Tuesday, September 22, 2015
Psalms 46:4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High.
Several years ago I was invited by one of my sons to go along on a trout fishing trip he was taking with his friends. I distinctly remember the anxious enthusiasm I felt as I prepared for the trip. It would be a total “roughing it” experience. No plumbing of any kind was available. No electricity. No modern conveniences at all. Just three days of camping in a tent alongside a rushing river and cooking over an open fire.
I think I looked forward to it so much because it took me back to my childhood days. I love the water. I grew up on the shores of the Great Lakes. As a young boy I swam and fished in the St. Mary’s river while the ore boats made their way to the locks at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan.
As a middle school student I canoed, fished, and camped on the Au Sable River making my way downstream to the mouth where it emptied into Lake Huron at Oscoda, Michigan.
As a high school student I camped beside the Thompson River in Estes Park, Colorado and fished for trout.
Give me a tent, a fishing pole, and a stream, and I am happy, although now in my latter years I do like to have a boat along. But there is something incredibly peaceful and restorative about camping beside the water.
When God wanted us to understand the fullness of eternal life and visualize the peace and prosperity of heaven, he used a river to describe it. Here’s how the Apostle John saw it in Revelation 22.
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.
The source of this river is God Himself. The prophet Jeremiah declares “My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.” Later in Jeremiah he says, “All who forsake you will be put to shame. Those who turn away from you will be written in the dust because they have forsaken the LORD, the spring of living water.”
This living water has the power to transform the earth. The prophet Zechariah declares that when Jesus returns to the earth as King and puts His feet down on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, that living water will flow out from Jerusalem, half to the eastern sea and half to the western sea, in summer and in winter. The water’s effects on the earth are miraculous.
Here’s a summary of the description Ezekiel gives us of what will happen to the Dead Sea on the day the river of life flows out of Jerusalem to the east:
This water flows toward the eastern region and goes down into the Arabah (the Jordan Valley) where it enters the Sea (the Dead Sea). When it empties into the Sea, the water there becomes fresh. Swarms of living creatures will live wherever the river flows. There will be large numbers of fish, because this water flows there and makes the salt water fresh; so where the river flows everything will live. Fishermen will stand along the shore; from En Gedi to En Eglaim there will be places for spreading nets. The fish will be of many kinds—like the fish of the Great Sea (the Mediterranean Sea). But the swamps and marshes will not become fresh; they will be left for salt. Fruit trees of all kinds will grow on both banks of the river. Their leaves will not wither, nor will their fruit fail. Every month they will bear, because the water from the sanctuary flows to them. Their fruit will serve for food and their leaves for healing (Ezek.47:1-12). The River of Life flowing out from God will miraculously transform the earth.
But that’s not the greatest power of the living water. Jesus invites us to drink of this water and have our lives miraculously transformed. Just as no life can exist in the Dead Sea because of the concentration of salt, so no life can exist in us because of the consequences of sin. But the Living Water of God found in Jesus Christ our Savior will make all things new.
Jesus offered this water to the woman at the well in John chapter 4. He said to her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water…Everyone who drinks the water from this well will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
We can have eternal life rather than death. We are dead because of the salt of sin. We are thirsty from drinking the salt of sin. We look to quench our thirst in all that the world has offered, and find that it is only more salt that makes us thirstier. But then we heard the voice of Jesus saying, If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.
We repented of the ways of sin and drank of the Living Water. Our thirst has been satisfied and our lives have been transformed. We have streams of living water flowing out from us so that others may drink and have their thirst satisfied as well. Our lives have become the holy place where the Most High dwells, and the stream of living water makes us glad.
REJOICE! You have tasted the water, and you will never be the same again.