“also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month (Revelation 22:2b).”
Ever since I was a young boy I have loved trees. Some people love the sun, but if you are looking for me at a park you’ll likely find me standing in the shade of a tree. Much of my boyhood free time was spent climbing trees - my forearms would be scraped raw from shinnying up trunks. It is my love for trees that has always drawn my heart to this passage along with the part of the creation account in the opening chapters of Genesis - both of which speak of the tree of life.
As I’ve said in prior posts, when we think of images in the garden, we are thinking of things we have lost. This is especially true for the tree of life, since the cherubim’s flaming sword in Genesis 3 was there specifically to “guard the way to the tree of life.” Everything we know in this life is lived apart from that tree.
However, when we hear of the tree of life in the last chapter of the Bible we are not reading of something we have lost, but rather we are looking forward to something we will gain. And as we read of the tree in this closing chapter we should quickly recognize that everything is escalated. It is not in one place, rather it is prominently on both sides of the river that flows down the street of the eternal city. But it is not just its greater presence about which we can marvel, we are also told that it had “twelve kinds of fruit” and it yielded its “fruit each month.” The tree of life is always in season!
In the Genesis account, the image of the tree of life is associated with immortality - a life that does not end (Genesis 2:9; 3:22). Adam and Eve, along with all of us, have been kept from it. Yet here in the eternal city we hear of it being readily available. Abundance and freshness are some of the great marks of our eternal home - and that is what heightens my longing for that day.