“Then he brought me back to the entrance of the temple and there was water flowing 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 threshold of the temple, south of the altar.” Ezekiel 47:1 (HCSB)
One fine Thanksgiving Day, my wife noticed that our kitchen floor was warmer in a particular area. Since we did not have heated floors, we quickly deduced that a hot water pipe had burst. If we hadn’t repaired it quickly, we might have fulfilled Ezekiel’s prophecy, for water would flow out from under our home and begin filling our town with its life-giving stuff!
The Bible begins with a description of a river that flowed through the Garden of Eden and broke into four tributaries as it left (Genesis 2:10-14). This is a theme that runs throughout the Bible. The Psalmist speaks of a river “whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells” (Psalm 46:4). Several of the prophets picture something similar: Joel speaks of a fountain that will flow out of the Lord’s house (Joel 3:8), and Zechariah describes “living water” which will flow out from Jerusalem, half to the eastern sea, and half to the western sea (Zechariah 14:8). Of course, the Bible ends with a description of the New Jerusalem, from which emerges a river flowing from God’s throne (Revelation 22:1-2). The Revelation reference is, in fact, based directly on Ezekiel’s vision in today’s chapter. The interpretation of one affects the understanding of the other.
The river Ezekiel describes emerges from under the Temple threshold and runs (apparently) underground to emerge under the eastern gate, through the city, and into the countryside. After 2,500 yards, the river has become so wide and deep that no man can cross it. This is a big river! Eventually, it empties into the Dead Sea. Along its banks are signs of abundant life and prosperity - essentially, Eden, restored. It is all a picture of the kind of blessing God’s people may expect in the new kingdom: Every provision for every need will be taken care of by the Lord Himself.
The key to understanding the river that flows beneath the Temple is found in John’s gospel. There, Jesus, on the final day of Sukkot (the Feast of Tabernacles), stands up and proclaims:
“‘If anyone is thirsty, he should come to Me and drink! The one who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, will have streams of living water flow from deep within him.’ He said this about the Spirit. Those who believed in Jesus were going to receive the Spirit…” John 7:37-39 (HCSB)
Every day of Sukkot, a priest took a golden flask filled with water from the pool of Siloam near Jerusalem, carried it through the Water Gate, went up the ramp to the altar, and poured it out. In one sense, Ezekiel’s prophecy is being fulfilled every time a person chooses to follow Jesus and is given the gift of the Holy Spirit to dwell inside them (1 Corinthians 6:19). In a greater sense, imagine a picture of all believers gathered in the New Jerusalem, all with God’s Spirit flowing from them.
Elevating your Faith with daily Bible reading and devotionals written by Steve Wiggins.
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