Friday, April 5, 2024

Morning Message: The Tree of Life

Bobservations Column
Titled - "The Tree of Life"
Written by: Pastor Bob Lawrenz

Today, we are back to our on-going study of the Book of Revelation. We left off at the end of chapter 21 to celebrate Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, and His glorious Resurrection a week later. With just one final chapter of Revelation to cover before finishing the Book, we are still freshly fed from the events of a Passover week some 2,000 years ago. “The angel of the Lord” came to mind as I prepared for this Sunday’s teaching.

We already see the multi-facetted character of Jesus Christ as Messiah, Redeemer, Savior, Lord God, King of kings, and Lord of lords. I am going to add to that list, in case you don’t already think of Jesus also as a Messenger sent from the Father. Literally, the word “angel” means messenger: one who is sent with a message. It gives us insight into the frequent use of the phrase “angel of the Lord, particularly in the Old Testament. Through the Prophets, God Himself sent messages to His people. Each of them had a holy and sanctified message to reveal to mankind. In the New Testament, the 12 Apostles were chosen to partake of the Good News Message that Jesus taught and shared. Then they were sent out to the four corners of the Earth to spread that message. In John 4, a Samaritan woman at the well of Jacob became a messenger to the Samaritans.

The well of Abraham was near to Beersheba, in Philistine territory. This was the well where Abraham’s servant found Rebekah as a wife for Isaac. And our reading today finds Jesus goes to another well to meet a woman, Jacob’s Well near Mt Gerizim, to a woman who is a descendant of Jacob, and therefore also of Abraham. And this woman took Jesus’ words to the men of Sychar, of the Samaritans. After speaking to Jesus, she too became a messenger. Though the Apostles objected, Jesus told them He had needs to go through Samaria, and it is no wonder; salvation is open to “whosoever.”

Ephesians 2:8 – “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.”

Bobservations' Column - Audio Version

Sunday Morning's Audio Message:
Revelation 22:1-7 - "The Tree of Life"

Summary/Additional Commentary and Definitions

Here we are at the ending of the book of Revelation.  The ending is as dramatic and wonderful as the beginning.  Following God's final punishment of the wicked, the earth as we know it will be no more.  John records in chapter 21-22 the startling revelation of the city of God and the beginning of the eternal state.  Clearly, Paradise lost in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3) will be Paradise regained!  Satan, the beast, and the false prophet have been thrown into the lake of fire forever.  God will create a new universe to be the eternal dwelling place of the redeemed.  The citizens of eternity - Old Testament saints, Tribulation saints, and all those converted during the millennial kingdom - will dwell in the New Jerusalem, the heavenly city marked by the awesome glory and presence of God.  

At the end of chapter 21, John described the beauty of New Jerusalem. This depiction briefly concludes here.  John was taken to a high mountain and shown the holy city, Jerusalem from a distance in chapter 21.  As if that weren't enough the angel takes John inside the city.  He describes for us a magnificent city, the capital city with a street of pure gold, transparent like glass.  There is no temple, for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.  The city has no need of sun, or moon for light, for the glory of God illumines it, and the lamp is the Lamb of God.  Amazing description. 

Revelation 22 is a remarkable passage, because in it the apostle John not only brings his correspondence to the seven churches of Asia minor to a beautiful climax, but in doing so he also depicts the glorious end of the redeemed people of God throughout the ages.

John’s purpose has been to comfort and encourage the Christians in the seven churches who are undergoing trials and persecution.

Chapter 22 takes us beyond those things that must take place (vv. 1–5). God’s redeemed people will find eternal rest and refreshment in and with Him. But the language used by John in this splendid word picture is comprehensive and provides a healing and glorious glimpse of what has been accomplished by the redeeming work of Christ. John speaks of the Tree of Life and its healing effects for the redeemed.

To grasp the significance of this scene we must go back to Genesis 3 and the aftermath of the fall of Adam and Eve.

In Revelation 22:1–5, three elements of Christ’s redeeming work experienced in this life but consummated in His return are on display. First, there is restoration. The earth is restored. Second, there is a reversal of the curses and consequences of sin introduced in Genesis 3. John says the leaves of the Tree of Life are good for the healing of the nations. Third, John’s mention of restored access to the Tree of Life includes complete reconciliation with God and a renewed intimacy with Him. This is set forth in verses 3–5. The throne of God and the Lamb will be in the midst of His people. They shall see His face, His name shall be on their forehead, and God shall be their light.

The reference to the leaves being used for "healing" leads some to suggest that New
 Jerusalem will exist somewhere above earth prior to the end of the millennium, others see this as a symbolic reference to permanent, eternal health and life. Light, as well, is a crucial metaphor in the Bible, representing truth and knowledge (John 8:12; 2 Corinthians 4:6; Matthew 4:16). John also notes that all evil, darkness, and night are gone from this holy city (Revelation 22:1–5).

Revelation then ends its description of the future and returns to more immediate commands from Jesus. The angel commends what John has seen as accurate and worthy of trust. This is followed by a statement reiterating the idea that "I am" is coming soon. This might have confused John, seeing as the words are those of Jesus, but it had been the angel speaking up to that point. Perhaps in confusion, John starts to worship the angel, but is immediately corrected. "And" beginning verse 7 marks a change in speakers.  The speaker is no longer the angel who spoke in verse 6, but Jesus Christ, the One who is coming quickly.  (Revelation 22:6–9).

The book of Revelation began with the words of Jesus to the seven churches. It concludes with the penetrating words of Christ, the Alpha and Omega, the Morning Star. The Lord of life and King of eternity is coming soon! May our earnest and sincere prayer be the same as John's: "Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!"

Key Words and Definitions with Reference:

Faithful and True (22:1) - The words of Revelation are as faithful and true as the One who revealed them to John.  

River... of Life (22:1) - It
 is like, and yet unlike, all earthly streams. Its source is divine; its waters are bright; its flow is endless. The river is unlike any on earth because no hydrological cycle exists.  Water of life symbolizes the continual flow of eternal life from God's throne to heaven's inhabitants (see Zechariah 14:8; Ezekiel 47:1,2; Revelation 21:6).

Tree of Life (22:2) - A symbol of both eternal life and continual blessing. The last time we read about the tree of life was in the garden of Eden in Genesis. The tree of life was put in the midst of the garden (Genesis 2:9). When Adam and Eve sinned, they had to be cast out of the garden. This symbolized their separation from God. They could not be in eternal fellowship with God nor be in the presence of God because of sin. Eternal separation from God is the second death, as we saw in Revelation 20:6,10,14-15 and Revelation 21:8. The tree of life is now in the midst of New Jerusalem, representing God’s people having full fellowship with God and full access to God forever.

The Tree Bears Twelve Fruits (22:2) - 
Here then is the food of the redeemed—eternal nourishment, suited to their redeemed being! Here is perpetual spring, perpetual summer, perpetual autumn—no winter, no withering, no famine, no decay! Life for eternity, sustained by the fruit of the live-giving tree, which shall nourish all the parts and powers, mental and material, of our everlasting and incorruptible nature! One for each month and is symbolic of the abundant variety in heaven.  The English word "therapeutic" comes from the Greek word translated "healing."  The leaves somehow enrich heavenly life, making it full and satisfying.   The cherubim had once been directed by God to prevent sinful men from eating the fruit of the tree of life and living forever in their sins (Genesis 3:22-24).  In the New Jerusalem, however, the tree of life will always be freely accessible to all (See Ezekiel 47:7, 12).

No More Curse (22:3) - The curse on humanity and the earth as a result of Adam and Eve's disobedience (Genesis 3:16-19) will be totally finished.  God will never have to judge sin again, since it will never exist in the new heaven and new earth.

See His Face (22:4) - One of the beatitudes promises that the pure in heart will see God (Matthew 5:8). For all human history, no unglorified human could see God's face and live. John 1:18 declares that no one has seen God at any time, but that situation no longer exists in the heavenly city. God's redeemed, glorified servants will see His face, as Revelation 22:4 tells us, because now they are holy. Although New Jerusalem is a beautiful place, undoubtedly the best thing about it is the privilege given to God's servants to see His face. This suggests a degree of intimacy previously unknown.

His Name (22:4) - God's "name" stands for His character and His ownership of His servants. In the tribulation unbelievers received the mark of the beast on their foreheads as a pledge of their loyalty to him (Revelation 13:16–17). Throughout eternity God's servants will demonstrate their loyalty to the One who redeemed them. They are God's personal possession (see 3:12).

No night... candle... Light of the Sun (22:5) - His servants live in the light and the glory of God. Everything is now perfect. There is no more evil, no more sin, no more death, no more darkness (see Isaiah 60: 19-20).
For the Lord God giveth them light, immediately from himself, without the use of means and ordinances; and in his light the saints will see all things clearly; who will be always communicating it to them and will be their everlasting light.

They Shall Reign (22:5) - Heaven's citizens are more than servants (see Revelation 3:21). To him who overcomes, Christ will grant to that person to sit down with Him on His throne.  They will enjoy fellowship with Christ in the kingdom and throughout eternity.  That's not all, they will reign with Him (1 Corinthians 6:3; 2 Timothy 2:12; Revelation 5:10; 20:6). 

His Servants (22:6) The members of the seven churches of Asia Minor who received this letter (1:11), and then all believers who have read or will read it since.

Things which Must Shortly Be Done (22:6) - This involves the entire revelation that John has just related. "Shortly" is two words in the Greek, "en tachos" which means "in haste. " The events prophesied in Revelation began to be fulfilled immediately, in the lives of the seven churches to whom the book was initially addressed, followed by the Church Age, the Tribulation and the Millennium period. 

Blessed is he who Keepeth (22:7) - What does it mean to Keep the book of Revelation?  It is a general command to observe, watch, preserve, hold fast.  Those who keep these words, long for Christ's return and our eternal fellowship with Him.   After reading and study the Book of Revelation, we love our Lord Jesus even more.  We want to be more like Him.  We desire the things of God, and long for the day we can be together.  Blessed are we, for our hope and our reward are in Him.

I Am Coming Quickly (22:7) - Jesus' return is imminent (see 3:11). Some argue that Christ’s coming could not possibly have been imminent for the early church, given the obvious fact that two thousand years later, He has still not returned. Skeptics often ridicule Christianity or challenge the inerrancy of Scripture on that very ground. After all, the verses cited at the beginning of this chapter do prove that James, Peter, John, Paul, and the writer of Hebrews all believed Christ’s return was very near— “at the door” (James 5:9); “at hand” (Philippians 4:5; 1 Peter 4:7); “approaching” (Hebrews 10:25); “com[ing] quickly” (Revelation 3:11; 22:7). Remember the clear statement of Christ in Matthew 24:42: “You do not know what hour your Lord is coming.” The exact time remains hidden from us, as it was from the apostles. But Christ could nonetheless come at any time. The Judge is still at the door. The day is still at hand. There are no other events that must occur on the prophetic calendar before Christ comes to meet us in the air. He could come at any moment. And it is in that sense that Christ’s coming is imminent. In the very same sense, His coming was imminent even in the days of the early church.

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