Saturday, August 9, 2008

Rushing River

Have you ever read something so cool in the Bible that you felt like Jeremiah when he said, "his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in: indeed, I cannot." Jeremiah 20:9 ?
I have felt that way since finishing the book of Ezekiel.
Ezekiel was a prophet being held captive that God chose to reveal really awesome things to. The book begins with Ezekiel having a vision of the glory of God. I believe this vision also revealed the coming Messiah, Jesus Christ.
"the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ" 2 Cor. 4:6.

It is so cool when you see Jesus in the Old Testament.

Jesus said, 'Behold, I have come--In the volume of the book it is written of Me--Hebrews 10:7.
He is not just in the new testament. Jesus said we can find Him in the whole of Scripture. The whole Bible is pointing to Christ.
"These are the Scriptures that testify about me." Jesus speaking in John 5:39
"If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me." Jesus in John 5:46
Do you get that? Jesus said Moses talked about Him hundreds of years before He was born in a manger!!
The book of Ezekiel is a prophecy about the restoration of Israel. That is the literal interpretation but it doesn't mean that there is no application for us today.
The first application I thought of is this... if you are being held captive by a trial, open your eyes for God will reveal Himself to you in a powerful way as He did with Ezekiel. You may not have prophetic visions but I know God will reveal Himself to you in your trial. Be ready to receive amazing gifts while in your captivity.
It is also a picture of how all of us have sinned against God and how Christ pursues us in righteousness so that we are made right again with God.
The section of Ezekiel that I can't stop thinking about is in chapter 47, verses 1-12.
This is going to be a long post, but hang with me because I think you will be blessed.

The River From the Temple
1 The man brought me back to the entrance of 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. 2 He then brought me out through the north gate and led me around the outside to the outer gate facing east, and the water was flowing from the south side.
3 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. 4 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. 5 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. 6 He asked me, "Son of man, do you see this?" Then he led me back to the bank of the river. 7 When I arrived there, I saw a great number of trees on each side of the river. 8 He said to me, "This water flows toward the eastern region and goes down into the Arabah, where it enters the Sea. When it empties into the Sea, the water there becomes fresh. 9 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... 12 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, because the water from the sanctuary flows to them. Their fruit will serve for food and their leaves for healing."

Wheww!, that was a lot...
What is it talking about??? Well, this is a prophecy about a real river in the millennial reign of Christ that will flow out of the temple in Jerusalem into the Dead Sea and bring it back to life (verse 8-"when it empties the Sea, the water there becomes fresh" cool!).
But let's see what it says to us today. Where is this water coming from? Verse one says out of the temple and verse 12 says it comes from the sanctuary. So, we know it is coming from God's dwelling place. I believe we can see a neat picture of salvation in this passage. When you receive Christ as your savior, you tap into the living water...
"He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water." John 7:38
The river flows past the ALTAR (v1) in the temple which, I believe, is another glimpse of Jesus. Our one true sacrifice, the spotless lamb on the altar that opened the gates so that we could be forgiven and so the water could rush over us and make us alive.
The prophet is first led in ankle-deep water in the passage. He doesn't go in very far. This makes me think of a Christian who has believed in Christ but has not decided to go very deep. He is holding back and fighting going in any further. He wants to hold on to comfort and security near the bank. This is where a lot of people stay in their relationship with Christ. It seems safer on the banks but you have no idea what you are missing if you stay in at ankle-depth.
Then, he is led into knee-deep water. Let's compare this to someone who is beginning to hunger and thirst for more. He is not satisfied with just being born again. He knows there is more out there.
Next, he is led into waist-deep water. God proved Himself faithful in the knee-deep water so the trust is growing and the person wades further into his relationship with Christ.
Finally, he goes a step further and "now it was a river that I could not cross, because the water had risen and was deep enough to swim in..." This is what can happen when we are completely surrendered to God and in over our heads. We have let go of control and learned to completely trust God to sustain us. What is so cool about this place is the effect that this type of surrender can have on everything around it. When the prophet looks around, he sees LIFE all around him. He saw "a great number of living trees on each side of the river." "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, because the water from the sanctuary flows to them." Do you see this? Do you see what happens when you go in over your head and allow the water to sweep over you? ABUNDANT LIFE!
This makes me question, where am I in the water? How do I get deeper in the river?
Am I producing life all around me because the water from the sanctuary is gushing over me?
Let's get practical...
First, if you don't know Christ as your savior from your sin, GET IN THE WATER.
(See previous post about Repentance or email me about how to get in the water. :)
You don't have to start at ankle-depth and make your way in. Hold your nose, trust Him to save you and JUMP IN OVER YOUR HEAD. He is trustworthy, believe me and believe the Scriptures. Start reading your Bible and ask God to reveal Himself to you, Obey His Word, and ask God to use your gifts for His glory.
If you do know Christ and you are in at ankle, knee or waist deep, do those same things and figure out what is holding you back?
Ask God to show you. I cannot describe how these verses have compelled me to do that in my own life. I want life all around me for God's glory. I don't want my sin or disbelief to keep me in shallow water. I want to fully trust God and I want Him to use me for His glory so others can come to know the God that lives in this sanctuary so THEY can feel the rush of His mighty, living water in their lives.
Rush over us, mighty Spirit of God, so that we may know the depths of your love!
Be blessed.
"And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart."
Jeremiah 29:13

Special thanks to Mark Kirk for answering my questions, Ray Stedman's commentary and Tim for watching the boys while I am on the computer. :)

1 comment:

Mary T said...

Stephanie, this is an amazing teaching. Oh!!!!

God is working through you!!!