, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.
5. The throne of God, and of the Lamb, expresseth this to us, that glorious Christ appears not only in His Fathers glory, which is naturally His, as He is one God with the Father, but also in that glory, honour and majesty, conferred upon Him as man and Mediator, as the reward of His sufferings and obedience.
III. Shew how the throne of God and the Lamb, being in heaven, contributeth to the happiness of its inhabitants.
1. All contraries to happiness are inconsistent with this presence of God and the Lamb; and therefore the least opposite to blessedness can never enter into this city where this throne is.
2. As the throne of God and the Lamb, being in this city, excludeth all contraries and opposites to blessedness, so it is an immediate productive cause of the most perfect positive happiness to the utmost capacity of all its inhabitants.
3. The glory of the mediation of our Redeemer will appear to all eternity, in this city, as the procuring cause of all the happiness the saints possess in it, and the glorious Mediator Himself shall remain for ever as the mean through whom the glory and blessedness of God shall be seen by, and communicated to the saints in heaven.
1. Doth the throne of God and the Lamb make the happiness of the heavenly Jerusalem, by its being there? then, how dreadful will your misery be, who shall for ever be shut out of this city where this throne shall be.
(1) Your loss, of being banished from the presence of God and the Lamb, will be infinite.
(2) You shall then have a full sense of the greatness of your loss: here it doth not affect you, because you know not the infinite excellency of God and Christ; but then your eyes will be opened, and your understandings cleared to know this, and so the greatness of your loss, from what you shall see of the glory of Christ upon His tribunal.
(3) If you are banished from the presence of God and the Lamb, and from this city where the throne of God and the Lamb is, you will be shut up in hell under positive torments.
2. The people of God should comfort themselves in the hope of being for ever where the throne of God and the Lamb shall be.
(1) This comfort is to you who have received a whole Christ as Prophet, Priest and King, and believe upon Him with a Divine, practical, heart-purifying, and life-sanctifying faith.
(2) This comfort is to you, who repent and are converted from all sin, in affection, in purpose and endeavour, unto God and His way; who have ceased to do evil, and learned to do well.
(3) This comfort appertains to the upright. (James Robe, M. A.)
His servants shall serve Him.—
The serving and the reigning
(with verse 5):–Setting these two passages together, we get these two truths, that the redeemed are servants, and that they are also kings. Their eternity is to be an eternity of service, and an eternity of dominion.
I. Service. His servants shall serve Him. They are the servants of God, and the servants of the Lamb. As Christ was the Fathers servant, so do we become. Let us ask,–
1. When this service begins? It begins at conversion. For conversion is
(1) a change of service;
(2) a change of masters;
(3) a change of motive;
(4) a change of work.
2. How it begins? Christ answers this: If any man serve Me, let him follow Me. It begins by taking His yoke; by taking the cross; by denying self; or, as the apostle expresses it, by obeying from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered unto us.
3. How it is carried on? By a life of devotedness to God and His Christ; by doing His will, working His work, carrying out His plans, running His errands, looking after His interests.
4. Where it is carried on? First here on earth, and afterwards in the new Jerusalem before the throne. It is carried on everywhere; in the closet, in the family, at the table, round the hearth, in the market, in the shop, in the field, on the highway–everywhere. How it is to be carried on hereafter we know not. In the city and out of it; at the throne and away from it; all over space; doing every kind of work; such shall be the service hereafter.
5. How long it shall last? For ever. It has a beginning, but not an end. It is an eternal service. All other services are bondage, this is liberty: all others are drudgery, this is blessedness throughout. The Master now waits to hire you; will you not be hired?
II. The dominion. They shall reign for ever. This is wholly future.
1. Who are these feigners? They are men, not angels.
2. Whence came they? Out of sin, out of weakness, and persecution, and tribulation.
3. How did they become what they are? They washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb. They believed and became sons of God.
4. What raised them to this dignity? Grace; Gods free love.
5. In what way did they reach the throne? They fought their way to it.
6. How extensive is this dominion to be? He that overcometh shall inherit all things. Heaven and earth are theirs. Heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ.
7. How long is it to last? For ever. It is an everlasting dominion; a kingdom that shall not be destroyed. (H. Bonar, D. D.)
Servitude and royalty
(with verse 5):–The servants and the kings are identical, they are alike the beings written in the Book of Life; the redeemed from the earth; those who have entered through the gates into the city. I take this twofold word from among the final promises of Him who cannot lie, not now to look upward through it upon the brightness of the eternal future, but to see the light of that future cast through it downward on our present life.
I. His servants. Such is the title of the glorified. In heaven itself there is no emancipation from the bonds of God. The holy nations are eternally bound, in absolute obligation, to the will of God and of the Lamb. The created soul cannot be the basis of its own being; how could it be the source of its own joy and power, or the law of its own eternity? We read what is but likely when we read that the nearer and the clearer is the sight of the Creator granted to the creature, the better the creature recognises the blessedness of self-surrender. Now, does not this truth of the future begin to be realised on earth? You know how full the Scriptures are of the idea of the service of God; a service not the less real as service because it can also be viewed as perfect freedom in the light of knowledge and love; a service not meant to be a figure of religious speech, a form of courtly deference to the Majesty above; but an obligation real and binding; compelling with the united power of the love and the law of God (Joh 13:13; Act 27:23; 1Th 1:10).
II. They shall reign. Such is the twin promise of the better life. The bondmen of the Eternal, in that existence of endless duty, shall for ever reign. Scripture does indeed largely promise honour to man. Never does it flatter him; this is part of its Divine manner. But of hope and promise it grudges nothing to him if only he will seek it in the way of Christ. Poor must be our best conjectures of what the fulfilment will be. We cannot yet understand what is the nobility of being, the lofty purity, the greatness of knowledge, the wealth of joy and power, which are indicated in the figures of the promise, the crowns of life, and righteousness, and glory, the session on thrones, and this reigning as of kings for ever. But, little as we know of the fulfilment, the process towards it is even now begun. Even in this present world the true servant of God, in proportion to the reality and simplicity of his servitude, receives also some foretastes of his royalty. Let him, in truth, endure, seeing Him who is invisible; and it will bring him a power not his own over and amidst the visible. He will tread, by his Masters strength, calmly and habitually, on besetting sin; he will turn to real flight the alien armies of temptation; he will in some true sense and measure rule amongst influences at enmity with his Lord. There is no independence upon earth so strong, and so nobly strong, as that of a Christian who wills wholly to be Christs servant. (H. C G. Moule, B. D.)
The Divine reign within the soul
I. That the Divine reign within the soul will banish all moral curse.
1. That the unregenerate soul of man is under the dire curse of sin.
2. That the Divine reign tends to the ultimate banishment of the curse of sin from the soul.
II. That the Divine reign within the soul will awaken to hallowed service.
1. The Divine reign within the soul awakens the truest feeling of service.
2. The Divine reign within the soul imparts the highest capability of service.
3. The Divine reign within the soul reveals the best opportunity of service.
III. That the divine reign within the soul will tend to a clear vision of God. This vision is–
IV. That the Divine reign in the soul leads to the dissipation of moral darkness. What a glorious privilege and capability to be equal to the enjoyment of an eternal day–for the sun never to set upon the activity and love of the soul.
V. That the Divine reign in the soul leads to moral kinghood. Lessons:
1. That the throne of God must be established in the soul of man.
2. That the Divine reign in the soul is conducive of the highest good.
3. That only the good will enjoy eternal moral sunlight. (The Study.)
The heavenly life
Heavenly blessedness consists of service. Even the angels excel in strength to do His commandments. We shall never get beyond that. The highest blessedness consists in being beneficently useful and reverently obedient. Our aim should not be to become ornamental, but to render perfect service. To serve God without imperfection, without the frailty of this human nature of ours, without the sin that mixes up here with our divinest things; that is the highest ambition of every true servant of God. The truth emphasised here is the advancement of the true servant into higher spheres of service. This is just what heaven will do for us. It will not take away from us the opportunity or capacity for service, it will only ennoble and exalt all. Who of us will not begin to serve Him here? Never mind where you begin. It may be in the back kitchen, or in the scullery, in Gods great house. You may not be required to take a prominent or honourable part in it; go on and do the little work you have to do–do it well, and according to the fidelity of your service shall be your progress, until at last you shall enter into the highest celestial meaning of a service that began amid earthly infirmities and human sin.
II. The Lords servants shall have not only exaltation in service, but also fulness of vision–And they shall see His face. This clear vision of God is spoken of by Our Lord Himself as the reward of purity. The pure in heart shall see God. The obedient spirit is the seeing one. The doer must ever be the true seer. The only way in which you can see Him face to face is to take the path which He has taken.
III. His name shall be upon their foreheads. The face of God seems always to represent the revelation of Him by vision, and His name the revelation of Him by testimony. In our text, those who see His face are represented as bearing HIS impress, and carrying the sign of ownership upon their foreheads. The forehead is that part of the face expressive of strength. (D. Davies.)
Heaven, as a state of service unto God and the Lamb before the throne
I. The characters of those who are the Lords servants here, and shall be continued in His service to serve Him in heaven.
1. If you are such servants now, as shall be admitted to serve Him in heaven, you will have embraced by faith the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Covenant of grace.
2. If you are such servants now as shall serve Him in heaven, then you have been effectually called, possessed by the Spirit of Christ, quickened, sanctified, and planted by Him into Jesus Christ, after the likeness of HIS death and resurrection from the dead.
3. If you are His servants, who shall serve Him not only in this but the coming world, you will have renounced all other lords and masters.
4. If you are the servants of God and the Lamb, who shall serve Him in heaven, you will live under a sense and conscience of this your dedication, not as your own, but Gods.
5. Are you devoted and addicted to the fear of God, not a slavish, but filial fear of Him?
II. The service you, who are the servants of God now, shall be employed in when you are in heaven.
1. As to the matter and particular kind of the service of the saints in heaven, it is yet a secret, and in a great measure unknown to us.
(1) The service of the Lords servants in heaven excludeth all service and duty which imply a state of probation and trial, a state of imperfection, and which have the nature of means leading, by the appointment of God, to salvation with eternal glory as the end.
(2) The service of the saints in heaven will contain in it all those duties that the relation between the Creator and the creature, the Redeemer and the redeemed, doth infer in an eternally fixed state of perfect holiness and happiness.
(3) Your service in heaven will be such as the angels, of God are employed in.
(4) The service of the Lords servants in heaven will be the service of special and immediate attendance.
(5) Your service, who are now the servants of God and the Lamb, shall be the service of rulers and governors in the life to come.
(6) Your service and work in heaven will be Sabbath-service and work.
(7) Your service in heaven will be temple-service.
(8) Your service in heaven will be eucharistical service, consisting in the exercise of she praising graces, and performance of the work of praise.
(9) A performance of the duties of love to all your fellow-servants, consistent with a state of perfect blessedness in the full enjoyment of God, will be service in heaven to God and the Lamb.
2. In what manner the Lords servants shall serve Film in heaven.
(1) Without weakness.
(2) Without weariness.
(3) Without distraction.
(4) Without interruption and intermission; there shall be no impediment from business, or need of sleep.
(5) Without the least defect, imperfection, or sin.
(6) You shall serve Him for ever, even to eternity. Your joys shall be everlasting, and so shall be your thankful service.
III. Whence it is they, who are Gods servants now, shall serve Him in heaven.
1. From the sovereign, rich, and free grace of God.
2. From the merit and intercession of the Son of God.
3. From the efficiency of the Holy Ghost. He seals the servants of God unto the day of redemption; and is so good as to lead them into heaven, the land of uprightness.
4. From the faithfulness of God.
5. From the unchangeableness of God.
1. Is it a part of the happiness of heaven that the servants of God and the Lamb shall serve Him in heaven? then hence we may learn that heaven is a state of eternal service to God and the Lamb.
2. Shall the Lords servants now serve Him in heaven? then there is more honour and happiness in active doing holy duties than we are well aware of.
3. Shall these, who are His servants now, serve Him hereafter in heaven? Then you have in this what to answer to the atheists profane query, What profit is it to serve God?
4. Learn from this clause of our text, in its connection, that an uninterrupted serving God, and an uninterrupted communion with God, and enjoyment of Him go together. (James Robe, M. A.)
The service of God
There is not a little in the temper of our day which resists the thought that God is a Master. Many people more or less consciously recoil from the assertion of a claim so imperative as is necessarily involved in such a conception of the Supreme. Some absolutely reject religion on this account; they think, or speak as if they thought, that their independence would be compromised, their dignity insulted, by the recognition of a Sovereign in heaven, no less than by subjection to a master on earth; perhaps they go so far as to say that the very notion of a God claiming to have dominion over mans whole being is an invention of the governing orders, a piece of the machinery devised by their class-selfishness for the obvious purpose of keeping the people down. Others, who cannot dispense with religion altogether, endeavour, as far as possible, to keep the idea of Divine sovereignty in the background. Perhaps they may in part be under the influence of a recoil from one-sided and repellent views of that Sovereignty, which were a stumbling-block to believers in the Divine moral perfection. But the reaction must be worse than extravagant which leads men to emphasise the Fatherhood of God by detaching from it, in effect, the idea of paternal authority (Mal 1:6). Given the idea of a living God, and the conviction that we are bound to serve Him follows; and Scripture does but emphasise the conclusion which natural reason forces upon all serious theists. I am Thy servant, is the burden of all that intercourse between the human soul and its God which pervades and vitalises the Psalter; and the prophets language about the Lords servant, passes beyond an idealised Israel to its fulfilment in the obedience completed on the Cross. And although the gospel is a law of liberty, yet no delusive spirit from the pit ever uttered a deeper falsehood than that which could confound liberty with license, or deny that moral law is involved in the relations between men. St. Paul repeatedly intimates that Gods moral law is still to be the rule of Christian conduct; he speaks of the law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus, and of our fulfilling the requirements of the law, very much as St. James speaks of the royal law of liberty, and as St. John identifies sin with lawlessness. Furthermore, the gospel reveals a new and special ground of the obligation of Gods service; He has acquired a supernatural right over us in virtue of the fact of our redemption. If we have been bought, in the Scriptural imagery, at no less a price than the blood of Gods own Son, it follows that we are not our own: we cannot be without law to God, we must be under law to Christ (1Co 6:19; 1Co 9:21). If we call Him Saviour, we must also call Him King. Two phrases are used in the New Testament, to impress this thought upon us. In some passages a word is used which originally represented the condition of a hired servant (Act 27:23; Rom 1:9; 2Ti 1:3; Heb 9:14). But as if this term were not strong enough to stand alone, the relation between a bondservant or slave, and a master whose rights over him were absolute–a relation which Christianity was to undermine, but which for the time was suffered to exist–is utilised, so to speak, for the purpose of enforcing this great lesson (Rom 1:1; Gal 1:10; Php 1:1; Tit 1:1; 2Pe 1:1; Rev 1:1; Jam 1:1; Jud 1:1.). In the text both phrases are combined: His slaves shall do Him service for wages. Do we shrink from the austerity of this language? Do we fancy that it makes our religion servile–that if apostles used it in their own time, we need not treat it as symbol]sing a permanent truth–that it is, in fact, a surviving fragment of Judaism, inconsistent with the higher apostolic affirmation, Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty? Do we plead, so to speak, that our Lord has promised us the truest freedom as the result of an effective knowledge of the truth, and that, on the last evening of His earthly ministry, He said to His faithful eleven, Henceforth I call you not servants, but friends? Well, this was His gracious condescension, assuring them that their relation to Him was to be one of affectionate confidence. Blessed be HIS name, He does not keep us at arms length; He does not treat us coldly, sternly, magisterially: we are to be willing, freewill offerings, in the day of His power. We are to be made sons in Him, the true and only-begotten Son, and so to be free indeed. His service is to be, in a most true sense, perfect freedom, or even a true royalty; but it must needs be service, if He is what He is, if we are what we are. Take just one noble and beautiful instance of the combination of obedience and love, of service and joyfulness, in him who had apparently been consecrated to the episcopate by St. John, and who, when invited to save his life by uttering some form of renunciation of Christ, answered, Eighty-six years have I been His servant, and He has done me no wrong: how, then, can I revile my King Who saved me? (W. Bright, D. D.)
The triple rays which make the white light of heaven
These words give us three elements of the perfect state of man–service, contemplation, likeness; these three are perfect and unbroken.
1. The first element in the perfect state of man is perfect activity in the service of God. If we have not here the notion of priesthood, we have one very closely approximating towards it. That, then, is the first thought that we have to look at. Now, it seems to me to be a very touching confession of the weariness and unsatisfactoriness of life in the general that the dream of the future which has unquestionably the most fascination for most men, is that which speaks of it as rest. Now this representation of my text is by no means contradictory, but it is complementary of that other one. The deepest rest and the highest activity coincide. They do so in God Who worketh hitherto in undisturbed tranquillity; they may do so in us. The wheel that goes round in swiftest rotation seems to be standing still. Work at its intensest, which is pleasurable work, and level to the capacity of the doer, is the truest form of rest. They rest from their labours. They rest not, day or night. From their labours?–yes! From toil disproportioned to faculty?–yes! From unwelcome work?–yes! From distraction and sorrow?–yes! But from glad praise and vigorous service?–never! day or night. Then there is another thing involved in this first idea, namely, the notion of an outer world on which and in which to work; and also the notion of the resurrection of the body in which the active spirit may abide, and through which it may work. Perhaps it may be that they who sleep in Jesus, in the period between the shuffling off of this mortal coil and the breaking of that day when they are raised again from the dead, are incapable of exertion in an outer sphere. At all events, this we may be sure of, that if it be so they have no desires in advance of their capacities; and of this also I think we may be sure, that whether they themselves can come into contact with an external universe or not, Christ is for them what the body is to us here now, and the glorified body will be hereafter: that being absent from the body they are present with the Lord. The next point is this: such service must be in a far higher sphere and a far nobler fashion than the service of earth. God rewards work with more work. The powers that are trained and exercised and proved in a narrower region are lifted to the higher; as some poor peasant-girl, for instance, whose rich voice has risen up in the harvest-field only for her own delight and that of a handful of listeners, heard by some one who detects its sweetness, may be carried away to some great city, and charm kings with its tones, so the service done in some little corner of this remote rural province of Gods universe, apprehended by Him, shall be rewarded with a wider platform, and a nobler area for work. Thou hast been faithful in a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things. Notice again, that the highest type of human service must be service for other people. The law of heaven can surely not be more selfish than the law for earth, and that is, he that is chiefest amongst you, let him be your servant. The last point about this first matter is simply this–that this highest form of human activity is all to be worship; all to be done in reference to Him; all to be done in submission to Him. The will of the man in His work is to be so conformed to the will of God as that, whatsoever the hand on the great dial points to, that the hand on the little dial shall point to also. Obedience is joy and rest. To know and do His will is heaven.
2. Next, look at the second of the elements here–They shall see His face. Now that expression seeing the face of God in Scripture seems to me to be employed in two somewhat different ways, according to one of which the possibility of seeing the face is affirmed, and according to another of which it is denied. The one may be illustrated by the Divine word to Moses: Thou canst not see My face. There shall no man see Me and live (Exo 33:1-23.). The other may be illustrated by the aspiration and the confidence of one of the psalms: As for me, I shall behold Thy face in righteousness. Where is the key to the apparent contradiction? Here, I think; Jesus Christ is the manifest God, in Him only do men draw near to the hidden Deity, the King Invisible, Who dwelleth in the light that is inaccessible. And here on earth we see by faith, and yonder there will be a vision, different in kind, most real, most immediate and direct, not of the hidden Godhood in itself, but of the revealed God-hood manifest in Jesus Christ, Whom in His glorified corporeal Manhood we shall perceive, with the organs of our glorified body, Whom, in His Divine beauty we shall know and love with heart and mind, in knowledge direct, immediate, far surpassing in degree and different in kind from the knowledge of faith which we have of Him here below. But there is another point I would touch upon in reference to this second thought of our text–viz., its connection with the previous representation, They shall serve Him, that is activity of service in our outer sphere; they shall see His face, that is contemplation. The Rabbis taught that there were angels who serve, and angels who praise, but the two classes meet in the perfected man, whose service shall be praise, whose praise shall be service.
3. The last element is His name shall be in their foreheads. The metaphor is taken from the old cruel practice of branding a slave with the name of his master. And so the primary idea of this expression: His slaves shall bear His name upon their foreheads, is that their ownership shall be conspicuously visible to all that look. But there is more than that in it. How is the ownership to be made visible? By His name being on their foreheads. What is His name? Universally in Scripture His name is His revealed character, and so we come to this: the perfect men shall be known to belong to God, in Christ, because they are like Him. (A. Maclaren, D. D.)
Caroline Herschel, the sister of the great astronomer, was through all her life the most attached servant to her brother. She called herself a mere tool, which my brother had the trouble of sharpening. She learned the details of observing with such success that she independently discovered eight comets. Her devotion was most complete. Wherever her brother was concerned she abolished self, and replaced her nature with his. Having no taste for astronomy, her work at first was distasteful to her, but she conquered this, and lived to help his work and fame.
They shall see His face.—
The heaven of heaven
The Italians so much admire the city of Naples, that their proverb is, See Naples and die; as if there remained nothing more to be seen after that fair bay and city had been gazed upon. To behold the far fairer sight mentioned in the text men might well be content to die a thousand times. Forget for awhile your present cares, and live for awhile in the future which is so certified by faithful promises that you may rejoice in it even now!
I. The beatific vision. They shall see His face. It is the chief blessing of heaven, the heaven of heaven, that the saints shall there see Jesus. Christ is all in all to us here, and therefore we long for a heaven in which He shall be all in all to us for ever; and such will the heaven of God be. The paradise of God is not the Elysium of imagination, the Utopia of intellect, or the Eden of poetry; but it is the Heaven of intense spiritual fellowship with the Lord Jesus. In the beatific vision it is Christ whom they see; and further, it is His face which they behold; by which I understand two things: first, that they shaft literally and physically, with their risen bodies, actually look into the face of Jesus; and secondly, that spiritually their mental faculties shall be enlarged, so that they shall be enabled to look into the very heart, and soul, and character of Christ, so as to understand Him, His work, His love, His all in all, as they never understood Him before.
II. The surpassing clearness of that vision. They shall see His face. The word see sounds in my ears with a clear, full, melodious note. We see but little here. We walk by faith, not by sight. Around us all is mist and cloud. What we do see, we see only as if men were trees walking. The saints see the face of Jesus in heaven, because they are purified from sin. The pure in heart are blessed: they shall see God, and none others. They may well see His face when the scales of sin have been taken from their eyes, and they have become pure as God Himself is pure. They surely see His face the more clearly because all the clouds of care are gone from them. Moreover, as they have done with sin and cares, so have they done with sorrows. They see His face right gloriously in that cloudless atmosphere, and in the light which He Himself supplies. Moreover, the glorified see His face the more clearly because there are no idols to stand between Him and them.
III. The matchless privilege which this vision involves. We may understand the words they shall see His face to contain five things. They mean, first, certain salvation; secondly, a clear knowledge of Him; thirdly, conscious favour; fourthly, close fellowship; and lastly, complete transformation.
IV. Who they are to whom this choice boon is afforded by the divine mercy. They shall see His face. Who are they? They are all His redeemed, all the justified, all the sanctified. Some are taken away to see His face while yet young. (C. H. Spurgeon.)
The face of Jesus
His face! That can never be produced upon canvas; that is the medium of Divine revelation; that is the type of perfect humanity.
I. Heaven possesses one special attraction–the face of Jesus.
1. This chides our idle speculation. The presence of Jesus makes heaven, and to see His face is eternal joy.
2. Here is a test for our religious desires. Do we long to see Jesus?
II. Heaven will continue the experience of earth.
1. It is possible to see Jesus now. We can see His face in the mirror of the Word–dimly in the law, gloriously in the gospel. We can see it smiling from the Cross. We can see it in the gifts of His heart.
2. It is possible to realise heaven upon earth.
III. Heaven will soothe the deepest sighing of the regenerated heart.
IV. Heaven will perfect our likeness to Jesus. (Philip Reynolds.)
The vision of God
Of all the happiness and honour that fill that city of glory, this is the sum, and the centre, and the overflow: They shall see His face.
I. Whose face? It is the face of God; and that face is Jesus, the Word made flesh; the brightness of His glory, etc.; light of the glory of God is in the face of Jesus Christ. It is the face of majesty, yet the face of love. Like unto it there is not any face in earth or heaven–in all the vast universe of God–so bright, so fair, so perfect, so glorious, so Divine.
II. Who shall see it? His servants. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord. Thine eyes shall see the King in His beauty. If any man serve Me, him will My Father honour.
III. What is it to see his face? See Psa 41:12; Est 1:14; 2Ki 25:19.
1. Nearness. These servants form the inner, nay the innermost, circle of creation.
2. Blessedness. The nearest of the disciples was the most blessed, the disciple whom Jesus loved. The nearest to Him in heaven will be the most blessed.
3. Honour. To see the kings face was the great earthly honour; so is it the greatest heavenly honour.
4. Power. They who see the Kings face are His counsellors, His vicegerents, the doers of His will. Christs throne is theirs–for he that overcometh shall inherit all things. This seeing of the face of God and His Christ will be:
(1) Eternal. It cannot end.
No interruption; no eclipse; no cloud; no darkness; no setting; no dimness of eye; no unbelief; no distance. (H. Bonar, D. D.)
The facial vision of God
I. Who they are that shall see the face of God and the Lamb in heaven.
1. All real believers.
2. The Lords servants.
3. The pure in heart (1Jn 3:2-3).
4. The righteous (Psa 17:15).
II. What is imported in seeing the face of God and the Lamb.
1. To see the face of God and the Lamb certainly imports being in the immediate presence of God and the Lamb.
2. To see the face of God and the Lamb importeth an ocular bodily sight of a sensible Divine glory; it is a sight of the face of the Lamb of God incarnate, and in the nature of man, with a glorified super-exalted body.
3. To see the face of God and the Lamb importeth a mental and intellectual sight or knowledge of the glorious perfections of God and the Lamb, shining in their brightest lustre.
4. To see the face of God and the Lamb certainly importeth such a discovery and view of God, and of Jesus Christ, as was never attained by any in this life.
5. To see the face of God and the Lamb importeth a perfect enjoyment of the love and favour of God and the Lamb, a sense and feeling of this favour, and the blessed fruits and effects of it.
6. To see the face of God and the Lamb certainly imports a humble and holy confidence and ability to look upon the face of God and the Lamb.
7. To join them together, immediate and familiar communion with, and the enjoyment of God and the Lamb are hinted to us in this expression, as the attainment of the saints in heaven. An expression of more wonderful condescendency cannot be used, than that of Jehovahs way of conversing with Moses (Exo 33:11).
III. How the sight of the face of God and the Lamb tendeth unto, and is a part of our happiness in heaven.
1. The object of this vision is the face of God and the Lamb, that is, the glory of the infinite perfections of God, shining in the highest excellency of their brightness.
2. Consider the act of this vision itself, it is a knowledge of God and His glory–not by report, as all the knowledge of faith we have in this state is;–not by reasoning, as here, which is wearisome and uncertain, but by sight or knowledge directly taking in the glory manifested. It will be a vigorous and efficacious sight, the faculty being strengthened and made able to bear the discoveries of this glory by the object itself.
3. Consider the effects of seeing the face of God and the Lamb in heaven: by this we shall know all things fit for us to know.
IV. What reason you, who are the servants of God and the Lamb, now have to be assured that you shall see His face in heaven,
1. Yell have good and real right to this happiness, upon a manifold title, such as God the Fathers eternal purpose and election.
2. God hath begotten an insatiable desire in you to see His face in heaven.
3. All the Redeemers offices are engaged to bring all His servants unto God, and set them in His presence for ever.
V. When the Lords servants shall be admitted to see His face.
1. Our souls shall, immediately after death, be admitted to see God.
2. The most eminent season of our being admitted to see the face of God and the Lamb is the day of the resurrection; then shall our bodies be raised up glorified, and reunited unto our long-before glorified souls.
(1) To all the hearers of the gospel. Let it be the great scope, end, and business of your lives, to attain this happiness when you die.
(2) Labour to attain to a more certain knowledge and assurance of this, that you shall see His face for ever in heaven.
(3) Think much upon the obligations you are under to God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, for this hope laid up for you in heaven; and live in the continual praises of the ever-blessed Three in One.
(4) Labour to have as much of this happiness of heaven, of the vision of the face of God and the Lamb, here upon earth, as you can attain, and to exercise yourselves much therein.
(5) Live in the earnest, desirous, patient hope and expectation of this happiness laid up for you in heaven; this is good, and blessedness next to the beatifical vision itself.
(6) Let the foresight of this glorious happiness mortify you to all human and earthly glory.
(7) Keep your eyes outward and inward, as these that are to see the face of God and the Lamb.
(8) Study holiness, and endeavour to attain much of it. (James Robe, M. A.)
The heavenly life: the living God with His living servants
The Holy Scriptures maintain a consistent and marked reserve in respect of the details of the future life. God calls the soul first, not to reveries, but to repentance.
I. They shall see His face. This is the first element in the promise. It needs no elaborate proof that the Bible presents the presence of the personal God as the souls last and highest hope. Whom have I in heaven but Thee? In Thy presence is fulness of joy; We shall see Him as He is. Nor does it need long proving that this supreme hope, in all views of the future other than that of the Bible, is either absent or quite secondary. The Buddhist votary, far from longing for the sight of a Divine Countenance, desires as his summum bonum–his one true felicity (only too great to be confidently hoped for) the dissolution of his own illusory yet weary personality into the deep repose of a universe of non-existence. The Elysium of Virgil, the happy fields of the just, laborious, and noble-hearted, is nothing but a pale reflection of the joys of earth, and bears not a trace of the ruling and energising power of a Divine Presence in the midst of it. In the great My thus of Plato, again, the chariot-borne spectators of reality, the personages of that vast festal procession which climbs up the steep sides of the lower sky to the ideal heaven, behold at length not a Divine Countenance, loving and loved; they discover only splendours magnificent but cold: universals as they are–absolute justice, temperance, and knowledge–but not One who is eternal and beatifying love. The Pantheist, ancient or modern, western or eastern, hopes only to sink hereafter somewhat deeper into that will-less and loveless absolute which, after all, he holds that he has never left; for all things, in his creed, are but equally and always parts, and no more, of the one Being in its aimless and unbeheld development. It is the Bible, and the Bible only, that makes the presence of an eternal and holy Person the final object of the hopes of man. They shall see His face. Heaven, if it includes the idea of endlessness, needs the presence of a Person both eternal and lovable, if it is to be not happy only, but other than terrible, to the created and limited being. It is a woful mistake to feed our souls in prospect on the food of the presence, not of the Creator, but of the creature. Dreadful would be the ultimate famine in the bright but then restless regions, if the created souls were left there to subsist for ever on the resources of each other and themselves. They shall see His face–they shall be satisfied with His likeness.
II. And His name shall be on their foreheads. We look on this clause now, not as revealing the Lord Gods influence in the endless life, but is witnessing to the sustained individual personality of those who shall be admitted, in that endless life, to behold His glory. The opinion of Pantheism has spread wide and deep, in many and most various regions and times. It is indeed a seductive evil, an error singularly attractive to many fine and powerful minds, especially in its guise of a quasi-worship of external nature. Yet this error can present itself to the bewildered soul under a subtle show of humility: Slight and imperfect being! why claim, or why fear, an endless subsistence? Shall the thin flame of your little life glimmer on for ever through the windy currents of an illimitable and unresting universe? No, surely. If you are indeed created, still in no sense whatever can you stand apart from the Creator. You are but one of His, or rather of Its, countless phases. You will soon be dissolved again into the depths of His, or rather of Its, existence. But to the whisperings of this lie, the Holy Scriptures, strong in their historic record, in their unique method of appealing to Divine facts to attest and teach eternal truths, give a negative equally uncompromising and profound. Scripture seeks not to solve the often-attempted riddle how the Infinite created the finite into a distinct subsistence: in this case, and in that of the origin of evil, it leaves in emphatic silence just the two problems which unchastened human speculation has most eagerly pursued. But that the finite was created into that mysterious distinctness; that the personality of man is real and permanent; this truth the holy Book, through all the sixteen centuries of its growth, presses home in countless ways on the heart of man–that heart in whose depths the truths alike of personality and of guilt find their sure echo. And this is part of the truth of this prophetic verse. His name shall be, not upon floating phases of an Absolute Being, but upon their foreheads. (H. C. G. Moult, M. A.)
Forcing the sun
Dr. Clemance said, One day I was climbing one of the Alpine range of mountains, near the boundary line between France and Switzerland. By and by we came upon snow and icicles, and all the usual attendants in the train of winter; but when we got higher we found delightful flowers blooming, in all the beauty of floral loveliness. I said to myself, How is this? Down yonder are icicles and snow, up here are those exquisite flowers. The secret of it was, that this part of the mountain faced the sun, while the other was turned from it. So not unlike this is the change in the heart of him who turns from the cold world of sin to the warming rays of the Sun of Righteousness.
His name shall be in their foreheads.—
Three inscriptions with one meaning
(with Exo 28:36; Zec 14:20):–These three widely separated texts all speak of inscriptions, and they are all obviously connected with each other. Three things, then–the priests mitre, the horses bells, the foreheads of the perfected saints–three aspects of the Christian thought of holiness.
I. The priests mitre. The high priest was the official representative of the nation. He stood before God as the embodied and personified Israel. For the purposes of worship Israel was the high priest, and the high priest was Israel. And so, on his forehead, not to distinguish him from the rest of the people, but to include all the people in his consecration, shone a golden plate with the motto, Holiness to the Lord. So, at the beginning, there stands a protest against all notions that make saint the designation of any abnormal or exceptional sanctity, and confine the name to the members of any selected aristocracy of devoutness and of goodness. All Christian men, ex officio, by the very fact of their Christianity, are saints, in the true sense of the word. It is a very unfortunate thing–indicating superficiality of thought–that the modern popular notion of holiness identifies it with purity, righteousness, moral perfection. Now that is in it, but that is not the whole of it. The root-meaning is separated, set apart, and the word expresses primarily, not moral character, but relation to God. How can a man be separated and laid aside? Well, there is only one way, and that is by self-surrender. Holiness to the Lord is self-surrender of will, and heart, and mind, and everything. And that surrender is of the very essence of Christianity. What is a saint? Some man or woman that has practised unheard-of austerities? Somebody that has lived an isolated and self-regarding life in convent or monastery or desert? No! a man or woman in the world who, moved by the mercies of God, yields self to God as a living sacrifice.
II. The horses bells. Zechariah has a vision of the ideal Messianic times, and of course, as must necessarily be the case, his picture is painted with colours laid upon his palette by his experience, and he depicts that distant future in the guise suggested to him by what he saw around him. So we have to disentangle from his words the sentiment which he expresses, and to recognise the symbolic way in which he puts it. On the whole, the prophets teaching is that, in the ideal state of man upon earth, there would be an entire abolition of the distinction between sacred and secular; a distinction that has wrought infinite mischief in the world, and in the lives of Christian people. Let me transfer these words of our prophet into English equivalents. Every cup and tumbler in a poor mans kitchen shall be as sacred as the Communion chalice that passes from lip to lip with the blood of Jesus Christ in it. Every common piece of service that we do, down among the vulgarities and the secularities and the meannesses of daily life, may be lifted up to stand upon precisely the same level as the sacredest office that we undertake. The bells of the horses shall jingle to the same tune as the trumpets of the priests within the shrine, and on all, great and small, shall be written, Holiness to the Lord. Hallow thyself, and all things are clean unto thee.
III. The perfected saints foreheads. It is only the name that is written in the perfected saints forehead. Not the Holiness unto the Lord, but just the bare name. What does that mean? Well, it means the same as your writing your name in one of your books does, or as when a man puts his initials on the back of his oxen, or as the old practice of branding the masters mark upon the slave did. It means absolute ownership. But it means something more. The name is the manifested personality, the revealed God, the character, as we say in an abstract way, the character of God. That name is to be in the foreheads of His perfected people. How does it come to be there? Read the clause before. His servants shall see His face, and His name shall be in their foreheads. That is to say, the perfected condition is not reached by surrender only, but by assimilation; and that assimilation comes by contemplation. The faces that are turned to Him, and behold Him, are smitten with the light and shine, and those that look upon them see, as it had been, the face of an angel, as the Sanhedrin saw that of Stephen when he beheld the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God. Alas! alas! it is so hard for us to live out our best selves, and to show to the world what is in us. Cowardice, sheepishness, and a hundred other reasons prevent it. In this poor imperfect state no emotion ever takes shape and visibility without losing more or less of its beauty. But yonder the obstructions to self-manifestation will be done away; and when He shall be manifested we also shall be manifested with Him in glory. (A. Maclaren, D. D.)
On the happiness of heaven., as it consists in a conformity to God and the Lamb
I. Show what seems to be hinted in this scripture, concerning the happiness of the saints in heaven, as it is a likeness to God and the Lamb.
1. The saints in heaven have the name of God upon them; that is, they shall have upon them a likeness unto, and resemblance of these glorious perfections, whereby God hath manifested and made Himself known unto us, called His Name in Scripture.
(1) It is a likeness to God in His moral and communicable perfections and excellences.
(2) In heaven we shall be like God in happiness and glory.
2. The saints in heaven have the Lambs name upon them.
(1) Their souls shall be like unto the soul of Jesus Christ, in all the faculties thereof. When He shall appear, we shall appear with Him in glory, that is, not only as pure and holy creatures, but as glorious and happy creatures. For Christ shall give unto them the same glory which the Father hath given Him, and this not only unto their souls, but also,
(2) Unto their bodies; for they shall be like unto Christ in heaven in their bodies.
3. The name of God and the Lamb is in their foreheads; that is,
(1) Their relation to God and the Lamb, and their conformity and likeness will then be open, evident and apparent, as that is which is upon the forehead.
(2) His name in their foreheads intimateth this unto us, that our likeness to God and the Lamb in heaven will be glory. Here it is grace, it is excellent, though it is most in the hidden man of the heart; but in heaven it not only is excellent, as it is here, but excellency shining and appearing openly upon them, in their foreheads.
(3) His name shall be in their foreheads doth intimate this to us, that, how great soever the glory of the saints in heaven shall be, it shall not be the same with the glory of God and the Lamb; it is only a likeness of it.
4. His name shall be in their foreheads intimateth to us that the glory, given unto the saints, manifesteth the glorious perfections of God and the Lamb; it manifests the name of God, that is, the glory of God and the Lamb.
II. Some considerations from whence it will appear what a considerable part of the happiness of the saints in heaven this likeness to God and the Lamb is.
1. If no more should be said but this, that it is a likeness to the blessed God and the glorious Mediator, to the utmost of our capacity it expresseth a happiness great above our present comprehension.
2. It must be an inconceivable happiness, seeing it is the final result and issue of the eternal wisdom and counsel, project and purpose of God, to give unto His people a happiness worthy of Himself to bestow, and such as should never make Him ashamed to be called their God.
3. The greatness of this happiness appeareth from the consideration of the stupendous means made use of to accomplish it. It is an end brought about, by no less a mean than the incarnation and whole mediation of the Son of God.
4. This is the end of all the wishes, endeavours and expectations of the people of God.
1. If, upon reflection, you find or suspect yourselves to be wholly unsuitable to this blessedness, apply yourselves to speedy, diligent and incessant endeavours to get the temper and disposition of your spirits changed and fitted thereto, by a begun likeness to God and the Lamb in holiness and purity. Strive to get His image and likeness deeply engraven upon your souls, by a work of regeneration and sanctification.
2. Labour not only after a likeness to God and the Lamb; but to let the world see it in your lives, and to scatter the beams of it in your conversations, for the enlightening a dark world; or, in the terms of our text, labour to have as much of the name of God and of the Lamb on your foreheads now, as can be.
(1) By word, confessing His name, His truths, and His ways, in this evil and adulterous generation.
(2) By deeds, in your endeavouring to be like Him in yourselves, especially in those graces and virtues, whereby you may commend Him and religion most unto strangers and enemies. (James Robe, M. D.)
Fuente: Biblical Illustrator Edited by Joseph S. Exell
Verse 3. No more curse] Instead of , curse, the best MSS., versions, c., read cursed person. As there shall be no more sinning against God, so there shall be no more curse of God upon the people for they shall be all his servants, and serve him. Our first parents came under the curse by sinning against their Maker in paradise; these shall never apostatize, therefore neither they nor the earth shall be cursed.
Fuente: Adam Clarke’s Commentary and Critical Notes on the Bible
And there shall be no more curse; nothing that is devoted to the devil, , no accursed person, or thing.
But the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; the presence of a holy and pure God will prevent and forbid that.
And his servants shall serve him; it is a place in which God alone shall be served by his own servants.
Fuente: English Annotations on the Holy Bible by Matthew Poole
3. no more curseof which theearnest shall be given in the millennium (Zec14:11). God can only dwell where the curse and its cause, thecursed thing sin (Jos 7:12), areremoved. So there follows rightly, “But the throne of God and ofthe Lamb (who redeemed us from the curse, Gal 3:10;Gal 3:13) shall be in it.”Compare in the millennium, Eze48:35.
serve himwith worship(Re 7:15).
Fuente: Jamieson, Fausset and Brown’s Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible
And there shall be no more curse,…. As there was in Eden, from whence a river came, and where was a tree of life; for there the serpent cursed for his concern in man’s transgression, and the earth on account of it; but in this new earth, and paradisiacal state, and on the inhabitants of it, will be no curse; here will be no sin, the cause of the curse, nor pain and sorrow, nor death, corporeal, spiritual, and eternal, or the wrath of God, the several effects of sin, and parts of the curse; the curse of the law cannot here take place; for, besides the righteousness of Christ, which all in the new Jerusalem will be clothed with, and so be blessed and secure from the curse, they will be perfectly pure and holy in nature, and constant and complete in their obedience and service; they will always do the will of God on earth, as it is done in heaven; no accursed person, or anyone devoted to ruin and destruction, will be here; not the old serpent, the devil, he will be shut up in the bottomless pit; nor the blasphemous beast and false prophet, they will be taken and cast alive into the lake of fire before this time comes; no cursing, or accursed men will dwell here; not such who curse themselves, or the saints, or such who will be bid to depart as cursed, these will be destroyed in the general conflagration; nor will there be any anathema denounced against any person, for here wilt be no introducers of another Gospel, nor any that do not love the Lord Jesus Christ; nor will any be an anathema, or accursed from Christ, excommunicated from the church of Christ, for that will have no members deserving of that; none but what are pure and undefiled; see Zec 14:11
but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; God himself will be there, his tabernacle will be among men; the name of this city will be “Jehovah Shammah”, the Lord is here; the pure and spotless Lamb of God, the Son of the Blessed, will be here, whose presence will make it an happy state; these will both have their throne, or seat, here; they will sit on one throne, being the one God over all, blessed for ever; this city will be the city of the great King, where his royal glory and majesty will be most illustriously displayed, and which will greatly make for the felicity of this state, and secure it from the curse:
and his servants shall serve him: either the angels, who are ministering spirits, and the servants of God and of the Lamb; or the ministers of the Gospel, the servants of the most high God; or rather all the true followers of Christ, who shall be where he is, and “serve him”: both God and the Lamb, who are one in nature, though two distinct persons; wherefore serving them both is not serving two masters: and the service the saints will be employed in, in this state, will not be preaching the word, or attending on the ministry of it, or subjecting to ordinances, which will now be at an end, but celebrating the praises of God, adoring the perfections of his nature, ascribing the glory of every providence, and of all salvation to him, and magnifying the riches of his grace; and this they will perform in the most spiritual, fervent, and perfect manner, and that continually; see Re 7:15.
Fuente: John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible
There shall be no curse any more ( ). No other example of has been found outside of the Didache XVI. 5, though the verb occurs in Mt 26:74, meaning to curse, while we have in Mr 14:71 in the same sense. It may be a syncopated form of . The usual (curse) occurs in 1Cor 16:22; Gal 1:8; Rom 9:3. For with = see 21:27.
Shall do him service ( ). Future active of , linear idea, “shall keep on serving.” See 7:15 for present active indicative of this same verb with the dative as here, picturing the worship of God in heaven. See 27:1 for “the throne of God and of the Lamb.”
Fuente: Robertson’s Word Pictures in the New Testament
Shall serve  . See on Luk 1:74. Rev., do Him service. The word originally means to serve for hire. In the New Testament, of the worship or service of God in the use of the rites intended for His worship. It came to be used by the Jews in a very special sense, to denote the service rendered to Jehovah by the Israelites as His peculiar people. See Rom 9:4; Act 26:7; Heb 9:1, 6. Hence the significant application of the term to Christian service by Paul in Phi 3:3.
Fuente: Vincent’s Word Studies in the New Testament
1) “And there shall be no more curse,” (kai pan katathema ouk estai eti) “And no curse will be (or exist) any longer; judgment curses caused by sin shall fall no more upon men, the earth, sea, air, heaven, or any of her creatures, Gen 3:15-19; Zec 14:11; Rom 8:19-23; The curse from all creatures is gone because Jesus was made a curse for them, Gal 3:10; Gal 3:13; 1Pe 2:24.
2) “But the throne of God and the Lamb,” (kai ho thronos tou theou) “And the throne of God,” (kai arniou) “and (the throne) of the Lamb,” of Jesus Christ, 1Co 15:24-28; Rev 3:21.
3) “Shall be in it,” (en aute estai) “Will be (will exist) in it,” in the holy city, New Jerusalem, upon the new earth, Rev 21:3; Rev 21:23. This throne shall be the eternal center of the new heaven and earth during the reign of eternal righteousness.
4) “And his servants shall serve him,” (kai hoi douloi autou latreusousin auto) “And his servants shall render worshipful service to him,” Rev 7:15. The redeemed shall serve him and the angels of glory shall serve him in the Holy White City with its streets of gold, and gates of pearl, walls of jasper, and twelve foundations of very precious stones, where God and the Lamb are the light and temple of it; Mat 4:10; Luk 4:8.
Fuente: Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary
(3) And there shall be no more curse . . . Better, And every curse, or accursed thing, shall not be any longer. There may be an allusion to Jos. 7:12; there is certainly a borrowing, of language from Zechariah (Zec. 14:11). All accursed things are removed, and with them passes the curse. The blessing of Gods presence, and the blessing of Gods rule take the place of the ascendancy of evil over the groaning creation (Rom. 8:22). The throne of God and the Lamb shall be in it. The song of the Psalmist receives new force: the Lord reigneth: let the earth rejoice; let the multitudes of the isles be glad thereof; the accursed things, even all things that offend, are gathered out of the kingdom (Mat. 13:41).
Fuente: Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers (Old and New Testaments)
(3, 4) And his servants shall serve him . . .We turn from the city to the inhabitants. They are described as serving Him, seeing Him, and resembling Him. They shall serve Him: they shall offer Him the service of the priesthoodthe word employed is that used of temple service. The word translated servants is the word which the Apostles used when they spoke of themselves as slaves of Jesus Christ, owned as well as employed by Him (Php. 1:1; 2Pe. 2:1; Jud. 1:1). Their service here was discharged in the midst of discouragements and in difficulty; and they walked by faith, not by sight. Now the servants shall serve without hindrance or opposition, and they shall be encouraged by His immediate presence. They shall see his face; they shall know even as they are known (1Co. 13:12); they shall see Him as He is. No wonder, then, that he should add (and observe that the thought is exactly that which occurs in the First Epistle of St. John (1Jn. 3:2): His name shall be in (or, on) their foreheads. The name stands for what God is in holiness and righteousness, purity and love. The name on the forehead indicates their resemblance to their Master. On earth the servants of God are changed from glory to glory into the same image (2Co. 3:18). They aim to be perfect, as their Father in heaven is perfect (Mat. 5:48); but when they see God as He is they shall be like Him. His name is on their foreheads, for they behold His face: they wake up after His likeness, and they are satisfied (Psa. 17:15). There is a divine paradox in the double truth: those who are like God see Him, and those who see Him are like Him (Mat. 5:8). There will come a time when the service of God shall be the beholding of Him; and though in these stormy seas, where we are now driven up and down, His Spirit is dimly seen on the face of the waters, and we are left to cast anchors out of the stern and wish for the day, that day will come, when, with the evangelist on the crystal and stable sea, all the creatures of God shall be full of eyes within, and there shall be no more curse, but His servants shall serve Him, and shall see His face (Ruskin).
Fuente: Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers (Old and New Testaments)
3. No more curse The primal curse of death upon man is removed by the river and tree of immortality.
Fuente: Whedon’s Commentary on the Old and New Testaments
‘And there will be no curse any more, and the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him, and they will see his face and his name will be on their foreheads.’
The curse that resulted from man’s first failure (see Genesis 3) has been removed. All is now restored. Again, as constantly, we are reminded that the Lamb is on God’s throne, even as glorified man, for He partakes of the essential essence and glory of God. His servants will worship Him (compare Rev 7:15 where the same verb is used).
‘They shall see His face.’ This was something which no man could do and live (Exo 33:20). But now the people of God have been made perfect and there is nothing to prevent their seeing the glory of His face. They have been made like Him and they see Him as He is (see 1Jn 3:2; compare Psa 17:15). To see the king’s face, which involved direct access into his presence, was on earth a privilege for the very view exceptionally important people (Est 1:14 compare 2Sa 14:24; 2Sa 14:28; 2Sa 14:32), but here it is for all His people.
‘His name will be on their foreheads’ – a sign that they are forever His (see Rev 3:12). The High Priest bore the name of Yahweh on his forehead as ‘holiness unto Yahweh’ (Exo 39:30-31; compare Jer 2:3)
Fuente: Commentary Series on the Bible by Peter Pett
(3) And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him: (4) And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads. (5) And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign forever and ever.
The first of these verses becomes a blessed confirmation, that Christ hath redeemed his Church from the curse of the law, being made a curse for her, Gal 3:13 . Here, in this triumphant state of the Church, Christ reigning with his saints, nothing can enter to corrupt. No serpent, for the devil, who entered the first paradise of Eden, is at this time, when Christ is with his Church, in hell. No beast, nor false prophet, for they are both in the lake of brimstone and fire. Hence there can be no more curse. Oh! the blessedness of this Church of God! And, as a further confirmation, God’s people are sealed. God’s throne, and the throne of the Lamb, is in it. God enlightens it. They see his face. And he sees theirs, and his name is in their foreheads. And it is again repeated, God and the Lord are their light.
Fuente: Hawker’s Poor Man’s Commentary (Old and New Testaments)
3 And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him:
Ver. 3. And there shall be no more curse ] No casting out by excommunication; no cause of any such thing.
Of God and of the Lamb ] He and the Father are one, Joh 10:30 . See Trapp on “ Joh 10:30 “
Fuente: John Trapp’s Complete Commentary (Old and New Testaments)
, a corrupt and rare form of = anything accursed (lit. a curse itself, Did. Rev 16:8 ). i.e. , abstract for concrete, here = “a cursed person,” so Ps. Sol. 17:20 f. , unfettered and unspoiled devotion. The interruption of the daily service and sacrifice in Jerusalem on 17th July, 70 A.D., had sent a painful thrill to the heart of all who cherished the ideal of Act 26:7 . No fear of that in the new Jerusalem!
Fuente: The Expositors Greek Testament by Robertson
THE TRIPLE RAYS WHICH MAKE THE WHITE LIGHT OF HEAVEN
One may well shrink from taking words like these for a text. Their lofty music will necessarily make all words of ours seem thin and poor. The great things about which they are concerned are so high above us, and known to us by so few channels, that usually he who says least speaks most wisely about them. And yet it cannot be but wholesome if in a reverent spirit of no vain curiosity, we do try to lay upon our hearts the impressions of the great, though they be dim, truths which gleam from these words. I know that to talk about a future life is often a most sentimental, vague, unpractical form of religious contemplation, but there is no reason at all why it should be so. I wish to try now very simply to bring out the large force and wonderful meaning of the words which I have ventured to read. They give us three elements of the perfect state of man – Service, Contemplation, Likeness. These three are perfect and unbroken.
I. The first element, then, in the perfect state of man is perfect activity in the service of God. Now the words of our text are remarkable in that the two expressions for ‘servant’ and ‘serve’ are not related to one another in the Greek, as they are in the English, but are two quite independent words; the former meaning literally ‘a slave,’ and the latter being exclusively confined in Scripture to one kind of service. It would never be employed for any service that a man did for a man; it is exclusively a religious word, and means only the service that men do for God, whether in specific acts of so-called worship or in the wider worship of daily life. So that if we have not here the notion of priesthood, we have one very closely approximating towards it; and the representation is that the activity of the redeemed and perfected man, in the highest ideal condition of humanity, is an activity which is all worship, and is directed to the revealed God in Christ.
That, then, is the first thought that we have to look at. Now it seems to me to be a very touching confession of the weariness and unsatisfactoriness of life in general that the dream of the future which has unquestionably the most fascination for most men, is that which speaks of it as Rest. The religion which has the largest number of adherents in the world – the religion of the Buddhists – formally declares existence to be evil, and preaches as the highest attainable good, something which is scarcely distinguishable from annihilation. And even though we do not go so far as that, what a testimony it is of burdened hearts and mournful lives, and work too great for the feeble limits of our powers, that the most natural thought of a blessed future is as rest! It is easy to laugh at people for singing hymns about sitting upon green and flowery mounts, and counting up the labors of their feet: but oh! it is a tragical thought that whatsoever shape a life has taken, howsoever full of joy and sunshine and brightness it may be, deep down in the man there is such an experience as that the one thing he wants is repose and to get rid of all the trouble and toil.
Now this representation of my text is by no means contradictory, but it is complementary, of that other one. The deepest rest and the highest activity coincide. They do so in God who ‘worketh hitherto’ in undisturbed tranquility; they may do so in us. The wheel that goes round in swiftest rotation seems to be standing still. Work at its intensest, which is pleasurable work, and level to the capacity of the doer, is the truest form of rest. In vacuity there are stings and torment; it is only in joyous activity which is not pushed to the extent of strain and unwelcome effort that the true rest of man is to be found. And the two verses in this Book of Revelation about this matter, which look at first sight to be opposed to each other, are like the two sides of a sphere, which unite and make the perfect whole. ‘They rest from their labors’ ‘They rest not, day nor night.’
From their labors – yes; from toil disproportioned to faculty – yes! from unwelcome work – yes! from distraction and sorrow – yes! But from glad praise and vigorous service – never! day nor night. And so with the full apprehension of the sweetness and blessedness of the tranquil Heaven, we say: It is found only there, where His servants serve Him. Thus the first thought that is presented here is that of an activity delivered from all that makes toil on earth burdensome and unwelcome; and which, therefore, is coincident with the deepest and most perfect repose.
It may seem strange to think of a blessed life which has no effort in it, for effort is the very salt and spice of life here below, and one can scarcely fancy the perfect happiness of a spirit which never has the glow of warmth that comes from exercise in overcoming difficulties. But perhaps effort and antagonism and strain and trial have done their work on us when they have moulded our characters, and when ‘school is over we burn the rod’; and the discipline of joy may evolve nobler graces of character than ever the discipline of sorrow did. At all events, we have to think of work which also is repose, and of service in which is unbroken tranquility.
Then there is further involved in this first idea, the notion of an outer world, on which and in which to work; and also the notion of the resurrection of the body, in which the active spirit may abide, and through which it may work.
Perhaps it may be that they who sleep in Jesus, in the period between the shuffling off of this mortal coil and the breaking of that day when they are raised again from the dead, are incapable of exertion in an outer sphere. Perhaps, it may be, that by reason of the absence of that glorified body of the Resurrection, they sleep in Jesus in the sense that they couch at the Shepherd’s feet within the fold until the morning comes, when He leads them out to new pastures. It may be. At all events, this we may be sure of, that if it be so they have no desires in advance of their capacities; and of this also I think we may be sure, that whether they themselves can come into contact with an external universe or not, Christ is for them in some measure what the body is to us here now, and the glorified body will be hereafter; that being absent from the body they are present with the Lord, and that He is as it were the Sensorium by which they are brought into contact with and have a knowledge of external things, so that they may rest and wait and have no work to do, and have no effort to put forth, and yet be conscious of all that befalls the loved ones here below, may know them in their affliction, and not be untouched by their tears.
But all that is a dim region into which we have not any need to look. What I emphasize is, the service of Heaven means rest, and the service of Heaven means an outer universe on which, and a true bodily frame with which, to do the work which is delight.
The next point is this: such service must be in a far higher sphere and a far nobler fashion than the service of earth. That is in accordance with the analogy of the Divine dealings. God rewards work with more work. The powers that are trained and exercised and proved in a narrower region are lifted to the higher. As some poor peasant-girl, for instance, whose rich voice has risen up in the harvest-field only for her own delight and that of a handful of listeners, heard by some one who detects its sweetness, may be carried away to some great city, and charm kings with her tones, so the service done in some little corner of this remote, rural province of God’s universe, apprehended by Him, shall be rewarded with a wider platform, and a nobler area for work. Thou hast been faithful in a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things.’ God sends forth His children to work as apprentices here, and when they are ‘out of their time,’ and have ‘got a trade,’ He calls them home, not to let their faculties rest unused, but to practice on a larger theatre what they have learned on earth.
One more point must be noticed, viz., that the highest type of Heaven’s service must be service for other people. The law for Heaven can surely not be more selfish than the law for earth, and that is, ‘He that is chiefest amongst you let him be your servant.’ The law for the perfect man can surely not be different from the law for the Master, and the law for Him is, ‘Even Christ pleased not Himself.’ The perfection of the child can surely not be different from the perfection of the Father, and the perfection of the Father is: ‘He maketh His sun to “shine,” and His blessings to come – on the unthankful and on the good.’
So then the highest service for man is the service for others; – how, where, or whom, we cannot tell. We too may be ministering spirits, sent forth to minister Heb 1:14, but at all events not on ourselves can our activities centre; and not in self -culture can be the highest form of our service to God.
The last point about this first matter is simply this – that this highest form of human activity is all to be worship; all to be done in reference to Him; all to be done in submission to Him. The will of the man in His work is to be so conformed to the will of God as that, whatsoever the hand on the great dial points to, that the hand on the little dial shall point to also. Obedience is joy and rest. To know and to do His will is Heaven. It is Heaven on earth in so far as we partially attain to it, and when with enlarged powers and all imperfections removed, and in a higher sphere, and without interruptions we do His commandments, hearkening to the voice of His word, then the perfect state will have come. Then shall we enter into the liberty of the glory of the children of God, when, as His slaves, we serve Him in the unwearied activities done for Him, which make the worship of Heaven.
II. Next, look at the second of the elements here: – ‘They shall see His face.’
Now that expression ‘seeing the face of God’ in Scripture seems to me to be employed in two somewhat different ways, according to one of which the possibility of seeing the face is affirmed, and according to the other of which it is denied.
The one may be illustrated by the Divine word to Moses: ‘Thou canst not see My face. There shall no man see Me and live.’ The other may be illustrated by the aspiration and the confidence of one of the psalms: ‘As for me, I shall behold Thy face in righteousness.’
A similar antithesis, which is apparently a contradiction, may be found in setting side by side the words of our Saviour: ‘Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God,’ with the words of the Evangelist: ‘No man hath seen God at any time.’ I do not think that the explanation is to be found altogether in pointing to the difference between present and possible future vision, but rather, I think, the Bible teaches what reason would also teach: that no corporeal vision of God is ever possible; still further, that no complete comprehension and knowledge of Him is ever possible, and, as I think further, that no direct knowledge of, or contact with, God in Himself is possible for finite man, either here or yonder. And the other side lies in such words as these, which I have already quoted: ‘Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.’ ‘As through a glass darkly, but then face to face.’ Where is the key to the apparent contradiction? Here, I think. Jesus Christ is the manifest God, in Him only do men draw near to the hidden Deity, the King Invisible, who dwelleth in the light that is inaccessible.
Here on earth we see by faith, and yonder there will be a vision, different in kind, most real, most immediate and direct, not of the hidden Godhood in itself, but of the revealed Godhood manifest in Jesus Christ, whom in His glorified corporeal Manhood we shall perceive, with the organs of our glorified body; whom in His Divine beauty we shall know and love with heart and mind, in knowledge direct, immediate, far surpassing in degree, and different in kind from, the knowledge of faith which we have of Him here below. But the infinite Godhood that lies behind all revelations of Deity shall remain as it hath been through them all – the King invisible, whom no man hath seen or can see. They shall see His face in so far as they shall hold communion with, and through their glorified body have the direct knowledge of Christ, the revealed Deity.
Whether there be anything more, I know not; I think there is not; but this I am sure of, that the law for Heaven and the law for earth alike are, ‘He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father.’
But there is another point I would touch upon in reference to this second thought of our text, viz., its connection with the previous representation, ‘They shall serve Him’ – that is work in an outer sphere; ‘they shall see His face’ – that is contemplation. These two, the life of work and the life of devout communion – the Martha and the Mary of the Christian experience – are antagonistic here below, and it is hard to reconcile their conflicting, fluctuating claims and to know how much to give to the inward life of gazing upon Christ, and how much to the outward life of serving Him. But, says my text, the two shall be blended together. ‘His servants shall serve Him,’ nor in all their activity shall they lose the vision of His face. His servants ‘shall see His face’; nor in all the still blessedness of their gaze upon Him shall they slack the diligence of the unwearied hands, or the speed of the willing feet. The Rabbis taught that there were angels who serve, and angels who praise, but the two classes meet in the perfected man, whose services shall be praise, whose praise shall be service. They go forth to do His will, yet are ever in the House of the Lord. They work and gaze; they gaze and work. Resting they serve, and serving they rest; perpetual activity and perpetual vision are theirs. ‘They serve Him, and see His face.’
III. The last element is, ‘His name shall be in their foreheads.’ That is, as I take it – a manifest likeness to the Lord whom they serve is the highest element in the perfect state of redeemed men.
We hear a good deal in this Book of the Revelation about writing the names and numbers of persons and of powers upon men’s faces and foreheads; as for instance, you remember we read about the ‘number of the beast’ written upon his worshippers, and about ‘the name of the new Jerusalem, and the name of my God ‘being written as a special reward, upon him that overcomes.’ The metaphor, as I suppose, is taken from the old, cruel practice of branding a slave with the name of his master. And so the primary idea of this expression: ‘His slaves shall bear His name upon their foreheads,’ is that their ownership shall be conspicuously visible to all that look.
But there is more than that in it. How is the ownership to be made visible? By His name being in their foreheads. What is ‘His name ‘? Universally in Scripture ‘His name’ is His revealed character, and so we come to this: the perfect men shall be known to belong to God in Christ, because they are like Him. The ownership shall be proved by the likeness, and that likeness shall no longer be hidden in their hearts, no longer be difficult to make out, so blurred and obliterated the letters of the name by the imperfections of their lives and their selfishness and sin; but it shall flame in their foreheads, plain as the inscription on the high priest’s mitre that declared him to be consecrated to the Lord.
And so that lovely and blessed thought is here of a perfect likeness in moral character, at all events, and a wonderful approximation and resemblance in other elements of human nature to the glorified humanity of Jesus Christ our Lord, which shall be the token that we are His.
Oh! what a contrast to the partial ownership, proved to be partial by our partial resemblance here on earth! We say, as Christian men and women, that we bear His name. Is it written so that men can read it, or is it like the name of some person traced in letters of gas jets over a shop-front – half blown out by every gust of wind that comes? Is that the way in which His name is written on your heart and character? My brother, a possibility great and blessed opens before us of a nobler union with Him, a closer approximation, a clearer vision, a perfecter resemblance. ‘We shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is’!
One last word. These three elements, service, contemplation, likeness; these three are not different in kind from the elements of a Christian man’s life here. You can enjoy them all sitting in these pews; in the bustle and the hurry of your daily life, you can have every one of them. If you do not enjoy them here you will never have them yonder. If you have never served anybody but yourself how shall death make you His servant? If all the days of your life you have turned away your ear when He has been saying to you ‘Seek ye My face,’ what reason is there to expect that when death’s hammer smashes the glass through which you have seen darkly, ‘the steady whole of that awful face’ will be a pleasant sight to you? If all your life you have been trying, as some of you men and women, old and young, have been trying, and are trying now, to engrave the name of the beast upon your foreheads, what reason have you to expect that when you pass out of this life the foul signs shall disappear in a moment, and you will bear in your brow ‘the marks of the Lord Jesus’ in their stead? No! No! These things do not happen; you have got to begin here as you mean to end yonder. Trust Him here and you will see Him there. Serve Him here and you will serve Him yonder. Write His new Name upon your hearts, and when you pass from the imperfections of life you will bear His name in your foreheads.
And if you do not – I lay this upon the consciences of you all – if you do not you will see Christ; – and you will not like it! And you will bear, not the Image of the Heavenly, which is life, but the image of the earthy, which is death and hell.
Fuente: Expositions Of Holy Scripture by Alexander MacLaren
no more = no (App-105) longer.
curse. Greek. katanathema, or with the texts, katathema, an accursed thing. Compare Zec 14:11 (Septuagint anathema).
but = and.
serve. App-187and App-190.
Fuente: Companion Bible Notes, Appendices and Graphics
Rev 22:3. ) Thus comp. with other editions printed at Antwerp and Geneva, and with almost all the MSS. See App. Ed. ii.- , in it) This may possibly refer to the street: comp. Job 29:7, . But it refers to the city itself, as Rev 22:2, , of it: although in truth the throne will be in the most conspicuous place of the city.-, of Him) Where mention is made both of God and of the Lamb, the following relative, , of Him, has reference either to the Lamb, ch. Rev 6:17, also ch. Rev 1:1, Rev 20:6, because in these places there is ascribed to the Lamb, wrath, revelation, the kingdom: or it has reference to God, as in this passage, because the throne is more frequently ascribed to God; wherefore also, ch. Rev 11:15, the word , shall reign, refers to the Lord. It is not there said, they shall reign; nor is it said in any place, , of them, in the plural, on account of their intimate union. In the mention of the Lamb, there is an allusion also to God: in the mention of God, there is an allusion also to the Lamb.
 So AB. But Rec. Text, .-E.
Fuente: Gnomon of the New Testament
The throne of God and of the Lamb
‘The throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him’
In this last chapter of Revelation the Apostle John is describing the glory, bliss, and beauty of heavens eternal paradise. In verses three and four he shows us ‘the throne of God and of the Lamb.’ Wherever heaven is, whatever heaven is, in it ‘there shall be no more curse!’ In the old paradise, the garden of Eden, there was a river and a tree of life. But the paradise of God, which we shall inherit in the new creation, is infinitely better than Eden, for in the paradise of God, ‘there shall be no more curse!’ There shall be no curse there because there shall be no sin, the cause of the curse. There shall be no pain, sorrow, and death, the results of the curse. And there shall be no possibility of curse – No devil! No temptation! No weakness!
‘But the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it’
The name of the city of God is Jehovah-shammah, ‘the Lord is there!’ God, in the trinity of his blessed Persons, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, shall be there upon the throne of glory. And the Lamb, the sin-atoning Sacrifice, the Mediator, the Man Christ Jesus, shall be there upon the throne of glory. There is but one throne, for there is but one God. God and the Lamb are one (Joh 10:30; Col 2:10).
‘And his servants shall serve him’
The highest, most constant desire of Gods servants is that we may serve him. And this shall be our delight in heavens glory. In that blessed, eternal day we shall serve the Lord our God like the angels themselves, perfectly and perpetually. We shall worship him perfectly and perpetually. We shall do his will perfectly and perpetually. We shall glorify him perfectly and perpetually!
‘And they shall see his face’
We shall see the face of the triune God, in all the fullness, majesty, and spender of his brilliant glory, as we behold the face of the Lamb, the Lord Jesus Christ. All his saints shall see him as he is. When we see him, we shall be like him (1Jn 3:2). A) To see his face is to enjoy intimate, personal, familiar communion. B) To see his face is to have the largest possible discovery of his love. C) To see his face is to have him clearly and fully revealed. It is to know him. It is to dwell in perfect light. D) To see his face is to attain perfect satisfaction (Psa 17:15).
‘And his name shall be in their foreheads’
In that blessed, eternal day of heavenly glory, every child of God shall be known to all the universe as one of Gods elect. They shall all be owned of God, publicly owned, gloriously owned, delightfully owned, and eternally owned. Owned by the Father as the objects of his love. Owned by the Son as the purchase of his blood. Owned by the Spirit as the fruit of his grace. In these two verses the Holy Spirit shows us the glory that awaits those who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. Lift up the hands that hang down, strengthen those feeble knees, keep your eye upon the prize that awaits you, and run with patience the race that is set before you. Particularly as you run your race, as you endure hardness here, as you suffer adversity here, as you fight and war with sin, satan, and the world, I encourage you to fix your eye of faith upon ‘the throne of God and of the Lamb.’ Nothing is more comforting and encouraging to Gods people in this world than the realization of our Saviors Mediatorial reign over all things.
Behold the Lamb of God
We can never see and know God until we behold the Lamb of God. And we can never get a proper view of the throne of God until we behold the Lamb of God. So, in all things spiritual, the first order of business is to behold the Lamb of God (Joh 1:29). Before the world began God ordained that his dear Son would come into this world to die as an innocent victim, as a Lamb for the atonement of his peoples sins (Rev 13:8; 1Pe 1:18-21). God has always had the Lamb before his eye. Everything he has ever done, is doing, or shall hereafter do, is done for the sake of the Lamb.
In all the Old Testament Scriptures, the central figure in the revelation Of God was the lamb of sacrifice. The first blood shed in the world was the blood of a lamb (Gen 3:21). Abel offered God the blood of a lamb (Gen 4:1-5). Abraham offered a lamb in the place of Isaac upon the mount (Gen 22:8-14). When the judgment of God fell upon Egypt, Israel was saved by the blood of a lamb (Exo 12:1-14). The prophet Isaiah vividly described the suffering and death of the Lord Jesus Christ as the substitutionary, sin-atoning Lamb of God (Isa 53:1-12). When John the Baptist pointed to the Lord Jesus Christ and said, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world,’ his disciples knew exactly what he was saying. He was saying, ‘Behold, the Redeemer of whom God in the prophets spoke!’
The Lord Jesus Christ, as the Lamb of God, has taken away the sin of the world. The sins of Gods elect throughout the whole world were at one time imputed to him. And he has effectually taken away their sins.
The world here is the world of Gods elect. Everybody in this world is redeemed, justified, and saved, for the Lamb of God took their sins away. When the word ‘world’ is used in connection with the love and grace of God, or redemption, salvation, intercession, and life in and by Christ, it is always to be understood in this sense (Joh 3:16; 1Jn 2:1-2; 1Jn 3:16; 1Jn 4:9-10). We know that because God plainly asserts that he does not love, has not redeemed, and will not save some people in the world (Psa 7:11; Rom 9:11-18). The Lord Jesus refused even to pray for the reprobate of the world (Joh 17:9; Joh 17:20). It is utterly foolish to imagine that he died to redeemed those for whom he would not pray, and blasphemous to assert that he died to redeem and save those who yet perish under the wrath of God. The Son of God did not die in vain.
Christ has put away the sins of Gods elect by the sacrifice of himself (Heb 9:26; 1Pe 2:24; 1Pe 3:18; 1Pe 4:1). He put our sins away by voluntarily suffering the wrath of God to the full satisfaction of justice, dying as the Lamb of God upon the altar of God, by the hand of God, for the people of God. ‘Behold, the Lamb of God!’ Jesus Christ is the Lamb appointed by God, anointed by God, approved by God, accepted by God, and the Lamb who is God! To behold the Lamb of God is to trust the Lord Jesus Christ as the Lamb of sacrifice and atonement, by whose merit alone we have acceptance with God.
Behold the Lamb upon his throne
Verse three speaks of ‘the throne of God and of the Lamb.’ There is but one throne. Yet it is equally and fully the throne of God and of the Lamb, because God and the Lamb are One. The Lord Jesus Christ sits upon the throne in heaven by lawful right, both as God and as the Lamb. We have seen this many times in our study of Revelation; but it is one of those blessed facts of our faith that needs to be constantly brought to our attention.
As God, Jesus Christ always sat upon the throne of universal sovereignty, dominion, and power. He is very God of very God, co-eternal, co-equal with the Father in all things. He possessed the glory of Divinity from eternity, before ever the earth was made (Joh 1:1-3). But now, God sits upon his throne in the person of the sin-atoning, Mediatorial Lamb, the God-man, Jesus Christ. By his obedience to God as our Mediator and the merit of his blood as our sin-atoning Lamb, Jesus Christ has earned the right to rule the universe forever as a Man (Joh 17:2; Rom 14:9). He is to Gods elect what Joseph was to his people in Egypt (Gen 41:43-44). Our Savior rules over all creation (Eph 1:22), all the details of providence, all his enemies and ours (2Pe 2:1), and all the vast realms of grace (Psa 68:18-20), for the salvation of his elect (Joh 17:2). His rule and dominion is unlimited, sovereign, and everlasting (Dan 4:35-37).
Behold the throne of God and of the Lamb
Though it is the throne of God, it is none the less the throne of the Lamb. And though it is the throne of the Lamb, it is none the less the throne of God. What does that mean? It is a throne of august majesty, perfect holiness, and strict justice. It is a throne of infinite mercy and sovereign grace (Heb 4:16). It is an approachable, accessible throne. It is a throne of absolute safety and security. It is an appealing, alluring, charming throne. Behold the throne of God and of the Lamb with delightful, anxious hope and anticipation (Rev 4:9-10). ‘The throne of God and of the Lamb,’ above all other things, is what draws our hearts to heaven. Ever behold the Lamb upon the throne, and be at peace.
Fuente: Discovering Christ In Selected Books of the Bible
The Perfect Life
His servants shall do him service; and they shall see his face; and his name shall be on their foreheads.Rev 22:3-4.
This promise or prophecy is the last and the best in the Bible. It seems purposely reserved to be the crowning point. For, to be with God, to be near God, to see God, to know God, to enjoy God, to be like Godthese blessings are all subordinate to the blessing of serving God.
It is a promise not merely for a far-off heaven, but for a present practical earth. Ever since Jesus stood in the carpenters shop at Nazareth, the prosaic place of honest labour has become holy ground. Experience has taught us that there are certain fundamentals of character which cannot be learnt from pleasure or from pain, but only from work.
Often indeed it is as useful as it is delightful to look through such revelations upward; to use the Divine promisenot our mere aspirations, but the promiseas the means by which thought may reach toward the better world. Our vision will be but dim, at the clearest; but light from that pure eternity, even shed through clouds, can bring with it a strange reality of peace, and hope, and courage. So, when the two Pilgrims in the great Allegory looked from the Delectable Mountains through the perspective-glass of the Shepherds, their hands indeed did shake, yet they thought they saw something like the gate, and also some of the glory of the place; and they went forward singing on their way. But more often it is our duty and our safety not so much to gaze up into heaven as thoughtfully to remember that we pass through nature to eternity. To us, we may be sure, if the path thitherward is not a reality, the brightness of the end is but a dream.
Heavenly bliss is no arbitrary beginning of existence over again. It is the carrying out into endless issues of the process which grace begins on this side the grave. It is a joyful harvest reaped in the sunlight of an eternal summer; but it is reaped off the very fields which were ploughed and sown beneath the clouds and showers of time.1 [Note: H. C. G. Moule, Christ is All, 214.]
The text gives three elements of the perfected lifeService, Vision, Likeness.
His servants shall do him service.
To understand the precise force of this statement, one must observe that the two expressions for servant and serve are not related to one another in Greek as they are in English, but are two quite independent words, the former meaning literally a slave, and the latter being exclusively confined in Scripture to one kind of service. It would never be employed for any service that a man did for a man; it is a religious word, and means only the service that men do for God, whether in specific acts of so-called worship or in the wider worship of daily life.
1. The highest life is a life of service. In heaven itself there is no emancipation from the bonds of God. The holy nations are eternally bound, in absolute obligation, to the will of God and of the Lamb. It is no part of the Creators promise to raise or to educate the creature to independence, to self-dependence. That could not be, without a profound and fatal contradiction. The created soul cannot be the basis of its own being; how could it be the source of its own joy and power, or the law of its own eternity? We read what is but likely when we read that the nearer and the clearer is the sight of the Creator granted to the creature, the better the creature recognizes the blessedness of self-surrender; the nearer the approach, the more entire the service.
I used as a child to pore over the Apocalypse, which I thought by far the most beautiful and absorbing of all the books of the Bible; it seemed full of rich and dim pictures, things which I could not interpret and did not wish to interpret, the shining of clear gem-like walls, lonely riders, amazing monsters, sealed books, all of which took perfectly definite shape in the childish imagination. The consequence is that I can no more criticize it than I could criticize old tapestries or pictures familiar from infancy. They are there, just so, and any difference of form is inconceivable. In one point, however, the strange visions have come to hold for me an increased grandeur; I used to think of much of it as a sort of dramatic performance, self-consciously enacted for the benefit of the spectator; but now I think of it as an awful and spontaneous energy of spiritual life going on, of which the prophet was enabled to catch a glimpse. Those voices crying day and night, the new song that was sung before the throne, the cry of Come and seethese were but part of a vast and urgent business, which the prophet was allowed to overhear. It is not a silent place, that highest heaven, of indolence and placid peace, but a scene of fierce activity and the clamour of mighty voices.1 [Note: A. C. Benson, Joyous Gard, 119.]
2. The ideal life, though full of activity, knows the truest rest. There is a rest which is mere inactionthe quiet of the stone, the stillness of the grave, the exhaustion of a spent and feeble nature. But there is a nobler rest than this. There is rest in health; there is rest in the musical repose of exquisitely balanced powers; there is rest to the desiring faculties when they find the thing desired; there is rest in the rapture of congenial employment; rest in the flow of joyful strength; rest in the swift glide of the stream when it meets with no impediment. Such is the rest of the glorifiedperfect beings in a perfect world, rejoicing in their native element, having no weakness within, and no resisting force without, to check the outflow and expression of their loving natures; their activity, therefore, being easy, natural, and necessary as light is to the sun, and fragrance to the flowers of springactivity to them is rest.
Stagnation is as incompatible with the life that is lived in the heavenly city as it is with true life here. To represent heaven as a place of rest merely is to present it as a place where men would be less truly men than before. Peace and fellowship with God do not exclude activity; rather must they stimulate it.
I count that heaven itself
Is only work to surer issues.
Heaven means the bringing to maturity and perfection of those powers and energies which are only partially developed here. His servants shall do him service: in love without a grain of selfishness, in faith without a spasm of doubt, in knowledge without a shadow of uncertainty. All those instincts immature, all those purposes unsure, which we recognize in ourselves or have guessed in others, find their full development, their completion, when that which is in part is done away.
What here is faithfully begun
Shall be completed, not undone.
The deepest rest and the highest activity coincide. They do so in God who worketh hitherto in undisturbed tranquillity; they may do so in us. The wheel that goes round in swiftest rotation seems to be standing still. Work at its intensest, if it is pleasurable work, and level with the capacity of the doer, is the truest form of rest. In vacuity there are stings and torment; it is only in joyous activity which is not pushed to the extent of strain and unwelcome effort that the true rest of man is to be found. And the two verses in the Book of Revelation about this matter, which look at first sight to be opposed to each other, are like the two sides of a sphere, which unite and make the perfect whole. They rest from their labours. They rest not, day nor night.
Whatever may be the inability, in this present life, to mingle the full enjoyment of the Divine works with the full discharge of every practical duty, and confessedly in many cases this must be, let us not attribute the inconsistency to any indignity of the faculty of contemplation, but to the sin and the suffering of the fallen state, and the change of order from the keeping of the garden to the tilling of the ground. We cannot say how far it is right or agreeable with Gods will, while men are perishing round about us; while grief and pain, and wrath, and impiety, and death, and all the powers of the air, are working wildly and evermore, and the cry of blood going up to heaven, that any of us should take hand from the plough; but this we know, that there will come a time when the service of God shall be the beholding of Him; and though, in these stormy seas where we are now driven up and down, His Spirit is dimly seen on the face of the waters, and we are left to cast anchors out of the stern, and wish for the day, that day will come, when, with the evangelists on the crystal and stable sea, all the creatures of God shall be full of eyes within, and there shall be no more curse, but His servants shall serve Him, and shall see His face.1 [Note: Ruskin, Modern Painters, pt. iii. sec. i. ch. xv. 12 (Works, iv. 217).]
3. This life is distinguished by variety. The blessed God delights in variety. In all His works, along with perfect order, there is eternal change. There is no mountain exactly like another mountain; there are no two trees whose boughs bend into the same network of interlacing lines; no two leaves alike; no two clouds alike; no two waves alike; but the face of nature is infinitely diversified. So also is the Church. You see no two men with like endowments; no two spheres marked by exact similarity. Each one has his own peculiar gift for his own peculiar station; some have to serve their Lord with the power of the pen, others with the power of the tongue; some by their poverty, others by their wealth; and each one has a distinct individuality of power and place and opportunity. We see Aaron with his eloquence, and Moses with his stammering speech. There is a Jeremiah to give the prophecy, and a Baruch to read it; a Paul to plant, and an Apollos to water. One man is a son of consolation, another a son of thunder. One servant has five talents, another two, and another one. As the Church in heaven is but the consummation of the Church on earth, we may infer that the law of variety which shines in this earthly exhibition of Christianity, and which prevails all over this region of existence, sheds its fascinations over paradise.
The highest service that we can render is to reveal God. It is true that at the best we can only reveal certain aspects of God to another. One by his sterling integrity gives a glimpse of the Divine righteousness; another by his purity, a glimpse of the Divine holiness; a third by his sympathy, some reflection of the Divine compassion; a fourth by his tenderness, some idea of the Divine love. Only once has there been a manthe Divine Manwho could reflect every aspect of the Divine perfections; for He was the brightness of His Fathers Glory, the express Image of His Person.
Here the whole Deity is seen,
Nor dares a creature guess,
Which of the glories brighter shone
The justice or the grace.
Because I live, saith our Lord, ye shall live also, and as living, be partakers in that which belongs to Life: freedom, expansion, and variety. It has been often remarked that each one among the branches of our Lords great family preserves some portion of His teaching more faithfully, reflects some aspect of His character more clearly, than is done by the rest, and passing from churches to individuals, we shall find that they who are in Christ will resemble each other in so much as they resemble Him; they will be like each other (as in earthly relationships) without being alike. Our natural characteristics are not obliterated; rather is the man renewed after Christs likeness restored to Himself, that excellent thing for which God made him at the first, the type from which he had consciously fallen away.1 [Note: Dora Greenwell, The Patience of Hope (ed. 1894), 139.]
Gladstone, Newman and Rainyperhaps the three most remarkable men of their day of those who really applied their minds to the matters of Christian faithwere all in agreement not only as to personal experience of religion but alsoif we except certain matters about the Church (and these are not in the Creed)as to the fundamental doctrines of Christianity. But the intellectual attitude of each of these minds to these doctrines was distinct. Gladstones mind was essentially and constitutionally orthodox and he was never critical regarding ecclesiastical dogma. Newmans was essentially and constitutionally sceptical, and the Churchs authoritative system was to him less the native home of his mind than its only refuge. Rainys mind was well content to lodge in Catholic forms of doctrine, but he neither denied the element of imperfection and difficulty in such forms nor was disturbed by it, for this only made him more deeply feel how great a thing it is to believe in God.2 [Note: P. Carnegie Simpson, The Life of Principal Rainy, i. 287.]
They shall see his face.
This is the highest station of honour in the service of God. To stand in the presence of the Great King, is the station of princes, the honour that belongs only to the royal family of heaven. In them the saying is fulfilled, He raiseth the poor out of the dust, and lifteth the needy out of the dunghill; that he may set him with princes, even with the princes of his people. Theirs is the dignity of a life at court, the court of the Ancient of Days.
1. The face is the index to the character and distinctive attributes of any being. In the poetry of the primitive ages, the face is another word for the character; and thoroughly to know it, and see into it, is thoroughly to know the real man. The face of God, let it be reverentially spoken, is the character of God; to see it is to know what God is. The greatest revelation of the Father, according to St. Pauls teaching, was in the face of the Redeemer. St. John here tells us that this is the face which Christs servants shall see by and by. But had not John seen this face already? Yes, in a sense. He had leaned upon the Masters bosom many a time, and looked up into that face, and if there was anything in Christs human nature that expressed to John His Divine glory and tenderness beyond all other, it was that countenance. But John also saw only as much of that face as to awaken within him an intense yearning to see more. We shall see him as he is, and they shall see his face, are his fond refrains. He practically says, It is true that for a brief time I saw His face, but there was so much of hiding in His incarnation, that I only saw dimly its deep meaning. By and by I shall see Him without any of the mist of His humanity that gathered round Him while on earth to lessen the brightness of His glory or the full beauty of His face.
For anyone who knew the previous life of the author, the fitness of her roadmender to present herself and her ideals was obvious. After all, he says for her in that opening chapter, what do we ask of life, here or indeed hereafter, but leave to serve, to live, to commune with our fellow-men and with ourselves, and from the lap of earth to look up into the face of God? That aspiration to service and communion had been in her no affair of mere aspiration: it had been a burning force, not a quietistic scheme. Yet always her heart and soul rested gladly in the lap of earth; and she turned her face towards the face of God as she discerned that vision everywhere, in earth and earths little ones, and in the face of Man 1:1 [Note: Michael Fairless: Her Life and Writings, 54.]
Day after day, O lord of my life, shall I stand before thee face to face? With folded hands, O lord of all worlds, shall I stand before thee face to face?
Under thy great sky in solitude and silence, with humble heart shall I stand before thee face to face?
In this laborious world of thine, tumultuous with toil and with struggle, among hurrying crowds shall I stand before thee face to face?
And when my work shall be done in this world, O King of kings, alone and speechless shall I stand before thee face to face?2 [Note: Rabindranath Tagore, Gitanjali, 70.]
It comforts me much, said Whitefield in the last sermon he ever preached in London, to think that, whenever God shall call for me, angels will carry me into the bosom of Abraham; but it comforts me more to think that, as soon as they lay hold of me, my first question to them will be, Where is my Master? Where is my Jesus? And that, after all my tossings and tumblings here, I shall be brought to see His face at last.3 [Note: L. Tyerman, The Life of the Rev. George Whitefield, ii. 562.]
Lord Houghtons notes of Carlyles talk contain the following: I would rather have one real glimpse of the young Jew face of Christ than see all the Rafflles in the world.4 [Note: The Life, Letters and Friendships of Richard Monckton Milnes, ii. 481.]
Men oft see God
But never know tis He till He has passed.5 [Note: Memoir and Correspondence of Coventry Patmore, ii. 60.]
2. The full vision is possible only to the pure in heart. The pure in heart shall see God. In harmony with this, St. John, who wrote the words of the text, wrote also, Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. Having thus predicted the blissful consummation of a perfect vision of Christ, St. John proceeds to show how this hope to see Him, and to be like Him, produces in those who cherish it the necessary fitness for such a vision and attainmentAnd every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure. Thus would be fulfilled in him the beatitude of the Saviour Himself, Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
Over the torno of the Convent of the Carmelites at Medina is Teresas beautiful advice to her nuns
Let your desire be to see God, your fear that you may lose Him; your grief that you do not enjoy Him, your joy in all which may lift you to Him. Thus you shall live in great peace.1 [Note: H. H. Colvill, Saint Teresa of Spain, 124.]
When St. Paul speaks of the glory of God in the Face of Jesus Christ, the context and its implied contrast show that he means the Face, and that his vision was a Face-to-face vision. And I think it was the vision of the Face that kept him so true to his message of the Cross. His question to the Galatians, Have not I seen Jesus Christ the Lord? means, inter alia, Have I not shut my eyes to all other seeing and turned away from all other vision? St. Pauls art was limited, he would paint figures; no, one figure; faces, no, one face. That one face. I love you, said General Gordon to a friend of mine (both are now on the other side), because you paint faces; I love you, Paul, we may say, because you paint one face, His. Even the Galatians would have given you their eyes for painting His. I would give you mine if I could see with yours.2 [Note: J. Rendel Harris, The Sufferings and the Glory (1914), 138.]
3. The vision becomes clearer through service. We learn to know our friend, not only by conversation and correspondence, but still more by work. It is when we receive a note from him, asking us to come up and help him in his days duties, that we feel not only honoured by the request, but delighted with the prospect of getting that further insight into his character which a share in his work will certainly give. Perhaps the invitation is to be his secretary, and we shall then see how he bears himself in relation with others; or his messenger, when his mind will be laid open to us in the secrets he confides; or it may be he proposes to give us a piece of work to ourselves, and we shall have the happiness of discovering how it ought to be done. It is not otherwise with our Lord. His revelations are not reserved for those smaller and more definite acts of communion with Him which we call prayer. The larger parts of life are illuminated by His Presence. When we begin to realize that all our work is work for Him; that the work in the study, the office, and the shop may be His as truly as the ministry in the Church or the mission room, then we shall learn to expect such visits of encouragement and guidance as some great employer of labour now and again pays to his workpeople.
I find again and again illustrations of the saying, which I believe came from our Lords own lips, though it is recorded in no gospel: Raise the stone, and there thou shalt find Me; cleave the wood and there am I. The raising of the stone, the cleaving of the wood, are not works in themselves of an interesting or lofty character. They stand for the humble duties of life. Yet it is just thenwhen pursuing our daily tasks, which whether they be of head or of hand seem often so monotonous and so unprofitablethere at least as much as in our acts of private devotion, that I find from the experiences of Christian men and the witness of the Scriptures themselves that the Lord makes Himself known to us.1 [Note: F. Ealand, The Spirit of Life, 63.]
There is a beautiful legend which tells that one shepherd was kept at home watching a fevered guest the night the angels came to Bethlehem with the announcement of the birth of Jesus. The other shepherds saw the heavenly host, heard their song, and beheld the glory. Returning home, their hearts were wonderfully elated. But all the night Shemuel sat alone by the restless sufferer and waited. His fellow-shepherds pitied him because he had missed the vision and the glory which they had seen. But in his patient serving he had found blessing and reward of his own. He had missed, indeed, the splendour of that night in the fields, and in his serving he gave up his own life, for the fever-poison touched him and he died. But he had tasted the joy of sacrifice, and then his eyes saw a more wondrous glory when he entered the Divine presence.
Shemuel, by the fever-bed,
Touched by beckoning hands that led,
Died and saw the Uncreated;
All his fellows lived and waited.2 [Note: J. R. Miller, Our New Edens, 106.]
And his name shall be on their foreheads.
This means that they shall wear the imprint of His perfections. The name of a man is that by which he is identified and known; and as God is identified and known by His perfections, His perfections are called His name. To have Gods name is to bear a resemblance to Himto have what we call His image and likeness. The face on which they gaze must transform, by the quickening power of its glories, each adoring spirit into its living likeness. If you turn away from the sun, your face will be in shadow, but if you turn to it, your face will shine, and the suns name will be imprinted in letters of light upon your forehead; and so, by a glorious necessity, those who see God will shine with His reflected Name.
This is not some mystic mark that no one can understand; it is the beauty of holiness. When we study the Gospels and see Christ Himself, we learn what that name is which shines on the forehead of His friends. It is nothing mysterious or occultit is patience, gentleness, thoughtfulness, humility, kindness, the spirit of forgiveness, meekness, peace, joy, goodness. People have no difficulty in discovering the marks of Jesus on those who wear them.
The variety of nature is as useful as it is beautiful. What if faces had been like coins, and each one had to carry his name on his forehead to be known? His name on his forehead! There is an obscure way in which character imprints itself on the face. The very attempt to conceal writesHypocrite. In the future world this shall be complete, the soul and face keeping time like work and dial-plate,infinite variety of character, perfect transparency in all.1 [Note: John Ker, Thoughts for Heart and Life, 236.]
1. The name on the forehead is the sign of possession. Under the old dispensation a frontlet was worn upon the forehead as well as upon the left arm. The frontlet upon the left arm was tied on with a thong, which was wound around the arm until it reached the tip of the longest finger. This seemed to indicate that the power of service on the part of the individual was consecrated. The frontlet placed on the forehead between the eyes, on the contrary, was intended to express the fact that the whole intelligence of the man was consecrated to God. Thus St. John, having already referred to the service rendered, now speaks of the impress of Divine ownership which the noblest feature of man shall bearHis name shall be on their foreheads. More than that, as the plate upon Aarons forehead had the words written on it Holy is the Lord, so shall those who once were Gods servants become His temple priests, and, seeing His face, shall also wear upon their foreheads the name of their God, and thus bear silent but eloquent and everlasting witness that they are His.
Devout Hindoos always have marks on their foreheads, showing the particular god they worship. The trident indicates the worship of Vishnu; while ashes made from cow-dung are rubbed on their foreheads if Siva is their special deity. What impresses one so much is that they are not ashamed to own that they are followers of their gods, while we too often are ashamed to confess that we are followers of the true and living God, and of His Son, Jesus Christ.1 [Note: H. S. Streatfeild, Glimpses of Indian Life, 4.]
J. M. Neale remarks that the Holy Name was set forth everywhere by the Saints of the Middle Ages; not merely in church art but in household and domestic furniture. Go, for example, he says, into many of the farms round here, and notice the fire-dogs that stand in the yawning chimney; how they are wrought at the sides into those most blessed of all letters, the IHC by which our dear Lord is set forth. Nothing so mean, that it was thought unworthy of this monogram; nothing so glorious, that it was considered unfit to have that excellent glory added thereto. Silver and gold and gems conspired together to mark out this Name on the paten, or the chalice, or the shrine; the manufacturer of Limoges worked it out in his enamel, the art of producing which we are only beginning to recover; in the monastery potteries they burnt it in on their tiles; in convents they embroidered it on chasuble and cope; in the glorious windows of churches the light came in, sanctified, as it were, and hallowed by the name of the true Light. I know all this very well. But I know also that the poor peasant was encouraged, with his clasp knife, to consecrate his house by carving the same name on the hutch of his door, or the barge-boards of his roof; the Name of Salvation could never be out of place among the dwellings of those who looked to be saved; the Name which to adore will be the work of eternity, could never be out of place for the meditation and the worship of earth.2 [Note: J. T. Stoddart, The New Testament in Life and Literature (1914), 358.]
2. The name on the forehead means that the imprint of the Divine perfections will be open and visible. By the seal of the Spirit the servants of God even on earth bear this impression; and it is essential, in order to authenticate their claims. But, too frequently, the mark is scarcely seen; it is within their hearts, but it is not upon their foreheads, to be known and read of all men. Only He who knows the heart can trace it with absolute certainty. Infirmities disguise, or obscurities of station hide from view, the mystic name written on many a pillar of grace. It is like some dim inscription on a monument, mouldering into indistinctness, and veiled by trailing leaves, overlooked by the casual traveller, and deciphered only by the antiquarys eye.
As fire is hidden in the unstruck stone, as the future flower is hidden in the present root, as the gem is hidden by the rough incrustation round it, the grace of God is frequently hidden by the weakness and waywardness of man. But there it will not be so. No one in that world will be satisfied with a secret and latent piety; not one will say, I make no profession; no deprecating voice will make the plea, Lord, I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth; lo, there thou hast that is thine! To intimate that the name of Jehovah will be so conspicuously visible on all His servants that you must see it if you see them, it is said to flame upon their very foreheads.1 [Note: C. Stanford, Central Truths, 231.]
The forehead is in itself an inscription; it is the mark of Man. For no other creature bears this smooth-domed architrave and metopon over the portal of its communication with the world. The birds, with their swiftness and airiness of motion, lack the forehead altogether; and the beasts, notwithstanding broad and heavy frontlets, designed, as it were, to push and thrust through the jungle or against the foe, have not the arched dome on which a name might be written. When there is the lofty dome of Shakespeare or of Sir Walter Scott, or the bar of Michael Angelo, we estimate the genius which resides and works within by the stately span of the arched building. But even the humblest human brow is far removed from that of the noblest ape; on the apes brow nothing can be written, but on the mans is at least written this: that he is a Man. It is this meaning and mark of the forehead which gives the imaginative glory to Miltons figure, when he says that the Star
Flames in the forehead of the morning sky.2 [Note: R. F. Horton, The Christian World, March 24, 1910.]
3. The name is where others can see it, but where it is not seen by the person himself. You cannot see your own forehead, and you are not aware of the nobleness or the brightness that others see there. This unconsciousness of the radiance on the face is part of the splendour; to be aware of it would be to dim the brightness. We know that when any one is conscious of the beauty or the refinement stamped on his face, a great part of the beauty or the refinement is gone. So self-consciousness mars spiritual loveliness. When a man knows that he is humble, he is no longer humble. The man who is truly poor in spirit is not himself aware of the shining of his life, the splendour of his deeds, the power of his words, or of his ministries. The best people are always the least conscious of their goodness and worth. Others see the shining, but they themselves do not.
In meditation his face appeared to some a little severe; in relaxation none could be more gracious and genial. In his last years the light of heaven played about his features. This radiancy, which was but the symbol of the life within, was startling at times. On one occasion an Irish servant-girl opened the door for him at a house where he was calling, and on announcing him said that she had forgotten his name, but that he certainly had the face of an angel. This strange spiritual light was neither the silver shimmer of the hair nor the deep benignity of the farshining pupil, nor the calm of the features. It seemed to be all these suffused with something else too subtle for description, something ethereal, rare, beatific.1 [Note: A. J. Gordon: A Biography, 186.]
They do His will, they see His Face, their foreheads bear His name,
Who stand before the throne of God, and give the Lamb acclaim;
No curse can ever enter in, no night the glory dim,
Where shining souls, thus triple-crowned, eternal praises hymn.
Obedience such as theirs, O Lord, teach me even here below;
The vision of Thy blessed Face in bright effulgence show;
Thy name and image, clear and pure, grave deeper on my brow,
Till all shall see that I am Thinemy Lord and Master Thou!
And thus shall curse, and night, and sin, like shadows flee away
From out my life, and Light divine gleam through it every day;
The Throne of God and of the Lamb fixed deep within shall be,
Heavens life and bliss already mine, and through eternity.1 [Note: T. Crawford, Hor Seren, 42.]
The Perfect Life
Bright (W.), Morality in Doctrine, 130.
Calthrop (G.), Pulpit Recollections, 273.
Colyer (J. E.), Sermons and Addresses, 19.
Cornaby (W. A.), In Touch with Reality, 180.
Dallas (H. A.), Gospel Records, 283.
Davies (D.), Talks with Men, Women and Children, iv. 107.
Ealand (F.), The Spirit of Life, 62.
Harris (R.), The Atonement, 65.
Hicks (E.), The Life Hereafter, 82.
Lightfoot (J. B.), Leaders in the Northern Church, 161.
Lockyer (T. F.), The Inspirations of the Common Life, 232.
Maclaren (A.), A Years Ministry, i. 125.
Matheson (G.), Messages of Hope, 245.
Miller (J. R.), Our New Edens, 103.
Moule (H. C. G.), Christ is All, 203.
Moule (H. C. G.), From Sunday to Sunday, 296.
Price (A. C.), Fifty Sermons, ix. 305.
Ritson (J.), Life, 49.
Smith (D.), The Face of Jesus, 35.
Spurgeon (C. H.), Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, xiv. (1868), No. 824.
Stanford (C.), Central Truths, 216.
Stevens (H.), Sermon Outlines, 106.
Vaughan (J.), Sermons (Brighton Pulpit), New Ser., xiii. (1876), No. 993.
Walpole (G. H. S.), Vital Religion, 79.
Watts-Ditchfield (J. E.), Here and Hereafter, 236.
Christian World, March 24, 1910 (R. F. Horton).
Churchmans Pulpit: Septuagesima Sunday, iv. 300 (F. Ealand).
Good Words, 1861, p. 698.
Fuente: The Great Texts of the Bible
there: Rev 21:4, Deu 27:26, Zec 14:11, Mat 25:41, Gen 3:10-13
but: Rev 7:15-17, Rev 21:22, Rev 21:23, Psa 16:11, Psa 17:15, Isa 12:6, Eze 48:35, Mat 25:21, Joh 14:3, Joh 17:24
his: Rev 7:15, Joh 12:26
Reciprocal: 2Ki 2:21 – I have healed Isa 51:11 – and sorrow Eze 43:7 – the place of my throne Eze 48:8 – the sanctuary Zec 2:5 – the glory Mal 4:6 – and smite Mat 17:4 – it is Mar 9:5 – it is Luk 1:33 – he Joh 5:18 – God was Joh 13:32 – shall Joh 14:8 – show Joh 14:23 – make Rom 8:21 – into the glorious 2Co 5:8 – present Eph 3:19 – that ye 1Th 4:17 – and so 2Th 2:14 – to Heb 12:14 – no man Rev 5:6 – a Lamb Rev 7:10 – unto Rev 22:11 – and he that
Fuente: The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge
THE SERVICE OF HEAVEN
His servants shall serve Him and they shall reign for ever and ever.
Service is the task of heaven; not toilsome, for the taint of the course no longer vitiates it; not mechanical, but spiritual; cheerful also, and perfect, because there is nothing to depress or mar it in the presence of the healing leaves of the tree of life.
Four things make the service perfect in matter and spirit:
I. His servants shall see His face.The vision of Gods face will make the service full of joy and strength and spirit, and banish all feeling of toil and drudgery and discontent.
II. His name shall be in their foreheads.It is not easy to maintain integrity and do work as Gods servants amid the promiscuous company of the visible Church; but there, where no forehead shall bear any other name than Gods; where His name shall be visible and legible wherever it is written; where each shall know himself and know his brother as marked by the common and only name, where each shall have the full assurance that he is Gods servant and is surrounded only by Gods servantsthere, there will be nothing to paralyse, disconcert, or hinder that service with which Gods servants shall serve Him.
III. There shall be no night there.What a service that must be which is carried on for ever in the unfading and unsetting light of God Himself by men who know Him and their duty, no longer through means and ordinances and providences circuitously, but directly and immediately, as they see light in His light!
IV. They shall reign for ever and ever.They serve, but they also reign. They contemplate their service and execute it as from Christs throne, on which they reign with Him.
Fuente: Church Pulpit Commentary
Rev 22:3. No more curse is an allusion to the curse pronounced upon the ground because of the sin of Adam (Gen 3:17). Instead of a curse there will be endless blessings because not only will the tree of life be in the city (as it was in the garden), but God and the Lamb will themselves be there. Also all creatures who would tempt the righteous will have been consigned to their eternal place in the lake of fire. Servants shall serve him. It is sometimes asked if the saved are to be entirely free in that city, since it is spoken of as the place of rest for God’s people. The word serve does not necessarily mean labor or toil. The word is from LATREUO and at this place Thayer’s definition (the words in italics) is as follows: “To render religious service or homage, to worship.” It certainlRev 1:6 be only unspeakable pleasure to engage in such employment as worshipping God in his immediate presence, when faithful discipRev 5:10 taken real happiness from their worship of Him while in the world. In the words of one of the old songs of the church, it will be a service in a time and place “Where congregations ne’er break up, and rest days have no end.”
Comments by Foy E. Wallace
(3) The throne of God and of1Pe 2:5 mb1Pe 2:92:3.
The divine rule of God and of Christ together in the “kingdRev 22:4 rist and God” (Eph 5:5) removed the penal judgment for sin from the inhabitants of the redeemed city–and there shall be no more curse–that is, no more of anything that was accursed, no accursed person or thing should have a place in the Holy City. The curse of sin was removed by Jesus Christ. The apostle declared that “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law (Gal 3:13), being made a curse for us; for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree.” It was this death of ignominy on the cross, as declared in the following verRev 14:9 that brought “the blessing of Abraham . . . on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; Rev 22:4 might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.” In the Holy City Jerusalem there should be no more curse of sin to the redeemed inhabitants.
There was also a dual meaning a1Pe 3:12 to this symbol of the curse. In the perioRev 6:16 tribulation there had been the edict for the worship of the emperor in bowing to the Caesar-image, and all who refused submission were placed under the imperial curse. Having come out of the tribulation, the persecutors cast into the brimstone lake, the victors over oppressionPsa 31:16 bolized as delivered from the curse of the imperial edict. From this setting which remains always in the background of Revelation, and much of the time in the foreground, the progressive application was made to the spiritual state of the New Jerusalem church.
In the environment of the new state the constituency of the ransomed city should not only pay homage of worship to Him who was on the throne, but should also do service–his servants shall serve him (verse 3). At the beginning of the Revelation (Rev 1:6) John said that Jesus Christ hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father in his church and kingdom here; and in Rev 5:10 the Seer said that this kingly and priestly character of the saints redeemed from persecution is further indication that the descriRev 13:16-17 of the church, and not of heaven. It is full harmony with the general teaching of the New Testament that Christians are priests in the church now (1Pe 2:5; 1Pe 2:Rev 14:9-10 church therefore is “a holy priesthood.”
Fuente: Combined Bible Commentary
The Apologists Bible Commentary
3There will no longer be any curse; and the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His bond-servants will serve Him;
C O M M E N T A R YThis verse contains two ambiguous uses of the third-person singular pronoun, “His/Him.” Does “Him” refer to God or the Lamb? Is it possible that it refers to both? This issue centers on the word “serve” (Greek: latreu), which has a technical sense in the New Testament of “sacred service” rendered properly to God alone (see Grammatical Analysis, below). Trinitarians have long argued that one of the most important evidences that Jesus is the true God is that He is described as receiving worship in the New Testament (e.g., Revelation 5:13 ). Non-Trinitarians have argued that because there are no references to Jesus receiving “sacred service” in the New Testament (but only, they assert, the “lesser” form of worship or obeisance denoted by the Greek verb proskyneo), Jesus actually does not receive the highest form of worship reserved for God alone. Thus, they argue, He cannot be God. Clearly, the Non-Trinitarian objection may be disproved if it can be demonstrated that “Him” in Revelation 22:3 refers either to the Lamb or to both the Lamb and God. Generally speaking, a pronoun will refer to the nearest noun that precedes it. In this case, “the Lamb” is the nearest preceding noun (or “antecedent”), and thus the Lamb would seem to receive “sacred service.” However, this general rule does not always hold true. If context dictates, it is possible that a prior noun may be the referent, particularly if that referent is paramount in the writer’s mind. Let’s look at two examples in Revelation which parallel 22:3 to see how context may serve to “disambiguate” (remove the ambiguity) of the singular pronoun: Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years (Revelation 20:6 NIV). Does “him” refer to God or Christ? The nearest referent is “Christ,” but we have noted that proximity is not always determinative. Context must resolve any ambiguity. Immediately before, in verse 4, we read that the martyrs “reigned with Christ for a thousand years.” Thus, the most likely referent of “him” is Christ. God, of course, is said to have “begun to reign” on earth as well (11:17), but whenever the “thousand years” are mentioned in Revelation, they refer specifically to the period of time when Christ reigns on the earth over His millennial kingdom. And whenever the saints are said to “reign with” someone, it is always with Christ. The context, then, in all likelihood, disambiguates the pronoun, making “Christ” the probable referent. The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said: “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever” (Revelation 11:15 NIV). The pronoun “he” (bolded above) does not occur in the Greek. Instead, the verb rendered “will reign” (Greek: basileusei) occurs in the third-person singular. But is the referent of the verb “our Lord” or “his Christ?” The closest referent is “Christ,” in English. But in Greek, it is actually “his:” christou autou kai basileusei (where autou = “his”). But this fact cannot establish with certainty that “he will reign” refers to “our Lord.” The elders fall down and worship God in the next verse, but this, too, is ambiguous – does John use the noun “God” as an anaphora (a reference back to “his,” i.e., “our Lord”) or as a new subject, distinct from “Christ?” In verse 17, the elders praise God, saying He “has begun to reign.” This would seem to tip the scales in favor of “our Lord” as the referent. However, since the kingdom is attributed to both God and Christ, it is certainly possible that both Christ and God may be said to be reigning – Christ in verse 15 and God in verse 17. This sharing of rule is evident throughout Revelation, where both God (11:17; 19:6) and the saints alongside Christ (1:6; 5:10; 20:4, 6, 22:5) are said to reign; where God and the Lamb share one throne (22:1); and where the Temple (21:22) and the light (21:23) of the Heavenly City are said to be both God and the Lamb. Thus, while it may be that John intends “he will reign” to modify “our Lord,” it is also quite possible that he intends it to modify “Christ.” Indeed, it may be possible to understand him to intend both referents: God shall reign, but the rule of God and of Christ is one as the kingdom is one (Roberston ). He will reign with them in heaven to all eternity; for though, at the end of these years, he shall deliver up the kingdom to the Father, yet he will not cease to reign (Gill ). We may ask why, if John intended to refer to both referents, he did not use the plural form of the verb “will reign?” In other places, John consciously stretches grammar to make a theological point. For example, in Revelation 1:4 (as well as 1:8 and 4:8), he writes “Him who is, who was, and who is to come.” In the Greek, there are several grammatical oddities in this phrase. Robertson notes of the first: “It is evidently on purpose to call attention to the eternity and unchangeableness of God” (RWP ). Thus, it is not impossible that John might use an ungrammatical singular reference (either pronoun or verb form) for both God and Christ, to signify the unity of the Two. When we see the many other ways the Two are unified (in their reign, in the praise they receive, and in the future devotion of the saints, for whom they will be Temple and Light), a grammatical ‘signal’ seems at least possible. As Richard Bauckham puts it: Probably connected with this concern to include Jesus in the monotheistic worship is a peculiar grammatical usage elsewhere in Revelation, where mention of God and Christ together is followed by a singular verb (11:15) or singular pronouns (22:3-4 and 6:17, where the singular pronoun autou is the better reading). It is not clear whether the singular in these cases refers to God alone or to God and Christ together as a unity. John, who is very sensitive to the theological implications of language and even prepared to defy grammar for the sake of theology (cf. 1:4), may well intend the latter. But in either case, he is evidently reluctant to speak of God and Christ together as a plurality. He never makes them the subjects of a plural verb or uses a plural pronoun to refer to them both. The reason is surely clear: he places Christ on the divine side of the distinction between God and creation, but he wishes to avoid ways of speaking which sound to him polytheistic. The consistency of usage shows that he has reflected carefully on the relation of Christology to monotheism. It is significant that one of the passages in question (22:3-4) concerns worship (Bauckham, The Theology of the Book of Revelation , pp. 60-61). In this example, the context has not removed the ambiguity. If we must pick a single referent, it would probably be “our Lord,” but it must be admitted that ambiguity may be the intended in this verse, particularly if we posit that the author, John, is the same careful writer as he who wrote the Gospel and the Epistles that bear this name. Revelation 22:3-5 in the NIV reads: No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever. As mentioned above, the nearest antecedent to “him” in verse 23 is “the Lamb,” both in English and in Greek. The context does not favor God over the Lamb as the preferred referent. Verse 4 says that “they will see His face,” but both the Lamb and God are seated on the throne, so both of their faces would be visible. It also says that “His name will be on their foreheads.” But we are told that both the name of God and the name of the Lamb will be on their foreheads (Revelation 14:1). Verse 5 says that the light of the “Lord God” will be their light, but we are told that both God and the Lamb will be the source of light in the Heavenly City (Revelation 21:23). Of all the passages we have considered, this one seems the most consciously ambiguous in terms of who “him” refers to. In fact, the only possible evidence that “God” alone is the referent is claim that “serve” (Greek: latreu) is nowhere else ascribed to Christ (see Other Views Considered , below). But the meaning of “sacred service” in the LXX denoted the cultic service offered to YHWH in the Temple, and though this meaning became spiritualized in the New Testament (e.g., Phillippians 3:3), latreu retains its original connotation in Hebrews, where the service is specifically related to priestly worship (e.g., Hebrews 8:2, 5). The same is true in Revalation, but here both God and Christ are said to have priests (20:6). Thus, if Christ has priests along with His Father, and receives the save praise and worship the Father receives (5:13 ), it does seem unreasonable that latreu would be offered to Him, just as it is the Father. And if the author of Revelation depicts Christ receiving the same worship His Father receives, it seems likely that this practice derives from John’s own worship experience: Although the author of revelation attributes these passages to the figures seen in visions, it is reasonable to assume that their general form and content may have been consonant with worship practices in the churches known to him and that such materials are valuable indications of the activities of these groups (Hurtado , p. 101). In conclusion, it seems probable that John intended, by a use of a distinctive and intentional grammatical signal, to include God and the Lamb as referents to “him” in Revelation 22:3. John has demonstrated before (1:4) that he can stretch grammar for a theological purpose, and there are other examples in the Apocalypse where he seems to be doing the exact same thing(11:15; 20:6; and 6:17, if the majority reading is correct). If so, Christ is shown to receive “sacred service” alongside his Father, just as He does worship and praise elsewhere (5:13 ): and his servants shall serve him: either the angels, who are ministering spirits, and the servants of God and of the Lamb; or the ministers of the Gospel, the servants of the most high God; or rather all the true followers of Christ, who shall be where he is, and “serve him”: both God and the Lamb, who are one in nature, though two distinct persons; wherefore serving them both is not serving two masters: and the service the saints will be employed in, in this state, will not be preaching the word, or attending on the ministry of it, or subjecting to ordinances, which will now be at an end, but celebrating the praises of God, adoring the perfections of his nature, ascribing the glory of every providence, and of all salvation to him, and magnifying the riches of his grace; and this they will perform in the most spiritual, fervent, and perfect manner, and that continually; see Rev 7:15 (Gill ). And: That ‘they will serve him’ likely does not refer only to God or only to the Lamb. The two are conceived so much as a unit that the singular pronoun can refer to both… That both are sitting on only one throne and together form one temple (21:22) enhances their perceived unity. Also, this unity is highlighted by both having the titles ‘Alpha and Omega’ (1:8; 21:6; 22:13). Such statements as these in 21:22 and 22:3 were among those that gave rise to later Trinitarian formulas (Beale, The New International Greek Testament Commentary- The Book of Revelation [Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. & Paternoster Press, 1999], p. 1113). This fact is particularly striking, given the author’s evident concern to contrast the proper worship with false worship throughout his book.
G R A M M A T I C A L A N A L Y S I Slatreuw latreu (G3000) 2) to serve, minister to, either to the gods or men and used alike of slaves and freemen 2a) in the NT, to render religious service or homage, to worship 2b) to perform sacred services, to offer gifts, to worship God in the observance of the rites instituted for his worship 2b1) of priests, to officiate, to discharge the sacred office (Thayer ) (1) to worship, (2) to “serve;” in the latter sense it is used of service (a) to God, Mat 4:10; Luk 1:74 (“without fear”); Luk 4:8; Act 7:7; Act 24:14, RV, “serve” (AV, “worship”); Act 26:7; Act 27:23; Rom 1:9 (“with my spirit”); 2Ti 1:3; Heb 9:14; Heb 12:28, AV, “we may serve,” RV, “we may offer service;” Rev 7:15; (b) to God and Christ (“the Lamb”), Rev 22:3; (c) in the tabernacle, Heb 8:5, RV; Heb 13:10; (d) to “the host of heaven,” Act 7:42, RV, “to serve” (AV, “to worship”); (e) to “the creature,” instead of the Creator, Rom 1:25, of idolatry (Vine ) The purely Religious Character of the Word as Determined by the LXX. The influence of the LXX may be seen in the fact that the word never refers to human relations, let along to secular services. The ministry denoted by latreuein is always offered to God (or to heathen gods”) (TDNT ). In the New Testament, of the worship or service of God in the use of the rites intended for His worship. It came to be used by the Jews in a very special sense, to denote the service rendered to Jehovah by the Israelites as His peculiar people. See Rom 9:4; Act 26:7; Heb 9:1, Heb 9:6. Hence the significant application of the term to Christian service by Paul in Phi 3:3 (Vincent ). Shall do him service (latreusousin auti). Future active of latreu, linear idea, shall keep on serving. See Rev 7:15 for present active indicative of this same verb with the dative auti as here, picturing the worship of God in heaven (RWP ).
O T H E R V I E W S C O N S I D E R E DJehovah’s Witnesses objection: Some Jehovah’s Witness apologists have argued that God is the referent of “him” in this verse, for the following three reasons: 1. “Him” is a singular pronoun and therefore must refer to either God or the Lamb, but not both. If John had intended to refer to both God and the Lamb, he would have used a plural pronoun. 2. If the Lamb is offered “sacred service,” God is not. It is inconceivable that the Lamb would be offered this worship while His Father is not. 3. Nowhere else in Scripture is Jesus offered “sacred service.” Therefore, the most likely referent of “him” in this verse is God. Response: It is not at all clear that had John wanted to refer to both God and the Lamb, he would have used a plural pronoun or verb. The fact is that he does neither anywhere in the book of Revelation. Instead, when God and the Lamb form a complex subject, a singular verb or pronoun always follows. As discussed in the Commentary, above, John elsewhere stretches grammar to signal a theological truth (1:4). The fact that there are several examples of singular verbs or pronouns following God and Christ indicates that this is an intentional feature of John’s writing, and not an accidental introduction of ambiguity. If John is consciously including both God and the Lamb in the singular pronoun “him,” the first two points of the Witness argument are not sound. Even if John intends to refer to a single noun, there are no contextual reasons for eliminating Christ, the nearest antecedent. As for the third Witness argument, it is true that the word latreu is not used in the New Testament to indicate the worship of Christ, but this is a superficial argument, at best. The word latreu originally signified priestly service rendered to YHWH in the Temple, but in Revelation, Christ is said to have priests (20:6) alongside His Father. Revelation depicts Jesus sitting on the same throne as God (22:1) and receiving the same praise and worship the Father receives (5:13 ). Within 50 years of the composition of Revelation, Polycarp ascribes latreu to Christ is his letter to the Phillippians: Whom every breathing creature serves (latreuei), who is coming as Judge of the living and the dead, for whose blood God will hold responsible those who disobey him (Holmes , The Apostolic Fathers, p. 209). This evidence suggests that the First and Second Century church were comfortable attributing to Christ the highest form of worship alongside His Father because they recognized that such worship was rendered Christ in the New Testament itself. For an in-depth response to these Witness arguments, see Sam Shamoun’s Jesus and Latreuo . _______________ Notes 1. Verses 1:6, 5:10 and 22:5 do not specifically mention Christ reigning with the saints, but it is clear from the context of Revelation that the rule of the saints is participatory with Christ, as it is in His millennial kingdom (verses 20:4, 6): and they shall reign for ever and ever; they are made kings now, and in this state they shall reign with Christ for the space of a thousand years; and when they are ended, they shall not cease to reign; nor will Christ, when he delivers up the kingdom to the Father, for his and their kingdom is an everlasting one, Rev 1:6 (Gill ). See also Revelation 3:21. 2. “The author of Revelation shows a sternly negative attitude toward other Christians who advocated what look like innovations in liturgical practice or in scruples about worship, such as those he accuses of ‘the teaching of Balaam’ (2:14) and the woman prophet whom he names ‘Jezebel’ (2:20), all of whom he denounces as advocating ‘fornication and eating food sacrificed to idols.’ Throughout Revelation, the author warns about worship of ‘the beast’ (9:20; 13:4, 8, 12, 15; 14:9, 11; 16:2; 19:20; 20:4), and calls for worship of God alone (14:7; 19:10; 22:9). In the context of the author’s strict scruples about worship, the approval he give to reverence to the Lamb is remarkable, and also without precedent in the Jewish background. But the author’s very conservative attitude about worship makes it likely that his portrayal of worship as directed to God and to Jesus reflected traditional attitudes and understanding” (Hurtado , Worship, p. 92; emphasis in original). 3. See, for example, Stafford , pp. 85-86). 4. Assuming the widely-regarded “late date” for the composition of Revelation, about 96 AD. Some scholars would date it somewhat earlier, closer to 70 AD.
F u r t h e r R e a d i n gArticles… Jesus and Latreuo Sam Shamoun Trinity Prooftexts – Revelation 22:3 Steve Rudd (from The Interactive Bible ).
Fuente: The Apologists Bible Commentary
Rev 22:3. And there shall be no more anything accursed, anything upon which the curse of the Almighty rests, and fit only to be cast out of His presence.
And the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it. What throne is this? The three clauses that follow appear to show that it is the throne of God in the innermost recess of His sanctuary. The throne therefore is not concealed. The redeemed have constant access to it.
And his servants shall do him service. They shall perform their priestly functions for ever in His presence.
Fuente: A Popular Commentary on the New Testament
St. John has not yet done with this copious description of the New Jerusalem, but here he closes it by doing these two things,
1. He shows what shall not be found there: there shall be no curse, no accursed person, or accursed thing, no sin, nor any thing sinful, that deserves the curse; and there shall be no night there, no darkness of ignorance or error, or darkness of affliction, temptation, or desertion, no night of natural darkness, no night of spiritual darkness, much less of eternal darkness, which is the portion of the wicked: farther, there shall be no need of natural light, the light of the sun; no need of artificial light, the light of a candle; no need of the spiritual light of the word and ordinances, all which shall then and there cease.
2. He shows what there shall be there, namely,
1. The throne of God and the Lamb, that is, the glorious and everlasting presence of God and Christ, as on a throne of royal majesty, insomuch that the name of the city may be Jehovah Shammah, the Lord is there.
2. It is added, that his servants shall serve him, that is the glorious angels and glorified saints shall continually stand before him, and administer unto him, not spend their eternity in a perpetual gazing upon God, but executing his commands, obeying him with vigour, praising him with cheerfulness, loving him above measure, fearing him without torment, trusting him without despondency, serving him without lassitude and weariness, without interruption or distraction, praising God, and singing eternal hallelujah’s to the Lamb for ever and ever.
3. It is declared that they shall see God’s face, which imports fruition as well as vision of him, together with a sweet and satisfactory delectation in him. Mat 5:8; Heb 12:14 Blessed are the pure in heart, and holy in life, for they shall see God: that is, have a clear and apprehensive, though not a full and comprehensive, knowledge of him.
4. His name shall be in their foreheads: his name, that is, his holy nature, his image and likeness, by which they shall be known, as a man is by his name: an allusion probably to the high-priest, who had holiness to the Lord written on his frontlet; or a reflection upon the worshippers of the beast, who have his name on their foreheads; in like manner the name of God shall be on his servants’ foreheads; they are thankful for imperfect lineaments here, but shall be satisfied with his likeness then and there.
Lastly, It is closed with this, they shall reign for ever and ever, not for a thousand years, as the militant church is said to reign on earth after antichrist’s destruction, but for eternal ages, and this not partially, but fully and completely, when all their spiritual enemies, sin, Satan, and the world, yea, death itself, shall be put under their feet, and that for ever.
From the whole learn, That when we are at any time dejected upon the account of our dark and imperfect knowledge,or afflicted upon the occasion of many wearisome nights and days of sin and sorrow, of trouble and temptation, of misery and desertion, which we have here on earth, let this meditation comfort us, that the happy day is coming, when there shall be no night, but an eternal sabbath of rest, light, and life, with plenty of all good things, even fulness of joy and rivers of pleasure for evermore.
O Lord, the well of life so pure Doth ever flow from thee, And in thy light thy saints are sure Eternal light to see. –The Lord giveth them light, and they shall reign for ever and ever.
Fuente: Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament
The curse was pronounced upon man, woman and the ground in Gen 3:16-19 , but in heaven it will be removed. Before the fall, God walked in the garden where manlived. In heaven, God’s throne will be in the city of the redeemed and they will serve God. Even in heaven, God believes activity keeps man happy. One of our rewards will be seeing God’s face, which no man has ever done but many have desired. We will bear the likeness of the father and clearly be identifiable as his. The statements about light are like those in Rev 21:23 ; Rev 21:25 . As God’s children, we will reign with him. As much as anything else, this reign may be, as Coffman said, over our own selves.
Fuente: Gary Hampton Commentary on Selected Books
Rev 22:3-5. And then too there shall be no more curse As there is in this present world, and has been ever since the fall of man; but only pure life and blessing, every effect of the displeasure of God for sin being now totally removed; but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it That is, the glorious presence and reign of God and the Lamb; and his servants The most honourable title in the universe; shall serve him The noblest employment. And they shall see his face The blessed inhabitants shall enjoy the so much talked of beatific vision, a privilege not granted even to Moses. They shall have the nearest access to, and the most free intercourse with him. This is the strongest expression in the language of Scripture, to denote the most perfect happiness of the heavenly state, 1Jn 3:2. And his name shall be on their foreheads Each of them shall be openly acknowledged as Gods own property, and his glorious nature shall most visibly shine forth in them. There seems in this expression to be an allusion to the name of God being on the golden plate which the Jewish high-priest wore on his forehead. And there shall be no night there In this blessed state there shall be no interruption of their happiness and joy, but they shall live in the continual light of Gods countenance. And they need no candle, neither light of the sun No instruction, aid, or comfort from any means of grace, ordinances of God, or any creature, as on earth; for the Lord God giveth them light Their knowledge and wisdom, holiness and happiness, proceed immediately from God himself, from his constant and everlasting presence with them, and favour to them, so that they shall enjoy the same unspeakable happiness, without any interruption or diminution. And they shall reign for ever and ever What an encouragement is this to the patience and faithfulness of these saints. That all their sufferings here on earth shall work out for them an eternal weight of glory! Observe, reader, the kingdom of God is taken by force; but the prize is well worth all the labour. What is high, amiable, or excellent in all the honours, riches, pleasures, titles, dignities, monarchies of the earth, has, if taken together, not the weight or value of a grain of dust, compared to the glory, riches, and felicity of the children of God. God is not ashamed to be called their God, for whom he hath prepared this city. But who shall come up into this holy place? Who shall have a right to the tree of life? They who, being justified by grace, are made heirs according to the hope of it, Tit 3:7; they who, having this hope in them, purify themselves as he is pure, 1Jn 3:3; they who do his commandments, Rev 22:14; and give diligence to be found with him in peace without spot and blameless, 2Pe 3:14. Thus ends the doctrine of the Revelation, in the everlasting happiness of all the faithful. The mysterious ways of Providence are cleared up, and all things issue in an eternal sabbath, an everlasting state of perfect peace and felicity, reserved for all who endure to the end.
Fuente: Joseph Bensons Commentary on the Old and New Testaments
No more curse; the curse shall be no more; that is, the terrible curses originally denounced against human sin in the days of Adam’s transgression (Genesis 3:14-19) shall now be removed forever. Thus the volume of the word of God, having opened with a history of that terrible malediction pronounced upon the human race, which has made this world such a scene of sorrow, now sublimely closes with a prophetic announcement of its perpetual removal. This link, connecting the beginning with the end, binds together the whole word of God, and gives a lofty unity to the long succession of vastly varied materials which the sacred volume comprises.–And his servants shall serve him; shall be employed, actively, in the pursuit and accomplishment of his plans.
Fuente: Abbott’s Illustrated New Testament
There will no longer be a curse because the tree of life will heal (redeem?) the nations. The curse in view is probably the curse that God pronounced on the old creation at the Fall (cf. Zec 14:11; Mal 4:6). God will have intimate fellowship with His people because this curse has now been lifted. Evidently believers (His bond-servants in the new creation; cf. Rev 1:1) will occupy themselves serving God and the Lamb in the new earth. The Greek word for "serve" (latreuo) suggests priestly service in view of its other uses in this book (cf. Rev 1:6; Rev 5:10; Rev 20:6). "His" and "Him" present God and the Lamb as essentially one being.