Lord, thank You for allowing us to swim in Your river.
Read EZEKIEL 47:1–12
The River From the Temple
47 The man brought me back to the entrance to the temple, and I saw water coming out from under the threshold of the temple toward the east (for the temple faced east). The water was coming down from under the south side of the temple, south of the altar. 2 He then brought me out through the north gate and led me around the outside to the outer gate facing east, and the water was trickling from the south side.
3 As the man went eastward with a measuring line in his hand, he measured off a thousand cubits[a] and then led me through water that was ankle-deep. 4 He measured off another thousand cubits and led me through water that was knee-deep. He measured off another thousand and led me through water that was up to the waist. 5 He measured off another thousand, but now it was a river that I could not cross, because the water had risen and was deep enough to swim in—a river that no one could cross. 6 He asked me, “Son of man, do you see this?”
Then he led me back to the bank of the river. 7 When I arrived there, I saw a great number of trees on each side of the river. 8 He said to me, “This water flows toward the eastern region and goes down into the Arabah,[b] where it enters the Dead Sea. When it empties into the sea, the salty water there becomes fresh. 9 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. 10 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 Mediterranean Sea. 11 But the swamps and marshes will not become fresh; they will be left for salt. 12 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 fruit, because the water from the sanctuary flows to them. Their fruit will serve for food and their leaves for healing.”
a Ezekiel 47:3 That is, about 1,700 feet or about 530 meters
b Ezekiel 47:8 Or the Jordan Valley
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“Praise, my soul, the King of Heaven; / to his feet thy tribute bring; / ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven, / who like me his praise should sing? / … Praise the everlasting King” (Henry F. Lyte, 1793–1847).
This vision of a trickle of water emerging from under the threshold of the temple and growing into a river deep enough for swimming is, significantly, given to Ezekiel before the final details of the allocation of the land (47:13—48:35); “… where the river flows everything will live” (9). This statement, pregnant with potential, and the descriptions that accompany it speak powerfully of the life-giving impact of God on all he touches. But also, it is symbolic of the need for the land itself to be cleansed and healed before it can become a place of blessing for those who will return. In the words of Christopher Wright, “At a historical level this vision looks forward to the return of Israel to their land, to their spiritual renewal, and to the resumption of the normal tasks of irrigation, fertilizing, plowing, planting, and harvesting. They will once again be God’s people dwelling in God’s land” (The Message of Ezekiel, 357). They have a deep connection with the land as a gift from God, as we do today with God’s creation. Therefore, it is important that we don’t overlook the ecological implications of this vision (Gen. 2:15; 3:17–24; Rom. 8:18–23).
The source of the river is God’s presence in the temple. Having returned there in glory, he releases his life, healing and fruitfulness far beyond its boundaries into the wider world. Rich in biblical imagery (Gen. 2:10–14; Psa. 46:4; Isa. 33:21; Joel 3:18; Zech. 14:8), the divine river points forward to Jesus in the temple during the Feast of Tabernacles when, as part of the ceremonies, water was symbolically poured out in anticipation of the Messianic outpouring of the Holy Spirit—Jesus as the source of living water to all who believe (John 7:37-39). Then, in Revelation, the river of life forms part of the city of God, where redeemed humanity will live with him as the source and heart of everything (Rev. 22:1–5).
Every time you place your hands under running water, pray for the cleansing and renewing activity of the Holy Spirit in your life.
Lord, we believe what You declare about this forthcoming temple and anticipate its fulfillment with joy and wonderment.
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