The angel highlights two important and beautiful features in God’s city for John to consider. The River of Life and the Tree of Life.
I love looking at and listening to rivers. The sounds they make as they move through the world. They are powerful yet inviting. Finding their source or sources is sometimes difficult. Are they fed by an underground spring? Do they start with a waterfall leading away from a lake? Are they the result of melting snow in the mountains and only flow for a part of the year? And how many “sources” do they have? How many different sources “feed” into them?
The River of Life is fed by ONE source. That source is God. I’m curious if the river only flows in God’s city or if it feeds out into streams and rivers of the new earth. Are there streams, rivers, lakes and seas in the new earth? Will these waters bring more than quenching of the physical thirst? Will we be allowed to swim in this river? This thought brings to mind the movie Cocoon. Because of the life force of the pods in the water, those who entered the water were rejuvenated. I can imagine an even BETTER result when drinking or swimming in God’s river!
Now we look to the Tree of Life. I first read this as “the other side of the river” and wondered if it was on the “other side” where it was just to look at and protected. But that is NOT what is written here. John saw it “on either side of the river” (verse 2b). To me, this speaks of a tree so grand that it spans the river and the river actually flows through its root base. This tree is being fed by the very life flowing out from God! Talk about a HEALTHY tree!
I’m curious about the fruit of this tree. First of all, time passes on this new earth and it still uses a twelve month system. The fact that there are “twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month” (verse 2c) gives me that impression. This tree also doesn’t need a winter dormant season to replenish itself. It doesn’t even need a night time to rest up, as “night will be no more” (verse 5a).
So back to the fruit (got side tracked there a bit). Are the fruits harvested? It appears that the leaves are as “the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations” (verse 2d). Are the fruits going to feed the nations or do they just mark the passing of time? Also, what kind of “healing” is needed for the nations? We know there is no more disease and death. Are they for a rejuvenation of God’s energy/presence in them? I imagine the nations are spread around the new earth and therefore not in the very presence of His holy city. Do the leaves, fed directly by the River of Life flowing from Him, get taken to the nations so they too can experience His nearness even though far away? I wonder if this is the angels’ new job. No Amazon drones needed, angels have that covered.
The angel backs up a bit from looking at the specific features and goes back to the one defining aspect of this city that truly sets it apart. The fact that this city is THE dwelling place of God and the Lamb is what gives EVERYTHING there its uniqueness. The river and the tree are great features of this city but neither would stand without the very presence of God feeding them. This is HIS house. They are just features in His design.
In HIS house we will be focused on HIM. “His servants will worship Him. They will see His face and His name will be on their foreheads” (verses 3b-4). We (ME PLEASE TOO) will spend time just sitting at His feet and listening to His stories. I believe, as His servants, we will also be tasked to “serve” in some way. I don’t know if that means carrying leaves out to the nations or mopping the floors. Whatever “service” He calls each of us to, I believe we will do it with gusto because it will be for Him! I won’t mind polishing the silverware for dinners with Him and the family!
I’m curious about the lighting issue in the new earth. We know His city won’t have need of lights, including a sun or moon, but will the nations have that same illumination source? I broached this question earlier and proposed a “flat earth” or the laws of physics being suspended. But will either of those be the case or will the nations receive indirect light from another source He creates? Is that why then need “healing” leaves? Will there also be twelve nations? Is that why twelve fruits? Or are the twelve fruits, as proposed earlier, for marking the passage of time?
Father God, there are SO many questions I want to ask! “Inquiring minds want to know.” This section reminds me of how You put out “teasers” regarding Jesus’ first coming. The messages about the Messiah were “hidden among the leaves” until the time was right for them to be revealed for what they truly were. Kind of reminds me of picking apples from our trees where some are easy to see but others go undiscovered until they are SO ripe they turn colors and finally stand out. Sometimes they aren’t even discovered until the leave begin to drop. Your “teasers” here in John’s vision are like those apples. I won’t fully see them until the time is right. But I KNOW they are there and that their fruit is sweet! Best part about Your “teasers” is that they won’t become over ripe and spoil. You will reveal them at the peak of their freshness! Until then, I simply need to be still and trust You for those coming days.
YOU hold ALL time in Your hands. You also have some AMAZING stories to tell! I’m looking forward to whatever You hold in store for me, and the rest of time too! THANK YOU for giving me “peace with the pieces.” Also, thank You for giving me this sense of wonder! Both kinds: “I wonder what…” and “WOW look at that!”