The Remedy for the Nations’ Ills
“The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations (Revelation 22:2c).”
Do you ever sigh as you hear news which only reminds you of what you’ve heard before in previous days? Another act of terror, a new disease that sounds like the old one, reports of bigotry that resemble days of old, tension between nations… The news isn’t really new; it’s only updated examples of things we’ve seen since the Fall. The thought that someday with the right person elected or with the right technology we will at long last be able to put those things in our past would be absurd. Yet what is impossible for us is possible for our great God.
Here in this text we are told that the leaves of the tree of life are “for the healing of nations.” Some wonder how the nations could need healing if nothing impure will enter the city, but such thinking is to miss the point. This description is given for us as we live in a world in which the nations need desperate healing. By speaking of the healing of nations we are reminded that the life we will know then is not simply the life we have now minus death; rather the life we will know then will be qualitatively different.
The image of a river with trees on both banks is reminiscent of the vision in Ezekiel 47. In that vision we are told that “the leaves are for healing (47:12).” In Ezekiel it is national Israel that is healed, but in Revelation 22 it is “the nations.” This of course is sweet to our ears for we are part of “the nations” - the people from every tribe and tongue that will one day live in an eternity which will most definitely not be just an extended version of this life. No, we will be a people who are fully healed. The life supplied by our Savior will then be seen to be the remedy for all the ills that belong to this fallen world that constantly disappoints.