Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever. (Revelation 22:1-5, ESV)
The end of the Bible, the end of Revelation, takes us back to the very beginning again, to the Garden in Eden. In many ways, the Garden in Eden was a temple, and Adam was the first priest who had direct access to God. The tabernacle and the temples built afterward had garden motifs, trees in its furnishings, reminding of the paradise of God. The temple also modeled the night sky with stars, pointing to how God inhabited his creation. All that pointed to a time in the future when we would directly see God and his creation unspoiled.
Adam and Eve were banished from the Garden. They were prevented access to the Tree of Life. In the new heavens and earth, the Garden is recreated and the Tree of Life is present, and it provides healing for the nations. The bitterness, war, strife between nations will be healed through these trees.
Before Adam's fall, God gave Adam the charge to subdue the earth. This was a spiritual charge as much as a physical command. The Garden only existed in on spot in Eden. The Garden was to grow to cover all of Eden, and all of the earth was to be brought under the dominion of God's image bearers. The human race could not do it, but God will.
Paul tells us in Romans 8 that all of creation awaits its redemption. Randy Alcorn has opened my eyes to the possibility of some of the amazing things that might be in the new creation. This is speculative, but imagine having a conversation with the author of the book of Hebrews while you each ride the backs of Brontosaurs. Far fetched? Perhaps, but maybe not. His book, Heaven, is an interesting book to read. He pulls thoughts from many theologians, many from my own Reformed tradition, and others. Another excellent read on the Garden of Eden and the temple in Revelation is G.K. Beal's book, The Temple and the Church's Mission. A short audio summary is found here.
The new heaven and earth is going to be a fascinating place, a place filled with joy, delighting in God and his creation.
This concludes the advent series on Revelation. Merry Christmas!