VI. THE RIVER OF WATER OF LIFE
A. Revelation 22:1
"And he showed me a river of water of life, bright as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb in the middle of its street."
This verse continues to speak about the new city. "Its street" should be a square patch of ground in the center as in 21:21. The former paradise had four rivers only. However, in the new city there will be a river of water of life, bright as crystal. Therefore, this scene is better than that of the former paradise.
"The throne." This book speaks of the throne in the different ages:
(1) During the gospel age God sits on the throne, and the Lord sits with God (3:21b).
(2) During the millennium God sits on the throne in heaven, while the Lord Jesus also has a throne on earth (3:21a).
(3) The time of the great white throne is like the gospel age again; the Son sits on the Father’s throne (20:11).
(4) In the new city there is only one throne, which is "the throne of God and of the Lamb" (22:1). There is no longer this distinction between the Father and the Son.
In eternity the Lord’s name will forever be the Lamb. This name will remind men that there was sin in the world but that the Lord came into the world as the redeeming Lamb. It will also remind men that they can now eat the fruit of the tree of life and drink the water of the river of life because the Lord once became a Lamb.
B. Revelation 22:2
"And on this side and on that side of the river was the tree of life, producing twelve fruits, yielding its fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations."
The "tree of life" is real. Although in Proverbs 3:18, 11:30, 13:12, and 15:4 the tree of life is a sign, it cannot be interpreted that way here. In 17:15 when "waters" are mentioned, the angel immediately explains what they refer to. Therefore, if the river of water of life and the tree of life in 22:2 are also signs, the angel would have immediately explained them too. But here the angel does not explain; hence, these are not signs.
Revelation 2:7 says that the tree of life is in the Paradise of God. Revelation 22:2 says that the river is in the midst of the street of the city. This indicates that the New Jerusalem is the Paradise of God. The garden in Genesis 2:8 is the paradise of man, but this is the Paradise of God. Hence, this shows us that God is bringing man to a better place.
"The tree of life" here is singular. How then can one tree grow on both sides of the river? This should not be difficult to understand because even with the banyan tree we find that it can grow several trunks out of one root system and can therefore spread afar. "Yielding its fruit each month" indicates that there still will be months. The days and nights in 21:25 are determined by the sun, and the months here are determined by the moon. A day is twelve hours, a night is twelve hours, and there are twelve months. The number for eternity is always twelve. "And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations." Revelation 21:4 says that the former things are passed away and that there will be no more pain or death. This also indicates that there will be no more sickness. However, it does not say that there will be no more infirmity. We can see in Matthew 8:17 that sickness and infirmity are different. Where will these infirmities come from? Since the men here have bodies of flesh and blood, they cannot be absolutely exempt from infirmities. Then how can they live forever? It must be that the leaves of the tree of life heal their infirmities continuously, so that they are never tired.
Some may ask whether or not the inhabitants of the earth in the new heaven and new earth can gain eternal life as well. This verse does not give a clear word regarding this. (The tree of life is clearly in the paradise of Genesis 2:9. And from this verse we see that the tree of life is also in the new heaven and the new earth. However, we do not know if the people of the nations will eat of it.)
(Collected Works of Watchman Nee, The (Set 1) Vol. 16: Study on Revelation, Chapter 11, by Watchman Nee)