1 The angel showed me a river that was crystal clear, and its waters gave life. The river came from the throne where God and the Lamb were seated. 2 Then it flowed down the middle of the city's main street. On each side of the river are trees that grow a different kind of fruit each month of the year. The fruit gives life, and the leaves are used as medicine to heal the nations.
3 God's curse will no longer be on the people of that city. He and the Lamb will be seated there on their thrones, and its people will worship God 4 and will see him face to face. God's name will be written on the foreheads of the people. 5 Never again will night appear, and no one who lives there will ever need a lamp or the sun. The Lord God will be their light, and they will rule forever.
The Coming of Christ
6Then I was told:
These words are true and can be trusted. The Lord God controls the spirits of his prophets, and he is the one who sent his angel to show his servants what must happen very soon. 7Remember, I am coming soon! God will bless everyone who pays attention to the message of this book.
8My name is John, and I am the one who heard and saw these things. Then after I had heard and seen all this, I knelt down and began to worship at the feet of the angel who had shown it to me.
9But the angel said,
Don't do that! I am a servant, just like you. I am the same as a follower or a prophet or anyone else who obeys what is written in this book. God is the one you should worship.
10Don't keep the prophecies in this book a secret. These things will happen soon.
11 Evil people will keep on being evil, and everyone who is dirty-minded will still be dirty-minded. But good people will keep on doing right, and God's people will always be holy.
In Genesis 1-2 paradise is revealed. In Revelation 21-22 paradise is restored. The “tree of life” is once again accessible. And because sin has been defeated, Jesus is once again at the centre. In dramatic fashion the whole story has been leading up to this climax when the Creator’s original intention for his creation is finally realized.
“Now all we can see of God is like a cloudy picture in a mirror. Later we will see him face to face. We don’t know everything, but then we will, just as God completely understands us” (1 Corinthians 13:12).
It’s remarkable. Eternity for Christians will be a return to the inherent qualities of the Garden of Eden, yet on a grander scale! For in the new creation there is life giving water (v 1) and the tree of life (v 2). The life giving water symbolizes the Holy Spirit and denotes spiritual refreshment (something far greater than the river that watered the garden of Eden, see Genesis 2:10-14).
Little wonder that the psalmist says, “A river and its streams bring joy to the city, which is the sacred home of God Most High” (Psalm 46:4). And the tree of life symbolizes Jesus and denotes spiritual nourishment (also something far greater than the tree in the middle of the garden of Eden, see Genesis 2:9).
But there’s more! In paradise restored we will no longer be barred from God’s presence because the curse has been removed (vv 3-4). In paradise, and this is really what makes it paradise, we will see Christ in person!
Now that’s not to say that we’re just going to sit around looking at Jesus. There will be much for us to do. There’ll be empowered service (v 3), engaging worship (v 4), and we’ll rule (with all the activity that implies) with Christ forever (v 5).
All of this is true (v 6). And because it is we should, like John, be ready for Christ’s return, live according to God’s Word (v 7), worship him (v.9), continue to do what is right (v 11c), and continue to be holy (v 11d).
Lord, thank you that paradise will be restored, and more, we get to live in it for eternity! Amen.