Eighteen & nineteen
18 I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, 19 and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book. (Revelation 22:18-19–ESV)
Ding! Ding! Ding! Warning
In these last verses of Revelation, Jesus declares that the content of this book is complete. He gave it but knowing the proclivity of people to take authority unto themselves Jesus affixed clear guidelines to the material of this book.
The words of this prophecy were destined to reach the churches. What Jesus spoke to John on Patmos has even reached through the millennia to our awareness. The thing is some people will read these things and presume something is wrong with them. Maybe these words fall short of personal preference? Maybe they go too far? In their dissatisfaction, they may pick up their red pen to edit the words of God. Perhaps they figure more needs said, or some needs cut out.
It is to those that Jesus sends the warning of grace. “Don’t do it!” is the command spoke right at the end of Revelation. (Don’t overlook that this warning is not about the Bible as we in the 21st Century know it, but rather about the book of Revelation alone. The principle can in some manner be extrapolated to the Bible as we know it, but be careful to properly read and interpret what phrases like this one actually say.)
Has this been done before?
Think no further than the religious leaders of Israel. When the Hebrew nation began to take shape, God was there giving instructions through Moses, but to those instructions, the religious leaders added many things. Those leaders, known as Pharisees in the days Jesus walked on the earth distorted ceremonial washing, fasting, praying, and a whole array of other things from what God intended. Those false guides twisted interpretations and set them upon pedestals as of utmost importance. That is, an importance rising above God.
These spiritual directors also steadily affixed an eternal value to religious traditions. Laid upon the backs of the men and women of Israel were a whole cadre of requirements. Violation of these requirements brought heavy penalties. In effect, men put their traditions on an equal footing with the teachings of God.
Other men and women claim to have visions or revelations from God. They propound these to the point where they become the rule of faith and living. Jesus said to his closest Apostle that Revelation of these things is at an end. No more was coming from God himself. God knew that people would follow claiming new revelation and in preparation for that gave notice that those things were out of bounds.