THOUGHTS FROM REVELATION

TO EAT FROM THE TREE OF LIFE

To all who believe in him, that is to those who ‘overcome’, Jesus Christ gives a number of strong assurances that confirm the sure salvation they have in him.

The first of these assurances is in Revelation 2:7:

‘To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life which is in the paradise of God.’

The tree of life is first mentioned in Genesis 2:9. There was nothing said about it, except that it was there. There was no prohibition or restriction applied to it. It was freely available. In Genesis 3:22-24, after we had rejected God and his rule in the actions of our common original ancestor, our access to the tree of life was banned. Severed from God, corrupted by sin, it is no longer permitted nor appropriate nor possible for humans to live for ever or to live with God.

But there is in this sad situation one redeeming fact: the tree of life was not removed. On the other side of the prohibitive barrier it was still there in Genesis 3 as a physical reality, and it is still there today as a spiritual reality. Do you see what forms this barrier? Cherubim with flaming swords. Do you know where else these cherubim form a similar physical and symbolic barrier? In the Tabernacle and the Temple, on the massive curtain that prevented human access into the Most Holy Place [the symbolic presence of God] golden cherubim were embroidered. Do you recall what happened to this curtain with its prohibitive cherubim at the very moment Jesus died? It was ripped in two from top to bottom [Matthew 27:50,51].

The death of Jesus Christ has dealt with sin. The barrier that prevents human access to God and therefore to life, has been removed by his death. Because of this the New Testament repeatedly teaches that in Christ those who believe in him have life – eternal life. He, Jesus Christ, is ‘the life’ [John 11:25; 14:6]. He, Jesus Christ, is ‘eternal life’ [1John 5:20]. A right relationship with him means a restored right relationship with God. And a restored right relationship with God means eternal life [John 3:36].

Ephesians 2:18: ‘For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.’

Hebrews 4:14,16: ‘since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess … Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence …’

Hebrews 10:19-22: ‘… we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new a living way through the curtain … let us draw near to God … in full assurance of faith …’

This permanent access to God and to life is portrayed symbolically in the ‘fruit trees’ of Ezekiel 47:12 and the ‘tree of life’ mentioned in Revelation 22:2,14.

This permanent reversal of the Genesis 3 prohibition is one aspect of the blessedness of all who believe in Jesus Christ. Hence his promise and his encouragement to the church in Ephesus: ‘To him who overcomes I will give the right to eat from the tree of life which is in the paradise of God’. This salvation blessing is already the possession of all who believe in Christ. Nothing can take it away. This is the grand assurance that Christ gives to his Church. It is guaranteed by his word ‘I will give …’. On that day, when he returns, he will, like the master in the parable of the talents, say to those who overcome: ‘Come and share your master’s happiness’ [Matthew 25:21,23] … come in and eat from the tree of life in the paradise of God. Come, live with me forever.

By this he encourages the Christians in Ephesus to keep on persevering and enduring hardships for his name. By this he encourages them to return to their ‘first love’. By this he encourages them to keep on hating the deeds of the false teachers. Them, in the church in Ephesus at the end of the first century, and us also today.

© Rosemary Bardsley 2015