Tree of Life
2b…also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. (Revelation 22:2b–ESV)
What a tree this must be to span the most important river of forever. Only the New Jerusalem will reveal just what this means. Is it a tree like a California Redwood, so large that its trunk overarches the river? Are there two rows of trees? Are the roots investing and invested by the river? It would block or obscure the view of God’s throne so how is it situated? Is it downstream? Does the river meander allowing the Tree of Life to be offset?
What about the fruit? Twelve kinds, and each maturing in a month’s time? Let your imagination do what it will with this, but don’t let it become clouded by uncertainty. Never allow clouds of impossibility to corrode your faith. Let your mind dwell on the abundance and wonder, the certainty and hope. This vision was not just for John. It was also for all who would come after him down even into the 21st Century. We would do so very well to read and by faith be confident in that forever era.
That the leaves would be for healing may seem awkward. Why would we the nations need healing in eternity? On a page at BlueLetterBible.org which gives commentary on this section John Walvoord is quoted. Walvoord indicated that in the ancient languages this would more appropriately be translated health-giving. That way of considering the leaves fits better with the scheme of these things. In the forever world healing has been completed, and ongoing health will be the pattern. That is a lot like the river of the water of life.
Not a new tree
Western Civilization was heavily molded by Christianity especially after Constantine established it as the official religion in the 4th Century A.D. Even many non-believers1 are at least aware of the role of a tree in the fall of humanity. God cast Eve and Adam out of the Garden of Eden after both ate fruit from the forbidden tree.
Some may recall that there was another tree in that Garden. Look at the following quotation.
22 Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever—” 23 therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. 24 He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life. (Genesis 3:22-24–ESV)
See those last three words? “Tree of life.” So this tree which is in the New Jerusalem is back again, and this time there are no flaming cherubim. There is no banishment, but rather an invitation.
All that God provided for Adam and Eve God took only to return the tree after he made a way. See how the words God has given us are so magnificent? A story read or movie watched is not sufficient until the loose ends are tied up in some manner.
When you begin to edit a book, you have written or a movie script you have composed you will shortly come across the concept of arc. Characters and conflicts need to arc to conclusions and resolutions. Arc is not merely an author’s rule. It is not something which a publisher contrived. Story movement is part of our nature. As we need that type of progression, it is demanded by publishers so that books will sell.
I am encouraged to see such arc in our Bible. Its presence across the millennia of its writing validates our nature and God’s providence. You may need to ponder that a little, but do so. It is excellent to see these happy nuggets written from beginning to end. We do well to take these wonders to God in praise. For those of us who have accepted Jesus’ offer of salvation that tree will someday be right there in front of us. We will be able to take from its fruit. That will be amazing all the way to forever.