Sunday, July 26, 2015

REVELATION 22 : 1 -5 : PARADISE MORE THAN RESTORED!

The text  continues  from  Chapter 21 when it says, “Then the angel showed me…”  (see also  21:9).  Revelation 22 is a continuation of   the vision given to John in  Chapter 21. We have previously seen  that  this is a vision  of the New Jerusalem, which is  the bride (21:2), the church of the Lord Jesus Christ coming out of heaven.   The text also continues to speak of the street of the city, which was also mentioned in  21:21.  What is new and  striking in this section of the vision  is  the imagery of the  garden of Eden – the first paradise of God.[1]   

Vv. 1 : Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, (see Gen.  2:10) 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 ( see Gen. 2:9)  with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month.  Reference in the revelation to John  with respect to the tree of life  was previously  made   in  Christ’s   message to the church at Ephesus (Rev.2:7) : “To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.”  

We have here  a picture  of  the paradise that was once  lost through man’s disobedience in Genesis 3  as it is now restored, and dare I say , improved !  Again, I would remind you that    we must not be tempted to think of John’s vision here in terms of a literal river,  a literal tree and  a literal garden. This is all very symbolic language, and we have now seen time and again that this  all refers  to the new Jerusalem – the church of the Lord Jesus  Christ,  as she  now appears in  her new and glorious environment  of the new paradise. Admittedly, the word ‘paradise’  is not found here, but the  details given  here  are certainly  drawn  from  the picture  of that first  paradise. 

This river of the water of life,  which is  bright as crystal     flows  from the throne of God  and of the Lamb  through the middle of the street of the city  holy city, New Jerusalem. On either side of the river, there is  found the tree of life  - and note (!)  not just one, but many.  The river is lined with trees. This tree of life   bears  twelve  fruit,  providing a monthly harvest. And  then, we are also told that that the leaves of the tree of life are for the healing of the nations. The nations had been referred to earlier  in Rev. 21:24 .  

In order to understand the meaning of this vision we must  consider the original paradise – the garden of Eden. It was  an idyllic   garden  designed  and planted as a  habitation by God  for man.  But don’t get lost   in the idea of a  beautiful garden!  The  greater  picture  here  is that this garden  served  as  an ideal place  for  fellowship  and communion  between God and  the man whom God  had  created in His image[2]. This was  the place where  God’s  Adam  would serve his Creator in keeping and cultivating the garden. That is the  fundamental idea.  Now if we  understand that   paradise was  an ideal meeting place  between God and man,  then  it  is not difficult to make the connection with the New Jerusalem the church , the bride of Christ – the  new paradise, the new  and restored  dwelling place of God  with man ! This  is the perfect and ultimate fulfillment of the  first paradise.  In that sense the first paradise in which Adam lived was only  a shadow of the things to come. 
 
The  second  paradise is the dwelling place of all  those sons and daughters of Adam, who subsequent to the fall in Genesis 3  have been     purchased and redeemed  by the  Lord Jesus Christ !  They  are  His beloved bride -  the  church – a vast multitude that no one can count ! This, dear brothers in sisters in Christ  is the goal of our history. The city of God, the new  Jerusalem, the bride of Christ  is the grand plan of God. This is  the plan  of “the mystery  hidden for ages in God who created all things, so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be  made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.” (Eph. 3:9,10).  This   “… is the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God.” (Hebr. 11:10; see also v.16 ).  The new Jerusalem  is the fulfillment of  the first paradise. The new Jerusalem  is   the fulfillment  of  the OT  land of Canaan promised to Abraham and Isaac and  Jacob   and  the people of Israel.  

The heavenly Paradise will not simply be a re-make of that first paradise. It will be  a fulfillment of that, and therefore it will be even better. Think of it like this. When  Adam was  created  by  the Tri-une God, the Lord Jesus  Christ, the second person of the Trinity  was still the pre-incarnate Son. Then came the fall, and  then Jesus  came in  the fullness of time (Gal. 4:4,5) . He came as the second Adam  (1 Cor. 15:45-49)  to redeem   and restore His people, chosen  before the foundation of the world (Eph.1:4), and  Paul says  that  here we  shall bear the image, not  of the earthly Adam,  but we shall  bear the image of the heavenly man. The first Adam was a shadow  of the Lord Jesus Christ.  The first covenant  of God with Adam  was  exchanged for the  better,  New Covenant  in the blood of Christ. (Hebrews 8:1-13). The  temporal Sabbath  is  replaced by  the Sabbath of  eternal  rest  (see Hebrews  4:9-11).  The  first Paradise will  be superseded  by something for more glorious!   It will  be  a place of perfect worship and fellowship with God , and there will  be  no potential hindrance  to that. 

Please  notice  that   the new   paradise has no  tree of the knowledge of good and evil!  Only the tree of life grows there. There will be  no challenge as was connected with the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the first paradise. The possibility for  man to sin  is now banished,   for  through  the Lord Jesus Christ, sin  and its wages ,  death,  has been banished   and thrown into the lake of eternal fire.

The river of the water of life,  crystal clear, pure, undefiled   is symbolic of  the  constant flow of life by which the glorified people of God  shall now  live  with  the perpetual help of the Holy Spirit . In that  regard  we are reminded of the  words  of the Lord  Jesus in  John 7:37-39 : “On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “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.’”  Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.”

This river flows  from  the throne of God and of the Lamb.  It is a Trinitarian source. The source is  from God  through Christ and through the Holy Spirit.  This life-giving  water  flows   perpetually into the church – the  New Jerusalem. This river of life flows  through the midst of the street of the city. It flows through the  heart of the glorified church sustaining  her with  the grace of God.

The tree of life:  In the first paradise the tree of life had  a two-fold significance.  (i) it  gave  earthly life to man  (see  Genesis 3:22).  Apparently  the tree had the power to supply Adam  with  continual life even after he had sinned.  The tree  not only  sustained Adam’s physical life, but it also  represented  the spiritual nourishment  by which Adam y lived  in fellowship with God.  But, as a result of sin,   this  heavenly fellowship was  interrupted,  and the Lord God  cut off  the way to the tree of life, and Adam died  both  physically  and spiritually, being no longer sustained by that tree of  life.  Such was the significance of the earthly tree of life.
Now if we bear that in mind , then we  can easily  make the connection with the tree of life in  Revelation 22. The tree of life here  symbolizes the  life of true heavenly fellowship with God  restored forever and ever.  

The tree  of life is said to bear twelve  kinds of fruit. By now we know  that   12 is the number of perfection and completion. There  are  twelve OT patriarchs, twelve tribes, twelve apostles, two times twelve  ( 24 ) elders, twelve times twelve thousand (144 000)   saints. This tree  bears a fullness of fruit, and it bears it continuously and so the church is  well supplied and nourished and never lacking  by the food she receives  from this  tree.

Furthermore we read :  “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. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.

Finally, the text tells us that the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. This   cannot mean  that there will still be sickness in the New Jerusalem.  21:4  makes that clear.  This is simply a figurative way of saying that no sickness of any kind can ever enter into the city of God and afflict the nations there. Sickness and death will not exist in the  New Jerusalem because of this constant  life which  flows from God in Christ through the Spirit into the church.

In the rest  of this passage  the glory and bliss of the New Jerusalem are further spelled  out.  

1. The  church  finds its central significance in God and the Lamb: the throne of God  and of the Lamb will be in the city;  God will be worshiped ; they will see His face ;His name  will be on their foreheads ; the Lord God will be their light !

2. Verse 3 : There will be nothing accursed   in that city. Sin and death and all the enemies of God  and is people  are conquered. The  kingdom of heaven which Jesus came to announce and proclaim  is here. The will of God is now done by all. And where the will of God is done, there can be no curse.

3. verse 4: "And they shall see his face."  In the new creation there shall be the revelation of God in the face of Jesus Christ in the most direct and highest possible sense of the word. Now, we see  dimly, by faith  in the Scriptures – like through a dark  glass.  There, however, we shall see face to face ![3]  John says  :   “Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.”   (1 John 3:2)  This means that we shall see Christ as He is, and we shall see Him always,  and through Christ we shall see the face of God forever. We shall never forget God again .  This is implied in the fact that His name shall be in their foreheads.

4. verse 5:   see also  Rev 21:23 & 25. In our  present world  we live  so to speak by the light of the sun, or even, as the text reminds us, by the artificial light of man, the light of a candle. Without light there is no possibility of knowledge. But in the new creation, there will be no need of physical or artificial light to help us  to study and gain knowledge. As we said in connection with Revelation 21, the point of the text is not that there will be no natural night, or no natural sun or moon. The point is  that these  will not be necessary as a medium of knowledge. God  Himself God gives  us the light of understanding - the light according to which we shall know and walk directly, in every sense of that word. Knowledge will not be  a hidden thing. It will be direct !

And so , finally, our text speaks  of the everlasting reign of the saints : "and they will reign  for ever and ever". This is our hope   of the saints  whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life.Breath taking! AMEN !




[1] Gen. 2:8
[2]  Gen 1:27
[3]  1 Cor. 13: 12

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