Leaving Their First Love
In chapters two and three of Revelation, in those epistles to the seven churches, the Lord Jesus issued a call to the overcomers. In His calling to the overcomers, the Lord Jesus revealed the proper condition of the church which is for the kingdom. In 2:4 the Lord said to the church in Ephesus, "But I have this against you, that you have left your first love." If we would be the proper church to bring in the kingdom, the Lord Jesus must be our first and best love. This is the first requirement. We must take care of our love for the Lord. Many Christians today have lost their first love toward the Lord. They are still good at working for the Lord and doing many things for the Lord, but they do not love the Lord as they did at the beginning. This means they have lost their first love, their original love, their best love, for the Lord. They have works, but no love. Therefore, the Lord’s first call to the overcomers is to come back and love Him supremely, to love Him the best. The Lord promised, "To him who overcomes, to him I will give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God" (Rev. 2:7). If we will come back to our first and best love for the Lord, we will be given to eat of the tree of life.
The Paradise of God
The tree of life is also in the New Jerusalem, which shows us that the New Jerusalem is the real paradise of God. The Garden of Eden in Genesis 1 and 2 may be considered as the first paradise of God. In Luke 23 the Lord Jesus told the crucified thief that he would be with the Lord in paradise. That paradise is neither the Garden of Eden nor the New Jerusalem, but the joyful, comforting part of Hades, where the spirits of all the dead saints are being kept. This is the second paradise of the Bible. Eventually, the people of God will be concentrated in the holy city, Jerusalem, and that will be the eternal paradise with the tree of life in its center. The Lord’s promise in Revelation 2 is that if we will overcome the present situation and recover our first and best love toward Him, we will be given the right to enter the New Jerusalem as the paradise of God and eat the tree of life as a reward.
A Reward to the Overcomers
We must realize that the New Jerusalem with the tree of life in it will be a reward during the millennium. Not all of the saved ones will get into the millennium. Only the overcoming ones will enjoy the tree of life during the millennium. During the thousand years of the millennium, the New Jerusalem as the paradise of God will be a kind of reward. But after the millennium, in the new heaven and the new earth, the New Jerusalem will be a blessing to all the saved ones. In the millennium it will be a reward to the overcomers, but eventually it will be a common blessing to all God’s people. During the millennium, the New Jerusalem will be the Bride. But in the new heaven and the new earth, the New Jerusalem will be the wife. The bride is only for one day. On the first day of marriage, a young lady is the bride; but after that she is the wife. By the second day some of the freshness is gone. Although there is the joy, the joy is not so fresh. If we will not be the overcomers, we will not enjoy the freshness of the New Jerusalem in the millennium. We will miss that part. After the millennium we will enjoy the New Jerusalem, but not as a bride. We will enjoy the New Jerusalem only as a wife, in a common way. The Lord’s promise is that if we will be overcomers now, we will be given to eat of the tree of life in the New Jerusalem. This surely is during the time of the millennium. Each of the seven epistles in these two chapters of Revelation reveals to us something either as a reward or a kind of loss or punishment during the period of the millennium.
(The Kingdom, Chapter 46, by Witness Lee)