Saturday, November 15, 2014

Life Needs Water

Scriptural Reading: Ezekiel 47:1, 3-12
Devotional Reading: Psalm 1

Recently a friend mentioned that her husband loved the song “Cooling Waters” by the Williams Brothers. “My soul was sinking in a world of sin But grace and mercy it took me in…Oh what a relief it was when God rescued me…it felt like cooling water …from Grandma’s well.” When we are rescued from the depths of despair by the grace and mercy of God it feels like the refreshing, cooling water of salvation. Water is a great force of nature created by God. There is nothing we as humans can do without water. Likewise, there is nothing we can do without the living water. Jesus said , “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them. By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.” (John 7:37-39 NJKV) For anyone who has accepted Christ as their Savior today, God dwells within their bodies, their living temples, and streams of blessings flow to other places and touches others to spread the new life of the Gospel.

This quarter of study is entitled “Sustaining Hope”. We are in Unit III – “Visions of Grandeur” of the three units of the quarter. This is the third of a five-lesson study. The book of Ezekiel focuses on God’s glory as seen through the visions he received. In our lesson today Ezekiel is taken back to the door of the temple to discover there are waters flowing. Water is a symbol of God’s favor, newness of life, fruitfulness, etc. Psalm 46:4-5 indicates, “There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day."(NKJV)

Rev 22:1 represents “Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and the Lamb.”(NKJV) His throne was set up in the temple at Jerusalem. (Ez 43:7) Messiah is both the temple and the door. From His pierced side flow the living waters, ever increasing, both in the individual believer and in the heart.

Ez 47:1 indicates, “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.”(NKJV) The unidentified man (angel) returns Ezekiel to the north gate of the house when he noticed a stream of water, a precious resource, flowing that had sprung up from under the threshold of the gate that looks toward the east from underneath the temple. “The holy of holies was at the west end of the temple, but the front of it, and so the door into it was to the east…” It appeared as if the waters were passing to the south of the altar of burnt offering on the right side of the temple, ran from the west to the east, might fall in the brook Kidron and then fall in the Dead Sea. Ezekiel had walked all over the temple and had not noticed the waters. The waters were not brought in the temple through any pipes or manmade system which would make this river a common sewer or sink. God reveals Himself in degrees over time. The Old Testament saints did not know Christ, but this is a vision pointing toward the gospel of Christ. There is glory and joy flowing and reflected in the living water. It is gushing forth from Jerusalem (the temple) to spread its life (the gospel of Christ) to the various surrounding areas. It was in the temple that the apostles received the power of the Holy Spirit to carry (preach) the water (Gospel) to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem (Luke 24:47).

The unidentified man now leads Ezekiel in his vision through the waters with a measuring instrument as a land surveyor would survey land. They are slowly surveying the depth of the (living) water. Ez 47:3-6 reads “As the man went eastward with a measuring line in his hand, he measured off a thousand cubits and then led me through water that was ankle deep. 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. 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. He asked me, ‘Son of man, do you see this?’ Then he led me back to the bank of the river.”(NKJV)

Ezekiel and the unidentified man (angel of God) begin to walk eastward in the flowing waters. The angel had a measuring line in his hand and began to measure the depth of the waters. At first measurement the waters were ankle deep. They continued to walk and another measurement was taken. The waters had risen to their knees. Their eastward journey through the waters continued and, at the one mile marker, a third measurement indicated the waters were up to their waist. Ezekiel continued to follow the angel toward the east through the waters of God to see what course the water would carry him. At the next measurement the waters had become a river for swimming and it was no longer easy wading water. It could not be crossed because of its depth. After this last measurement the angel asked Ezekiel if he had paid attention to the increasing depths. Notice the waters began at the Temple as a stream with no connecting springs that joined in with it to increase it.

This part of the vision may be applied to the gradual discoveries of the plan of salvation. God revealed His plan in stages through the Patriarchs {Abraham, Isaac, Jacob (Israel)}, in giving the law through Moses, through the ministry of the forerunner John the Baptist, and in the full manifestation of Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit. The living water increased in degrees and we are saturated as it flows through our lives. Some things are so shallow that even a lamb may wade through it. Others are so deep an elephant may swim through it. Still others are so deep that we cannot penetrate it. It may also be understood to apply as a type of progress that Christianity has made in the world. Jesus began with a few poor fishermen as disciples. From those few fishermen his followers increased to include many Jews, Gentiles of Asia Minor and Greece, and the continent and islands of Europe. His followers are now spreading through Africa, Asia, and America. At present these waters are no longer a river, but an immense sea, and the Gospel fishers are daily bringing multitudes of souls to Christ.

Ezekiel then returns to shore since the waters are now impassable. Ez 47:8-12 records how the living waters brought life to the barren land and to the fish of the sea. The beauty of this vision was in its healing. It reads, “He said to me, ‘This water flows toward the eastern region and goes down into the Arabah, where it enters the Dead Sea. When it empties into the sea, the salty 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 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 with 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.” (NKJV)

When Ezekiel returned to shore he noticed there were now “…a great number of trees on each side of the river.” (Ez 47:7 NKJV) This was the desert. How can that be? When the living water had passed over the land it was healed and had become fertile. It was able to bear fruit-producing trees with leaves of healing of all kinds. This was a foreshadowing of the vision of the Apostle John in Rev 22. It is declared at Rev 22:2, “In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river, was the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.” (NKJV) Also, the river had transformed the Dead Sea into fresh water. Everything living shall be found here and prosper. It shall be the best of its kind and increase greatly so that there “will be large numbers of fish…of many kinds – like the fish of the Great Sea.” The people would be able to look forward to a new life and livelihood, if they accepted the transformative power and everything the living water touched. Christ came that we might have life. To that end we have the Gospel of living water to accept. Everything shall live if we only believe and receive Him, the living water. Its effect is according as it is received, and as the mind is prepared and disposed to receive it. The swamps and marshes will not become fresh because they are steadfast, unmovable settled in their own sinfulness, and will not be healed.

Psalm 1 - The Way of the Righteous and the End of the UnGodly

Blessed is the man
Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly,
Nor stands in the path of sinners,
Nor sits in the seat of the scornful;
2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD,
And in His law he meditates day and night.
3 He shall be like a tree
Planted by the rivers of water,
That brings forth its fruit in its season,
Whose leaf also shall not wither;
And whatever he does shall prosper.
4 The ungodly are not so,
But are like the chaff which the wind drives away.
5 Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment,
Nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.
6 For the LORD knows the way of the righteous,
But the way of the ungodly shall perish.

Written by Deborah C. Davis

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