The astute reader will recognize in this reading, from the second to last chapter in the Bible, imagery from the second chapter of Genesis, and the Garden of Eden: the Tree of Life and the River flowing on either side of it. Here, in this phase of John's Apocalypse, we return to the cool of the garden - that wonderful time when humanity walked with God in the cool of the day. That time when we spoke to God as casually as we might speak to one another. That time when all was right in the universe, and all was right in our relationship with God. Paul would call this righteousness. But, it's not that the 'unpleasantness' of the fall never happened. Or the unpleasantness of Cain killing Abel. Or the unpleasantness of drunkenness, sordidness, the golden calf, David and Bathsheba, war, strife, hatred, idolatry, unfaithfulness blah, blah, blah - it's not that all that didn't happen. It's that it's all taken care of. The tab has been paid. The tomb is empty. Jesus is made new. And now the full ramifications of the Resurrection of Jesus can be seen: Eden is made new. Eden has returned - but! It's also remade. It's new.
This is the overarching story of the scriptures. Over and over and over again God looks like he's been defeated. Over and over again it looks like the story is over. It appears that God had a good run, but the Cindarella story has to come to an end. And each time, God prevails. Seeming defeat turns into amazing victory. That is the story of God.