The Leaves of the Tree Are For the Healing of the Nations

At nine am on a cloudy Tuesday morning, our staff, residents and community members gathered together for a time of communal learning. Why? At East Mountain, one of our core values is a commitment to life-long learning.  We believe true leaders are men and women who whole heartedly engage in the process of personal growth and development - head, heart, hands. In line with this value, we decided to set aside time each month to gather and learn together.  Whether it be some of our own staff teaching or bringing in outside voices, our hope is to provide another avenue of inspiration and critical thinking and time together.

Our first topic was The Big Picture, A Whole Bible Overview. We focused on demonstrating how God redeems us into His covenant family through the faithfulness of His Son Jesus. Throughout the course of the day, we looked at God's covenant promises made to his people, beginning in Genesis and continuing to the coming and death of Jesus.  The purpose was to help us cultivate a deeper awareness of God's Grand Plan to restore his people to a place where they can enjoy His presence forever. Looking at scripture through the lens of a progression of covenants (or development of one covenant) was invaluable, especially to give context and motivation as we jump into a year of reading through the entire Bible as a community.

As we continued through the day, reading through God's faithfulness and promise despite man's pattern for disobedience and destruction, many of us sat in our seats wondering, what do we take away from this? How do we cling to truth and hope that feels so easy to believe in the classroom but so difficult when we go out and interact in a world tormented by pain, war, sadness, and so much suffering? Jesus came as our ultimate sacrifice and invitation to be with God, and yet he also commissioned us to love God, obey him, and make disciples. We accept this as a challenge as we march into a creation that continues to reel in expectation for Jesus to return and for God to restore the world.

Revelations 22 paints a picture of this world: "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."

We opened up the day with a tree that humans had used to send creation into a spiral of shame, disobedience and chaos. The nations throughout the Bible are generally in poor shape. Despite the hope Jesus brings, it's hard to ignore the suffering that still abounds around us. But God isn't just sitting back and letting the world tear itself up. Throughout history his plan has been to make things right, to restore the relationships of humans with creation, humans with other humans, humans with self, and everything to Himself. His kingdom is one of future restoration (the city and river and beauty painted in revelation) as well as current ongoing restoration. His tree of life with leaves for healing the nations gives us hope for this future, but also motivates us to join in this healing process right now. When it comes down to it, that's our tiny part in kingdom-building with Him.  If Jesus is the vine and we are the branches, we look forward to any opportunity to be his healing leaves to the nations, restoring the world to shalom alongside Him.