THE TREE OF LIFE IN REVELATION
Here is the first promise given to the overcomers: “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). The tree of life is here again offered to man. Due to the fall the tree of life was closed to him. Throughout the redemption of Christ, the way to touch the tree of life has been reopened (Heb. 10:19-20).
In the last chapter there is the description of the tree of life growing on the two sides of the river (22:2). Because this tree grows in the river of water of life, the tree is no doubt included in the final invitation to man, “Let him who is thirsty also come; he who wills, let him take the water of life freely” (v. 17). By taking the water of life, surely you will get the tree of life growing in it.
From verse 14 we can see that the believers who wash their robes have the right to enjoy the tree of life as their eternal portion in the holy city.
Finally, in verse 19 a solemn warning is given that anyone who takes away from the prophecy will lose his part in the tree of life and in the holy city. From these verses we may infer that the tree of life is one of the outstanding features of the eternal blessing.
GOD’S THOUGHT FOR MAN
Do not lose sight of God’s intention for man as represented by this tree: God wants you to take Him as your life. By eating of this tree, man would have the divine life. What you eat is taken into you and becomes part of you. The tree of life signifies the Prince, the Originator, the Author, of life— Jesus Christ, God Himself, as our life.
AN EDIBLE, DRINKABLE LIFE
The symbolism in Genesis of the tree of life finds its explanation and fulfillment in the Gospel of John. As Adam was offered the divine life if he would eat of the tree of life, so, when Christ came, man was for the second time presented with God’s life and told that it could be received by eating. It was to make this point that the Lord Jesus in chapter six talked so much about Himself as “the true bread out of heaven” (v. 32). He said, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me shall by no means hunger, and he who believes in Me shall by no means ever thirst.…For this is the will of My Father, that every one who sees the Son and believes in Him shall have eternal life.…I am the living bread which came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he shall live forever.…He who eats Me shall also live because of Me” (vv. 35, 40, 51, 57). It is so clear that the way the Lord is to be received is by eating.
In the very next chapter He speaks further of Himself as the One who is drinkable as well as edible. “If anyone thirst, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, out of his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water” (7:37-38).
THE WAY TO EAT AND DRINK HIM
When I was still a child, I heard that Christ is the bread of life. I recall wondering even back then how to eat Him, but no one gave me even a hint. Then when I was about twenty, a renowned traveling preacher came to town. I still remember the message he gave on John 10:10 about the more abundant life. But he left me with no impression of how I could have such a life.
Christ is invisible, abstract, and mysterious. Even our physical life is mysterious and invisible. There is ample evidence that we are alive, but the life itself cannot be seen. Christ may be present with us and be in us, but we cannot see Him or touch Him in a physical way.
We need to be clear, furthermore, that this mysterious One is nothing other than God Himself. Do not think that besides Christ, there is God. Christ is God. Romans 9:5 describes Him as “the Christ, Who is over all, God blessed forever.” Christ is also the Spirit (2 Cor. 3:17) and the Word (John 1:14).
The many terms used to describe Christ help us to understand how we can take Him as our life. He is the tree of life, the bread of life, the water of life, the Spirit of life (Rom. 8:2), and the Word of life (Phil. 2:16). The tree of life indicates the source. The bread of life indicates that this life is edible, and the water of life that it is drinkable. The Spirit of life refers to the Spirit of God, while the Word of life reminds us that this life can be found in the Bible, the Word of God.
Surely we can all testify that when we touch the word of the Bible in spirit, we find Christ. Wherever we turn in the Bible, Christ is there. This Christ in the Word is our food. “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out through the mouth of God” (Matt. 4:4). To live on the words that proceed from God’s mouth is to live by Christ, for He is the living Word out of the mouth of God.
Be sure you have a good spiritual breakfast every morning by prayerfully reading this book. You must put this ahead of every other duty or demand on your time. The way to eat Christ is to open to receive Him in His Word. Do this several times a day. You will be nourished, strengthened, comforted, and built up. The Bible is an inexhaustible mine of riches. The more you read it, the more you will value it.
How do we enjoy Christ as the water of life? He is not only the Word for us to eat, but also the Spirit for us to drink. Spiritual drinking or breathing is praying. Mingle your reading of the Bible with prayer. Instead of making up prayers, repeat the words of the Scripture you read as your prayer. As you make pray-reading the Word your habit, you will be full of both food and water.
(Life Messages, Vol. 1 (#1-41), Chapter 26, by Witness Lee)