River of God | Day 4

1 Corinthians 3:16, John 4:11-14, Isaiah 35:1-7

           Ezekiel 47:1-12 is, without question, the most complete scriptural passage on the river of God. Ezekiel sees a river that flows from the temple that starts as a trickle, raises to the ankles, then the knees, then the loins - and finally, it’s enough to swim in. This passage is rife with symbolism, and shows us the power of God’s river.

 

            The river initiates from the Temple. This is the same river mentioned in Revelation. “And he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb, in this middle of its street. And on either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations” (Revelation 22:1-2, NASB). Both references point out that the trees yield fruit every month, and both tell us their leaves are for healing. This is unmistakably the same river - and not only does it flow from the Temple, it initiates from the Lamb on the throne, Jesus Christ.

 

            Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 3:16 that we are the temple of the Holy Spirit. This word “temple” in the Greek is the word naos, which means “holy of holies”. If we are the temple of God and the river flows from that temple, it is then consistent to say the river should flow from us, just as Jesus said. We are God’s plan. We aren’t the source, but the source is in us, and He allows us the privilege of being His co-laborers.

 

            John 4 shows us the story of the woman at the well. Jesus asks her for a drink, and tells her that whoever drinks of that water He gives will never thirst again. Though only one English word is used in this passage, Jesus actually talks about two different types of wells. The well of Jacob (vs. 11) was a phrear, a cistern, or a pit dug to hold water. But the well that Christ offers is a pege, a fountain that either springs up or flows. We are not simply a storage tank, or cistern, for the living water. The very source of life is in us, springing up to eternal life. Cisterns stagnate and dry up; springs remain fresh with a continuous flow.

 

            As mentioned before, there are five levels of increasing depth in the river. It begins with a trickle, then reaches the ankles, the knees, the loins, and eventually the water is deep enough for a person to swim in. These levels are symbolic in a couple different ways.

 

            The five river levels could be related to each of us as individuals, representing different stages of maturity in us. (Of course, these levels don’t dictate our conditions, but instead reveal them.) There are five Greek words that could represent these five levels of spiritual growth and development. Nepios refers to us as babes in Christ (1 Corinthians 13:1). Paidon speaks of us as children (1 John 2:18). Teknon is translated as “children”, but is usually used for an older child (John 13:33). Huios is the word for a fully matured son (2 Corinthians 6:18). Pater is the word for father (1 John 2:13).

 

            Others believe the levels refer to spiritual truths we must walk in. For example, knee level water would represent prayer. Another supposition is that the different levels represent different stages of any one revival or outpouring of the Holy Spirit. It is curious that the level of the river increases every 1,000 cubits. Any multiple of ten, such as 1,000, represents perfection of the completion of divine order. This suggests that God brings us to completion at each of these levels before taking us to the next level.

 

            Another significant detail about the river is the direction in which it flows. It flowed down into the Arabah, then to the sea, where the waters become fresh. The Arabah is the low region in to which the valley of the Jordan runs near Jericho. “Arabah” in Hebrew means “dry land, desert or wilderness”. Ezekiel uses Arabah to describe the lifeless condition of the world we live in. The sea mentioned is the Dead Sea, symbolizing the death that is a consequence of our sinful world. The word “fresh” is the word rapha, which means “to heal”. What does this mean? It shows us that God wants to flow out of us, His temple, into the dry and desolate parts of the world, bringing healing to dead places.

 

            He accomplished bringing dead places in the wilderness to life by sending Jesus. God sent Christ to identify with our weaknesses. He suffered loss, pain, rejection and separation from God. He came not for the healthy, but for the sick; not for the righteous, but for sinners.

 

            The concept of opportune time is found in the Greek word kairos. It’s the time that something should or must be done. Chronos, however, is the Greek word for the general time that something is done. In Matthew 16:3, Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for not discerning the signs of the times (kairos). He later prophesied over the future destruction of Jerusalem as he was broken over it, saying that they did not recognize the time (kairos) of their visitation (Luke 19:44). Paul commended the Thessalonians in 1 Thessalonians 5:1, for their ability to discern the times (chronos) and seasons (kairos).

 

            Why is this important? God has created a great kairos season of spiritual harvest on earth. If we, the body of Christ, are going to successfully face the issues of our day, we must have enough foresight to be prepared for the opportunities these changes create. We must not only prepare for the benefits, but we must also guard against the attacks of the enemy.

 

            Without vision, people perish (Proverbs 29). Lack of vision will cause decay. It will infect the Body, eat away at productivity, and rob us of our value. This is one of the ways that the enemy will try to stop us from flowing out to the world around us.

 

            Another way that Satan tries to render us ineffective is through indifference. We must guard against it. If the river is to flow from us to the world around us, in the way God intends, we must awaken to our destiny. Now is the time for vision!

 

            We must take inventory of our lives in Christ as we step deeper into the river. Are you a cistern or a fountain? Are you continually being filled and flowing out, or have the waters become stagnant? Do you still have vision? Has indifference slowed you down and created apathy in your walk with Christ? Ask Him to fill you again, to continue to fill you. Watch and be amazed as He creates a new work in you. Everything will live where the river goes. Say yes to your adventure with God - He has amazing things in store.

These teaching concepts are derived from chapter four of The River of God by Dutch Sheets.