Revelation #37 Revelation 22:1-5 (MSG) End Times: The Water of Life


Revelation #37 Revelation 22:1-5 (MSG) End Times: The Water of Life


John is getting a guided tour of Holy Jerusalem.  He’s passing on what he sees to us.  John has painted an incredible word picture to enable us to capture the stunning beauty and awesomeness of the City both inside and out.  Do not lose sight that John is describing the current spiritual reality for believers.  This is now, spiritually our reality, as we will read, soon it will become a universal reality. “God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:6-7 (NIV). The guided tour is not over, there is another feature of New Jerusalem that we must see.


Rev 22:1-5 (MSG)

Then the Angel showed me Water-of-Life River, crystal bright. It flowed from the Throne of God and the Lamb, right down the middle of the street. The Tree of Life was planted on each side of the River, producing twelve kinds of fruit, a ripe fruit each month. The leaves of the Tree are for healing the nations. Never again will anything be cursed. The Throne of God and of the Lamb is at the center. His servants will offer God service—worshiping, they'll look on his face, their foreheads mirroring God. Never again will there be any night. No one will need lamplight or sunlight. The shining of God, the Master, is all the light anyone needs. And they will rule with him age after age after age.


Have you ever been to a city that has a river running through it?  Pittsburgh Pennsylvania, Grand Rapids Michigan, St Louis Missouri, San Antonio Texas, or maybe Portland Oregon? Imagine on both sides of the river that there is a highway of gold. The water in the river is pure, deep, and refreshing.  Trees lining the banks, park-like. The Water-of-Life river is such a river, flowing from the Throne of God and the Lamb, that’s the source, the river comes rushing out from the Throne, the authority of God and the Lamb (Revelation 3:21)


The Old Testament is full of such imagery. There is a river in the Garden in Eden (Genesis 2:8-16). Ezekiel envisions a river flowing from the Temple (Ezekiel 47:1-7).  The Psalmist sang there is a river whose streams make glad the city of God (Psalms46:4).  The prophet Joel called it a fountain issuing forth from the house of the Lord (Joel 3:18).  Zechariah sees living waters flowing out of Jerusalem (Zechariah 14:8).  The most powerful imagery comes from Jesus: "If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Rivers of living water will brim and spill out of the depths of anyone who believes in me this way, just as the Scripture says." (He said this in regard to the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were about to receive…( John 7:37-39 (MSG). Water-of-Life River is the Holy Spirit flowing out of the believer.  In Ezekiel's vision where ever the river flows life flourishes; life abounds (Ezekiel 47:9).


Here is a thought that you need to evaluate. Even though the Apostle Paul told the folks in Corinth that there is no diagram, the imagery of New Jerusalem gives us a glimpse into the mystery of the believer’s resurrected body. The perishable becomes imperishable (1 Corinthians 15:53), the mortal becomes immortal, what was weak is now strong (Isaiah 40:29-31), and what was known in part is now known in full (1 Corinthians 13:9).   John's description of New Jerusalem is of the glorified human body.  If so, then, the City, the resurrected body is glorious, God and the Lamb rule and shine within, illuminating life and everything has become what it was always intended to be. If you ever wondered what the resurrected and glorified body of life eternal looks like, John has painted a picture of it in his description of Holy Jerusalem. Now you can discard that idea and it will not affect your relationship with Jesus.


The guided tour continues.  “The Tree of Life was planted on each side of the River, producing twelve kinds of fruit, a ripe fruit each month. The leaves of the Tree are for healing the nations” (Revelation 22:2 (MSG). We first read of the Tree of Life in Genesis, the tree grows in the center of the Garden in Eden. When Adam rebelled he was blocked from eating its fruit, for if he had, he and the human race he represented would have been eternally separated from God (Genesis 3:22). Now life eternal flourishes in the disciple. It is not too great a stretch to imagine the fruits readily harvested from the trees are the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Galatians  5:22-23 (NIV). If we choose that this is too great a stretch, then the ripe fruit every month is a symbol of God’s great provision.  John has told us that those who have come out of the great tribulation, will never be hungry or thirsty again (Revelation 7:16). Divine provision is always fresh and abundant (Mounce, p. 387).  Even in the rough, intense, and catastrophic times, God provides.


The leaves on the Tree of Life are for the healing of the nations.  We can understand this healing to be the end of physical and spiritual want (Mounce, p. 387). Psalms 147:3 (NIV): “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”  Your wounds, the ones you bear now, physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual will be healed, and are being healed right now.  Healing happens, but the scars remain.  You will point to a scar and say, Jesus got me through this one too. That you are under the care of the Great Physician right now brings hope that all will soon be well.


In addition to this idea that the leaves on the tree of life bring personal healing, let’s dip into a little more speculation.  Have you ever wondered what we will be doing for eternity?  Scripture tells us we will be serving and worshiping God.  Serving and worship are very much interrelated as both are understood to bring glory to God. Glory is manifesting the presence of God.  Instead of floating around on clouds with harps of gold, what if believers are to bring healing to the nations? Could our task as servants be to go throughout the world healing what sin had wounded?  Speculation, speculation, speculation, what would a human city healed look like; be like? What would a human habitation be like if it were designed in complete harmony with nature, built in partnership with nature? Maybe bringing healing will be our service and worship under the new heaven and on the new earth.


Back to the scripture.


In the consummation of the Kingdom, the curse upon humanity is removed. Because of Adam’s disobedience, the entire human race became subject to a threefold curse. Humanity’s antagonistic relationship with nature, the desire to dominate in relationships with others, and physical death, are now banished.  The Apostle Paul proclaimed:  Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: "Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree." He redeemed us so that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit” (Galatians 3:13-14 (NIV). Finally peace on earth and good will among the people (Luke 2:14 (NCV). Sounds a lot like existence in the Garden planted in Eden. Our starting place is our finishing place. “I am God, the only God you've had or ever will have— incomparable, irreplaceable—From the very beginning telling you what the ending will be…” (Isaiah 46:9-10 (MSG).


God, so often thought of as far away, is in the midst of the city.  God’s throne is in the city center.  If our opinion is that New Jerusalem is a metaphor for the resurrected body of believers, then the Throne of the Father and the Son reside in the circumcised heart of each believer right now.  It is from the heart that the Water of Life river flows, and the Tree of Life flourishes, and from the actions of the heart, the healing of the nations comes. Scripture indicates that the heart is the center of our thought and will (Proverbs 4:23), it is out of the heart our emotions arise (Psalms 47:1), and it is the place where our motivations and intent are to be found (Deuteronomy 6:5).  The heart serves as our moral compass (1 Kings 3:12). A throne represents authority, this is a picture of a yielded heart to the authority of God in Christ. It is a picture of being blessed and being a blessing.


John reveals Jesus' equal status with the One Jesus called Father, both reside on the Throne. The Father, the Son, and recognized a century or so later, the Spirit are so in unity that instead of writing “the Father’s servants,” “or the Son’s servants,” John writes His servants. Now being called a servant can give you a misleading impression, we tend to think employee, who works at will for an employer.  The word servant is the translation of the word slave.  It is the slaves of God that are sealed in chapter 7. You may experience suffering and hardship in the rough, intense, and catastrophic times of the End, but know that God protects His own. Spiritually you are secure.


It is said of Moses that God would speak with him face to face just like you speak with a friend. (Exodus 33:11). This type of relationship is being restored right now.  “We don't yet see things clearly. We're squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won't be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We'll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!” (1 Cor 13:12 (MSG). John reveals that as we serve we will look on his face, a hope realized.  No more intermediaries, no more figuring out dreams and visions, now clear communication. 


Then John adds a strange idiom, “their foreheads mirroring God”  or as the New International Version translates God’s “name will be on their foreheads.”  The words mean that those who serve God will be “perfectly possessed by God” (Ladd, p. 288).  To be perfectly possessed by God means that you are of His likeness.  “And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:18 (NIV). With the consummation of the Kingdom, the transformation is complete.  Now the character of His servants is exactly like Him.


In the consummation scheme of life, there is no night. No night has two meanings. The first is the danger that was inherent in the night for those first-century folks is no longer a threat.  The second reason is because God is always present and Jesus is the light of the world.  The City is divinely illuminated with the presence of God. The benediction for Numbers is very appropriate here, a benediction is a blessing bestowed at the close of a teaching. "' "The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace"'  (Numbers 6:24-26 (NIV).  God’s face shines upon all his people and his people reflect that shining, that shining light dispels even shadows, Darkness, the symbolic evil that threatens or the symbolic judgment it represents,  is abolished.


Thus the people of God, the Heavenly Woman, the Church, the Bride of Christ, the Holy City, take their grace-given place as priests and kings in the service of God forever and ever. That’s how things must end based upon the ministry of Jesus Christ.


John’s vision of Holy Jerusalem began in Chapter 21.  John has told us of the beauty of the city inside and out.  We suggested that John is describing the glorified resurrected body that will be bestowed upon the followers of Jesus. Unfortunately, that is not the majority view.  Scholars see Holy Jerusalem as a fulfillment of the prophecies of the Old Testament.  God has come to Earth, and dwells in new Jerusalem and from this new center of the world, blesses the nations.  Yet we will hold to our basic interpretive perspective, Revelation is the story of Jesus, and John is revealing the result of Jesus' ministry, because of what Jesus has accomplished this is the character of the End, we can conclude that those who bend their knee to the Lordship of Jesus, and then stay faithful, obedient even unto death, that they will live under a new heaven on a new earth in a new intimate relationship with their Creator.  On the last day, Jesus will raise His faithful.

Thus all the promises made to the seven churches are fulfilled.  All things have been set right.

We are not finished, verses 6 through 21 are yet to be considered.  What we can walk away with from this teaching is 1) fidelity is rewarded. 2). New Jerusalem is our resurrected glorified bodies.  3). God is with us in a new way, under a new heaven, on a new earth, He in us, we in Him. Therefore, we must ask ourselves and examine our behaviors: Are our choices, our daily decisions, are they a help or hindrance to entering the gates of New Jerusalem? Ask the Holy Spirit to show you what needs to be changed, what needs to be strengthened, and where you are doing well. Life before the consummation can get incredibly difficult, the challenges epic, troubles and heartbreak come out of nowhere; before they come, decide now what your choice will be. John urges you to choose faithfulness.  Remember your service to the Lord, the Bride is dressed in the righteous deeds of the saints.  It is wise to make loving God and loving others a priority in your life. John tells us these things he has revealed will all come soon, now is the time to be ready.



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