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The Story Behind Last Words

Photo by: KiltBear

According to the Bible, some of the last words of Christ were spoken  through his angel to the Apostle John, exiled to the Aegean Island of Patmos.

But what are we to make of Jesus’ message when he says in 22:14, ‘Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.”

What “divine instructions” was Jesus referring to in these last words? How many orders need to be kept, and with what degree of faithfulness? Why would our Lord leave us with words that raise so many questions?

I don’t know how to answer such questions apart from the conclusion that there is a story behind these words that needs to be understood. The reference to the tree of life clearly reflects back on what happened in the Garden when our first parents lost the right to eat of the tree of life when they ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

Admittedly this could sound like fiction to those who don’t know the terrible and wonderful realism of the rest of the story.

Photo by: OZinOH

But, again, what are we to make of our Lord’s words that by keeping “commandments” we can enter back into a place where he walked with Adam and Eve before their rebellion? Doesn’t  the history that  follows show the inability of “commandments” to make either a nation, or any of its citizens good?

Yet by the time John got his revelation at Patmos, he had been a witness of real events that led  him to write, “And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment. Now he who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. And by this we know that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us” (1John 3:23-24).

It’s interesting to see how repeatedly John in his Gospel (John 13:34-35; 15:1-12), and in his letters (1John 3:23-24; 4:21; 2John 1:5-6), focuses on belief in Christ, on whose merits we enjoy restoration to life… and on the “commandments/instructions” of Christ to love one another, as evidence of our relationship with him.

Isn’t it then the story behind the words that the Spirit of God uses to give us their meaning? And doesn’t it also follow, that by these last words, our Lord, himself, is urging us to return to that story to find out how to be sure of our relationship with him… and how to give others the evidence, and the benefit of what we have found?

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29 Responses to “The Story Behind Last Words”

  1. Bob in Cornwall England says:

    Jeremiah 31:33-34 (Amplified Bible)

    “But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel: After those days, says the Lord, I will put My law within them, and on their hearts will I write it; and I will be their God, and they will be My people.
    And they will no more teach each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, Know the Lord, for they will all know Me [recognize, understand, and be acquainted with Me], from the least of them to the greatest, says the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will [seriously] remember their sin no more.”

    Also found in Hebrews 8:10-12

    My understanding is that we are already at that place of obedience to Him through the Blood of the Lamb, but I also feel that this will be applied during the 1000 years of Jesus Earthly kingdom, where He will establish His law and it will be written in the hearts and minds of the people.

    There will be no doubt in the hearts of God’s chosen when they enter the gates of this New Jerusalem.
    The Law and the Prophets will have been fulfilled.
    The restoration of man complete.
    The right to the Tree of Life restored forever.
    Notice it is called a right and not a priviledge, bought by the sacrifice and the Blood of Christ, Messiah.
    They will enter by the gate that Jesus Himself entered the first time on a donkey and the second time as King


  2. SFDBWV says:

    Without doubt Mart has shown us that there is a deeper story behind the words of scripture. In order to make sense out of the book of Revelation, one has to know the books prior to it.

    If I might say, there is no other book that requires full biblical understanding as does the book of Revelation.

    There are any number of books written by many a Christian writer who has attempted to unlock the “story” or understanding behind all the symbolism found in the final book of our Bible.

    I have never stumbled over the comments found in Rev 22: 24&15. For me once again they simply mean what they say. Found in John 14: 15, Jesus says if you love me, keep my commandments.

    The commandments from Christ are easy to find, and they all point to loving and serving our fellow man, to getting rid of “self” and concerning ourselves with the needs of others.

    The accepting of Christ enables us to enter at the straight gate, for all others the door is closed and they are outside the gate. Just as in the parable of Luke 14: 24-30.

    There are many other examples Jesus gave,

    The point is that there is an opportunity “NOW” for salvation, and a time coming when it will be too late. Salvation is free, but we are to do the commandments Jesus has ordered us to do as well. John 13: 34 “That you love one another, as I have loved you.”


  3. djc1063 says:

    This blog surely does prompt many thoughts and questions. To love God, forsake self, cling to Jesus, do good, hate evil, walk in the Spirit so we don’t fulfill the lust of the flesh is what we are to do. There’s just no way I can do any of that without seeking and relying on Him everyday. Accept that we are imperfect, prideful people apart from Him as a result of the fall, which came from eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Apart from Him we can do nothing. All we have is from Him and out of His hand we give. My mind wants to ramble so I’ll get to the reason I wanted to comment. So much is said about context and rightly so. But how do we grasp the full meaning of stories like the first few chapters of Genesis when we don’t understand the symbols involved? Then, of course, Revelation with all of it’s rich symbolism seems out of reach to my mind which likes to take things literally and as so many preachers teach. To eat of the tree of life, it’s leaves for the healing of the nations. Forgive me, but I don’t believe we’re going to be sitting around munching on leaves. Along with context, can we learn the true meaning of symbols? I hope this doesn’t offend those who take the Bible literally but I really want to know the truth behind these stories. Wonder Mart, if you could talk about symbolism and the meaning behind them sometime? Or maybe you could direct me to a resource that your ministry already has that would shed some light on the topic? I just believe that “the story behind the words” would be more clearly seen if we understood the symbols.

  4. djc1063 says:

    For those of you willing to question what we have been taught about Revelations for the last 180 years, I would suggest you read Gary Demars book, “Last Days Madness”. Also, read up on John Darby’s teaching. He got it wrong in his day, yet we still believe the teaching two centuries later. I’m sure to be in big time trouble for this. Hope you’ll love me and not brand me a heretic. :)

  5. jam200 says:

    In Deut 6, God says to His people to teach their children the following, from generation to generation,”Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind and strength.” Jesus repeats this as the greatest commandment in Matthew 2:37 and adds in verse 39, “The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’

    Through love we learn to trust God and obey Him. As a result He is faithful and true. The key discernment is that life is a journey, not an event. Events happen throughout the journey. We make mistakes but it’s what we do after the mistake. Do we get up and continue on the journey towards holiness or not.

    I often wonder what would have happened in the Eden if Adam would have confessed his sin to God instead of blaming Eve. In 1 John it says “if we confess our sin, He is faithful and true to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteous.”

    Confessing instead of seeking forgiveness is another key. Satan wants us to seek forgiveness, but in reality that forgiveness was establish one time on the cross. Confession is the key. Through confession we are cleansed and able to continue on the straight and narrow path towards victory in Christ.


  6. florida7sun says:

    Apart from Jesus I can do nothing.

    I cannot live the Christian life, only Jesus living in me through the power of His Holy Spirit is it possible to keep His commandments.

    The gift of faith, bestowed by God the Father, leads me to daily surrender. The resultant flowing of His living water washes away the flesh; grit and stones that impeded my ability to love as He desires.

    That is the power of our daily bread.

    As I am knitted to Christ in marriage and desire to learn more of Him through His Word, His love and grace grow in me.

    I think of the blessed hymn, “I Surrender All”…

    “All to Jesus I surrender; all to him I freely give;
    I will ever love and trust him, in his presence daily live.”

    Jesus said, “He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it.” – Matthew 10:39

    Having surrendered my life to Him at the foot of His cross, I embrace what his mother, Mary, said to the Lord’s angel, “Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.” – Luke 1:38

    Blessed weekend to all, Ray

  7. Mart De Haan says:

    djc1063, you are asking important questions about the meaning of symbols. Let’s see if we can wade into that down the road.

    In response to your friendly jabs about “getting it right or wrong”, I’m more interested in the questions you raise than in your assumption that we now know that “a certain teaching is wrong.”

    If the way God fulfilled prophecy in the past is any indication of how the future will play out, it seems that how He showed himself all knowing, all powerful, and faithful, became clear “after the fact, rather than before.”

    Yet, how God did it did not alter the message of what he said he was going to do “i.e. judge or deliver, tear down or build up, etc.”

  8. djc1063 says:

    Sorry Mart. I do not mean to assume that we have it right or wrong. The rapture theory has become very passionate to me mainly because of my Godly mother being so fearful of it and that being transferred to me. She had so many fears even though she was a christian most of her life and I too suffer the same. When I started to question what I had learned, discovered other teaching on the subject and discovered the beginning of the rapture theory, I felt so much freedom from the fear that Jesus might leave me behind because I didn’t measure up. Also, I think many Christians today have somewhat given up on our society in America with all the lawlessness and discord and just expecting the return of Christ to whisk them away. Don’t mean to be judgmental or claim to have any hard and fast knowledge of prophesy. I have just become very sensitive to not believing everything that someone preaches whether today or hundreds of years ago and passed down. Not my intention to cause conflict. Only to press in and learn and grow in truth. Yes, hind sight is so clear. I do know that it will all be accomplished according to God’s plan and according to His word regardless of differing beliefs on what the passages mean. Thanks for your patience with me. I still have a problem with stubbornness. Pray for me.

  9. dust says:

    Hi everyone

    I enjoy and learn from all of you and desire to share the following graph (it helps me everytime i read it)

    STAGE /
    / CRISIS OF \
    / \WISDOM Journey
    / \
    / “HEROIC ————-
    / Journey” HOLY FOOL

    “STAGE OF ASCENT” – needs to make and keep promises to grow.

    “OLD FOOL” – doesn’t get it; tries to keep ascending despite the evidence and the invitation

    “EMBITTERED FOOL” – confrontation but no enlightenment. Resentment and/or blaming. Wounds did not become sacred wounds.

    “HOLY FOOL” – Lives freely and lightly because they are resting in GOD – no need to be in control. Secure enough to be insecure.

    graph from “Wild man to Wise man” by Richard Rohr

  10. dust says:

    I am sorry that the gragh did not come out and I don’t know how to fix it.

  11. poohpity says:

    The tree of life is eternal life and the only way to enter into eternal life is through the Son who is the gate. I often have to remember how it was that I received eternal life because if I do not keep that foremost in my mind I will stray into trying to earn something that was freely given to those who believe in the only way to heaven and eternal life.

    There are times when we get caught up in all the sub-plots and forget the foundation of our faith. We can measure how much of us Christ has by looking at the fruit produced in our lives. We can also sit around and guess what all the prophecies mean and forget today, living like we were so loved by God that He came in the form of man to give His life as a ransom for many. Living as much loved children does not keep troubles away often it has trails of it’s own but being loved that much will be evident by how we respond by loving others.

    If we live with a judgmental critical eye of holding to this relationship as keeping commandments then one truly does not believe what grace is all about. We can and do take something so simple as the time when we first believed and add to it down the road by heaping more burdens upon our shoulders that we were never meant to carry. Christ is right there with us holding the yoke of life on His shoulders so that we can bear up under it and it is Him that has delivered us and walks us into eternal life. We often forget our first love and placing our focus on Him to how can I earn that love and that is impossible.

    Why is it after we have made that initial acceptance of His Grace that we all of a sudden become followers of rules and place a burden on our shoulders again and on others?

  12. InHisHands says:

    Good morning BTA family;
    This is rather off topic, but I need to request prayer for my son Joshua, again. It has taken this mother a long time to admit to myself that my son suffers from mental illness and his paranoid aggressive anger has gotten him arrested, again. This time I don’t think he will be let loose soon at all. To be honest it was an answer to prayer because he was threatening to kill himself, or others.

    I am having difficulty, because I have decided that I cannot talk with him – that I need to get out of God’s way and let Him work. So my request is that God will keep Josh protected from harm in the penal facilities and that He will get Josh the help he needs. And that, most of all, Josh will turn fully to HIM to turn his life around and accept the help offered.

    Thank you – and sorry for coming off topic.

  13. poohpity says:

    I do not think it is off topic at all but rather it is the further story behind His last Words. Father help us all to trust you in every area of our life and to heal the broken hearts.

  14. InHisHands says:

    Thank you Pooh –

  15. SFDBWV says:

    Had a minute and just stopped in to see where things have progressed. I am moved by InHisHands plea and prayer request. Needing fellowship, encouragements, and love from fellow Christians, Is, in my opinion, never off topic. You have our prayers and abiding love.

    I am reminded of how wonderful God is, He seldom ever takes us down the pathway we would choose for ourselves but has an entirely different plan for our spiritual wellbeing.

    Just like Jonah, Elijah, and countless others we often do not want to go where God takes us. Though once we have we can look backward and see that God was right afterall.

    We need never have anxiety, but rather trust.

    If you have accepted Jesus of Nazareth as being the Christ, and placed your trust in Him. Then you also trust Him to bring you into the city and your share of the tree of life. Just as He promised He would. Have no fear but only joy.


  16. davids says:

    I haven’t contributed much recently, but I have been following the blog and am always grateful for those that do contribute, as above.

    On subject, I think back to the day that I accepted Christ into my life and how simple it was. His grace was sufficient. My eight-year-old provides a model for me. He believes in God in a simple and trusting way. The commandments are pretty simple, even if we tend to break them regularly.

    InHisHands, I pray for you and your son. I have an adopted brother that recently left jail, and I pray that he will use the opportunity to change his life and trust in the Lord.

    Dust, I tried to make sense of your graph, and scoured the web for detail. I think I might order the book instead.

    Love to all. You are truly in my prayers.

  17. Regina says:

    Good Evening All

    Hope all is well in your lives. Still reading Mart’s intro comment, and paused for a few to share my thoughts on…

    “But, again, what are we to make of our Lord’s words that by keeping “commandments” we can enter back into a place where he walked with Adam and Eve before their rebellion?”

    this comment brings to mind Enoch’s walk with the LORD. His will was so united with God’s will that he was raptured out of the world and taken to heaven. Thinking about how Enoch left behind family, friends, etc. Did they receive divine revelation that he had been taken to heaven by God? Often wonder what that must have been like for him?! The awesome amazement of it all! :)

    Want to share a thought or two on this comment also…
    “Doesn’t the history that follows show the inability of “commandments” to make either a nation, or any of its citizens good?”

    It brought to mind a Bible passage: Matt. 22:36-39, NIV
    36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” 37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.

    Thinking that “commandments” have been less able to make nations good but have had more impact on citizens (individuals) in giving them a desire to be good.

    Getting ready to read the rest of the intro comment before going to bed. Sunny and warm in Texas today (low/mid 70’s).

  18. Regina says:

    Well, after reading the entire intro comment, I, now, want to comment on the last two sentences,

    “Isn’t it then the story behind the words that the Spirit of God uses to give us their meaning? And doesn’t it also follow, that by these last words, our Lord, himself, is urging us to return to that story to find out how to be sure of our relationship with him… and how to give others the evidence, and the benefit of what we have found?”

    When Jesus was in the world, He was “love” personified, and when we accept Him as LORD & Savior, He gives us “living water”—supernatural power to love one another, and a desire to share the “love” that we’ve found in Him with others. The love that we have for brothers/sisters in Christ and for unbelievers bears witness (in our spirit) of our relationship with Him.

  19. BruceC says:


    I will keep your son Josh in my prayers. The first several years of my law enforcement career was spent as a CO in the county jail; (later as a Sgt for a while). I have seen many young men like Josh come through the door. I always breaks the hearts of loved ones; especially when they reach that tipping point where they realize that they have done all “they can do”. But keep clinging to God and His promises and His strength. Many I met did not have this as you do.

    Soli Deo Gloria!

  20. SFDBWV says:

    I have been thinking about this subject of Mart’s; suppose you only had a few moments left to leave a message to your loved ones. In those last few lines you wanted to give them your shortest and most concentrated warning about their future and its blessings, as well as its consequences for not heeding your warnings.

    What might you say, in those hurried last few moments?

    I believe that is all that is going on here. Simple warnings from the one who controls all of eternity.
    *If for no other reason, just do as I tell you, because of who I am. And what will happen if you don’t.*


  21. florida7sun says:

    Good morning.

    It could hit 90 here today. Spring training in baseball has begun.

    In reflection this morning I think of a chant Boston Red Sox fans yell when certain players come to the plate to bat. In unison they shout “Who’s your daddy?”

    Reading the many plots and subplots throughout God’s Word, from the dawn of man’s creation to the end-of-the-age, isn’t that the eternal question?

    We are in spiritual warfare and have to choose.

    Who do we listen to and hunger for? Who will we be obedient to? Who will we serve?

    From four in the Garden of Eden to four on a hill in Golgotha, we know that Our Father so loved us that he gave His only begotten Son. Yet, there was iniquity in the fallen one who seeks to kill and destroy.

    We have been given free will to choose.

    Love to be love must be freely given and freely received.

    Having surrendered to the Lord Jesus, I graciously call my Father, Abba, and desire to do His will in the strength He has given me.

    Blessed Sunday to all, Ray

  22. InHisHands says:

    Thank you so much Pooh, Steve and Bruce for you words of encouragement.

    Josh made an confession of faith early in life (7 years), but at 12 had wondered about that early decision and reconfirmed and asked to be baptized again. I cling to Prov. 22:6 and pray diligently that Josh will turn back to God, and away from drugs and the allure of the world. His mental illness is increased by the drugs that he takes to try to “feel better”.

    Reading what Mart has written about the “story behind last words,” I am so grateful that God has given us the complete story and the remedy for the sin that separates us from Him. I am blessed to know I am covered by that remedy and that my children have all made that choice, as well. It is difficult to watch them walk a path that is out of line to that profession – but I depend of the Word (Jesus) to give me the peace I need to just keep praying and not lose hope that the promise in Prov. 22:6 is being worked out in their lives in HIS time.

    Thank you all for your prayers, and know I that I pray for each of you, too.

  23. tracey5tgbtg says:

    InHisHands –
    You and your son are in my prayers. I know, from personal experience, how hard it is to see your child in pain such as Joshua is in.

    “Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope:
    Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:21-23

  24. poohpity says:

    As a parent we wish we could take away all the pain our children have to suffer to grow. It would be nice if they listen to our warnings and if we could protect them from themselves but we can not. I bet the Lord from generation to generation has wanted the same for all His children especially for them just to acknowledge that there is a God and that God loves them not by words but by deeds.

    In the reading this morning I was amazed by Moses wanting his brother-n-law to go with them after they left Sinai to show them the good places to camp while all the time up to this point it had been God who guided them. It just tickled me that this man Moses walked and talked directly with God yet wanted the help of a man to go with. I guess nobody is perfect in their relationship and trust in God. These stories behind the last words show how much we fall short of real trust and it is good to know the stories so when we come into a life experience we know we are not alone in some of our doubts.

  25. dja says:

    Please know that I am also praying for you. It is especially hard when our children walk in the opposite way they have been taught. I, too, cling to Prov. 22:6 which a friend pointed out to me says, “and when he is OLD he will not turn from it.” I also pray over Jeremiah 31:15-17 day in and day out.

    I wait with you in great expectation for the day your Josh and my 2 sons return to their own land. These last 15+ years have shown me that we can not boast in trying to do all the right things bringing up our children because it’s not what our hands have done. It is what He has done, what He is doing and what He will do. So, we love them and faithfully bring them before our Father (Abba, Father -Romans 8:15 as Bruce has written).
    May the Lord strengthen you, InHisHands, and comfort your heart. May he remember to Josh His Word and draw him to Himself.


  26. Charis says:


    John 14:21 wasn’t in your list of verses.

    John 14:21 “he who is having my commands, and is keeping them, that one it is who is loving me, and he who is loving me shall be loved by my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.'”

    The way I hear it is that LOVING HIM is the cornerstone.
    If I am LOVING HIM with all my heart, soul, mind and strength,
    I AM having and keeping his command.

  27. bratimus says:

    Revelation 22:!4, Sounds like a welcome greeting to those who are walking through the gates into the NeW Jerusalem, and prcliaming why to those who are outside the gates.

  28. Regina says:

    Good Evening All

    Hope you all had an opportunity to worship (with other believers) in the house of the LORD today.

    I, too, will pray for your son, Josh, InHisHands. I have a son too (Matthew–he will be 20 years old in May), so I can definitely relate to your desire to see your son born-again and living a righteous and holy life before our God.

    Overcast, misty and windy in Texas today (78 degrees).

  29. Rajnesh says:

    Reading Deuteronomy 4:29-31 29 But if from there you seek the LORD your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul. 30 When you are in distress and all these things have happened to you, then in later days you will return to the LORD your God and obey him. 31 For the LORD your God is a merciful God; he will not abandon or destroy you or forget the covenant with your ancestors, which he confirmed to them by oath.

    This, for me, ties in nicely with the final words. I think in the darkest hour a “non-believer” will turn to God.

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