Advent: December 23

Revelation 22:1-5

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads.

There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.

Jesus told the woman at the well that he would give her water that would remove her thirst forever. This is it, flowing from the throne and out into the Holy City, the New Jerusalem. Pure, clear water, overflowing abundance, welling up to eternal life.

This is the restoration of Eden, the beautiful place that Adam and Eve briefly inhabited. The course of history has been to turn full circle back to that place, but now honouring the one who made this possible – Jesus, Lamb of God.

Eternal life is going to be full on – the sun will have been retired, replaced by the light of God, reaching every corner. There’ll be no night, and certainly no beds! More time to party! There’ll therefore be no more distinct days, though the tree of life will produce monthly fruit!

The tree of life has leaves for the healing of the nations – what nations need healing in heaven? Charles Spurgeon says:

Of what can this tree be a type except of our Lord Jesus Christ and his salvation? What can it mean but that the presence of Christ preserves the inhabitants of heaven for ever free from sickness, while beyond heaven the precincts, among the nations, the saving influence is scattered? Just as the leaves fall from the trees, so does sacred influence descend from our Lord Jesus in heaven down to the sons of men; and just as the leaves are the least precious products of a fruit bearing tree, so the least things that have to do with him and come from him have a healing virtue in them.

It’s not easy to get a grip on a place where we live forever, without ageing or illness, without sleep or dreams. Will our clothes last for ever – we shouldn’t need seasonal wardrobes! What will we be wearing? Will we dress like Jesus did, or will we wear something more modern?

Will our bodies need rest and recuperation after a long walk, or after intense singing and praise, or after standing for hours on end in God’s presence?

What happened to the original Garden of Eden in the Bible story?

Will I be wearing shoes, sandals or neither?

Lord Jesus, the prospect of eternity is something I cannot fully comprehend. I pray that you will remove the scales from my eyes that stop me seeing the glory of eternity, and the fears in my heart that stop me realising its freedom, for I was born for eternity. Amen.

Kings and priests