Healing Leaves Revelation 21:10, 22:1-2
Plants and trees are important. There are obvious reasons they are important such as the fact that they provide food like grains, fruits and vegetables, lumber for building houses, shade for cooling off, and beauty through their flowers. But there are other less visible reasons that plants and trees are important. Trees help keep our air clean and provide oxygen which is crucial for the life-breath of all terrestrial creatures including humans. Plants and trees also provide substances that can be used in medicines that can bring healing to people.
One of my favorite images in Scripture can be found in a passage that we will hear on Sunday. It is from the Book of Revelation chapter twenty-two which describes the city of God. In the center of the city there is a river and “…on either side of the river is the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, producing its fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.” In this vision that John has of the coming future of God, the leaves of trees are not only used to bring healing to individual people, but are for the healing of the nations.
How do the leaves of a tree help heal a nation? One way to think about John’s vision is to see it as a symbolic metaphor. Just as real leaves can have medicinal uses that bring healing, the leaves on God’s tree of life bring a larger healing into the world. But what if we also saw this imagery as reminding us of the literal healing trees can bring to nations?
There are many parts of the world where deforestation is a serious issue. Loss of forests brings erosion of soil, along with loss of other plant and animal life used for food and other purposes. The re-planting of orchards and forests can restore health to a nation’s land in very tangible ways that are helpful to human health as well. What if the vision of healing leaves in the Book of Revelation is not just a vision for the future, but also a reminder to protect our forests and trees now so those leaves can bring healing in the present time?
-Pastor Erik Goehner