There is a river that flows from the throne of heaven. Water normally comes from the rain, the runoff, the streams and rivers, the mighty lakes and oceans we love. But this water? It inexplicably flows from the throne.
He said once to a wandering soul, “The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:14). That is the creative power of the Lord. Creative, and overflowing. That water flows from the throne to the land outside the temple. Then it deepens. Ezekiel reported in chapter 47 of his prophecy that first it was inches deep, then calf deep, then thigh deep, and then with almost frustrated wonder he reported that it became a mighty river he could not ford.
Is God’s goodness not like that? First in inches all around us, in thirsty shock we whoop with delight. But it continues, doesn’t it? Calf deep, then thigh deep, and then with alarm we cannot measure what God has done and He needs to pull us out and place us on dry ground to witness it all.
But I digress. I want to get to those trees. They grow in the waters of that river. I picture them growing up on the banks. Their gnarly roots grip and stretch into the earth, forming elbows that stick out and soft pools of grass growing in the in-between. They stretch over the mighty river and they lean back over the banks behind. Healthy, watered, wind blown, sun-soaked, and content.
Not unlike the Lord Himself when He was here, “planted by rivers of water.” (Psalm 1:3). And not unlike what He longs for us to be too. And like us Christ-followers, these trees yield fruit. Fruit in their season, yes, but their season is every. single. month. On and on they yield and they are delicious and full and nourishing and sweet. The sun, or rather the Son, since "He is the light thereof" (Revelation 21:23), fills the fruit with energy nutrients for everyone that comes to freely eat. Snacks of blessing that are for the nourishment of the nations.
But more than that, the leaves. These leaves are said to be “for the healing of the nations.” After these nations have witnessed the centuries go by, each more violent than the last. We too, each members of a nation ourselves, are witnesses of our world with its violence, terror, and injustice (which will only grow worse).
After lifetimes of standing firm and working hard in faith and worship to create small outposts in our homes and families where He is truly King, after trusting through the darkness and knowing that He is in control when nothing seems in control, after losing people we don’t know how to live without, after sitting through endless workplace “re-education sessions” tellings us what and who and how to express our identities and sexuality in the workplace — as if it is in their authority to do so, after the noisy blood of innocents from Abel to the modern-day martyrs and aborted wee ones is finally answered, after all this grief and sin and loss and weariness, there is the soft clause at the end of the sentence, “for the healing of the nations.”
Because, Lord knows, these nations need their healing. Each and every one of them will stand distinct and redeemed. Healed and known:
”After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!’ And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying, ‘Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.’” (Revelation 7:9-12).
As part of those nations, we'll stumble shocked into glory, whether that is through death or rapture, and we’ll have seen His kingdom come and heard His will done and bowed in deep thankful reverence to the King of Kings. While inexplicably at the same time continuing the personal walk that we’ve known for a lifetime — being known and cherished and chosen before time began.
We’ll plop on the soft banks and take in the vista of heaven, sweet fruit on our lips and healing salve from the leaves on our souls, and we’ll glory at what He has done and praise Him for bringing us through.
In the face of this world, I’m craving that peace today. Here’s your reminder to not set your heart on the darkness before us, my friends, but to set your heart before the throne, on the banks of that river of living water.
“Therefore they are before the throne of God,
and serve him day and night in his temple;
and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence.
They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore;
the sun shall not strike them,
nor any scorching heat.
For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd,
and he will guide them to springs of living water,
and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes” (Revelation 7:15-17).
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