Then he led me back to the bank of the river. 7 When I arrived there, I saw a great number of trees on each side of the river. 8 He said to me, “This water flows toward the eastern region and goes down into the Arabah, where it enters the Sea. When it empties into the Sea, the water there becomes fresh. 9 Swarms of living creatures will live wherever the river flows. There will be large numbers of fish, because this water flows there and makes the salt water fresh; so where the river flows everything will live. 12 Fruit trees of all kinds will grow on both banks of the river. Their leaves will not wither, nor will their fruit fail. Every month they will bear, because the water from the sanctuary flows to them. Their fruit will serve for food and their leaves for healing.”
23 The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. 24 The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendour into it. 25 On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there. 26 The glory and honour of the nations will be brought into it. 27 Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life.
1 Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb 2 down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. 3 No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and His servants will serve Him. 4 They will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads. 5 There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign forever and ever.
Sadness, heartbreak and tragedy are those kind of things which are an unfortunate reality in this fallen world in which we live.
Occasionally we bring these things on ourselves as a result of our own bad choices, while at other times we are the helpless victims of the bad decisions of others.
Whatever the reasons for these times of struggle, the root cause is sin.
The beginning of all our troubles can be traced all the way back to Genesis 3.
But there is good news. The great bright hope for the Christian is that beyond all the anxiety, tears, fear and darkness there awaits for us a place where, as we’re promised in the Bible, “there will be no night there.” This is the night that never will be.
So in the midst of all the clouds and darkness, we are able to pause and lift our eyes toward this ultimate place where there will be no more night and no more heartache.
There will never be darkness in heaven.
The reason is that because of the radiance of God will be the source of light, so there will be no more darkness.
1 John 1:5 says “God is light; in Him there is no darkness at all.”
What this means is that in eternity, there will be no sun or moon, nor will there be any need for them because the perfect radiant light of God will be the source of all light.
Light is one of those things we take for granted, but how do you actually explain or understand it? Imagine trying to explain the concept of light to a person who is completely blind and has only ever known darkness.
We know what light is, because we can see it, yet it remains a mystery. But when we finally see the perfect radiance of God, we will understand His light perfectly.
The second promise we have to look forward to is found in verse 25. All fear of harm and danger will be banished. In ancient cities the gates were shut at night and in times of danger. This would keep out the enemy, but this will also not be necessary in heaven. There will be no darkness remember, which means we will have nothing to fear, so consequently the gates will not need to be shut.
Everything will be different. We have all conjured up in our minds images of what we think heaven is like. For most of us, we picture it to be a place similar to what we know in this life, but with all of the sadness and struggles removed, but we simply cannot imagine just what it will be like.
There is a complete and total otherness which awaits us. 1 Corinthians 2:9 says it best: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him.”
It is a place where because of our redemption, the price of which was paid by Jesus on the cross, there will be no darkness, there will be no need and no reason for darkness. We will be a people who no longer love darkness but rather light. We will be a people who will finally walk in the light.
Redemption is a gift offered to us by the grace of God, and our redemption is sealed and recorded in what verse 27 calls “the Lamb’s book of life.”
The name of this book is of huge significance, because it is by the blood of the “Lamb of God” that our names are indelibly written on the record of eternal life. And our names have been written not in ink, but in blood. Our salvation is secure.
What this means is that death has been defeated, once and for all.
There will be no more death in heaven.
Let’s consider death from the purely physical viewpoint for a moment.
There are three basic things we need to stay alive: Water, food, and health. With those three essentials, you have a very good chance of survival.
Now let’s go back to the spiritual. The picture we see in the first 2 verses of chapter 22 symbolises the same basic essentials: “Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.”
Here we see the three essentials: the water of life (water), the perpetual fruit of the tree of life (food), and the leaves of the tree that provide healing powers (health).
For us, everything has a beginning and an end, including life itself, so how then, is it possible for us to live for all of eternity?
The answer is found in these verses.
This is no ordinary water – it is the water of life about which Jesus spoke to the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4. “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
This water comes from God, and in Revelation 22 it describes it as “Flowing from the throne of God.” Just picture in your mind for a moment a stream of pure, fresh, sparkling water. Now multiply that picture of beauty by the power of infinity!
On either side of this stream of living water are trees which bear fruit all year round.
This water quenches spiritual thirst forever. It’s also important for us to note that this is a ‘river’ of water, rather than a reservoir or a dam that can run dry. This river of live will flow for all of eternity.
When Jesus spoke to the Samaritan woman He said that people have to keep returning to physical water, because our physical thirst will always return. But this is very different.
She had also drunk deeply from the waters of her sinful desires, and through her encounter with Jesus she finally realised and understood her spiritual thirst.
The second essential for life is food, and verse 2 describes for us the eternal and abundant provision of food. The river is lined with trees on either side which continually provide fruit.
This food sustains life, as it is called the tree of life. The tree of knowledge of good and evil is where all of our troubles began, and this is what brought death in the first place, but in eternity that will no longer be the case. Death has been defeated, and has no place in heaven.
There is also tremendous symbolism in the words of verse 2. The food which is so abundantly provided bares “twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month.”
The twelve crops is a symbolic way of speaking of an abundant supply throughout the year – every season is provided for.
We will never be left spiritually hungry. The harvest of our spiritual food is every month.
Hundreds of years earlier, Ezekiel had prophesied this garden of eternal life. “When I arrived there, I saw a great number of trees on each side of the river. He said to me, ‘This water flows toward the eastern region and goes down into the Arabah, where it enters the Sea. When it empties into the Sea, the water there becomes fresh. Swarms of living creatures will live wherever the river flows. There will be large numbers of fish, because this water flows there and makes the salt water fresh; so where the river flows everything will live.” (Ezekiel 47:7–9)
And the third essential to sustain life is health. “The leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.”
“Healing” is more correctly translated by an obsolete word, but one that we find in Old English literature - healthing.
Healthing means preventing sickness, which is a little different to healing, which is basically restoring health after sickness. Healthing prevents sickness in the first place.
So the idea is that in the city of God, provision is made for the continuation of perfect health, with no threat ever of disease. This truth was also foreseen by Ezekiel in verse 12; “Their fruit will serve for food and their leaves for healing.”
There will be no disease in heaven. Disease is the result of sin, and since there is no sin in heaven, there is no disease in heaven.
As we move on to verse 3, we are told, “No longer will there be any curse.”
There will be no curse in heaven as there was in the Garden of Eden, but heaven will be different. The reason is given to us: “The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city.”
It is so important for us to understand what these words mean for us.
Our beginning in the Garden of Eden was blighted by the curse of sin, and consequently all human life since then bears many scars of the curse of sin. But eternity in heaven will never be marred by sin. There won’t even be the potential for sin as there was in the Garden of Eden in the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The reason is this: “The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city.”
The very presence of God and the Lamb will prevent even the potential for sin.
God’s presence assures His protection over us for all of eternity.
Isaiah 43:2 is a verse we looked at last week, and it speaks of this same promise of God’s protection: “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.”
In John 5:24 Jesus promises, “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes Him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.”
Today we celebrate Holy Communion. This sacrament has many meanings and is of deep significance in so many areas of the life of faith for the Christian.
Today we’re looking specifically at the hope we have of spending eternity with God. Verses 4 and 5 of Revelation 22: “They will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign forever and ever.”
This speaks so clearly of the intimate communion we will have with God for all of eternity.
2 Corinthians 5:7 says that we “live by faith, not by sight.” That’s for now, in this life, but one day we will see His face and we will finally see God in all His glory.
One of the things we are reminded of through the Sacrament of Communion is the wedding feast of the Lamb which awaits us in Heaven. We have so much to look forward to, and that is why it’s a good thing to pause for a while in our journey through this life and lift our eyes for a moment towards home.
That is the hope that we have, and that is the hope we hold onto.
How is your life going right now? Are you sad, lonely, afraid?
Take courage my friends. As Paul writes in Romans 13:12, “The night is nearly over. The day is almost here.”
And this is what the day will be like: “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and He will live with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Revelation 21:3-4)
Homegroup Study Notes
Read Romans 5:12-14
The Bible clearly teaches the principle of ‘original sin’ – the idea that all sin has affected all people for all time. We are born sinful, and this flaw in our character shapes the people we have become.
How do you feel about this?
Bearing in mind the words of 1 Corinthians 2:9, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him,” what do you imagine Heaven to be like?
Hebrews 6:19 says “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.”
The Biblical definition of the word ‘hope’ is very different from a ‘hope so’ belief or wishful thinking. We base our firm hope on the firm promises of God.
Discuss the differences between Biblical hope and worldly hope.
The Sacrament of Holy Communion means many things to many different people, but there are three main reflections we do as we celebrate Communion: We look back to the saving work of Jesus on the cross, we look inward at our own need for grace and forgiveness, and finally we look forward to the promises of eternity, which was our main focus on Sunday.
Which of these three is the most important for you, and why?
Read Revelation 21:3-4
End your time together by reflecting on and discussing these promises in your group.
Pray especially for those who are “mourning or crying or are in pain.”