In the first chapters of Genesis the Creator surveys all He has made and declares it to be ‘very good’. Then He grants the first human beings charge over the rest of His work, and gives them a beautiful garden called Eden in which to live.
In the last two chapters of Revelation the ‘new Jerusalem’ is described as a garden city, with a river ‘of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God, and of the Lamb’. The ‘tree of life’ is pictured as blossoming and bearing plentiful fruit on both sides of the river. The leaves of this tree, we are told, are ‘for the healing of the nations’.
Now in between these two idyllic pictures we have the uncomfortable but honest account of human sin and rebellion which has resulted in a cursed state of affairs. The world is still beautiful but now it produces ‘thorns and thistles’, and people live with strife, sorrow and pain.
However Revelation 22 v 3 promises that in the coming time when Christ returns to judge the living and the dead and God makes ‘all things new’ ‘No longer will there be any curse’.
No more terrifying disasters. No more warring nations or individuals. No more ‘death or mourning or crying or pain…’. Rather there will be healing and peace for God’s servants, amply supplied by the tree and the river in the pleasantly restored kingdom of God!
This can only be so because Christ has already come into this world to sort things out. We all have sinned and suffer for it, but He has us covered.
‘Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: ‘Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree. (Galatians 3 v 13)
What happened on that barren, rocky hillside called Calvary was much more than another typical human injustice, it was a divine transaction. Christ, though innocent, took our guilt and punishment on Himself and prayed for us, ‘Father, forgive…’.
He suffered the full effects of the curse on our behalf, He paid the complete penalty that we might be freed and receive God’s blessing of grace.
Everyone who puts their trust in Him is forgiven and even now restored to fellowship with God, and can look forward to an inheritance in that future heavenly garden city.
Here is hope and the beginning of healing for the wounded and broken, the homeless, the trafficked and abused, the lonely and demented. The Lord has taken pity on us and come down to save us.
Thanks be to God!
‘Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city.’ (Revelation 22 v 14)