Friday, December 16, 2016

Revelation 22:1-5

Revelation 22:1-5
And he pointed out to me a river of the water of life- clear as crystal – which went out of the throne of God and of the lamb.  In the middle of its broad street and on each side of the river is the tree of life, which makes twelve fruits and which renders back its fruit according to each month.  And the leaves of the tree are into the healing of the nations.  And everything will not still be cursed.  And the throne of God and of the lamb will be in it and his slaves will serve him.  And they will see His face and His name will be upon their foreheads.  And night will still not be.  And they do not have a need of the light of a lamp and of the light of the sun since the Lord God will shine upon them and they will rule into the eras of the eras.

Thoughts for Today

First Thought:

In this last chapter, we do what we’ve been expecting to do all chapter.  Now we get to fully look into the future and see what eternal life is going to be like.  Don’t forget that this is apocalyptic book.  John is still trying to send a message of hope to the people currently living under persecution.  When we look fully into eternal life, what is the picture that we see?  We see a river flowing out of the throne of God.  Take a moment and read Ezekiel 47.  In that chapter we get the picture that John is likely drawing off.  This is the river of life.  This is the sustaining power of God, because it flows directly out of the throne!  But there is a really neat symbolic understanding here.  It is most commonly thought that this river of life imagery is symbolic of the Holy Spirit.  You will notice that as we read through the rest of this chapter that the Father and Son are mentioned all over the place, but the Holy Spirit is quite left out.  I believe that John has left this River of Life imagery in this retelling to remind us that it is God’s Spirit, which comes out of His presence from the throne, that goes into all of the world and sustains us.  We can live with God only because He has chosen to bring His Spirit to us and let it flow out of Him.

How do you experience the Spirit of God?  How do you talk about God’s Spirit to the people around you?

Second Thought:

The river of life gives the tree of life its ability to fruit.  Do you notice that there are twelve fruits?  While it is certainly possible to think about this tree giving a different kind of fruit for each month, remember that this is a symbolic book.  I believe what John is getting at is that there we all have a broad range of needs.  We all have a spectrum of ways that God can come into our life.  It is not like God comes to us the same every time.  It is not like our need of God is the same from person to person.  It is not like each individual person has the same need for God every day!  No, the reality is that we all have different needs.  God provides multiple fruit to sustain our whole life.  Having said this, I think that it is neat that John specifically points out that the leaves are for the healing of the nations.  In other words, we are reminded here that human beings can be incredibly mean to each other.  Our whole history is filled with stories of people who used other people to accomplish their own desires.  That is a particular need that God addresses specifically through this vision.  That is a particular need that we all share.

What harm have you done to others to accomplish your desires?  What harm has been done to you by others?  More generically, what are your needs that the fruit of the tree of life will sustain your life and help you find fullness?

Third Thought:

At the end of this section we get to hear that the curse will not be found there.  In other words, we will not experience death.  Naturally, this is true because God has dealt with both sin and death.  We talked about that several chapters ago when we spoke about the dragon and the beasts.  In the life to come, we do not need to fear death because the curse will be removed.  Even more, we will all belong to God.  We will be His slaves.  His name will be written upon our foreheads.  However, there is one huge element that John gives to us.  We will see His face.  God’s people will finally be able to be in face-to-face relationship with God.  We will be able to look upon Him and live!

What do you think it will be like to be in a face-to-ace relationship with the Father?  What do you think life will be like without the temptation and consequences of sin always at hand?

Passage for Tomorrow: Revelation 22:6-10
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