Revelation 22. The first 5 verses continue the description of the new Jerusalem. The water of life flows from God and the Lamb through the middle of the city. There are echoes here of Ezekiel 47, a river of water flowing from the temple bringing life to Israel, and John 4, Jesus promising the Samaritan woman the water of life welling up to eternal life. The tree of life (Genesis 2) reappears but there is no tree of the knowledge of good and evil, no temptation, for Jesus passed the test and defeated Satan. There will be no more curse. Now there are no cherubim barring access to the tree of life and eating its fruit. Rather the leaves of the tree of life are for the healing of the nations.
The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city and his servants will worship Him. That is the end, the goal of salvation, the worship of the Lamb that was slain for us. We shall see His face and His name will be written on our foreheads for we belong to Him. We’ll be completely restored in God’s image and reign with the Lord forever.
We must not think that the new creation will be boring. Long services singing old hymns forever. Or that we’ll be ghost-like ‘bodies’ floating in space. We’ll have glorious resurrected physical bodies designed to live in the new creation. We were created to worship God, to live in communal love with God and His people, and to rule the creation under God. Worship is so much more than singing praises to God – but not less than that! Romans 12 teaches us that presenting our bodies to God as living sacrifices is our true worship. Under the new covenant worship embraces all of life – serving God. God reigns, and as His image bearers we shall rule the new creation with Him. That certainly won’t be boring! Even now ruling a fallen and broken creation is challenging and stimulating. How much more the new creation.
The angel then tells John this teaching is trustworthy and true. It is not a myth, a vain hope, soothing words in the face of death. This will really come to pass. When? It must ‘soon’ take place! (verse 6) The angel continues, ‘Don’t seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, because the time is near’ (verse 10). The time is near! It will happen when Jesus returns to earth. But when will that be? ‘Look, I am coming SOON’, says Jesus (verse 7 and 12, my emphasis). That does not necessarily mean ‘soon’ in our time scale as nearly 2000 years has passed. But it is the next great event in salvation history. It is what we long for: an end to sin and suffering and our longing to see our Saviour’s face!
Jesus says, ‘Look, I am coming soon, and my reward is with me to repay each person according to his work’ (verse 12). That’s a warning. But here’s the promise: ‘Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and may enter the city by the gates’ (verse 14). Revelation 7:14 explains: ‘They washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.’ There is only one source of salvation: Jesus’ cross-death, His blood shed for our sins, paying the price of our redemption.
Jesus invited the Samaritan woman to drink the water of life. ‘Both the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!”… Let the one who is thirsty come. Let the one who desires take the water of life freely’ (verse 17).
Lord Jesus, give me the water of life that I may drink and be with you forever. Come, Lord Jesus!