Growing up in the Niagara peninsula, our house was surrounded by orchards of fruit trees and vast vineyards. The temperate climate and lots of water from two of the Great Lakes made it possible. Some of the most fertile land in the world is the result of water supplies available for irrigation.
The apostle John ended the New Testament with a description of “a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb” (Rev.22:1). It’s a remarkable river because it feeds the tree of life on either side. These are trees with twelve kinds of fruit with a monthly crop! John says even the leaves are useful, for they heal disease.
We have to remember this is a vision and it’s found elsewhere in the Old Testament, especially Ezekiel 47:1-12 where the river’s water causes dry land to become fertile and salt water to become fresh. Joel 3:18 says that the source of this remarkable river is the house of the Lord. John is more precise and says it comes from God’s throne. And Zechariah says it will come from Jerusalem (14:8). If God is its source, no wonder the water is remarkable.
All of these visionary predictions aim to comfort God’s people who have been ravaged by enemies. God is saying He will help them recover and life will be much better, more secure and prosperous. Certainly, John’s description had the Roman threat in mind, but he also gives us a figurative echo of our eternal reward.
Our world presents us with many dangers and uncertainties, but God nourishes us like a river of life flowing down from His throne. Jesus said the to Samaritan woman, “Whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life” (John 4:14).
When life is hard, picture the river of the water of life. God is there for you.
– Tim Johnson