that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith to
the churches. To him that overcometh, to him will I give
to eat of the tree of life, which is in the garden of
God" (Revelation 2:7).
"And he shewed me a river of water of life,
bright as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God
and of the Lamb, in the midst of the street thereof. And
on this side of the river and on that was the tree of
life, bearing twelve manner of fruits, yielding its fruit
every month... Blessed are they that wash their robes,
that they may have the right to come to the tree of
life... And if any man shall take away from the words of
the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part
from the tree of life, and out of the holy city"
PLACE OF THE TREE OF LIFE
this last chapter of the Bible we are taken right back to
the beginning of the Bible and find ourselves in the
presence of the tree of life. In this connection, the
ending of everything is found to correspond to the
beginning, but, of course, with one great difference: the
end is the full realization of the meaning of the
beginning. In this form of a symbolic tree of life we are
quite evidently in the presence of the main issue of the
ages - all the ages are compassed by this one issue. When
Jesus, here at the end, calls Himself the "Alpha and
the Omega, ...the beginning and the end" (verse 13),
He is referring to Himself as the tree of life. The tree
of life is the first thing, and it is the last thing.
But although the tree of life was there in the midst of
the garden at the beginning, man never partook of it. The
partaking of that tree was on certain conditions. Those
conditions were faith and obedience, and because man
failed in those conditions, and because man disbelieved
and disobeyed God, he was removed from the presence of
the tree of life. Then God set up a protection for that
tree and made it impossible for man without faith and
obedience to partake of it.
Of course, these are spiritual principles set forth in a
symbolic way. This question of Divine life is the supreme
question in all history. It is the issue of all the ages
- just whether man will receive this Divine life or not.
Man's eternal destiny is decided upon that issue. This
was God's supreme purpose in the creation. This life is
the life of God, Divine life because of the Divine
nature, and it was God's desire and purpose to share His
life with His creation.
The symbolic place that this tree had is very
significant. It was in the midst of the Paradise of God.
This question of Divine life is at the very centre of the
creation, and, having the central place in all things, it
governs all things.
was available to man. It was God's thought and desire
that man should take this Divine life, but, as we have
said, it was on the condition of faith and obedience, and
man never partook of this Divine life because he failed
in those two things. So God said, quite effectively:
'That kind of man shall never have My Divine life', and
death, and the prince of death, reigned over that realm
and that kind of man. What the Bible means by death
reigns over the whole creation of unbelieving men.
Disobedience is the positive aspect of unbelief. If man
says that he believes, God says: 'Prove it by obedience!'
Spiritual death is the hallmark of unbelief and
And if you want to know what spiritual death is, the
Bible makes it quite clear: it is separation from God.
God is the source of this life, and separation from God
means separation from the very source of life.
But that is not sufficient explanation. What is the
effect of spiritual death? It is that nothing is ever
allowed to come to perfection apart from God. It will
just go so far, and no further. In our cemeteries in
England we have stones set up over graves, and many of
these gravestones are in the form of a pillar which is
just a certain height, and then it is broken off. It is
meant to say: This life just went so far and could go no
further. Life apart from God can never go through to
There was a great atheist once who thought he knew a
great deal. He boasted of his wonderful knowledge of
philosophy, and made a great name for himself as what is
called a 'free-thinker'. Then the day came when he was
dying, and on his deathbed he was in a state of mental
torment. His last words were: 'I am taking a terrible
leap into the dark!' It does not matter how much we gain
in this life. If it is apart from God that is all left
behind. Nothing can come to perfection that is separated
from God, and that is the mark of spiritual death.
BATTLEGROUND OF THE AGES
faith and obedience are the way out of death, this matter
of faith and obedience has been the battleground of all
the ages. There is no greater ground of conflict than the
ground of faith, and this great issue was headed up to
its climax in the incarnation of God's Son. The whole
purpose of God being manifest in the flesh in His Son was
to take up this issue and settle it for ever. "A
Final Adam to the fight and to the rescue came."
This whole issue, then, becomes a matter of faith in the
Son of God, and a life of obedience to Him. That is the
pathway of eternal life. Now you see that the tree is not
just a tree, it is a Person, and that Person is Jesus
Christ, the Son of God. We have been considering this New
Jerusalem coming down out of heaven, and we have been
seeing how its many features are the features of Jesus
Christ. Now what we have to see as we are coming near to
the end is that all the features of the city are summed
up in the tree and the river of life. All that the city
represents is found in these final things, the tree and
the river, and it is the tree of life and the river of
the water of life.
PRACTICAL NATURE OF DIVINE LIFE
I want to
say here, quite emphatically, that life is a very
practical thing. That is true of natural life. We know
what a tremendous thing it is to fight for someone's
life. All the vast resources of medical supply and
surgical care are concentrated into this one issue, and
that vast realm of activity is concentrated upon this one
thing - life. Everything and anything to save life. It
may be just a little life in some poor body, but all the
resources of medical science and care will be employed
just to save that bit of life. What a tremendous amount
is bound up with this matter of life! When that life has
gone all the activity and energy and concern ceases.
This matter of life can make us very busy. I expect most
of you have heard of the great missionary David
Livingstone, and some years ago I was associated with a
great movement for the celebration of the centenary of
his birth. You know, for nearly a whole year we were
busy, almost night and day, making the arrangements. We
took the greatest hall in London, got the Archbishop of
Canterbury to promise to preside, we had a special
oratorio composed, and had special biographies of David
Livingstone written. My word, we had to work hard! One
day the man with whom I was working said to me: 'Old
David Livingstone is not dead! He is still knocking us
all out by his vitality!'
Well, you see, life is a very practical thing.
Electricity is a very practical thing. You do not need
that I should demonstrate that! If you want proof of
that, just unscrew the lamp, pull down the switch and put
your thumb on the point. If you did that to the lamp over
there, the next moment you would be sitting in another
corner and you would be believing in the practical aspect
Now all that is only to come to our point. If all that is
true of natural life, how much more true it must be of
Divine life! Divine life is immensely practical. It is
not just something which we receive; it is a power in us.
The Apostle Paul said one of his very great things about
this: "Now unto him that is able to do exceeding
abundantly above all that we ask or think, according
to the power that worketh in us" (Ephesians
3:20) - 'Exceeding' ... 'Exceeding abundantly...
'Exceeding abundantly above' ... 'Exceeding abundantly
above all... according to the power that worketh in us.'
It is the power of this Divine life by the Holy Spirit.
LIMITING OF DIVINE LIFE
Now we have
been seeing that this city, in every part, is an
expression of the Divine nature, and that is brought down
to us in the Person of Jesus Christ. Where there is
anything contrary to the Divine nature, that is death and
not life. Recall some of the features of this city.
We said that it was clear as crystal. You can see right
through it - there is no dark thing. It says that it is
like transparent gold. That is only a symbolism for
absolute honesty, absolute truth, and absolute purity of
mind, and where there is anything that is not absolutely
honest and true and transparent, there is not life. If
you were to try to deceive me, or someone else, or I
tried to deceive you, that would seriously limit the
Divine life in us. If we as Christians are not absolutely
honest in our business, we are working against the life
of God in us. If our Christianity is only a profession
and not a reality, there is no life in it. I think I need
not labour that any more. This place where God is is
completely free from everything that is dark and
dishonest. There are several things in the Bible which
are said to be an abomination to God. We pointed out that
the lie is an abomination to Him, and the Bible says that
pride is an abomination, too. It says: "The proud he
(the Lord) knoweth afar off" (Psalm 138:6). Pride
cannot come near to God. What is pride? It is making
believe something that is not true.
Let us look at another thing about this city. A city,
ideally, is the symbol of order. In a true city
everything is in proper order, and everything that is
governed by it is put into order. God is a God of order.
Disorder is contrary to His nature. Whether it be in the
personal life, or whether it be in the home, or whether
it be in the church, or wherever it may be, disorder is
contrary to the nature of God. Disorder is lawlessness,
and all lawlessness has come from Satan. Satan is called
the 'Prince of this world' (John 14:30). Now, look at the
world! There is only one word to explain the world
situation, and that is CHAOS. More and more, and
ever more chaos is coming over this world. The prince of
this world is making for disorder everywhere in his
world. In the realm of Divine life things are ordered if
that life is having its way, for it is Divine life that
will bring order into your personal life. When I see a
disorderly life, a life in which you cannot see any real
order, then I have to say: 'Divine life is suffering in
that person'. When there is disorder in a company of the
Lord's people we know quite well that the life is
limited. We have to say: 'When I go there, amongst those
people, I do not come away feeling renewed in my life.'
When things are in Divine order, then you always feel
FRUITFULNESS OF DIVINE LIFE
other things about this life. Divine life is always
fruitful. You see, this tree is planted by the river of
the water of life, and it bears all manner of fruit. It
does not matter whether it is seventy, eighty or a
hundred years old, it bears fruit every month. You have
never seen a natural tree do that! It just means that
fruit goes on and on and on. Divine life never grows old.
What does that mean? You are saying: 'Well, what do you
mean by fruit?' Life is influence. Somehow or other this
water of life has an influence upon its surroundings, and
that influence is seen in green leaves and much fruit -
you have to say: 'Well, that water is having a great
influence on this whole area!' If we really have this
life in us, our lives will be influential. They will have
an effect upon what is around us.
PLACE OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST IN OUR LIVES
thing for this time. The city is the seat of government,
and you notice that the river of the water of life flows
from out of the throne, so it is the throne that produces
everything. You know what that means! It is the throne of
God and of the Lamb. In a word, it means the absolute
lordship of Jesus Christ. Right at the very centre of
everything is the government of Jesus Christ, in virtue
of His Cross, and as the Lamb. All the other things will
depend entirely upon the place that Jesus Christ has, and
will depend entirely upon how much we are committed to
Him. If we are WHOLLY committed to the Lord and He
is ALTOGETHER Lord, then the life will flow and
all these things that we have said about life will be
true in us. It will be the testimony to absolute
committal to Jesus Christ.