The River of Life
God of Life, I long for Your living water. Flow through my heart and life. Flow in Your church and from us, out into the world.
Read Ezekiel 47:1-12
Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, NIV Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“Like a river glorious, is God’s perfect peace, / Over all victorious, in its bright increase” (Frances R Havergal).
The image of a river is one of those archetypal metaphors frequenting the world’s literature, ancient and modern. It appears in one of Jesus’ best-known sayings, “Whoever believes in me… rivers of living water will flow from within them” (John 7:38). In the Psalms the motif of a flowing river pictures the blessing and power experienced by the people of God worshipping together. Even when Jerusalem is besieged by enemy forces, the presence of God among his people becomes a life-giving stream that makes the city glad (Psa. 46:4).
However, the focus of this part of Ezekiel’s vision is not on the city, but on the wilderness of Judah. For the river flows from the Temple in ever greater volume over a distance of 15 miles, transforming arid ravines and even ultimately desalinating the Dead Sea. The huge volume of water flowing from the sanctuary (3-5) echoes psalms which rejoice in feasting on the abundance of God’s house and drinking from the Lord’s “river of delights” (Psa. 36:8). A great forest of trees springs up on each side of the river (7), bearing fruit not just once or twice a year, but every month (12; Rev. 22:1,2). The imagery now echoes and expands the well-known metaphor of the first psalm, highlighting the benefits of meditating on the Law (i.e., teaching) of the Lord (Psa. 1:2,3).
Reflecting on Ezekiel’s graphic pictures of abundant blessing flowing from the sanctuary will profitably prepare us for church tomorrow. Sunday worship is much more than simple attendance. It is intended to be a feast! God has promised to bless us superabundantly when we worship him with others. Are we ready to receive what he will offer? Are we prepared to give what he will demand?
“Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse. . . and see if I will not. . . pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it” (Mal. 3:10).
Father, You have offered us such abundance in Christ. It is not automatic. We must move in faith and obedience to take hold of that for which You have taken hold of us.
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