“Then the angel showed me a river with the water of life, clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb. It flowed down the centre of the main street. On each side of the river grew a tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, with a fresh crop each month. The leaves were used for medicine to heal the nations.”
Revelation 22:1-2 NLT
For all their lives, my grandmother and aunt lived in a small village situated on the banks of the River Test, in Hampshire, England. I spent many holidays there and have memories of the river, flowing quickly through the chalky geology of that part of the world. It was so clear and clean, that every detail seemed to stand out, its clarity famous amongst fishermen and others. But the“ water of life … flowing from the throne of God” was even clearer. It’s purity was perfect. And “it flowed down the centre of the main street“.
We will remember the words of Jesus, when He appealed to the people in Jerusalem, as recorded by John in John 7:37-38. “On the last day, the climax of the festival, Jesus stood and shouted to the crowds, “Anyone who is thirsty may come to me! Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.’”” John continued in verse 39 with an explanation of what this living water was, “(When he said “living water,” he was speaking of the Spirit, who would be given to everyone believing in him. But the Spirit had not yet been given, because Jesus had not yet entered into his glory.)”. We will also remember the story of the conversation Jesus had with a Samaritan woman, who was drawing water from a well. Jesus said, “… If you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask Me, and I would give you living water.”” (John 4:10). So in a sense there has been a spiritual river flowing from God even in these pre-New Jerusalem days. And it is a gift God has for us right now. Today.
In John’s vision, he saw the trees of life, one on each side of the river. But at first sight, the reference to leaves being there for healing would seem to be anomalous, because there can not, and will not, be any sickness in Heaven. So the fruit and leaves of the trees of life were there to sustain the eternal state of those living in Heaven. We read about God’s plan to feed His creation back in Genesis 2:9. “The Lord God made all sorts of trees grow up from the ground—trees that were beautiful and that produced delicious fruit. In the middle of the garden he placed the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” At last, God’s plan finally realised in the New Heaven, in the New Earth and the New Jerusalem.
The prophet Ezekiel wrote about a river that flowed from the Temple, starting at the door as a stream. And it became deeper and deeper as it flowed. In Ezekiel 47:12 he wrote, “Fruit trees of all kinds will grow along both sides of the river. The leaves of these trees will never turn brown and fall, and there will always be fruit on their branches. There will be a new crop every month, for they are watered by the river flowing from the Temple. The fruit will be for food and the leaves for healing.” In his vision, Ezekiel saw this river flowing from the Temple all the way to the Dead Sea. Many a sermon has been preached, inviting the hearers to immerse themselves in this river of life. But the question for us pilgrims is how much of God’s Spirit do we want to enjoy? Just a little, an ankle’s worth, or full immersion up over our heads. God is not reluctant to give. There is no water shortage in God’s spiritual economy.
Dear Father God. We pray for a fresh infilling of Your Spirit today. In Jesus’ name. Amen.