Today’s passage recalls another important Bible story—Adam and Eve’s rebellion in the Garden of Eden. A quick look at Genesis 3 yields the scene where God forbids Adam and Eve from partaking of the Tree of Life. Genesis 3:22-23 says, “Then the Lord God said, ‘See, the man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil; and now, he might reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever’— therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from which he was taken.” God exiles Adam and Eve from the Garden because of their direct and willful disobedience of God’s commandment. God banishes them from their perfect home and removes them from the intimate relationship they had shared. No longer will they converse with God in the cool of the evening as they did before they rebelled. A barrier erected by sin separates human creatures from their Creator.
In today’s passage in Revelation, we see the consequences of humanity’s original rebellion being reversed. Redeemed humanity now has free access to the Tree of Life and its lush and abundant harvest. Not only does the tree provide nourishment in the form of fruit which ripens each month, it also offers healing properties from its leaves. No longer separated from God by their sin, the residents of the new Jerusalem see God face-to-face. In the new city of God, the new Jerusalem, God restores the intimacy humanity knew in the Garden of Eden.
Lord, we long for your new Jerusalem, where you restore our face-to-face intimacy with you. We long to feast on the ripe fruit plucked from the Tree of Life. We long to drink from the crystal clear river that flows from your throne. Bring us to your new city and restore what we lost when we rebelled. Amen.
The kingdom of God is constantly advancing by the power of the Holy Spirit. In Acts, Paul is driven forward in his missionary activity by the Spirit. He moves westward to Macedonia, where a woman named Lydia becomes the first known convert in Europe. This becomes a base for subsequent mission. In Revelation, the Spirit shows John the new Jerusalem, in which the Lamb will provide light for all nations. Jesus’ disciples wrestle with the idea that he would leave them. He teaches them that he will not leave them alone; he will send the Holy Spirit to empower them. The psalmist does not mention the Spirit but declares that all nations, not just the Israelites, will sing for joy because of God’s saving power.
Read Acts 16:9-15. Recall a specific time when you have followed God. How did you discern God’s voice? What did you do to follow through on God’s call?
Read Psalm 67. How do you share God’s blessings with the world?
Read Revelation 21:10, 22–22:5. What would it mean for there to be no separation between nations? no separation between you and God?
Read John 14:23-29. When have you experienced the Holy Spirit as your Advocate?
Respond by posting a prayer.
I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.”
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