River of Life
The River of Life.
Last time I spoke about fruitfulness, the outcome of LIFE. The time before I spoke about choosing the tree of LIFE over the tree of knowledge. Today I want to talk about the tree of life from Ezekiel ch.47 – and as we will read this river watered the tree of Life which was indeed fruitful – it bore a fresh crop each month. Read (Ezek 47:1-12; Revelation 22:1-5 Then he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb, in the middle of its street. On either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. There will no longer be any curse; and the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His bond-servants will serve Him; they will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads. And there will no longer be any night; and they will not have need of the light of a lamp nor the light of the sun, because the Lord God will illumine them; and they will reign forever and ever; Psalm 46:4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy dwelling places of the Most High. Zechariah 14:8 In that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which is in front of Jerusalem on the east; and the Mount of Olives will be split in its middle from east to west by a very large valley, so that half of the mountain will move toward the north and the other half toward the south. And in that day living waters will flow out of Jerusalem, half of them toward the eastern sea and the other half toward the western sea; it will be in summer as well as in winter. And יהוה will be king over all the earth; in that day יהוה will be the only one, and His name the only one.)
Visual description of the river with OHP.
•Under the threshold, eastward (Ezek 47:1)
•right side of the house, south of the altar (Ezek 47:1)
•out the north gate and went east – he was now on which side of the river? The river was to the south of him (Ezek 47:2)
•Water trickled from the south side – small flow (Ezek 47:2)
•The river then flowed east – that was the direction in which the man measured (Ezek 47:3)
•The man measured four lots of a thousand cubits (about 500 meters) (Ezek 47:3)
•1000 – now south of the river (Ezek 47:3)
•2000 – now north of the river (Ezek 47:4)
•3000 – now south of the river (Ezek 47:4)
•4000 – too deep to ford -come a total of about 2 km from the temple – stayed south of the river. (Ezek 47:5)
•The river then flowed into Dead Sea – flowed east, joined the Jordan in the rift valley (Arabah (Ezek 47:8) - This word indicates in general a barren district, but is specifically applied in whole or in part to the depression of the Jordan valley, extending from Mount Hermon to the Gulf of Akabah. ) flowing south into the Dead Sea.
Everywhere the river flowed it brought life – even to the Dead Sea. The river that flows out of the temple is the Spirit of God (cf. John 7:37-39 Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’ ” But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.). The Spirit brings life.
That is the direction, now to the depth. As the man measured eastwards the river got progressively deeper
•1000 – ankle deep (Ezek 47:3)
•2000 – knee deep (Ezek 47:4)
•3000 – up to his loins (Ezek 47:4)
•4000 – too deep to ford (Ezek 47:5) -come a total of about 2 km from the temple – stayed south of the river.
Now this passage was much expounded upon in the circles I once fellow-shipped in. The standard exposition went something like this: the river flowing from the temple pictures the Holy Spirit – you can get ankle deep – have little of the Holy Spirit, or knee deep – get deeper into the things of God, up to the loins where the Holy Spirit is really influencing your life – but we should be in the river, being swept along by the Spirit – encouraging us to get deeper into the things of the Spirit, to be carried along by the Sprit. It was good exhortation – but we never stopped to think where the river was headed! We were encouraged to be caught up, carried away by the Spirit – sort of careering along out of control - which is a bit contrary to the Spirit being the Spirit of self-control or discipline. Anyway, this was a popular passage and much preached on and I had embraced its message – I wanted to be yielded completely to the Holy Spirit. I cherished this passage, was very familiar with it because it was used so often. Then one day I was reading, as I do, through the Bible in a year – when you do, you know what's coming up next. I knew that today I would read Ezekiel 47, it was that passage we had so much, I didn't want it to be ho-hum, I wanted to hear from God! And so prayed something like: "LORD I know this passage so well, hear it so often, please make it fresh, reveal knew truths out of Your Word." You know that is a prayer that I've found God loves to answer. Not coming as though you know it but humbly asking Him to teach you and reveal fresh truth to you." So I read [Ezek 47:1-12] – as I did the question suddenly came to my mind "Where is God?" Then a subsequent question "Do you want to be near God?" All the time we had been exhorted to be down here, when the place to be was here! On the West of the Jordan is the Promised Land. Often crossing the Jordan is equated with passing through death to be with the LORD. Which side of the river do you want to be on?You can be so far away from God that you are:...
Unable to cross: I believe that the river is an actual river – I'm a great believer in taking the Bible literally and that prophecy should be taken at its plain meaning unless it is obviously allegorical. But the physical reality also has a spiritual meaning (e.g. Psalm 125:2 As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so יהוה surrounds His people from this time forth and forever.) The river flowing from the temple does picture the Holy Spirit coming from God, the Holy Spirit brings life to the dead [cf. Romans 8:11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.]. Here is the Spirit of God opposing a person. The Holy Spirit is the gentle dove but He is also the powerful Spirit of Almighty God – you can know Him as the gentle dove or have Him against you. And if the Spirit of God is against you, you cannot prevail. I can remember a time when I found the Spirit of God scary – I was fearful of what He would do in my life. The further you are from Him the more powerful and fear inspiring He is. A person can be so far from God that the Spirit will prevent him ever coming to the LORD. You can have the Spirit of God as your enemy – and it is a terrible thing. He is an irresistible Spirit. [Acts 6:10 But they were unable to resist with the wisdom and the Spirit with which he was speaking. Acts 7:51 You men who are stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears are always resisting the Holy Spirit; you are doing just as your fathers did. Matthew 12:32 whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come.] If you are far from God you will find the Sprit powerful and against you. Many at deaths door finally cry out to God – but it is too late! The Spirit won't let them cross over. They have been far from God all their life, never wanted anything to do with Him, everything within them is contrary to the Holy Spirit. If you are that far from God the river of the Spirit will carry you down to the Dead Sea – to death. The Holy Spirit will not allow anything unholy to cross over into God's land.
A struggle to cross: Further up the river could be crossed but it was a struggle. This is a Christian, they cross the river, but the water is up to the waist – loins, the seat of fleshly motivation. You have to fight the current. You can be a Christian and yet find your Christian life a constant struggle. Its hard going. [Bill Down testimony – the Christian life was too hard] – why because I wanted to live my life and my life is contrary to God's will. Constantly these two wills are in opposition. The Bible refers to it as the flesh (-"h" and spell backwards). The flesh is totally opposed to the Spirit of God – they are constantly at war with each other. [Galatians 5:17 For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.]If we are trying to please our fleshly desires it is hard yakker. The Holy Spirit will oppose us every step of the way. A fleshly Christian has his heart set on the things of this world, he is not close to the temple. Yes he is saved but it is a hard road.
Feeling resistance: Closer to God is the one who finds the river up to his knees. It is easy to cross, he is fairly near to God but he can feel the resistance. I guess this is probably where I am. Here is a person who wants to be close to God, has come near but you know sometimes you get taken up with things that are distractions. There are some things that are not sin but they are not fully in line with God's will – they are not wrong but you feel the water at you knees – what is this doing to further God's Kingdom?, is this really what Jesus would have me doing? You feel the Holy Spirit's gentle prompting – this is permissible but it is not the best, it is of earth and not of above. [Hebrews 12:1-3 Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.]
No impediment: The man instructed the prophet to cross – that is the Divine command to us. We are to cross the river [Waimak swimming – pick where the stream is wide, the easiest place to get across is where it is shallow] – if you are going to cross it pays to cross where it is shallow. If we are to cross over to be in the inheritance God has for us it pays to get close to Him. The closer you are to Him the easier it is to cross. The nearest to the temple was only ankle deep – you could hardly notice the water. When we are close to God our will becomes aligned with His. His will is our will, we prove that His will is good, acceptable perfect. There is no resistance felt by the Holy Spirit because we want exactly what He wants. [Psalm 40:8 I delight to do Your will, O my God; Your Law is within my heart.” ]When you come to that place it is easy to cross [Genesis 5:24 Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him.] - Enoch was so in tune with God that he went to be with Him! As Derek Prince puts it: Enoch used to go walking in fellowship with God, one day God said, "We are nearer to my place than yours, come home with Me." [OHP] "Do you want to be near God?" "How close are you to God? And how close to God do you want to be? There can be no better place than being close to God [Psalm 16:10,11 For You will not abandon my soul to Sheol; nor will You allow Your Holy One to undergo decay. You will make known to me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand there are pleasures forever. ] Can I encourage you, not to get in deep and be carried away but to draw near to God – come to the place where His will is your delight, hearing His voice, knowing and feeling His heart and having your heart beat as one with it.
Let us cross where it is shallow – be near to God.