THE TREE OF LIFE
Rev 22:1-6 And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and His servants shall serve Him: and they shall see His face; and His name shall be in their foreheads. And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and They shall reign for ever and ever. And he said unto me, These sayings are faithful and true: and the Lord God of the holy prophets sent His angel to show unto His servants the things which must shortly be done.
As the lesson begins, John is, once again, being symbolically shown the kingdom of God, over which His Son, Jesus Christ is now King. It is depicted as the New Jerusalem; it is made up of the spiritual kingdom known as heaven, and the earthly kingdom, which is His church, the church of Christ. All these things are being shown, and descriptively revealed, to the apostle John by an angel, or messenger, of God. This revelation is now revealed to mankind in this final book of the New Testament.
There in the New Jerusalem John was shown a pure river of water of life. This was no stagnant pool of water; rather it was a river that was alive with movement, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb, as if from a source such as a fountain or spring. It was pure water, and was clear as crystal. No doubt this was a symbol of eternal life that was available to the world from the preaching of the gospel of salvation on the Day of Pentecost following the death of our Savior, Christ Jesus. Its saving power will continue to flow until He comes to redeem His faithful followers at the end of time. And then it will symbolically flow only for those that finally dwell in this heavenly city. This river of pure water washes God's glory over those that obediently served the cause of Christ during his or her lifetime on earth.
Although we were previously told that the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass (Rev. 21:21), here we are given a different symbolic description of that street. It is referred to as flowing river (Vs. 2a). However, some bible scholars contend that this river of life ran parallel to the street of gold, a contention which I must also consider to be just as valid. This analogy was probably used in order to sustain the tree of life, which flourished beside this life-giving stream of water. Again, since the tree of life is said to be thriving on either side of the river, the reference is more than likely to a multitude of life-giving trees, instead of just one similar to that single tree noted in the Garden of Eden (See Gen. 3).
The fruit of these trees seem to be ever bearing; their fruitfulness does not seem to be restricted to certain periodic times, but are always fruitful. (A)nd the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. Does this mean that in heaven the saved will still need food to sustain their lives and medicinal herbs to heal diseases? Not so. Other numerous references tell us that heaven will be a place where death and disease will have no effect on its saved inhabitants. Rather the meaning here seems to be that these elements, fruits and healing leaves, have already forever banished death and disease from any affects upon the eternal souls of the saved. No doubt, the river and the tree of life, are both symbols of eternal life bestowed by God as His reward to those that conquer the evils of the world, by committing themselves to His commandments, as found in the New Testament gospel of Christ, during their earthly sojourn.
The curse, spoken of in verse 3 refers to the sins that were placed before mankind by Satan, during their physical life on earth. In heaven, the curse will not exist; it shall be no more. The reason it will be absent in heaven is because sin cannot exist in the presence of God and of the Lamb. Even the pain and sorrow that was the result of sin on earth will not exist in heaven. It, too, shall be no more. All inhabitants of heaven will be devoted forever to worshipful service toward God and His Son, Christ Jesus. Although mankind has never seen the face of God while on earth, He, as well as our Savior, will be visible to the saved that enter portals of heavens. Here on earth, we see through a glass, darkly; but then, when heaven is our home, we shall see Him face to face. Also, while here on earth, I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. (1 Cor. 13:12). In heaven, the saved of the earth can easily be identified, because, symbolically, His name shall be in their foreheads.
Verse 5 contains meanings similar to those found in the preceding chapter of this book. The reason for needing no external, or artificial light, such as a candle, or other created lights, such as the sun, within the kingdom of heaven, is because it is made clear and bright by the light emanating from divine presence of God ...and the Lamb (See Rev. 21: 23). Also, there shall be no night there, that is, there shall be no occasion for grief and sorrow for the souls that inherit this heavenly abode. And speaking of the saved in heaven, John writes that They shall reign for ever and ever. This is the same meaning found in 2 Timothy 2:11-12. There Paul confirmed Jesus Christ to Timothy by telling him that, if we be dead with Him, we shall also live with Him: If we suffer, we shall also reign with Him.
John closes the Revelation of his visions of heaven with verse 6 by referring to it as the New Jerusalem. It was shown to him by God's messenger, either in direct revelation, or through symbolism with these thoughts: And he (that is the angel) said unto me, These sayings are faithful and true: and the Lord God of the holy prophets. John received assurance that the God of heaven, spoken of here in this Revelation letter, to be the same Lord God of the holy prophets. The prophecies of heaven, and the events leading to the hope of eternal life, were originally sent by the Holy Spirit of God to Old Testament prophets, who, in turn, recorded them for our learning. This was done to confirm God's inspired writings found in the New Testament.
God sent His angel to show unto His servants the things which must shortly be done. The time period that must shortly be done, in which all of the prophetic symbolism will come to pass, is known only to God. Mankind can only assume that they will take place in a short period of time, in order to continually be prepared for the end of time, and the second coming of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. What mankind considers to be a short time, may mean eternity to our Creator and our Heavenly Father. Verse 7 sums this thought up: Behold, I come quickly: blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book.
The remainder of this final chapter of Revelation emphasizes, and further clarifies, the "sayings" found in all of the preceding writings of John, which are found in this letter.