Step 7: Ask God to humble and renew you so you do not continue any bad patterns.
We have access to God and His life-giving blessings, cleansing, and renewal! The angel shows John more of Heaven-the water and river of life flowing from God Himself, coursing down upon His faithful, watering the Tree of Life. This is the essential life of the universe that also heals the nations, fuels the faithful, and keeps us on the road to recovery. God's creation is no longer under the curse of sin; it has been renewed. Instead of evil and strife, there will be praise and worship of the Lamb. The faithful will see His face and bathe in His presence; our loyalty will be set and pure, and the Lord will shine upon us all! Then, the angel reassures John (and us through the ages) that these Words are from God and they are trustworthy and true. We can have hope beyond hope of His wonder beyond wonders. We have a future in and with Christ as Lord; we have a place in Him for eternity!
This passage is also describing Paradise restored; it is also about our intimacy with God who is with us now, Immanuel, meaning, "God among us," "God with us." The garden imagery is that of God empowering and keeping us; this is the real, effectual Paradise of which we have just a taste now, but will see its fruition in eternity. This is also about our blessings for being with and in Him, as God is the One who loves us and restores our communion with Him. God restores His creation back to its utopian, unfailing state before sin entered into it.
- River of the water of life means that what is needed for life, even life itself, comes from God. It perhaps refers to the Garden of Eden, and the rivers that flowed there. This also refers to the river that flowed under Jerusalem; each of these themes means Paradise and "God with us." Water means life, both in the ancient world and now; water is everything to life, and the growing and prospering of crops. Without it, everything dies. The Greeks saw water and river together to mean "virtue" and John uses this imagery to represent the Spirit and renewal in his Gospel. This also means Jesus is the answer to our thirst in life and for salvation! God is our abundant supply of all we need now and forevermore (Gen. 2:10-14; Psalm 46:4; Ezek. 47:1-12; Joel 3:18; Zech. 14:8; John 4:10-14; 7:37-39).
- Tree of life refers to the garden of Paradise and Heaven. In context, it means the guarantee of an everlasting life, and that this life is to be abundant, vivid, pure, and true. The central focus of Heaven is our effectual, eternal relationship in and with Christ. The images from Genesis and Ezekiel mean having access to God's blessings and Fruit. The tree of life was in the Garden of Eden from which humanity was locked out after the Fall. And, this refers to trees that are always fruit bearing, not just in their season, just as God's blessings are continual and forevermore. The promise here is the restoration of Paradise, and that this tree will grow again (Gen. 2:9; 3:22-24; Ezek. 47:7-12; 2 Cor. 12:2-4; Rev. 2:1-7, 14, 19)!
- Healing of the nations. This is not about political boundaries or even people groups; it is about people in general. For the Jew, "nations" meant Gentiles or everyone. Through Christ, there is no division or caste. We have direct, intimate access to Him. This also means that Jesus is Sovereign and greater than any nation, government, power, or authority. And, in context, it means no sickness or divisions or conflict or prejudices-thus, countries are not needed (Ezek. 47:12; Rev. 1:6; 2:26-27; 20:4, 6)!
- No longer will there be any curse. This means restoration and refers to "Paradise" and "pleasure garden." This points to our restored, sinless state and/or the millennial kingdom, that God will reverse the Fall and remove the curse of sin from the universe (Gen. 2:8; 3:16-19; Ezek. 28:13; Zech. 14:11; Luke 23:43; 2 Cor. 12:4; Rev. 2:7).
- His servants. This suggests that there is no special elite class in the Kingdom of God. We all are His servants; we are all special and anointed to serve (Matt. 5:8; Rev. 1:1).
This incredible passage is more about hope-hope that we need more than anything else including eschatology, the study of end times. Our hope of Heaven is our fuel, our motivation-like gas is to a car; it will get us through life, the great and the tough times, and our adversities, so our soul will travel well. It is about our motivation to grow in faith, to be loyal to our Lord so we look to Him and not our troubles and trials. Heaven is our hope of hope, and so much more; it is a reality, a wonder, and a place we will be forever and ever. Our biggest problem has been solved, that of our sin causing us to die with no hope or salvation. Christ paid that debt. Now you can focus on Him and His help for your recovery. As a Christian, we have been saved; if you are not saved, you can be and then you can become a new creation in Him, set for eternity (1 Cor. 6:9-11; 2 Cor. 5:17)!
Christ brings you Heaven! He brings you peace and a future to us who do not deserve it. Because of Him, we have hope and a future and most of all, we have Him both now and forevermore! What is better than that?! There is nothing that can be a greater motivator and comfort than knowing for certain who Christ is, what He has done, and what place He has for you and me! Now, let us live our lives as if that is true-because it is true. And, keep in mind these powerful passages as well as John 14 in mind, as love and obedience are connected in Him!
- What is the most beautiful place you have ever been?
- Do you fully realize that all things are under His control? Even your problems? How does this affect your hope and staying power?
- What would it take for you to earnestly feel and see that God is in control? What do you need to do?
- How do you feel, knowing that you have access to God and His life-giving blessings and renewal now, and not just in Heaven?
- How can your hope in Heaven help you eliminate the evil and strife that is in our churches so we can better praise and worship of the Lamb now?
- God has prepared a place for us; what is more wonderful than that? How is this fact going to assure and inspire you?
- How is God keeping you faithful and watering you now? How is your church doing this? How can they do so better?
- What fuels the faithful in your church? What can your church do to better "water" you and its people?
- What can your church or counselor do to help you see and feel Hope and the wonder of Christ?
- How will knowing Who Christ is and what He did for you help prosper and grow you even in times of stress, suffering, and confusion?
- Ask God to humble you and renew you so you do not continue any bad patterns! When will you do this? How? Who will help you?
12. How can you renew your commitment to Christ? When and how will you do it?
- Whattempts and allures you into thinking "this is what I need?" How can you know that this is, in fact, what tears you down? What are you going to do about it now?
- Whattempts and allures you into thinking "this is what I need?" How can you know that this is, in fact, what tears you down?
Mediate on these passages for the next week or more: John 8:44; Rom. 3:19-28; 4:4-5; Eph. 4:17-19
For more on this study go to our sister ministry www.intothyword.org for a verse-by-verse full study on this passage and the rest of Revelation too.
© 1990, 2007, 2008, Dr. Richard J. Krejcir, Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership, www.churchleadership.org