Now he brought me back to the entrance to the Temple. I saw water pouring out from under the Temple porch to the east (the Temple faced east). The water poured from the south side of the Temple, south of the altar. He then took me out through the north gate and led me around the outside to the gate complex on the east. The water was gushing from under the south front of the Temple.
He walked to the east with a measuring tape and measured off fifteen hundred feet, leading me through water that was ankle-deep. He measured off another fifteen hundred feet, leading me through water that was knee-deep. He measured off another fifteen hundred feet, leading me through water waist deep. He measured off another fifteen hundred feet. By now it was a river over my head, water to swim in, water no one could possibly walk through.
He said, “Son of man, have you had a good look?”
Then he took me back to the riverbank. While sitting on the bank, I noticed a lot of trees on both sides of the river.
He told me, “This water flows east, descends to the Arabah and then into the sea, the sea of stagnant waters. When it empties into those waters, the sea will become fresh. Wherever the river flows, life will flourish—great schools of fish—because the river is turning the salt sea into fresh water. Where the river flows, life abounds. Fishermen will stand shoulder to shoulder along the shore from En Gedi all the way north to En-eglaim, casting their nets. The sea will teem with fish of all kinds, like the fish of the Great Mediterranean.
“The swamps and marshes won’t become fresh. They’ll stay salty.
“But the river itself, on both banks, will grow fruit trees of all kinds. Their leaves won’t wither, the fruit won’t fail. Every month they’ll bear fresh fruit because the river from the Sanctuary flows to them. Their fruit will be for food and their leaves for healing.” (The Message)
The coming of the Lord is what Advent is all about. It means that God is about to show up. And when God shows up, there are rivers of blessing and an abundance of salvation.
We need water
Just as we need water to survive, so we also need the living water which grants us eternal life.
Every living cell of our body contains water. 65% of your body is water. Up to 90% of plant tissue is water. Water defines our environment and shapes our landscape. We need at least two liters of fresh water to drink every day to stay healthy.
Just as each person on earth ought to have clean, safe, fresh water each day, but don’t, so every person also should have the living water of salvation and blessing flowing from God, yet they don’t.
Water constantly moves around the planet – on, above and below the earth’s surface. The cycle from rainfall to evaporation to rainfall is powered by energy from the sun. Water falls as rain, snow, and sleet. It collects in ice, rivers, groundwater, and the oceans. The water cycle naturally cleans the water.
Just as the natural processes of the water cycle give life and health to the planet, so the unseen spiritual processes working above, below, and on the earth exist to provide the life that is truly life.
Water in the Bible
Water is mentioned 722 times in the Bible. Water flows throughout Holy Scripture, reminding us of its importance, both spiritually and physically. Water is such an essential component of life that God created it on the very first day (Genesis 1:2). And water shows up at the very end of the Bible:
The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let the one who hears say, “Come!” Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes, take the free gift of the water of life. (Revelation 22:17, NIV)
Naaman the Syrian was cured from his leprosy in the waters of Jordan River (2 Kings 5:1-14). Water is used as a sign and a seal to purify and provide deliverance, as in Christian baptism (Romans 6:3-4; 1 Peter 3:18-22). And the power of water can also be a destructive force (Genesis 6:17; Exodus 14:1-15:21).
Jesus, the source of Living Water, extends an invitation to all who thirst.
“But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.” (John 4:14, NLT)
Christ uses water for redemptive purposes, to bring comfort and help.
Jesus got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him. (John 13:4-5, NIV)
“O Christ, He is the fountain,
The deep, sweet well of love;
The streams on earth I’ve tasted
More deep I’ll drink above.
There to an ocean fullness
His mercy doth expand,
And glory, glory dwelleth
In Immanuel’s land.”
–The Sands of Time Are Sinking by Sam Rutherford and Anne Cousin
From a Christian perspective, the water flowing from the temple finds its fulfillment in the person and work of Jesus Christ. He is the living water that gives eternal life. We would do well to ensure that all people have access to clean physical water, as well as access to purified spiritual water.
Lord Jesus, Son of God, Savior of humanity, there is a river flowing straight from your heart into mine — replenishing, renewing, sustaining.
May you, as Living Water, be persistent in me, breaking through every barrier in its path.
Send this hydropower through the dark crevices of my heart like a mighty flood overcoming and pushing everything out of the way that blocks its path.
I want my heart to be washed clean of any debris cluttering and blocking your life-giving flow.
May your love overflow onto your people — your grace, your mercy — into the lives of those we encounter, to your glory and honor, in spirit, and in truth. Amen.