The River of Living Water

Bible Book: Revelation  22 : 1-5
Subject: Life, The Source of; Water, The Living
Series: Revelation

Do you remember the one verse I have tried to keep before you from the very first sermon in this series? “Blessed is the one who reads and blessed are those who hear the words of this prophecy and keep what is written in it, because the time is near!” (Rev 1:3). Our Lord promised a blessing to all who read this book, and to all who hear it read. He does not amplify what He means by this blessing, but I doubt very seriously that what He has in mind is our working out a system so that we can condemn all who disagree with us. He does not say that every person will receive the very same blessing. One person who reads Revelation may be looking for salvation, whether or not he understands that as he begins to read it. Another person may need assurance of salvation; and yet another, information about end-time events. And others may simple want to read this book and meditate on the One who is revealed in the Revelation. The One who is revealed is the One doing the revealing, and the Holy Spirit, Who indwells every believer will bless those who focus the eyes of their spirit on the Lamb of God. The Holy Spirit miraculously inspired every word of the Revelation. He has miraculously preserved every word of it. And now, He will illuminate the heart of the believer who reads it and provide just the blessing we need each time we read it.

We are beginning the final chapter of Revelation - even though John did not divide it into chapters and verses. It was originally one message, a unit - without divisions. It in a Bible that has been divided into chapters and verses for a very practical reason. How would you like to go to a worship service and have the pastor announce, “I am going to be preaching from the scroll of Isaiah, and they we are going to the scroll of Daniel, and finally to the scroll of Revelation” We need chapters and verses so we can follow the message, and so we can stay together. It also helps us find passages we need them. With that in mind, I would like for us to take a very brief look at the 22 chapters of the Revelation, in an effort to keep the whole message before us.

In Chapter 1, Jesus is the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last.
In Chapters 2-3, we have the letters to the 7 churches of Asia Minor.
In Chapter 4, we are introduced to the throne room of Heaven.
In Chapter 5, the One on the throne has a scroll with seven seals.
In Chapter 6, the first six seals are broken, with dramatic revelations.
In Chapter 7, God’s judgment is held back until redeemed are sealed.
In Chapter 8, the seventh seal is broken, followed by 7 trumpet judgments.
In Chapter 9, the angel from bottomless pit brings plagues against unsaved.
In Chapter 10, John eats little book which is sweet in his mouth but bitter in his stomach.
In Chapter 11, God sends two Witnesses to proclaim His message.
In Chapter 12, we see Satan’s vicious attack on Israel, and God’s protection.
In Chapter 13, we see the beast out of the sea and the beast our of the earth.
In Chapter 14, We will stand with the Lamb or fall with the Beast.
In Chapter 15, preparation is made for the seven bowls of judgment.
In Chapter 16, we see the pouring out of the final seven bowls of judgment.
In Chapter 17, we are introduced to the scarlet woman and the scarlet beast.
In Chapter 18, we see the fall of Babylon the Great.
In Chapter 19, the saints shout, “Hallelujah, Our Lord Reigns.”
In Chapter 20, the reign of the saints with Jesus, Great White Thrown Judgment, Satan bound.
In Chapter 21, we are at home with the Lord.
In Chapter 22, “Even so, Come, Lord Jesus!”

In 1:3, we are promised a blessing. I do not know when and where you have received your richest blessing, but if you have followed the Scripture through Revelation, I can assure you of one thing - either you have been blessed - or - you are under the One whose eyes penetrate your heart like a laser, the One who has the power and authority to judge you. Many of you have told me how the Lord has blessed you as we have gone through Revelation. I would trust that anyone who is lost will
understand the message of this book and confess your sins, repent, and believer in Jesus Christ for His great salvation.

Now, if you are not aware of just how the Lord has blessed you, let me assure you that I know that I am not the blessing He promised, nor are my sermons the promised blessing. The Lord will bless you when you turn to this book in sincerity and humility. If you have had any problem at all identifying that blessing, you are in for a special blessing today. Joy should flood your soul as you look at the house plans - or the city plans - where you will spend eternity.


1) First, He Shows Us the River of Living Water, 1-2a.

“Then he showed me the river of living water, sparkling like crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the broad street of the city.”

In Chapter 21 we saw the measurements of the New Jerusalem. Now we go inside the city. The picture is given for our inspiration, the language inspired for our edification. This is a well that will never run dry. We can keep going back and there is always more. The symbolic nature is underscored here when we read that the river of life runs “down the middle of the broad street of the city.” In this world, when water runs down the middle of a street in any town, the town is in serious trouble. As I write these words, I am keenly aware of what the flood from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita have done to south New Orleans and much of south Louisiana and southeast Texas. At this moment the media is watching a damaged dam in Massachusetts. If it breaks a six foot wall of water will sweep across an evacuated city. The city will be in ruins, much like some parishes in Louisiana.

For the uninitiated, many of the metaphors of the New Testament would fall on deaf ears - and that is the reason we know so much of the New Testament was written for the edification of believers. We need to remind ourselves of a very important lesson Paul was inspired to write for our benefit:

“But the natural man does not welcome what comes from God’s Spirit, because it is foolishness to him; he is not able to know it since it is evaluated, or judged, or discerned spiritually. The spiritual person, however, can evaluate everything, yet he himself cannot be evaluated or judged, or discerned by anyone. For: who has known the Lord’s mind, that he may instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ” (1 Cor 2:14-16, HCSB, emphasis added).

There are spiritual truths, doctrines, principles, images, and parables that the lost person cannot possibly understand. They are spiritually discerned, therefore no lost person can comprehend them.
That is the reason you hear some of the ludicrous statements about the Bible or Christianity one hears on the news programs on TV. Alan Colmes may quote something from the Bible in an effort to refute Franklin Graham, but being able to read a passage does not mean he understands it. The only way you will ever understand the deeper truths of the Gospel, is for the Holy Spirit, the divine author Who indwells your heart, to illuminate the eyes of your spirit so that you can see what God wants you to understand.

You may be wondering why I have suddenly stopped in the middle of this forty-fifth sermon from Revelation to insert that little tidbit of wisdom. Believe me, there may not be a method to the madness, but it is important for us to remember that truth. Let me illustrate. How many time have you read in the Bible that Jesus is the water of life or the light of the world. Now, who can really exhaust of the possible lessons the Lord has in mind for us when He reveals something about either water or light? I can assure you - I am still searching for a deeper meaning.

As I have stated repeatedly, this is not an exhaustive study of the Book of Revelation. We are simply skimming the surface, looking for the promised blessing (1:3). We have seen some sobering scenes in the Revelation, but in Chapters 21 and 22 we come to the Hallelujah chorus. This is exciting and when we fully understand the significance of this wondrous metaphor we will fully appreciate the blessing - in fact, we will be living the blessing!

John writes, “Then he showed me the river of living water, sparkling like crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb...” You will remember that unbroken continuity I have spoken of between the here and now and life in heaven. Let me illustrate that again. Jesus chose to travel from Judah to Galilee through Samaria. This was not the way Jews normally traveled from Judah to Galilee. They normally crossed over the Jordan River and traveled to a point north of Samaria and then crossed back over into Galilee. Jesus felt it necessary to go through Samaria for moral and spiritual reasons. You know the story. They stopped at Jacob’s well and He sent His disciples into the city to buy food. A woman came to draw water from the well and He engaged her in conversation by asking for a drink. She was surprised because Jews did not drink after Samaritans. Jesus’ response surprised her, but it has brought joy to believers for two thousand years:
Jesus answered, “If you knew the gift of God, and who is saying to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would ask Him, and He would give you living water.” “Sir,” said the woman, “You don’t even have a bucket, and the well is deep. So where do you get this ‘living water’? You aren’t greater than our father Jacob, are you? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and livestock.” Jesus said, “Everyone who drinks from this water will get thirsty again. But whoever drinks from the water that I will give him will never get thirsty again—ever! In fact, the water I will give him will become a well of water springing up within him for eternal life” (John 4:10-14, HCSB, emphasis added).

The idea here is of a heavenly artesian well that runs day and night and will never run dry. It provides abundant life for all who believe in the Water of Life. Why did Jesus use water as a metaphor for eternal life? It was there! Jesus often used local, practical things to illustrate eternal truths. This well was essential for the people of the city. Civilization developed around rivers or springs, or wells such as this. Water is absolutely essential for life. Every few months we hear of some scientific discovery which is touted as proof of evolution. Recently, we were shown pictures that were supposed to prove that there was once water on Mars or one of the other planets. Why were they so excited about that? Water is essential to life - and if there was once water on Mars, there may have been life on that planet. After all, if by random chance, the right amino acids accidentally came together, were energized by some unknown force, and began evolving toward where we are today on earth, surely it might have happened somewhere else or so they seem to reason.

According to the Genesis account, the Garden of Eden was surrounded by rivers. Water was there for animals, as well as for Adam and Eve. Until the Flood, creation scientists believe the earth existed in a terrarium like atmosphere, in which God watered the earth with a mist that rose up out of the earth. Regardless of the explanation - we are at least given the explanation that the essential water was provided.

Let me give you one more illustration: Jesus attended the Festival of Tabernacles in Jerusalem. On the last day of the feast, priest went down to the pool of Saloam and filled a vessel with water and then marched back and poured it our on the altar.

On the last and most important day of the festival, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone is thirsty, he should come to Me and drink! The one who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, will have streams of living water flow from deep within him.” He said this about the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were going to receive, for the Spirit had not yet been received, because Jesus had not yet been glorified” (John 7:37-39).

All those priests could do was to offer a symbol. Jesus gives life, and here, He promises to send the Holy Spirit. In Revelation 22 we are assured of an abundance of life. When I was a young child, by father was in service and I stayed with my great aunt for some time. It was my job to draw water form the well in her front yard. Most of the year, you simply lowered the well bucket into the water and drew it up with the rope that had been threaded through a pulley. There was a drought in which we went a long time without rain, and the water level dropped. I was instructed to lower the well bucket very slowly and when it touched the water, very carefully lower it about a foot. If I let it down all the way it would stir up the mud at the bottom of the well. I visited a an elderly couple with my mother when I was young child and discovered a cistern beside their house. They caught rain water that ran off the roof when it rained. I looked into the cistern and saw little wiggle tails swimming near the surface. I know they may have used that water to feed animals, but at the time I thought they used it for drinking water. They thought of bathing in it was too much for me.

Following Katrina, New Orleans was inundated with water, but it was all contaminated. People were warned not drink it, not to bathe in it, not to wade in it. Water is essential to life - but polluted water can make you sick, or even lead to death.

The One who offered the woman at the well the water of life has provided a river of pure water for the redeemed in heaven. Connect the dots - look at the passages from the Gospel According to John, and then see the fulfillment in these words: “Then he showed me the river of living water, sparkling like crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the broad street of the city.” Whether you interpret this as symbolic or literal, this fulfills the prophecy of Zecheriah 14:8: “And in that day living waters will flow out of Jerusalem, half of them toward the eastern sea and the other half toward the western sea; it will be in summer as well as in winter” .

2) Next, He Shows Us the Tree of Life, 2b.

“On both sides of the river was the tree of life bearing 12 kinds of fruit, producing its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree are for healing the nations.”

When you read of the tree of life you immediately think of the tree of life in the Garden of Eden - once again, there is that amazing connection between the here and now and the Sweet By and By.
Needless to say, there is no common agreement on the meaning and significance of the tree of life or the 12 kinds of fruit. Let me share a note from the Bible Knowledge Commentary [BKC]:

“Interpreters have puzzled over this expression that the tree of life is on each side of the river. Some take this is as a group of trees. Others say that the river of life is narrow and that it flows on both sides of the tree. The tree of life was referred to in the Garden of Eden (Gen. 3:22, 24), where it was represented as perpetuating physical life forever. Adam and Eve were forbidden to eat of the fruit of this tree. Earlier in Revelation (2:7) the saints were promised the “right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.” While the literal and the symbolic seem to be combined in this tree, there is no reason why it could not be an actual tree with literal fruit. The practical effect would be to continue physical life forever. While the verse does not state that the fruit can be eaten, this is presumably the implication.”

The writer began his comments with the words, “Interpreters have puzzled over this expression...”
May I assure you there are symbols and images in revelation over which I have puzzled. I will take it a step further. I appreciate those who are willing to confess that they do not have all the answers. The one who concerns me is the one who has all the answers.

Rather than try to share my ignorance, I would prefer to stress what I know for sure. We are promised a blessing form this Book, and I do believe this prophecy holds before us a blessing we may look forward to here and now, and realize fully when we are glorified. I am not trying to avoid offering an interpretation, what I want to do is to remained focused on the blessing.

What is absolutely essential for life here on earth? Water and food are two essentials. Healing in another. Who has provided water, food, and healing for us. God has. Who will provide everything we will need, not only to sustain life in heaven, but to know the full joy of life? Again, God has provided, “the tree of life bearing 12 kinds of fruit, producing its fruit every month.” Whether we are talking about literal fruit or symbolic fruit, it will be both adequate - more than adequate - and very satisfying. The number 12 may indicate that we are to see this as being, at least partly, symbolic, because that number seems to point to all believers. All believers will be fed all the time, and they will be totally satisfied.

That takes of the food. Now what about the healing? “ The leaves of the tree are for healing the nations.” Both my father and Becky’s father grew up without a father. My father’s father was killed in a hunting accident, leaving three children under six years of age. Becky’s grandfather stood six feet, five inches tall and weighed 240 pounds “without an ounce of fat on him.” That was a time when anyone who reached six feet was considered a really big man. This man was a giant among men at the time. Yet, while he was still in his twenties he came down with pneumonia and died. There were no miracle drugs with which to treat pneumonia at the time. Penicillin, had it been available, would probably have provided the healing he needed.

When I was a youth and young adult, my father, brother, and friends would go deer hunting on land my aunt owned, several miles out of Oxford, Mississippi. While hunting there, I found an abandoned cemetery. I was fascinated by the names and dates on the headstones. There were three graves close together. Three young women were identified by their name and with the inscription, Consort of James Dunn. The first, chronologically, died at age 31, the second at age 24, and the third at age 17. James Dunn died in his early fifties. There were several markers for small children or infants who died around 1850. I assumed that there had been an influenza epidemic.

At this very time, we are being warned of the possibility of an avian flue that could kill tens of millions of people world wide. There is a flu shot that will protect an individual from it, and President Bush has called on scientists to try to get as much of the vaccine as possible to inoculate people. Medical science found a cure for small pox and then for polio. Now, there is AIDS, and the Avian flu. We are constantly looking for something to heal cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. In heaven, there is permanent and eternal healing - and it is provided in advance because there will be no sickness in heaven.

It may help to think of the leaves of the tree as “health-giving” rather than the healing one who is sick. The English word “therapeutic” is derived from the Greek word used here. There will never be any illness from which we need healing.

3). He Removes the Curse, 3:a.

“And there will no longer be any curse.”

This stands is sharp contrast to the curse that was pronounced in the only paradise the world has ever known, the Garden of Eden. We find the account in Genesis 3:14-19:

“The LORD God said to the serpent, ‘Because you have done this, Cursed are you more than all cattle, And more than every beast of the field; On your belly you will go, And dust you will eat All the days of your life...” (Gen. 3:14).

“To the woman He said, “I will greatly multiply Your pain in childbirth, In pain you will bring forth children; Yet your desire will be for your husband, And he will rule over you” (3:16).
“Then to Adam He said, ‘Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat from it’; Cursed is the ground because of you; In toil you will eat of it All the days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you; And you will eat the plants of the field; By the sweat of your face You will eat bread, Till you return to the ground, Because from it you were taken; For you are dust, And to dust you shall return” (3:17-19).

In Heaven “There will no longer be any curse.” In Genesis 3, the Fall caused the curse. The answer to the curse is the Seed of the woman, which of course means Jesus. Jesus came and suffered and bled and died on a cruel Roman cross for your sins and mine. In His farewell discourse, Jesus promised that He was going back to heaven to prepare a place for us. Here we learn that Jesus is prepares a place where the curse has been canceled.

4) He Shows Us the Throne of God and of the Lamb, 3b.

“The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city.”
In Chapter 4 we see the throne room of heaven, with the Father seated on the throne, the Son standing at the right hand of throne, and the Holy Spirit around the throne. In Chapter 21, new Jerusalem is being lowered down out of heaven. Here we find that God and “The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city.” You and I will worship our Lord forever and ever.


1) We Will Serve Him. 3c.

“And His servants will serve Him.”

Earlier, John writes, “For this reason they are before the throne of God, and they serve Him day and night in His sanctuary. The One seated on the throne will shelter them” (Rev 7:15). “Serve” is in the present tense in this verse. A. T. Robertson points out that the verb in this verse is future active, with the linear idea - “shall keep on serving.” Our greatest joy will be in serving the Lord. When our little granddaughter Abigail comes to our house, she delights in helping her Nana. She helps set the table, clear the table, wipe off the counter and table, and anything else that lets her work with her Nana. In heaven, we will worship and serve our Lord. Here and now, those who truly worship Him also serve Him. If your are not serving Him Monday through Saturday, please don’t call what you do on Sunday worship!

2) We Will See Him Face to Face, vs. 4.

“They will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads.”

Abraham never saw the Lord face to face. Moses was blessed with a view of God, but could not look upon Him face to face. David was a man after God’s own heart, and thought he was blessed with prophecies of Jesus a thousand years before Jesus was born of the virgin Mary, he never saw the Lord face to face. Enoch and Elijah walked with the Lord and were both translated so that they never had to taste physical death, but neither saw God face to face.

In Chapter 4, there is a sea before the throne of God. In Chapter 21, there is no more sea. When we are glorified we can see Him face to face, but here no one could see Him and live. Just think about the privilege! What a privilege it is for the creature to be given the honor of calling his Creator Father while we are on earth. They think of the honor of seeing our Creator and Redeemer face to face. When He promised us a blessing, He knew what he was talking about, didn’t He?

3) The Light of the World is the Light of Heaven, 5a.

“Night will no longer exist, and people will not need lamplight or sunlight, because the Lord God will give them light.”
Paul wrote, “For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ” (2 Cor. 4:6). Listen to these words from the prologue to the Gospel of John:

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. All things were created through Him, and apart from Him not one thing was created that has been created. Life was in Him, and that life was the light of men. That light shines in the darkness, yet the darkness did not overcome it” (John 1:1-5, emphasis added).

My dear friend, if He can light up your life here in this dark world, just think of what He will do for you in heaven! Darkness is often used to symbolize evil, if for no other reason than that many people commit their evil deeds under cover of darkness. A law enforcement officer told me they look for an increase in crime when there is a full moon. Why? Because they can work under cover of darkness, but at the same time they can move around without a flashlight. Light is a symbol of God’s righteousness. Here, the Light (Jesus) shines in the darkness and the darkness cannot extinguish it. In heaven there is no darkness.

Why did God begin creation, after He created the heavens and the earth, by saying, “Let there be light”? Because He knew the light was essential to life on earth. Light is essential for our provision, our protection, and our production. Jesus provides all that, here and now, and forever.

4) We Will Reign with Him, 5b.

“And they will reign forever and ever.”

Glorified saints will reign with Him forever - in contrast to the limited millennial reign: “Then I saw thrones, and people seated on them who were given authority to judge” (Rev 20:4). That is one reason I do not condemn those who disagree with me on the millennium. I hold to a pre-millennial reign, but if that is a literal 1000 years, when it is over, eternity will not have aged one day. Now, that is amazing!

This prophecy receives a lot of emphasis in Revelation:

“And made us a kingdom, priests to His God and Father—to Him be the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen” (Rev 1:6).

“The victor: I will give him the right to sit with Me on My throne, just as I also won the victory and sat down with My Father on His throne” (Rev 3:21).


We have been skimming the surface in Revelation, looking for the Jesus promises in 1:3. Well, here it is, and it goes beneath the surface. If you are a born-again child of God, this if for you:

“Then he showed me the river of living water, sparkling like crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the broad street [of the city]. On both sides of the river was the tree of life bearing 12 kinds of fruit, producing its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree are for healing the nations, and there will no longer be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and His servants will serve Him. They will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads. Night will no longer exist, and people will not need lamplight or sunlight, because the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign forever and ever” (Rev 22:1-5).

There are those who say the Book of Revelation frightens them. Let me assure you that if you reject Jesus Christ you have every reason to be frightened. The promises Jesus make here are for Christians. God has chosen to love you. He has chosen to send His Son to dies for your sins. He has provided a way for you to be saved, and if you are saved Jesus is preparing a place for you in heaven. Now, what is your decision? Jesus promises, “Him that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out” (John 6:37b).