A tree and a curse
Because of how broken everything in this world is, I sometimes feel as if it will never end…that the downward spiral will just keep spinning until everything collapses. But then I remember that Jesus promised He would come back and set everything right…so in the meantime, I really look forward to the day when the weight of this broken world is finally lifted. Thankfully, we get a preview of what that future life will look like as John continues his description of what he sees inside New Jerusalem:
The he [the angel] showed me the river of the water of life, clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the city’s main street.
I love this scene.
God previously stated: I will freely give to the thirsty from the spring of the water of life. (Revelation 21:6), and in a few verses, we’ll see the offer repeated: Let the one who is thirsty come. Let the one who desires take the water of life freely. (Revelation 22:17).
What the angel shows John at the beginning of Chapter 22 confirms God’s offer…that the river of the water of life flows from God. The free gift isn’t something that we can earn, borrow, or purchase. We cannot make ourselves worthy of the gift; we don’t add anything to it. We aren’t responsible to maintain the river of the water of life. This is a no-strings-attached offer from God to anyone who wants to take Him up on it.
The tree of life was on each side of the river; bearing twelve kinds of fruit, producing its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree are for healing the nations, and there will no longer be any curse.
“The end” of the curse sounds like a great thing…but what, exactly, is “the curse”? To answer that question, we’ll have to back to the beginning…
When God confronted Adam and Eve with their selfish, sinful choice to eat from the only forbidden tree in the Garden of Eden, the consequences looked like this:
He [God] said to the woman:
I will intensify your labor pains;
you will bear children with painful effort.
Your desire will be for your husband,
yet he will rule over you.
And He said to the man, …
The ground is cursed because of you.
You will eat from it by means of painful labor
all the days of your life.
It will produce thorns and thistles for you,
and you will eat the plants of the field.
You will eat bread by the sweat of your brow
until you return to the ground, since you were taken from it.
For you are dust, and you will return to dust.
No wonder this is called “the curse”! A woman’s relationships – both to her children and her husband – became significantly more difficult. A man’s work also became significantly more difficult. And at the end of all this difficulty was the inevitable return to useless dust.
We saw before that the creation eagerly waits for the removal of the curse, and we’ve felt the same longing within ourselves (Romans 8:19-23). In New Jerusalem, the quality of life we’ve longed for has finally arrived.
What will humanity be able to accomplish when sin no longer interferes with relationships – when you can fully trust everything you’re told, when there’s no agenda in the media, when you know you won’t be cheated, or taken advantage of, or abandoned?
What will humanity be able to accomplish when sin no longer interferes with work – when we can freely partner with God in the things He will do in eternity future…and not have to deal with the influences of selfishness, or ego, or greed?
This is where my heart beats faster in anticipation, and I begin to see how great our God is and how magnificent His amazing plan of history is…
There will no longer be any curse.