1 Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb 2 through the middle of the street of the city. On either side of the river, is the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, producing its fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. Nothing accursed will be found there anymore. But the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants a will worship him: 4 they will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. 5 And there will be no more night; they need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.
John envisions a special kind of tree that bears a different variety of fruit each month. The leaves of John's trees, we are told, make poultices effective for "the healing of the nations." Further, "every accursed thing shall disappear." But surely, there is no "accursed thing" in the new Jerusalem nor anything that needs "healing." John's language has again pointed us to something like "continued redemption". The seal on each person's forehead--originally so dim as to be invisible--now shines in brilliance.
The Roman Caesar Domitian had exiled John to the Isle of Patmos for his refusal to worship Caesar. In this book, hope bursts forth from God’s gracious revelation to a person enduring political persecution. The unveiling of God’s plan to this Patmos prisoner demonstrates that no oppression, pain, fear, or isolation can block God’s communion with us. God’s vision to John includes a tour of heaven. As the angelic guide ends this journey, John sees the shores of the river whose source is the throne of God. This is in direct contrast to John’s experience on the earth where the source of power is Rome. This vision reminds John that God’s authority is more powerful than Caesar’s government.
John beholds the healing leaves on the tree. The rejuvenation from the water of life and the healing leaves are accessible to all since the river flows down “… the middle of the street of the city” (22:2). This, too, is good news for ailing souls. The healing leaves that God offers in this scene are as accessible as the river that flows. The healing supplied is not only an individual experience but also a communal experience because the leaves are “… for the healing of the nations” (22:2).
John learns in v.5 that heaven is complete. At the throne of God, there is an everlasting supply of water, food, and light, the elements necessary to sustain life. In heaven, God does not ration out healing, but rather provides it without limit. In the Revelation we have that core vision of the ages – the dream of God. A holy city, finally a time of peace, an end to sorrow.
This is not a city we work to build, and bearing witness to it is not a task. It is a flow. The river is in us. The holy city with water and trees of life and healing for the nations – it is in us. It is our birthright. And when that being of God dwells in us, flows in us, rises in us, any city we are in become tinted by this holy city and any message we speak is in the accent of witness to life, to God. So I want to be a river when I grow up. I want to be a river, a flowing source of crystal clear water of life. To find that all along, in me, this river has been there, my only source, to find that all along it has been a singing ringing river. Let me borrow the words of the old hymn: May the time not be too distant, When we meet by the river (meet by the) shore. ‘Til then dream of that wonderful day, As we sing once more, once more…