Having established that the leaves that do not fail or fall are God protecting the fruit of the tree next to the waters, St. Hilary cites another passage of Scripture to bolster this understanding:
Now that the leaves of the tree we speak of are not valueless but are a source of health to the nations is testified by St. John in the Apocalypse, where he says: ‘And He shewed me a river of water of life, bright as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb; in the midst of the street of it and on either side of the river the tree of life, bearing twelve manner of fruits, yielding its fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree are for the healing the nations’ (Rev 22:1).
To continue with our discussion of free will, note how the leaves of the tree, protecting the image and likeness (and thus our free will), are for the healing of the nations. There are two very important things to take away from this:
- Although God has His chosen people through which He revealed Himself and made His covenants, His image and likeness always existed in all of humanity. Indeed, He has preserved and protected that image and likeness throughout all the nations and He never intended to abandon them. As St. Paul says, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal 3:28) and Christ Himself commands, “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matt 28:19).
- God works with our free will. It his desire that all the nations participate is His salvation. Since the leaves (which protect our free will) are for the healing of all nations, His protection of our free will has the potential of healing — when we freely choose to exercise our free will to participate in His salvation.