“Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city. On either side of the river is the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, producing its fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. “ (Revelation 22:1-2 from Revelation 21:1-22:5 )
When we talk about turning enemies into friends, what we really mean is extending peace and friendship to those people who consider us to be their enemy. We can do that in our neighborhood, in our town/city, in our state, and in our nation. But that is not where it should end. We need to make friends out the people in other nations who consider us their enemy. The United States has not done a very good job lately of making friends out of enemies; and sometimes the trend is to make enemies out the people who HAD been our nation’s friend. Now unless you are some “big hot-shot” who is reading this “little” blog, I doubt whether you can turn a nation of enemies into a nation of friends. But what you can do is conduct your life so that no one can, or would, consider you their enemy.
The book of Revelation has a great many metaphors that puzzle me, and this tree that is on “either side of the rive” puzzles me. My literal logic mind tells me then that the river must flow under the tree or the tree branches span over the river which makes allegorical sense if this “river of the water of life” is what nourishes and nurtures the tree of life. Especially if it flows from the “throne of God and of the Lamb”. But I would despair, gentle reader, if the healing of the nations can only be accomplished in the world to come. But maybe that is true, because the world we live in right now has little healing between nations, much less in nations. Sigh.
This passage from the book of Revelation concludes the 52 weeks of scripture passages. As I said previously, from now until the end of the year is a retrospective on some previous passages and picking up several passages that were missed. Revelation is a good place to conclude, though, with a look at scripture passages that support concepts of right relationship, justice, and shalom. I think back to some of the passages that told the story of the Israelites who became the Hebrews who became the Jews, and all the years of travail living through the wars amongst the nations of that time. It must have been very healing for the Jewish Christians to hear that some day there would be peace as ordained by God. We can hold fast to that promise and message too. Even more so as we approach the end of Advent and the coming of Christ’s birth – which ushered in the era that would end with Christ’s return. And it occurs to me, with that thought, that the yearly season of Advent is played out against the backdrop of the larger advent – the waiting for Christ’s return.
May you gentle reader hold fast to the promise of peace that will heal all the nations, and that will be as fragrant as the sweetest of fruit trees. Selah! And shalom for your day.