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.
They will only need to eat from the tree of life during the first 1,000 years of the eternal kingdom. We will see some things from Ezekiel regarding the Millennial temple that line up with Revelation 22. It’s not until John’s book of the Revelation that we can see that the first installment of the eternal kingdom is 1,000 years. We know from Scripture that the kingdom will never end.
Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end.
The kingdom that the Lord Jesus Christ will establish at his Second Coming to this earth will last forever and ever. We see this in the Old Testament; for example:
…his kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and his dominion is from generation to generation.
But it isn’t until the book of Revelation written by John (who was given more light about this eternal kingdom—a ‘progressive revelation’), that we learn there will be an initial installment of 1,000 years, aka the Millennium.
The nations won’t need to eat from the tree of life in the eternal kingdom after the 1,000 years when there will be no sin, no death, and no need for physical (or spiritual) healing.
But the focus of Revelation 22 has to do with the first 1,000 years of the eternal kingdom. During that Millennium, sin will still be on the earth and the gentile nations will be under the Law of Moses like the Jews were back in the Old Testament.
In the Millennium under the New Covenant the people of Israel will have the Spirit of God living in them and will be caused by God to keep the commandments. Israel will at last be with the Lord; He will be their God and they will be His people.
And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them. And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and ye shall be my people, and I will be your God.
But the gentiles will still sin during the first 1,000 years of the eternal kingdom, and with sin comes disease and the greatest disease of all – death; so, there will be a need for healing. Let’s look at Revelation and Ezekiel to get a better understanding:
And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. 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:
When Christ comes He will reverse the curse on creation. But lifting the curse doesn’t mean that the perfect end result will be instantaneous. For example, when God cursed the earth at the Fall for Adam’s sake…
Genesis 2:17; 3:17-19
But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.
And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.
…Adam instantly died spiritually; but the physical effects were gradual; he died physically at 930 years—he lived almost 1,000 years. The physical consequences of the spiritual truth took some time to manifest. So too, the opposite will be true. It will take 1,000 years for the curse to be entirely lifted off the earth. Therefore, even though the curse is being lifted during the Millennium, the gentiles will still be living under sin and death and the effects of the curse on the earth over the past 6,000+ years.
So, Revelation is speaking of the Millennial kingdom when the Lord will be on the earth in the Millennial temple.
In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life [one of the trees in the Garden of Eden], which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month:
This unusual tree was placed in the Garden by God and we learn from this verse that it bore twelve manner of fruits—unlike the trees that we’re used to that bear only one type of fruit. Obviously, twelve represents the twelve tribes of Israel which will be bearing fruit for the Lord in the Kingdom. So, in type, this tree represents Christ and the twelve fruits symbolize Israel bearing fruit for the Lord. There are actually many of these trees; they will line the streets and will continually bear fruit every month, as will Israel.
…and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.
Again, this is for the first installment of the kingdom – the first 1,000 years. After the 1,000 years and the Great White Throne Judgment when there is a new heaven and new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness…
2 Peter 3:13
Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.
…there won’t be any need for healing because Death will have been thrown into the Lake of Fire.
And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.
But during the first 1,000 years when there is still sin and death in the earth, particularly among the gentile nations, there will be a need for the leaves for healing.
In the Bible, ‘leaves’ represent healing. When Adam and Eve sinned and ate of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, they made aprons of fig leaves to cover themselves. Adam knew something about leaves and their healing properties. (Even in our day there are medicinal properties in certain herbs and leaves.) Adam and Eve were trying to cover up their sinfulness before God. They were trying to heal themselves of death with fig leaves; but it didn’t work. They dried up and fell off and God had to clothe them.
Look what God says about the tree of life in Genesis 3…
And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever: [There are some healing properties associated with this tree of life.] Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.
It wasn’t so much that God was keeping Adam away from it, but it was that now Adam had to come to God with an animal sacrifice in order to eat of it. He would have to continue to come with a sacrifice to be allowed to eat of it so that he could receive healing. And evidently he kept bringing his sacrifice all those years until sin caught up with him and he died.
…and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.
When will that be? During the Millennium when there will be worship of the Lord in the city of Jerusalem that comes down.
Revelation 21:2; 24-25
And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it. And the gates of it [New Jerusalem] shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there. And they shall bring the glory and honour of the nations into it.
This ‘glory and honour’ refers to worship service. The nations will come and worship just like the Jewish people did when God called them to Jerusalem to worship three times a year on the feast days.
Three times in a year shall all thy males appear before the LORD thy God in the place which he shall choose; in the feast of unleavened bread, and in the feast of weeks, and in the feast of tabernacles: and they shall not appear before the LORD empty:
The gentiles will do the same thing. When they come there to worship and offer the proper sacrifices, they will be able to receive the medicinal healing from the tree of life.
Let’s look at the tree of life and the Millennial temple (where the Lord and David will be) that comes down from heaven. Ezekiel talks about the same thing that John does in Revelation 22…
1Afterward he brought me again unto the door of the house [the house of the Lord – the temple]; and, behold, waters issued out from under the threshold of the house eastward: for the forefront of the house stood toward the east, and the waters came down from under from the right side of the house, at the south side of the altar.
Ezekiel goes into more detail about the water flowing from the throne of God in Revelation 22:1 – the water of life.
2Then brought he me out of the way of the gate northward, and led me about the way without unto the utter gate by the way that looketh eastward; and, behold, there ran out waters on the right side.
3And when the man that had the line in his hand went forth eastward, he measured a thousand cubits, and he brought me through the waters; the waters were to the ankles.
4Again he measured a thousand, and brought me through the waters; the waters were to the knees. Again he measured a thousand, and brought me through; the waters were to the loins.
5Afterward he measured a thousand; and it was a river that I could not pass over: for the waters were risen, waters to swim in, a river that could not be passed over.
6And he said unto me, Son of man, hast thou seen this? Then he brought me, and caused me to return to the brink of the river.
7Now when I had returned, behold, at the bank of the river were very many trees on the one side and on the other.
Ezekiel is seeing what John talks about, the tree(s) of life—there were many.
8Then said he unto me, These waters issue out toward the east country, and go down into the desert, and go into the sea: which being brought forth into the sea, the waters shall be healed.
9And it shall come to pass, that every thing that liveth, which moveth, whithersoever the rivers shall come, shall live: and there shall be a very great multitude of fish, because these waters shall come thither: for they shall be healed; and every thing shall live whither the river cometh.
10And it shall come to pass, that the fishers shall stand upon it from Engedi even unto Eneglaim; they shall be a place to spread forth nets; their fish shall be according to their kinds, as the fish of the great sea, exceeding many.
11But the miry places thereof and the marshes thereof shall not be healed; they shall be given to salt.
12And by the river upon the bank thereof, on this side and on that side, shall grow all trees for meat, whose leaf shall not fade, neither shall the fruit thereof be consumed: it shall bring forth new fruit according to his months, because their waters they issued out of the sanctuary: and the fruit thereof shall be for meat, and the leaf thereof for medicine.
So when Revelation 22:2 talks about leaves for the healing of the nations, you can see the same thing in Ezekiel – particularly verses 7 and 12. When the nations come to worship, they can eat of this tree. The tree(s) shall be for meat (sustenance); and the leaves will be for medicine, for healing. The gentiles will be free to go eat of this tree more than just on the three mandatory feast days. The Jews were free to go to the temple every day if they chose. So anytime a gentile needs healing, he can go to the tree of life like the Jews did who went to the Lord Jesus Christ (represented by this tree of life) during his earthly ministry for healing. In that day, if a gentile is willing to subject his heart to the Lord, he can take the proper sacrifice to the temple in Israel and the Lord will heal him.