The Way It Happened

Revelation 22:19, The Covenant of Revelation

And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.

//This verse appears at the very end of our Bible, warning us not to tinker with any of the words in the book of Revelation. This threat surely doesn’t refer to the Bible as a whole, but to the covenant of Revelation … a covenant of a new heaven and new earth to come.

Yes, I said “covenant.” Revelation is more than a book of promises. It purposefully closes in covenantal language. Whether or not you believe everything in Revelation will come to pass in a literal manner, its author (somebody named John) claims a direct message from Jesus and frames this message as a covenant.

Compare the language of today’s verse, for example, with the covenant in Deuteronomy 4:2:

Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.

It is now firmly established by scholars that the structure of the Mosaic covenant–particularly as written in Deuteronomy and the Decalogue–reflects a common structure of established covenants of that day. Here’s another example, from the Hittite treaty of Tudhaliyas IV and Ulmi-Teshub:

Whoever … changes but one word of this tablet … may the thousand gods of this tablet root that man’s descendants out of the land of Hatti –Kline, Structure of Biblical Authority, p. 29

The logical conclusion is that Revelation was intended as divine scripture, a covenant between Jesus and his followers.

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