“In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him.”
In this connection we have an illustration of the kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ, as a holy city, New Jerusalem, coming not up out of the sea, like the seven-headed beast described in chapter xiii. 1, or the two-horned beast which came up out of the earth, in the same chapter, nor like the scarlet colored beast ascending out of the bottomless pit, described in chapter xvii.; but in this vision the church of God, as the bride, the Lamb’s wife, is seen coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. All her preparation, and all her adorning comes with her from God, from heaven, and needs none of the trappings of earth to make her the perfection of beauty. Under the similitude of a city, her foundations, gates, streets, light, and all her internal glory, order, provision, security and happiness, is beautifully described in chapter xxi., and the description is continued in the xxii. and last chapter of the New Testament. The pure water of life flows clear as crystal from the throne of God and the Lamb, for her abundant supply. And, “in the midst of the street of it.” That is, in the midst of the street of the holy city, or church of God, and on either side of the river, was the Tree of Life. A street is a thoroughfare, a way, a passage by which the citizens have intercourse with each other, and enjoy the privileges of the city. Our Lord Jesus Christ is the way, and all the citizens of the new Jerusalem abide in him. He is the Truth, and they all walk in him. In the midst of this street, that is, in the Lord Jesus Christ, who is God and Man, and Mediator between God and men. His Mediatorial identity being the centre or midst of him, in which dwells all the fullness of his eternal Godhead, and in which the entire church of God is complete.
By the Tree of Life, we understand the whole church in her vital and eternal union with Christ, for he is the Root and the Offspring of this Tree of Life, while the Church and all her branches are brought into manifestation by their vital union with the Root. He is the true vine, and his members are the branches. Centering in him all the family of God exist.
“And on either side of the river.” Not only subsequently to his advent into this world, but throughout the patriarchal and prophetic ages, and even from everlasting, this Tree of Life has existed; and subsequently to his manifestation in the flesh, this Tree of Life has been revealed in her gospel organization. As in Zech. iv. 3, Two Olive trees supply the bowl of the lamp or branches of the golden candlestick, with golden oil; the one on the right side of the bowl, and the other on the left side thereof, so this Tree of Life is on both sides of the River of Life, which John saw. This tree, as we are told, bare twelver manner of fruits, and yielded her fruits every month. The number twelve agrees with the number of months in a year, also with the number of the tribes of Israel, apostles of the Lamb, of the gates and foundation of the city, &c. By the twelve manner of fruit we do not understand a difference in the nature or quality of the fruit, for our Lord has informed us that a good tree cannot bring forth evil fruits, and as this is a good tree, a Tree of Life, all its fruits must be good and vital. But in manner its yielding is adapted to the varied circumstances and condition of the citizen of the New Jerusalem. As the seasons of bearing, every month, show that there is no time or vicissitude of the church or of her members, in which this Tree of Life fails to supply with the fruits of immortality or life. These fruits, the apostle informs us, are love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance, &c., against which there is no law. God has his set, or appointed times to favor Zion. She has her winter and summer, her seed time and harvest, but she has never yet found a time or season in which the grace of God has not been sufficient for her.
“And the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.” The leaves, as well as the fruits of a tree, are the productions of the tree, and show that the tree is in a healthy and vital state, and that the life or sap from the living root is diffused throughout the tree, and all the branches where the leaves appear. The tree is clothed in verdure and beauty. So the Church of God in her living union with Christ her Root, from spiritual life derived from him, is invigorated and made to flourish like the Palm Tree, and to grow as the Cedars of Lebanon. While the exhibition of truth, righteousness, and purity in doctrine, order, ordinance, and in all her practice, resists the corruptions of our fleshly nature, reproves the disorders and abominations contracted from the world, and heals those who are made partakers of its medicinal virtues, of those inordinate affections, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife and seditions, wherein we once walked, and produce in them a love of holiness, a desire to be more conformed to the image of their divine Lord, to mortify the deeds of the flesh, to put off the old man with his lusts, and to put on the new man, which after God, is created in righteousness and true holiness. The kingdom of Christ is indeed but one nation. “A chosen generation, a peculiar people, a holy nation.” But her members are redeemed out of every nation and kindred, and require the healing virtues of the leaves of the Tree of Life.
“And there shall be no more curse.” The holy Jerusalem is the vision of peace. No wrath can enter: For this, saith the Lord, is as the waters of Noah unto me; for as I have sworn that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth, so have I sworn that I would not be wroth with thee nor rebuke thee. For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed, but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the Lord that hath mercy on thee. (Isaiah liv. 9,10.) Although the Lord has chosen his people in the furnace of affliction, and ordained that in the world they shall have tribulation, and although he rebukes those whom he loves, and chastens every son whom he receiveth, yet it is always in love, never in wrath. His word, his oath is pledge that he will not be wroth with them; therefore it is impossible that there shall be any more curse. All things do work together for good to them that love him.
“But the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it. “The throne is the place of power, and the throne of God must be the place of Almighty power, of Divine Omnipotence, the power by which he governs the armies of heaven and the inhabitants of earth, while the throne of the Lamb more immediately refers to his spiritual dominion over his subjects as the King of saints. Still, as all power in heaven and in earth to reign in providence and in grace, is vested in our risen and exalted Redeemer, and as he is ever in, and inseparably identified with his church, the throne of God and of the Lamb is in this holy city. Whatever, therefore, the saints may need in providence, or to protect, support, and defend them in temporal matters, as well as all the spiritual government of the church, is in him, and he with all power and grace is in the midst of Zion, so that she shall not be moved. Truly he is the head over all things to his church, which is his body, the fullness of him that filleth all in all.
“And his servants shall dwell there.” Happy then to be a servant of the dear Redeemer. All his subjects are children, but the relationship of a son is demonstrated by birth, that of a servant by obedience. His servant ye are to whom ye obey. Neither obedience, nor any act of ours, can make us sons, but if God has made us sons and heirs, is it not our duty and privilege to obey him? We enter in through the gates of this city, and have a right to this Tree of Life, by our obedience, if we are subjects of his grace, for he who proclaims himself Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last, says in verse fourteen of this chapter, “Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the Tree of Life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.” Those who obey are his servants, and they shall dwell there; Jerusalem shall be their abiding place, and they shall go no more out forever.
October 15, 1859.
Elder Gilbert Beebe
Editorials Volume 4
Pages 267 - 270