Over the years my friend Linda and I have walked and prayed around and through the park that is planted in the center of our city. Yesterday, we sat and prayed at one of our favorite spots. The leaves were just starting to turn color and fall to the ground.
And we were drawn to the passage in the Book of Revelation:
2 … On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. (Revelation 22:2 NIV)
We contemplated the meaning of this verse as we have many times over the years. And like many scholars have noted, the interpretation can be unclear concerning this day and age.
Many times this scripture would surface as we prayed for our nation. With the leaves falling all around, we began to pray once again that the leaves of the tree (Christ the tree of life) and we His people (the leaves) would receive life and healing (medicine) from the leaves as we abide in Him (Christ).
We sensed that soon the winds of renewal, revival and refreshing would blow and saw that the leaves of the tree would be released to float across our nation to release the medicine, fullness of life that was stored in them for such a season, for such a time as this.
In this verse, the word nations refers to race and ethnicity that differs from the word “kingdom” that refers to a country, that could be made up of many ethnic groups.
The word healing found in this verse has an interesting meaning:
The Greek word translated ‘healing’ in this verse (therapeia) is translated ‘household’ in Mt. 24:45 and Luke 12:42. It is the source for the English word ‘therapy.’ Thus the leaves of the tree will be therapy or the effective services of the nations in the new earth.” (Quora.com)
This suggests that the leaves of the tree are not necessarily for physical healing, but rather a therapeutic, inner healing of the ethnic/racial divisions that have divided nations and people for centuries, resulting in wars, civil wars, abuse and carnage.
The leaves of this tree will be a therapy ending the resentments that have built up.
But notice in that definition how the word also has as its root the idea of household and speaks of everyone coming into one family.
All the nations are sick. All the nations need healing. All people in every nation want healing. The evil is in our nature from the beginning.
There is but one cure for the nation, the leaves of the trees.
Jesus is pictured here as a blessed tree whose leaves heal the nations. The point of the text is that the very leaves are healing. This medicine heals all sorts of diseases. The medicine is universal in its curative power.
In ancient times the leaves of certain trees were used for medicinal purposes (herbalists etc.) And even today, leaves are the source of many modern medicines. It is well known how God has placed healing power in the varied forms of plant life.
And when the Holy Spirit fell on the Day of Pentecost, Luke writes how people from different nations were hearing people speaking in tongues in their own language (Acts 2:7-12).
As these people were gathered into the church through Christ, it fulfilled these Old Testament promises as people from all nations and ethnic groups were brought together into one Body, one family and one household:
Therefore you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens of the saints and members of God’s household (Ephesians 2:19 NIV)
But for this to happen there needs to be forgiveness and healing. There are real offenses and resentments that have built up over the centuries between the various races, and today these differences are becoming more pronounced and are dividing many countries.
But the church is a place of healing, where people from various races gather together in unity. But this can’t happen without healing and this is our prayer.