Does this sound wonderful? “A river with the water of life, clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb.” Most of the rivers we encounter these days are murky and often times smelly. The water of life, referring to eternal life is perpetually flowing without fear of pollution or running dry. Jesus referred to this “water of life” when he was speaking to the Samaritan woman at the well. Remember his words, “If you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask me, and I would give you living water.”
We do know who is preparing this for us. We know the source of this living water. It is flowing from the throne of God and the Lamb. We will be forever nourished by the water and the fruit of the tree of life. It’s like the circle has completed itself. The tree of life was in the garden when Adam and Eve fell into temptation. They and their ancestors were banned from the blessings of this tree because of the curse of evil. In the end, evil has been demolished and all will be restored to what was originally intended.
I was trying to imagine a tree with twelve different kinds of fruit. Surely, with God, anything is possible. But I also see the symbolism of the number 12 as representing God’s people. When we gather along the river flowing with the water of life, we will all be there bearing our own fruit. God has gifted us and we will finally be able to share our gifts (our fruit) fully in celebration of our glorious future and in thanksgiving to God for his abundant mercy. All our needs will be supplied. We will be servants to each other, just as God intends for us in the here and now.
When that day comes, we will no longer have any barriers keeping us separated from God. The division we now have is caused by our sin. It creates a chasm between us and God. Jesus is the bridge, our advocate making God accessible. Yet, to truly look into the face of God is something we have yet to encounter. You will recall our readings in Exodus when God was talking with Moses. The people were in fear for they knew if they saw God, they would perish. God said in Exodus 33:20, “But you may not look directly at my face, for no one may see me and live.”
In the New Jerusalem, all barriers of sin and mortality are removed by the grace of God. We, as the redeemed children of God, will find ourselves again in the garden. We won’t want to hide or cover ourselves as Adam and Eve did because of their shame. We will bask in the light of salvation. We will celebrate our faithful journey to this moment and feel the release of pure joy.
The words of Revelation are meant to give us hope. Starting with the congregations of the churches John first wrote to, we, too, can cling to these visions of grandeur as God’s mercy is revealed to those who love him. In The City of God, Augustine writes, “rest and see, see and love, love and praise. This is what shall be in the end without end.”
The angel told John, “Everything you have heard and seen is trustworthy and true. The Lord God, who inspires his prophets, has sent his angel to tell his servants what will happen soon.” We need to be ready because we don’t know how suddenly soon will be. All of these things we have read are stirring up the longing inside us for the abundant life God is promising. We can do our best while we wait to know Jesus and live our lives reflecting him in our lives.
As people of God, we still have work to do in the here and now. We can’t get lost in the blessings to come. Take some time today to reflect on how you can do your part to bring healing to nations and use your gifts in our world today to make a difference for God’s coming kingdom.
Let’s pray. Lord, I feel empowered today knowing that you have equipped me for service. Reveal to me the areas where I can help bring your truth into this broken world. While I look forward to the day I see you face to face, I know you have so much more for me to do. Show me your will for my life. Nourish me and set my feet in motion. In Jesus’ name. Amen.