Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city. On either side of the river is the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, producing its fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. Nothing accursed will be found there any more. But the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him; they will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And there will be no more night; they need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign for ever and ever. And he said to me, ‘These words are trustworthy and true, for the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, has sent his angel to show his servants what must soon take place.’ ‘See, I am coming soon! Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.’
John gives a powerful testimony to the importance and truthfulness of his visions. We see a vision of the new heaven and the promise of Christ’s return. So why does John give us this preview? Perhaps John is trying to encourage us to have hope which acts as a catalyst when life is difficult. Hope helps us encourage others in similar situations so that they may flourish in difficult and challenging times.
Since creation, water has been the source of life for both animals and plants. This River is a powerful image and it reassures us that everything we need – even life itself – has its origin in God. It is a perfect picture of paradise and the presence of God.
The Tree of Life which grows on both sides of the river bears abundant and different fruits (perhaps different kinds of fruit each month?). It carries in it the wonderful promise that God’s provision and new and sufficient daily mercies. The therapeutic leaves speak of the total lack of conflict or war between nations as they bring healing of the nations. It is worth noting that the old Jerusalem had no rivers flowing through it except for a pool or two; the threat of warfare was constant.
This passage is a custodian of hope. A hope we Christians need more than anything else. That hope of eternal life with Christ and God is the stuff that motivates us in today’s mission fields. It is the hope that will get us through life’s great tests, trials, and tribulations. But this passage is also about an assurance that through our faithfulness in Christ, we will receive our rewards, comfort, and blessings. Not just in the hereafter, but that we can have a taste of this in the here and now and still come out as winners in Him if we have faith, keep hope, and allow it to mould us into faithful disciples. May it be so!
Loving God, you are the hold the future, we trust our lives into your hands, knowing that you are with us in every trial. We do not always understand your ways, but we trust in your promises and the underserved plan of redemption in Jesus. We thank you for the resounding victory which He won over Satan, sin and death and the assurance that all who believe will be welcomed in His presence. Amen.
The Rev’d George Mwaura; Ecumenical Church of Christ the Cornerstone Milton Keynes