A question came in concerning the Tree of Life: If there will be no “time” in Heaven, only eternity, why does Revelation say that the tree gives a different fruit for each of the 12 months? Is this not the new Paradise or eternal state? Is this during the time when nations on earth still need healing?
This is a good question. It can be a little confusing given that time does come to an end with the New Heaven, New Earth and New Jerusalem, when it is always day from the light of the glory of the Lord.
First let’s address this concept of time in heaven. This is described in
Revelation 21:22-27 <
22 I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. 23 And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb. 24 The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it. 25 In the daytime (for there will be no night there) its gates will never be closed; 26and they will bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it; 27 and nothing unclean, and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.
The services of the sun and moon will no longer be required. There will no longer be a separation of night and day, there will only be unending day. There will be no night at all, and therefore, no measure of time passing. It is the eternal state of God, living outside of time.
The description of the fruit and leaves of the Tree of Life is found in
Revelation 22:1, 2
22 Then he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb, 2 in the middle of its street. On either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.
What this passage refers to is the nature of the fruit of the Tree of Life. It is explaining that all the types of fruit from all of the seasons will be produced by the tree referenced here. Months won’t exist in eternity and days won’t exist in heaven because day and night won’t exist in heaven. The reference here is not to explain how time might exist in heaven, but to explain the availability and variety of fruit that will exist in heaven, and it means always, and all varieties.
This passage is sometimes interpreted to mean that once a month there is a yield of a different fruit. What it’s actually saying is that it yields its fruit every month. The idea being that there are no months when the fruit is not yielded; in other words, there is always fruit. It also says there are twelve kinds of fruit. Twelve is a number of completeness and, of course, represents a full year. Thus, I believe this does not mean literally there are only twelve kinds, but refers to the kinds that each of the months on earth are known to yield—in other words, every kind.
This description is using what we know of earthly fruit to explain what John is seeing in Heaven. It’s saying that there is always every kind of fruit on the tree. That means that it never runs out of fruit, ever . . . meaning we will always be able to partake of it and live. This also indicates that there is incredible variety.
Finally, the leaves are of use as well. They heal the nations, meaning everyone. Exactly what we’re being healed from isn’t described, but it clearly is useful to everyone in heaven for the purpose of healing. The word used for healing is
- Therapeutic service rendered by one to another
- Special medical service: curing, healing
So there is some degree to which we will at times need some type of healing and it will be readily available through the leaves of the Tree of Life.
Now there is an even greater message in this, which is that we will come and partake of the fruit and do whatever is meant with the leaves, and it gives life to us and heals us. Not that we are working to have eternal life, but that we partake of it in faith, as did Adam and Eve, as the source for life for us from God. God alone has life of Himself, and only He can sustain us. This serves as a wonderful tasty reminder, found in the fruit and the leaves of the Tree of Life. We are dependent on Him, and He lovingly provides all we need, and He provides it in amazing ways.
Finally, the location of the River of Life and the Tree of Life is in the New Jerusalem, which descends from Heaven. It was previously located in the Garden of Eden.
Most of these descriptions of heavenly things represent John’s best way of describing what he is seeing in Heaven, but using earthly terms to help us understand. So we need to make sure what the object of the description is, which in this case is the fruit of the Tree of Life. If the object was time, we would draw different observations and conclusions.