A River Story

Picture 232

Ezekiel 47:1-12

Today I though it might be fun to try something a little different, and tell a story that comes from the prophet Ezekiel.  Beginning in chapter 40, there is a description of how things will be when Israel is restored after the captivity. The narrative goes through the particulars of the new temple, the return of glory and the re-institution of holy days and sacrifices, and then in chapter 47 there is an interesting little story about a river that begins to flow out of the new temple.

The prophet has just come out of the new temple, having gone through a sort of tour, and he sees that water is beginning to come out from under the temple itself. He was led eastward from the temple for a thousand cubits, where the water was ankle-deep, and then another thousand, where the water was knee-deep, and then after another thousand cubits, the water was waist deep.  After another thousand, the water was deep enough to swim in, and nobody could cross the river.  His guide asks Ezekiel, “do you see this?”

The guide took him back to the bank, and the bank was full of trees, and the man explained:

“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 will 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.”

Ezekiel 47:8-12

This is quite an amazing picture in words. The temple in Jerusalem is well above sea level in the mountains at about 3,800 feet above sea level. The Dead Sea, which isn’t much more than an hour away is a 1,400 feet below sea level, a drop of about a mile, so I can just imagine what a great river would look like between the two.  The terrain there is desert.  So just think how amazing this vision is!

The banks are lined with trees.  There are all sorts of fruit trees and herbs that will grow along this river, and the sea will become alive, full of fish of various kinds; wow!

How could this be?

Let’s think a little bit about what is going on in this vision.  I know that various schools of thought on prophecy have their interpretations, but let’s forget all that for now and just take this all in…

The temple in Old Testament times was considered to be the dwelling place of God on the earth.  Ezekiel in his vision, saw water coming from under that place where God is dwelling, and wherever the water goes, there is teeming life. There is abundant life in the desert near that water, and the Dead Sea becomes alive with life. What is God telling us in this vision about His presence?  What is God telling us about the source of life? Do the words “living water” come to mind when you consider these things?

I hope you will take a little time to think about these things. I’ll post some more on this later, and we’ll compare notes.

See you then!

About Don Merritt

A long time teacher and writer, Don hopes to share his varied life's experiences in a different way with a Christian perspective.
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8 Responses to A River Story

  1. Tom says:

    I see it as where God is there is life. Paul tells us that we are now the temple of God. Again where God is there is life. God should be flowing out of us to everyone around us bringing life to them. We should be overflowing with God and having the abundant life Jesus talked about.

  2. daylerogers says:

    Thanks for taking us to the bare bones of the truth–He is life. Life alone is in Him. We as broken people can bring death and destruction, but only God can give life. Real life. I appreciate this.

  3. Kitsy says:

    “where the river flows everything will live”

    A while back I described my ‘duty’ as merely ‘showing up’ to plant seeds or implant grains of sand. There are many seeds lying dormant in the desert. But when the rains come or if a river is introduced, these seeds sprout and grow. I’m not sure if a similar principle applies to fish, but God is capable…

    What I am struck with is the image of the river growing deeper the farther Ezekiel got from the apparent source, The Temple. First of all, as experienced on this earth, normally as water flows from a single source, the water would gradually diminish from absorption into the soil, etc….but not in this instance. That tells me that water must be feeding in from other sources; perhaps in the new earth, when the Spirit begins ‘flowing,’ the spirits of believers add to it and the ‘water of life’ increases. Another analogy would be a soloist being gradually joined by others until there is a great chorus.

    Secondly, if, in fact, the water is accumulating and swelling from the Dead Sea back up hill to The Temple, that would happen only if there is no absorption into the soil or waste….which implies that no dispensing of the Spirit is wasted. Dare I say, none of our efforts to spread the good news is wasted.

    Now, as I am barely functioning on less than 4 hours sleep, this may all be hooey. In others words, take this with a grain of sand.

  4. Pingback: A River Story (2) | The Life Project

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