The Tree of Life and the Entering into the City
Revelation 22:9
Then said he to me, See you do it not: for I am your fellow servant, and of your brothers the prophets…

The Christian life has many features and many characteristics. This is one of them — it is a perpetual washing of the robes. No spot or stain must be suffered to remain upon them. It is a most dangerous thing to fall into the habit of letting any committed sin pass sub silentio, as it were, between man and his soul. Scripture, indeed, counsels no morbid self-scrutiny. The man does not wash perhaps each separate spot and stain, but it is because he washes the whole robe and them with it. In one way the tablets of memory, and the tablets of conscience, and the tablets of the life, must be sponged clean every evening; and in only one way: by what Scripture calls the Blood of the Lamb, that is, the atonement made once for all, for all sin, and applied, in earnest faith, to the individual man's heart and soul in the sight of God. Carelessness about washing the robes for pardon runs on into carelessness about washing the robes for purity. It is easy to see, for every man's experience shows it, the connection between the washing of the robes and the access to the tree of life. Let a man recall a day on which he let his sins alone in the way of notice, and in the way of sorrow, and in the way of confession, and in the way of prayer for pardon, and in the way of supplication for grace — he will recall, also, a day on which he was a stranger to God as to all peaceful communion and as to all comforting hope. This explains for all practical purposes why it should be true also, as the net result of the life, that it is they who have habitually, in this world, washed their robes, who shall have the right, in that world, of access to the tree of life. There remains yet one clause of the text, and one remarkable feature of the saints' rest and glory — "And that they may enter in through the gates into the city." All are struck, I suppose, by this thought. "Paradise Lost" was a garden, "Paradise Regained" is a city. Paradise lost was symbolised by a garden, destitute of all the disciplinary influences of the life of contradicting wills and conflicting interests. God was there; but it was as the God of Nature and Providence, not as the God of Compassion, the God of Revelation, or the God of Grace. Paradise regained is a city, even though it still has its river and its foliage, its spacious expanse, and its beautiful scenery; it is the Great City, the Holy City. This last book of the Bible, and one other book — the Epistle to the Hebrews — have the privilege of so designating it; but the idea is in all the Epistles and in all the Gospels. Heaven is no place of luxurious repose — no state of delicious communing with a God who knows only the self-man, and the spirit that is within him. Heaven is a society, a community, and a polity. Its life is two-sided — it is a life Godward, and it is a life manward; it is a life of direct access, and it is a life of boundless love. Into that city they who have here constantly, and at last perfectly, washed their robes shall find themselves, entering by no narrow or secret postern, but, as it is here written, by the gates, through those wide and splendid portals, as the Greek expression has it, opening of their own accord to receive them, of which it is written in the earlier part of this record that at each one stands a ministering angel; and again, that the gates shall not be shut at all by day, and day only need be spoken of, for "There shall be no night there."

(Dean Vaughan.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: Then saith he unto me, See thou do it not: for I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book: worship God.

WEB: He said to me, "See you don't do it! I am a fellow bondservant with you and with your brothers, the prophets, and with those who keep the words of this book. Worship God."

The Tree of Life
Top of Page
Top of Page