Lesson for May 29, 2011: Water of Life (Revelation 22:1-9; 13-17)

This week’s treatment of the International Sunday School Lesson (for May 29) is written by Ron Arnold, senior pastor with Kaimuki Christian Church in Honolulu, Hawaii.


Water of Life (Revelation 22:1-9, 13-17)

By Ron Arnold

Water department trucks in Honolulu display the slogan “Pure Water—Our Greatest Need—Conserve It” to remind the people of Hawaii to use this limited resource sparingly. This is true in the islands, and may be true in your area, if we’re talking about the physical realm. It’s only a half-truth in the spiritual realm. In the Scriptures, water is a symbol of life flowing from the presence of God, and it certainly is “our greatest need!” But God doesn’t call for us to conserve it. Rather, he urges us to give it away!

The Water Flows from God (Revelation 22:1, 2)

The Old and the New Testaments both use water to picture salvation, cleansing, and the Holy Spirit that comes from him. Ezekiel, in his vision, saw a river flowing from the temple of God giving life to all, with fruit trees on either side providing fruit and leaves for healing (Ezekiel 47). This imagery would find fulfillment in Christ, who came from God to bring healing from sin and bread for eternal life. Standing in the temple in his day, he would invite all who were thirsty to come to him and drink, promising rivers of living water would flow from that person’s inmost being (John 7:37-39)!

In John’s vision on the island of Patmos some 60 years later, he sees a river flowing not from the temple (now destroyed), but from under the throne of God:

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 (Revelation 22:1, 2).

God had once dwelt among his people in the temple. John now sees him in Heaven, but salvation . . . the water of life . . . continues to flow to his people from his presence. God is the source of this life-giving “water” we know as salvation.

The Water Turned Red at Calvary (Revelation 22:3-9, 12-16)

I’ve been in parts of the world where we were warned, “Don’t drink the water!” To do so risks sickness and even death. But those who drink the water of life that God provides find that this living water brings forgiveness, healing, and deliverance from the curse that condemned us to an eternity banished from his presence.

This salvation pictured as water flowing from the presence of the Lord ultimately brings those who drink of it into the continual light of his presence in the “city of God,” where they will see his face and serve him in the absence of the curse.

The river flowing from the throne became a fountain of life when Jesus’ blood flowed on Calvary. Consider Jesus’ words: “Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. . . . I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star” (Revelation 22:14, 16). Who may enter the city? Who may eat of the tree of life? “Those who wash their robes.” Where do they wash them? In the river flowing from under the throne of God, perhaps? No, they must wash their robes in the blood of the Lamb. Consider this: “I answered, ‘Sir, you know.’ And he said, ‘These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb’” (Revelation 7:14).

The river of God turned red on Calvary as the Lamb of God shed his blood to bring cleansing from sin; those who put their trust in the crucified One have their robes washed! They drink of the water of life, and are made clean. But that’s not the end. These now have a glorious purpose.

The Water Is Free for the Taking! (Revelation 22:17)

The water of life was costly! But the One who paid the price for it offers it free to all! The tragedy is that those who thirst won’t know unless they’re invited to the fountain. What’s Jesus’ plan to extend the RSVP? Listen: The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ And let him who hears say, ‘Come!’ Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life” (Revelation 22:17).

The Spirit is none other than the Holy Spirit, and the bride is none other than the church! That’s you and me. We have the great privilege and responsibility to invite people to come drink of the water of life! Many around us are thirsty! They will die without knowing of the river that flows from God’s throne and the fountain that flows from Calvary . . . unless we tell them! Will you, this week, pray for and tell one person of this offer of the water of life?


*Scripture quotations are from the New International Version, unless otherwise indicated.

May 23: Ephesians 3:14-21
May 24: Exodus 33:17-23
May 25: Psalm 47:5-9
May 26: John 4:7-15
May 27: Revelation 2:1-7
May 28: Revelation 22:10-21
May 29: Revelation 22:1-9

ABOUT THE LESSON WRITER: Ron Arnold has served churches in Utah and Oregon, planted a church in Hawaii, and has served as senior pastor of Kaimuki Christian Church in Honolulu, Hawaii, the past 18 years. He is married to Dee and they have two sons, two daughters-in-law, and three grandchildren.

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  1. D.Roman
    May 23, 2011 at 8:44 pm

    Very simply put and easy to understand. Revelation is a deep and complicated book but this part of the vision becomes clear and easier to teach told from this point of view. Thanks

  2. May 27, 2011 at 9:05 am

    Rev. Ron Arnold, Thanks for such a great review on such a wonderful sunday school lesson about the living water God Bless

  3. May 27, 2011 at 5:40 pm

    Thanks again for such a wonderful review of the lesson for this week. May God bless you and please keep up the good work. You can’t imagine how many people your are helping to understand the Word.
    —LaVerne Bryant

  4. Wyolene
    May 28, 2011 at 1:11 pm

    Thanks for the insight each week on the Sunday school lesson. Thanks for keeping our purpose in Christ Jesus. I appreciate that you are nurturing that believers may be able to communicate with Jehovah both now and in Heaven. Amen. May his Word fall on fruitful fields and bear righteous fruit.

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