One of God’s promises concerning the eternal state is that the nations of the world will have healing. The question comes up, though, as to why exactly healing is needed. Isn’t the New Jerusalem a place of perfection already?
The promise of the healing of the nations is found in Revelation 22, after the creation of the new heaven and new earth (Revelation 21:1). John writes, “Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever” (Revelation 22:1–5).
The healing of the nations is linked to the tree of life, as God reestablishes Eden. It is the leaves of this tree that are said to be “for the healing of the nations” (Revelation 22:2). It is possible that the tree of life in the New Jerusalem is literal and that its leaves and various fruits will somehow enrich our existence in the eternal state. All the nations represented there will be “healed” of their divisions and strife in their equal access to the tree of life.
It is also possible that the tree of life in the New Jerusalem is symbolic and that its “healing” signifies the eternal life that all will enjoy there. The different fruits it bears could represent the unlimited variety of our existence in heaven. The clear flowing river that waters the tree could picture the spiritual life of God’s redeemed—the “living water” Jesus promised in John 4:13–14.
The healing the tree of life’s leaves provide is not the healing of the wounds of battle—warfare will have ended. The healing is not needed for combating sickness—there will be no more sickness, death, or pain (Revelation 21:4). No, the “healing” is a reference to the perpetual blessing of the new heaven and earth; never again will the world be plagued by physical disorders or spiritual malaise or corruption. There will be no more warfare, no strife, no conflicting factions. God will heal all that ails His creation, and there will be no more curse (Revelation 22:3).
In the eternal state, everything will be blessed, and the tree of life represents that blessedness. There will be perfect sinlessness, perfect government, perfect service to God, perfect communion, and perfect glory. It is impossible for us to imagine being totally separated from sin and living in a glorified state before God. But the Lord assures us that “these words are trustworthy and true” (Revelation 22:6).