MAGIC CITY LECTURESHIP
Evangelist Herman E. Wesley III
A Tree for the Healing of the Nations
Revelation 22:1-2 / Acts 10:34-40
In the wonderful, redemptive and powerful name of Jesus, I am glad to be here in Birmingham, Alabama tonight, and I am glad to have been invited, after all these years, to participate in the rebirth of the MAGIC CITY LECTURESHIP, laboring this year under the theme associated with II Chronicles 7:14:
“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”
To brothers Moss, Clark, Bush, and the other preachers, church leaders and members of the Birmingham churches, I want to thank you for this invitation. The subject assigned to me tonight is lifted from Revelation chapter 22, verses 1-2, and it reads this way in the King James Version...
Revelation 22:1-2 (King James Version)
And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.
My subject assigned is: A TREE FOR THE HEALING OF THE NATIONS.
This section of scripture assigned to me tonight describes what could be called the “new Eden.” What the first Garden of Eden was supposed to be is fulfilled here. What Adam and Eve would have had if they had not fallen is what is, here, given to God’s people. Adam and Eve lost Paradise; here, God has remade it.
The context of this particular passage would have us to know that an angel was giving a guided tour of the new Jerusalem to John the Revelator, and this angel in this guided tour showed John a pure river with the water of life, clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb, coursing down the center of the main street. The water of life is a symbol of eternal life. You might remember that Jesus used this same image with the Samaritan woman in (John 4:7-14). It pictures fullness of life with God and the eternal blessings that come when people believe in him and allow him to satisfy their spiritual thirst. The Garden of Eden, described back in Genesis, also had a river running through it that watered it (Gen. 2:10). In both the Old and New Testaments, water pictures salvation and the refreshment of the Holy Spirit. As a matter of fact, Ezekiel’s vision also had a river with trees growing along it (Ezekiel 47:1-12). God in Christ, who is the water of life (John 7:37-38), is the source of this constant stream of blessing and refreshment for his people. This river flows down the middle of the main street of the city and is freely accessible to everyone.
Now, brethren, I know that tonight my lesson is not going to be hermeneutically perfect, but it will be doctrinally sound. I don’t have your usual, customary three points...just two...somebody ought to say Amen! That doesn’t mean the sermon will be short...it just means that my points are gonna be long! I really need to talk about two trees tonight...this tree, and another tree...cause if we don’t get the right understanding and relationship with the other tree, we won’t ever have to worry about being in the presence of this tree. Ya’ll got 21 more minutes for me?
I. THIS TREE, GOOD FOR THE HEALING OF THE NATIONS.
But then, there’s this tree. This tree of life in our text tonight can be compared to the tree of life in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:9; see also Ezekiel 47:12.) You may remember that there were two significant and notable trees there: the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. It is interesting that the wrong tree captured their attention. They had access to eternal life, but they wanted carnal knowledge...but isn’t that how life is? After Adam and Eve sinned, they were forbidden to eat from the tree of life. But because of the forgiveness of sin through the blood of Jesus, there will be no evil or sin in the new Jerusalem. Believers will be able to eat freely from the tree of life when sin’s control is finally destroyed and our eternity with God is secure. This tree (one tree or many trees) grows on each side of the river and bears twelve crops of fruit, with a new crop every month. Adam and Eve had been cut off from the tree of life because of their sin (Genesis 3:22-24); now the tree has fruit available for everyone—fresh fruit, not just once a year with a dry time in between, but new fruit every month.
In addition to the fruit, the leaves of the tree were used for medicine to heal the nations. Now, the tension in this text is about to be revealed. Why would the nations need to be healed if all evil has been eliminated? John was alluding to Ezekiel 47:12, where water flowing from the temple produced trees with healing leaves. I know He was not implying that there would be illness in heaven, because we all know that heaven is a place of no more pain, no more suffering, no sadness, no sorrow, no diseases to plague our bodies, I know he was not talking about that; he was emphasizing that the water of life would produce health and strength wherever it would go. God’s people in his Kingdom will have no physical or spiritual needs. All the hurts of the nations will have been healed. Then John makes the intriguing observation that the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. At first glance, that seems confusing, since obviously there will be no illness or injury in heaven that would require healing. Therapeia (healing), however, does not imply illness. Perhaps a better way to translate it would be "life-giving," "health-giving," or "therapeutic." The leaves of the tree can be likened to supernatural vitamins, since vitamins are taken not to treat illness, but to promote general health. Life in heaven will be fully energized, rich, and exciting! If I had time, I’d tell you that too many church folk are tired, poor and unexcitable! Nothing gets them worked up! Nothing gets them on fire for Jesus, and the work of the church! That’s why I know that those who make it to the New Jerusalem are already preparing for it now! They can taste it now! They can feel it now! They can see it now! They’re excited now! Help me somebody!
The text does not say whether the saints will actually eat the leaves of the tree, though that is possible. Angels ate food with Abraham and Sarah (Gen. 18:1-8), as did the Lord Jesus Christ with His disciples after His resurrection (Luke 24:42-43; Acts 10:41). It is conceivable that the saints in heaven will eat, not out of necessity, but for enjoyment.
BUT THERE’S ANOTHER TREE I GOTTA TALK ABOUT TONIGHT...
You see, on this tree....hung the Savior of sinners!
On this tree, the Son of Man dropped his head and died!
On this tree, he reconciled bond and free, male and female, Jew and Gentile, rich and poor...
On this tree he offered his blood for the souls of men!
On this tree he wrote us a message with his love,
purchased the church with his blood,
cleansed us from sin with his sacrifice,
and healed the nations with his power!
1 Peter 2:19-25 (New International Version)
For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God. But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. "He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth." When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.
Acts 13:26-29 (New International Version)
"Brothers, children of Abraham, and you God-fearing Gentiles, it is to us that this message of salvation has been sent. The people of Jerusalem and their rulers did not recognize Jesus, yet in condemning him they fulfilled the words of the prophets that are read every Sabbath. Though they found no proper ground for a death sentence, they asked Pilate to have him executed. When they had carried out all that was written about him, they took him down from the tree and laid him in a tomb.
Acts 10:34-40 (New International Version)
Then Peter began to speak: "I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right. You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, telling the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all. You know what has happened throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached— how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him. "We are witnesses of everything he did in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They killed him by hanging him on a tree, but God raised him from the dead on the third day and caused him to be seen.
My subject is A TREE FOR THE HEALING OF THE NATIONS, and by his blood, shed on that tree, he opened up a door for all nations to be healed...black folk, white folk, korean folk, hispanic folk, just plain old ordinary everyday folk from every nation!
You want healing from rumors of war and weapons of mass destruction?
Isaiah 2:2-4 (King James Version)
And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD's house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.
You want healing from economic despair? Try Jesus!
Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and ALL THESE THINGS SHALL BE ADDED UNTO YOU! Matthew 6:33
You want healing from hunger and malnutrition? Try Jesus!
He said, “I am the bread of life!” ya’ll know he knows how to feed hungry folk! 5,000 with a few fish and a few loaves of bread!
You want healing from natural disasters, hurricanes and tornadoes, floods and storms? TRY JESUS!
For even the winds and the waves obey His Will! PEACE BE STILL!
HE CAN SPEAK PEACE INTO YOU MARRIAGE!
PEACE INTO YOUR HOME! PEACE ON YOUR JOB! PEACE IN YOUR POCKETBOOK! HAVE I A WITNESS HERE??
You want healing from disease and death? Try Jesus!
I AM THE RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE!
Emphasize ALL NATIONS, EVERY NATION
Matthew 24:14 (King James Version)
And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.
Matthew 28:18-19 (King James Version)
And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
Luke 24:44-49 (King James Version)
And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And ye are witnesses of these things. And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.
Acts 2:1-5; 9-11 (King James Version)
And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven.
Drop to verse 9:
Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God.
WHERE’S THE HEALING?
Peter preached a message of healing....but before they could be healed they had to recognize they were sick!
Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made the same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ. Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the LORD our God shall call. And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation. Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.
Yes, brothers and sisters...There is a tree, a tree for the healing of the nations, and it’s like that movie from when I was growing up...BACK TO THE FUTURE....Genesis 3:24 (King James Version)
Man’s disobedience caused us to lose our first estate. All the grandeur, all the peace, all the provisions of the Father in the place He prepared for us...God evicted man, and set sentry’s, guards, to keep us away from that tree...the text says....
So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.
But because we have been reconciled,
Because we have been redeemed,
Because we have been delivered from the penalty of sin, not because of our righteousness, but because of what he did on a tree, a tree planted on Golgotha’s Hill, we have been reinstated....reinvited....healed...we’ve been ‘FRIENDED” in Facebook terminology....
into the presence of gates of pearl,
into the presence of golden streets,
into the presence of walls of jasper,
into the presence of flowing crystal waters...
into the presence of the brilliant shekinah glory of the Lord...
and finally, once again, into the presence of the tree....
Revelation 22:14 (King James Version)
Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.