October 31, 2023

The River of Life

Genesis 2:8-15; Revelation 21:1-7; 22:1-5

There was no longer any sea. Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life. . .

—  Revelation 21:1; 22:1

At the end of history, after battles long and hard, Satan is defeated by Christ and his followers (Revelation 12:10-11). And Jesus completes the work he began when he first came: the restoration of true human stewards and his good world.

Heaven and earth are united; God’s will is fully done on earth as it was already done in heaven (Matthew 6:10). And we are told something odd: “there was no longer any sea.” Here God is not ridding the world of its “good” natural seas (Genesis 1:10) but, rather, what the sea represents: chaos and rebellion. Anything that threatens to harm God’s good creation is done away with. Then we see “the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal,” flowing from God’s throne, delivering the leaves of the tree of life to the world for its healing after so many years of sin, death, destruction, and evil (remember also the living water of John 7:38; Ezekiel 47). And at last the earth is “filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea” (Habakkuk 2:14).

This is the final reality we envision when a person is baptized in the name of God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Baptism anticipates renewal in Christ and the rebirth of the whole world to new life, flooded with grace.

Lord Christ, in baptism, we anticipate the day when you will return to finish all you started when you came to bring us salvation. Continue in the work of your Spirit-filled saints, and bring the restoration of all things. Amen.

About the author — Kristopher Walhof

Kristopher Walhof is a minister in the Christian Reformed Church who lives with his wife and seven-year-old son in rural Kenya. He teaches Bible and theology courses to theological students seeking ordination in the Africa Inland Church (AIC) denomination.

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