The river of the water of life mentioned in this chapter is similar to what Ezekiel and Zechariah saw hundreds of years before the apostle John lived (Ezek. 47:1-12; Zech. 14:8). Ezekiel also mentioned seeing the tree of life along that amazing river:
And by the river on its bank, on one side and on the other, will grow all kinds of trees for food. Their leaves will not wither, and their fruit will not fail. They will bear every month because their water flows from the sanctuary, and their fruit will be for food and their leaves for healing (Ezek. 47:12).
Notice how similar that is to what John wrote:
On either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations (22:2).
How leaves will heal, and why nations will need healing, we are not told. In any case, it is interesting that the tree of life is found in the very beginning of the Bible (Gen. 2:9), and at the very end. Someday, when we’re permitted to eat from it, we’ll understand it better (22:14).
Amazingly, believers will someday see the face of God, something that God once told Moses that no man could do without forfeiting his life (Ex. 33:20). Our glorified bodies will apparently be able to handle what our old, physical bodies could not.
It also seems that our new bodies may not need to sleep. If they do, we’ll have to sleep in the daytime, as there will no longer be any night in the city that is illuminated by God’s glory (22:5).
It is interesting that the apostle John, perhaps the most spiritual person on earth during his day, twice made the error of worshipping angels during his visions (19:10; 22:8-9). This makes me feel better about my blunders. John was obviously overcome with what he was experiencing. In both instances, the angels told him, “Worship God.”
In light of the fact that it has been almost 2,000 years since John had his vision, it is also interesting that an angel told him that the things which he saw in his visions “must soon take place” (22:6), and that “the time is near” (22:10). We know, of course, that 1,000 years to us is like one day to God (2 Pet. 3:8), so from His eternal standpoint, the things which John saw would take place shortly. It has, however, seemed like a long time to us.
One would expect that the final chapter of the Bible would emphasize the most important themes, and so it is. For the final time we hear that God is holy, yet He freely extends His mercy. In His mercy He offers to all, not a license to sin, but an opportunity to repent of sin, receive forgiveness, continue in obedience, and be rewarded eternally.
Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter by the gates into the city. Outside are the dogs and the sorcerers and the immoral persons and the murderers and the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices lying (Rev. 22:14-15).
These truths should guide the affairs of our lives and chart the course of our remaining years on earth.
Although this ends our journey through the New Testament, I don’t have room to share my closing thoughts within my 700-word restricted allotment. So you’ll hear from me one more time! Thanks for reading with me over the past year!