Revelation 22:1-3 - 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 through the middle of the street of the city; 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. No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship Him.
Do you know what ran straight from the temple in ancient Jerusalem all the way to the Pool of Siloam? A great big sewer. A drainage ditch, roofed over, with the main street of Jerusalem just above it. Anything that went into it—rainwater, sewage, trash—got pushed through the channel until it reached the Kidron and eventually ended up in the Dead Sea. This was a fairly typical setup for ancient cities, although in some places, the sewer was left unroofed—with the predictable smelly consequences!
What about trees? Was Jerusalem a leafy paradise? Very unlikely, at least within the city walls. Cities tended to use up the closest wood for building or for fuel. There might be a few fruit trees here and there but, since Jerusalem was in a climate where water was scarce much of the year, chances are you wouldn't see many trees growing among the houses. You'd have to leave the city to find them.
But this is not the way God describes the New Jerusalem in the book of Revelation, the capital city of God's new heavens and new earth. There, we are told, John saw "the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; 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."
Think of the difference! A river of pure life-giving water, instead of a sewer; trees with life-giving fruit and healing leaves, instead of barren streets. God's kingdom will be marked by life and health, not by stink and death.
This is the kind of change we long for in our own lives, isn't it? When our lives are dry, we thirst for that water of life Jesus promises; when our worlds seem barren and empty, we long for the beautiful tree of life which both feeds and heals us. And we can have these things—or rather, what they represent—even now, in this life. Jesus says: "If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, 'Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water'" (John 7:37b-38). John tells us, "Now this He said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive" (John 7:39).
And how do we receive that gift? It comes as a result of Jesus' cross, where He destroyed the power of death and brought life and immortality to life. We look at His cross and suffering and see only a tree of death. By His resurrection God made it a tree of life for us, for everyone who trusts in Jesus to save us. Now He promises to share the fruit of His cross—everlasting life—with all of us, His people.
THE PRAYER: Dear Father, bring us into Your Son's kingdom to share in the water of life and the tree of life which You have given to be a blessing to us. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Kari Vo.
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