God’s Mighty River of Life and What it Means
1 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.
2 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.
The river of the water of life is extraordinarily important to understand because of how it is portrayed in the scriptures above.
First, we need to understand that the river is the person of the Holy Spirit. Just as important, the location He is proceeding from essentially represents the entirety of the Gospel as reflected in what we call the Great Commission.
Note how the Scriptures identify the throne as being that of God and the Lamb. That which is represented by God and the Lamb here, is what the Holy Spirit is flowing out from.
Why this is vital to take into account is because the fact that Jesus is identified as the Lamb here, means it is a fulfillment of the prophecy from Zechariah (6:12-13), concerning there will come a time when God puts a priest on the throne. That is reflected in Jesus being the Lamb, which was a part of His priestly role. It’s also why, because Christians bear the image of God, that we are called a royal priesthood; we are kings and priests unto our God (Rev. 5:10).
While the throne on the kingly side is one of judgment based upon justice and righteousness, the priestly side of the throne reflects mercy and grace. As Zechariah says, there will be a “counsel of peace between them.”
What that means in general is, the throne and judgment is determined by the circumstances it’s ruling in. There will be times of justice and times of mercy, based upon God’s law and what it requires.
Bear in mind the throne is made for judgment, judgment requires justice, justice is based upon the laws of God, and the laws of God are based upon the very nature of God Almighty Himself.
As for grace and mercy, that is primarily reserved for the victims of crimes, and not those that perpetrate them.
That said, there is also the extremely important element of eternal salvation included in the throne, and that is offered as part of the priestly function of Jesus Christ.
Concerning the throne in this life as it relates to dealing with the actions of people, it is there for judgment based upon righteousness and justice, which as mentioned above, is determined by the laws God has given us.
River of Life
Why this is important in terms of the river of life is that which the throne represents, as defined above, is what the river of life is carrying out into the world. It encapsulates everything mentioned on the inside of New Jerusalem and takes it out into the world.
That is accomplished through His people, which out of their innermost beings “flow rivers of living water” (Jn. 7:38); this is that living water, and it’s what is meant by it.
As Christians, we are to bring judgement, justice and righteousness into the world, along with His mercy and grace. We are to embrace it by studying and living in obedience to God’s laws; modeling them before the world, and from there teaching the nations what they are and to obey them, as Jesus commanded in the Great Commission.
The throne of God represents the priesthood and royal kingship of Jesus Christ. As kings and priests unto God, we are to embrace that as the way of life we are called to and teach others to walk in it.
The Gospel isn’t just getting eternal fire insurance because of the work of Jesus Christ on the cross, it’s embracing the implications of being kings and priests unto our God by working out our salvation in fear and trembling, as the Holy Spirit does the work of transforming us into the image of Jesus Christ, and then declaring and teaching the great hope offered to the world in the extraordinary Gospel Jesus has given us to live out and teach.