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Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city. On either side of the river is the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, producing its fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. – Revelation 22:1-2 (NRSV)

The closing vision of the Bible is bursting with life-affirming imagery as it looks forward to the experience of God’s people in the New Creation. Combining allusions from Genesis and Ezekiel, the vision features both a river of life and the tree of life.

Both river and tree radiate lifegiving potential to show that God’s provision in the New Creation will be unswerving and endless. Whereas some rivers in a hot Mediterranean climate only flow in winter, the river of life flows continually. In a first-century Roman city, if there was a river flowing down the centre of a street, it would be the local open sewer! In stark contrast, the river in the Holy City has a purity like crystal, as it flows from the very throne of God. No wonder they call it the river of life.

The tree in the Holy City doesn’t just produce one kind of fruit; it yields twelve! And, whilst most trees produce fruit only seasonally, this one can be harvested all year round. And the tree of life is a biblical metaphor for the life-giving character of God’s wisdom and word (Proverbs 3:18). No wonder they call it the tree of life. Are your tastebuds tingling from the two verses of today’s reading? Why not savour the flavour of the whole chapter!

What a hopeful, life-giving vision to complete God’s Word! Such a vision shapes our current life as Word and Spirit people who, with hope, anticipate God’s final victory. We are called as God’s people to keep his Word (see Revelation 22:7, 9). And, empowered by the Spirit, we are all life-giving channels for God right here, right now, as the grand story of God moves to its life-giving crescendo.

Lord God, I praise you for your everlasting reign that brings life to everyone. May your Spirit within me well up and overflow so that your River of Life brings blessing through me in every place I go. Amen.


THIS DEVOTIONAL IS WRITTEN BY Martyn Day, Pastor, South Harbour Vineyard Church, AUCKLAND


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