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Scriptural Study of the word HEAL--Part Three

 

Before each lesson, I ask everyone to first take a moment to pray and ask God to reveal Himself to you as you study His Word.  He speaks to each of us exactly where we are if we will open our hearts and minds to His voice.  I pray this blesses you and helps you grow in our Lord.


 

At this time in my Christian walk, I would not dare to attempt a study on Revelation. There are many, many others more capable than I suspect I will ever be; however as our study is on the word heal and its derivatives, curiously our Lord has lead me here to Revelation 22:2.  I was somewhat shocked and honestly questioned my Lord if He really thought it such a good idea?  You see, I am a planner and consider myself to be somewhat of a good organizer therefore I had all good intentions of following the Scriptural uses of the word heal in the order they appear in the Bible.  As He often does, God had other plans.  Let us begin…


Please pray for understanding and then read Revelation chapter 22.

 

Our focus verse for this study is Revelation 22:2:


          (NKJV)In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river, was the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month.  The leaves of the tree were for healing of the nations.”


The book of Revelation is one of dramatic imagery.  It causes us to reach beyond our usual visual perceptions which often rely only on what we have already seen in our lifetime.  Revelation is much like the book of Genesis, before the fall of man, as both books stretches our minds to see the unknown; maybe even the unimaginable.  From written words, our minds conjure up images as we think of what a serpent might have looked like or a tree with forbidden fruit. 


If I tried to describe something I had made, something you have never seen, your mind would automatically give you an image of something closely linked to what I was describing.  You would undoubtedly ask me questions based on the image you already had.  Of course, it would not be the exact thing I made, however in an effort to understand, the image most likely would be similar.


In the previous chapter of Revelation, chapter 21, John describes the New Jerusalem and continues with his description here in chapter 22.  Verse 1 of chapter 22 tells us of “a river with the water of life, clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb” and almost immediately we can visualize this scene.  I image a slow moving peaceful river, twisting and turning as it meanders through the forest with fallen trees lying across its banks and rocks made smooth by the constant flow of water.


In verse 2 we follow the river as it makes its way down “the center of the main street”.   God has shown John a river very different from the one I had imagined.  Probably very different from those John had seen too.  John describes an easy flowing river traveling in a straight line.  A river with no twists, turns or even gentle curves.  A river with no rapids, trees, or rocks to interrupt its flow.  A river flowing straight from the Father and Son to the people living in this new city.   A crystal clear river which carries the water of life itself.  And on its banks:


“On each side of the river grew a tree of life, …” (NLT)

“On each side of the river grew the tree of life, …” (NKJV)


The Tree of Life takes a prominent position in both Genesis and Revelation.  In Genesis there is only one tree and it is in the center of the Garden of Eden.  In Revelation we know the Tree of Life, whatever their number, are in the center of the New Jerusalem.  This tree must be very important for God to have placed in center stage in both the beginning and ending of His Word.   Let’s take a closer look at the two translations of the same verse.


The NLT version suggests there are only two trees—one on each side of the river—evidenced by the translation of the article ‘a’ before the word tree.  In the NKJV verse however, the article translates as “the” tree where John is describing a particular type of tree and not the actual number of trees.  Commentators agree with the later and also suggest there are many Trees of Life on each side of the river.  These numerous trees each producing the same type of fruit and the replenishing of this fruit every month.  Perhaps the fruit is meant as food just as it was in the Garden of Eden?  Will there even be a need for food when we are in our new bodies and in the New City of Jerusalem?  God’s Word is not specific so speculation is the best anyone can do for now but I am believing there will be food more glorious than we have ever tasted!


“The leaves of the tree were for healing the nations.” (NKJV)


At last, we get to the meat of our study on the word “heal”, but what is John talking about?  If we are in the New Jerusalem City, where pain and suffering is no more (chpt.22, vs 3 says no more curse), why would we need “leaves” for healing the nations? This is going to go deeper than I ever imagined.



Let us look at the NKJV verse as we turn to our trusted Strong’s Online Concordance where we can gain some understanding.  The word ‘leaves’ in our verse comes from the transliterated Greek word:

 


“Phullon (fool’-lon) meaning a leaf. (Strong’s number 5444)


Then Strong’s takes us to the Word Origin better known as the original root word

 

Phule (foo-lay’) meaning a tribe (Strong’s number 5443): in the New Testament all the persons descending from one of the twelve sons of the patriarch, Jacob.  2) a nation; people.


What if the word ‘leaves’ in our Scripture verse is the transliteration of the Greek word Phule?  Is it possible the Trees of Life John sees represent the Twelve Tribes of Israel and the leaves of the trees represent the nation (the people) of each tribe?  Let’s keep this in mind as we move on.


What about the rest of the verse, “were for the healing of the nations.”   How can that be when the next verse, 3, tells us there will be “no more curse” which means no more sickness/death and His servants shall serve Him?  Without the curse of sickness and death why would the nations of Israel need healing?  I do not think they would so we must look at the word ‘healing’ in its original Greek.  Back to our Strong’s Concordance.  The transliterated word used for healing in this verse is:


Therapeia (ther-ap-I’-ah) Strong’s number 2322; noun feminine and it means

service rendered by one to another; spec. medical service: curing, healing; household service; body of attendants, servants, domestics

 

We then follow the Word origin again trying to get to the root word which takes us to:

          Therapeuo (ther-ap-yoo’-o) Strong’s number 2323; verb and it means to serve, do service; to heal, cure, restore to health

 

Then to:     

     Therapon (ther-ap-ohn) Strong’s number 2324; noun masculine and its meaning:  an attendant, servant: of God (spoken of Moses discharging the duties committed by God)


Let’s dig a little deeper for the word ‘healing (therapeia) as it is used in Rev. 22:2 as a noun.  Strong’s tells us this particular word is the same Greek word used in Matthew 24:45 and Luke 12:42 for the word household (Therapeia).  It is the same word John uses in Revelation 22:2 for the word healing.  The word therapeia can also mean health-giving but the root word therapon means serving or ministering to.


 

If we use the above definitions and instead of saying ‘the leaves were for the healing of the nations’ and replace the word healing with household our verse reads like this:


     ‘the leaves were for the household of the nations’

Which would mean they have some type of function in the communities/nations.




Likewise, if we replace healing with ministering our verse reads like this:

 

‘the leaves were for the ministering of the nations’


 

The healing spoken of in the leaves of the Tree of Life are not for a physical healing because Rev. 21:4 says there will be no more sickness, death, or pain.  The leaves John speaks of may be used for ministering.  Webster’s 1828 Online Dictionary defines the word ministering as:

Attending and serving as a subordinate agent; serving under superior authority.  Affording aid or supplies; administering things needful.


The Twelve Tribes of Israel will be ministering to the nations, administering useful things which will obviously come from the leaves, under the direct guidance of our Supreme God.  Please tell me this blows you away as much as it does me?


Think how wonderfully God has illustrated this for us through the anointed writings and visions of John.  In the Holy New Jerusalem the Twelve Tribes are there (Rev. 21), the Lord Jesus is there depicted by the river of living water that runs crystal clear, God is there as the river flows from the very Throne of God and of the Lamb, the Tree of Life is there in abundance of fruit and leaves.  What a magnificent sight that must have been!


The Tree of Life has great significance in the Christian faith.  It began where life itself began, firmly planted in the middle of the Garden of Eden.  It seems only fitting this same type of tree should take a prominent place in the new Holy City of Jerusalem.  A place where once again its fruits will be enjoyed and its leaves will minister to the nations.


I wish I could tell you what kind of ministering these leaves will serve.  I prayed every time I sat down to write this entry, begging the Holy Spirit to give me insight.  For now, this is all He has given and it was eye opening for me.  The Spirit gave me an understanding of just a tiny fraction of Revelations which had perplexed me before this study.  I pray He has done the same for you.


Always loving our Lord,

Lori Robbins

 

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