There are at least seven promises given to us in Revelation 22 that confirm Jesus’ victory over Satan, sin and death. These promises also assure us that all the effects of the Fall are reversed in Christ’s finished work and the salvation He has provided for us by grace through faith.
In this regard, we should view Revelation not merely as a book of frightening – and often confusing – imagery, but as a book of warm and assuring promises about God’s sovereignty over human affairs and angelic conflict. In the end, we who read, hear and heed the words of this prophecy are indeed blessed because we know the God who created all things is faithful.
Promise No. 1: Living water (v. 1; see also Rev. 21:6; 22:17)
There was a river in the Garden of Eden (Gen. 2:10) that served as the source of four other rivers. But when Adam and Eve were banished from the Garden they lost access to this pure source of water and drank from streams now affected by the Fall. A person may live for up to 40 days without food but only three days without water. The body itself is made up largely of water, so water is essential to life. Jesus often spoke about water as an image of eternal life supplied by the Holy Spirit (see John 4:10-14; 7:37-39).
In the New Jerusalem, we see a river of pure, living water flow from the throne of God and of the Lamb, and all whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life may drink freely from it. Ezekiel also had a vision of pure water in the glorious future temple (Ezek. 47:1-12; see also Zech. 14:8). This living water depicts the Holy Spirit who inhabits the human spirits of believers but is cut off from unbelievers (Rom. 8:9).
Promise No. 2: The tree of life (v. 2)
There was a tree of life, along with a tree of the knowledge of good and evil, in the Garden of Eden (Gen. 2:9; 3:22). When mankind fell into sin, God banished Adam and Eve from Eden lest they partake of the tree of life and be forever locked in a sinful state. Note in Genesis that trees God created were pleasing to the sight and good for food.
In Revelation we see that the tree of life yields food year round, and its leaves provide medicine for healing. Whether this is to be taken literally or symbolically is up for debate, but it’s clear that the tree of life is beautiful and provides what is needed for eternal life and health. Jesus, in His resurrected body, ate and drank, and there is promised a Marriage Supper of the Lamb in heaven, so it’s not unreasonable to conclude that the tree of life does indeed provide food for believers. Meanwhile, the healing of nations is provided for in the destruction of death (see Rev. 20:14; Ezek. 47:12).
Interestingly, access to the tree of life is granted to us only because Jesus died on a tree (Gal. 3:13).
Promise No. 3: No more curse (v. 3)
Curses came as a result of man’s sin (Gen. 3:14-19). Life on earth and procreation would become exceedingly more difficult, and humans suffered two kinds of death – spiritual and physical – as a result of their rebellion.
But in the New Jerusalem the curse is lifted. Mankind lives forever in the presence of God and finds no difficulty gaining access to abundant food and water. In the curse, humans are removed from direct access to God, but in the New Jerusalem that access is restored. And while people are cursed as a result of their sin, Jesus, who knew no sin, became a curse for us (Gal 3:13; see Deut. 21:23).
Promise No. 4: Seeing the face of God (v. 4)
After Adam and Eve sinned, they hid themselves from God and felt both shame and fear (Gen. 3:8). Sin does that. It separates us from God and denies us access to Him because of His holiness and our sinfulness. Even devout servants like Moses were not allowed to see the face of God (Ex. 33:20-23).
But Rev. 22:4 tells us that in the life to come, believers will see God face-to-face and enjoy the intimacy that Adam and Eve experienced before they fell into sin. How is this possible? Because Jesus took upon Himself our sins and bore the wrath of God on the cross. He experienced spiritual death (“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Matt. 27:46) and physical death (“And Jesus … yielded up his spirit” Matt. 27:50). But in His death, burial and resurrection He restored us to a right relationship with God, and we have His promise that one day our faith will be made sight.
The phrase “his name will be on their foreheads” in Rev. 22:4 signifies God’s ownership of us and His promise to protect us.
Next: Promises 5-7 from Revelation 22