September 23, 2021
"Then he brought me back to the entrance of the house and I saw water flowing eastward from under the threshold of the house, for the house faces east."
“Then he brought me back to the entrance of the house and I saw water flowing eastward from under the threshold of the house, for the house faces east. The water flowed down under the right side of the house, south of the altar.” Ezekiel 47:1
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 was about to 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, which flowed through the Garden of Eden and broke up into four tributaries as it left (Genesis 2:10-14). This is a theme, which 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 which 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 the 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 some 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 - in essence, 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, let him come to Me and drink. Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, streams of water will flow from within him.’ By this, He meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were later to receive…” John 7:37-39
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.