The first portion of the chapter rightfully belongs to the previous chapter, (v.1 – 5) as it is describing the river of life that flows from the throne of God. It is the concluding portion of the descriptions of the new heaven and earth, the New Jerusalem, and those who are to be found therein. The vision ends with the final note “and they shall reign for ever and ever.”
After the description of Heaven is a warning of the nearness of the prophesied events (verses 6, 7, 12, and 20). “And the Lord God of the holy prophets sent his angel to show his servants the things which must shortly take place.” As we have noted throughout, this is identical to the language found in the first chapter. Verse 7 states, “Behold, I am coming quickly (also v.12), and “blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.” In the closing verses of the book the same is intoned (v.20). These are the last instructions to be offered by God and Christ to mankind. We have the instruction manual. Quickly does not mean the same thing to God as it does to me and you. That should also be obvious. What it does mean, is that you had better be ready – all the time. John is once again identified as the recorder (v.8). The angel rightfully refuses his offered worship, and informs the Apostle he should worship only God. We ought to pay attention to that command, too.
The book is not to be sealed as the time is “at hand” (v.10). One final time: Now what does that mean? Things will continue as they have, yet these events are to begin unfolding immediately and will not be sealed nor obscured any longer. It was to be copied and distributed. Christ signifies it is his testimony within the book (v.16). “I Jesus have sent my angel to testify these things in the churches…” “The Spirit and the bride say come.” This suggests the invitation should be acted upon immediately when anyone learns the truth. While the idea of the bride may refer to the fulfilled Kingdom of Heaven rather than the physical church, either understanding is useful and powerful. If you know the truth and you want to be counted in this number you had better get busy, pass the minimum requirements and not waste time. The warnings in verses 18 and 19 concern this book. It is not given about all the Scriptures, as is often suggested. Yet it certainly can be applied that way without any fear of speaking where God has not spoken, or of making doctrine out of thin air (see Eccl. 3:14).