“And I solemnly declare to everyone who hears the words of prophecy written in this book: If anyone adds anything to what is written here, God will add to that person the plagues described in this book. And if anyone removes any of the words from this book of prophecy, God will remove that person’s share in the tree of life and in the holy city that are described in this book.
Revelation 22:18-19 NLT
We have here a warning. Nothing must be removed from, or added to, the prophecies written in the Book of Revelation. And there are dire consequences in store for any who do. We read earlier in Revelation 22:6 the following, “Then the angel said to me, “Everything you have heard and seen is trustworthy and true. The Lord God, who inspires his prophets, has sent his angel to tell his servants what will happen soon””. So we know the contents of Revelation are sound. God-inspired. The contents of this Book can be trusted. So it begs the question, “Who would want to change the contents of this Book?” I suppose it is likely that people would want to remove the difficult bits, and perhaps add something that they think will be a better wording, or provide a description that better fits the narrative. But this is a sober warning to be seriously heeded.
Does the warning extend just to the Book of Revelation, or does it apply to the whole of the Bible, including both Testaments? In Deuteronomy 4:1-2 we read that Moses said to the Israelites, “And now, Israel, listen carefully to these decrees and regulations that I am about to teach you. Obey them so that you may live, so you may enter and occupy the land that the Lord, the God of your ancestors, is giving you. Do not add to or subtract from these commands I am giving you. Just obey the commands of the Lord your God that I am giving you”. And again we read something similar in Proverbs 30:5-6, “Every word of God proves true. He is a shield to all who come to him for protection. Do not add to his words, or he may rebuke you and expose you as a liar”. I suppose some people question the authenticity of the Bible and its many translations, concerned that the truth contained within has been violated. But the Bible is an amazing collection of sixty six individual books. Although they had many authors, there is one over-riding influence, and that is the Holy Spirit. So when we read in Revelation 22:6 that everything written is “trustworthy and true” we can be assured of the dependability of what we read.
Also of concern is the emergence of sects that have added or changed some text in the Bible to suit their own ends, citing the inspiration of a “prophet” and revelations given to him. According to what we have read in Deuteronomy, Proverbs and Revelation they are heading for an unexpected but certain demise. But for me the traditional Bible has stood the test of time and we echo with Paul what he wrote in his letter to Timothy, “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realise what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work”. (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
So what do we pilgrims think of the Revelation warning? We consider it carefully and soberly, ensuring that we read the Bible properly, even the difficult parts. And we pray that the Holy Spirit will bring to our attention anything we need to “prepare and equip” us for our pilgrimage to the future Holy City.
Dear Father God. We thank You for Your wonderful, and only, written work, The Holy Bible. Please help us to expound its truths at every opportunity. We praise and worship You today. Amen.