And by the river on the bank thereof, on this side and on that side, shall grow all trees for meat, whose leaf shall not fade…
So nourishing should be the waters of this (allegorical) river that the trees which they fed upon its banks should produce a never-failing fruit and an unfading leaf, "and the fruit thereof should be for meat, and the leaf thereof for medicine." The gospel of Jesus Christ perfectly fulfils the prophecy; its properties and provisions are such that it supplies ample food (or meat) for the sustenance, and all healing (or medicine) for the recovery of the human soul. Taking the latter first, as being first required, we have -
I. THE RESTORING VIRTUE OF THE GOSPEL. The leaf of the tree of life is "for medicine," or "for bruises and sores" (marginal reading).
1. How great is the need for such medicine as this in "a bruised and sore" world like ours! On every hand are men and women who are chafed with the worries of life, who are perplexed with its problems, who are smitten and are sore by reason of its varied persecutions, who are worn and wearied with its excessive toils, who are badly wounded by its heavier sorrows, by crushing loss, by darkening disappointment, by saddening bereavement, by disabling sickness, by cruel disloyalty. And beyond these there are those who are stung with shame, who have been awakened to a sense of their guilt before God, and are filled with a holy shame, a compunction which is the first step to true blessedness, but which "for the present" is grievous and distressing to the soul.
2. How invaluable is the remedy which this tree of life provides! To such wounded hearts comes the healing Savior; he comes
(1) with tender sympathy, offering himself as the Divine Friend, who is "touched with the feeling of our infirmities;"
(2) with the comfort of his own example, as our Leader, "whose way was much rougher and darker than ours," and who asks us whether "it is not enough for the disciple to be as his Lord;
(3) with his Divine aid, ready, at our appeal, to revive us by his indwelling Spirit and grant us such sustaining grace that, instead of groaning under the blow, we can even glory in bearing it for him (2 Corinthians 12:9);
(4) with his gracious promises, offering pardon, peace, eternal life, to every penitent and believing heart; thus is he the Divine Healer of the bruised and bleeding hearts of men.
II. THE NOURISHING POWER WHICH IT POSSESSES. "The fruit thereof shall be for meat [or, 'food']." When health has been restored, when the medicine of the leaf has done its work, then there needs to be sustenance in order that the recovered strength may be maintained. Shall we not find the nourishment where we found the healing? The gospel of Christ meets this our need by providing:
1. Divine truth. All that truth concerning the nature, character, will, purpose, of God our Father and our Savior which we have revealed to us in the Word of God, and more particularly in the teaching of his Son, who came forth from him and was one with him. All that truth also which relates to our spiritual nature, to our duty, to our privilege, to our prospects.
2. Christian fellowship. For the society of the holy is a sustaining power that builds up and makes strong in faith and purity.
3. The action of the Spirit of God. We are "strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man." Such ample and such fitting food as this makes strong for testimony, for endurance, for energetic action, for growth unto the full stature of Christian manhood, for readiness for the heavenly kingdom. - C.
Parallel VersesKJV: And by the river upon the bank thereof, on this side and on that side, shall grow all trees for meat, whose leaf shall not fade, neither shall the fruit thereof be consumed: it shall bring forth new fruit according to his months, because their waters they issued out of the sanctuary: and the fruit thereof shall be for meat, and the leaf thereof for medicine.
WEB: By the river on its bank, on this side and on that side, shall grow every tree for food, whose leaf shall not wither, neither shall its fruit fail: it shall bring forth new fruit every month, because its waters issue out of the sanctuary; and its fruit shall be for food, and its leaf for healing.