Ezekiel 47:1-23; 1 Peter 2:11-25; Psalm 119:33-40; Proverbs 25:18-19
OT: “Then he brought me back to the entrance of the temple and there was water flowing 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 threshold of the temple, south of the altar. Next he brought me out by way of the north gate and led me around the outside to the outer gate that faced east; there the water was trickling from the south side. As the man went out east with a measuring line in his hand, he measured off a third of a mile and led me through the water. It came up to my ankles. Then he measured off a third of a mile and led me through the water. It came up to my knees. He measured off another third of a mile and led me through the water. It came up to my waist. Again he measured off a third of a mile, and it was a river that I could not cross on foot. For the water had risen; it was deep enough to swim in, a river that could not be crossed on foot. He asked me, “Do you see this, son of man?” Then he led me back to the bank of the river. When I had returned, I saw a very large number of trees along both sides of the riverbank. He said to me, “This water flows out to the eastern region and goes down to the Arabah. When it enters the sea, the sea of foul water, the water of the sea becomes fresh. Every kind of living creature that swarms will live wherever the river flows, and there will be a huge number of fish because this water goes there. Since the water will become fresh, there will be life everywhere the river goes… All kinds of trees providing food will grow along both banks of the river. Their leaves will not wither, and their fruit will not fail. Each month they will bear fresh fruit because the water comes from the sanctuary. Their fruit will be used for eating and their leaves for healing.”” (Ezekiel 47:1-9, 12 CSB)
In Ezekiel’s vision of the new temple of the Lord, he was given a tour of the entire temple. Toward the end of his tour, Ezekiel noticed a trickle of water coming from the Holy of Holies. He was led outside, and saw that the trickle flowed under the south side of the East gate – and in just over a mile the trickle of water became a river so deep and wide, it could not be easily crossed. The river flowed east into the Dead Sea, and as the waters of the river flowed into the brackish Dead Sea, the salty water became fresh and full of life. Everywhere the river flowed, there was life. The trees along the banks of the river were perpetually fruitful, and their fruit provided food and their leaves provided healing. Ezekiel’s vision of the river of God parallels John’s vision of the river of life in Revelation 22:1-2, where the river flowed from the throne of God… along both sides of the river grew the tree of life that produced fruit every month and had leaves that were for the healing of the nations. Through both of these visions, we see that life, fruitfulness and healing ultimately flows from the temple of God.
In John 7, Jesus said, “The one who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, will have streams of living water flow from deep within him.” John went on to explain that when Jesus said that, He was talking about the Holy Spirit. In many of his epistles, the Apostle Paul taught that those who are in Christ by faith are the house of God and the temple of the Holy Spirit. In a way, believers in Christ who are full of the Holy Spirit are (and should be) a right-now fulfillment of Ezekiel’s and John’s visions. As we place our faith in Christ and are filled with His Holy Spirit, rivers of living water bubble up from within us – the temple of the Holy Spirit – and flow out of us to bring life to barren people, bear good fruit that is edifying to those around us, and provide healing to the nations. In this age, between the already and the not-yet, faith-filled believers in Christ are and should be rivers of living water to the dead, dry and barren people who need the life of Christ.
NT: “Dear friends, I urge you as strangers and exiles to abstain from sinful desires that wage war against the soul. Conduct yourselves honorably among the Gentiles, so that when they slander you as evildoers, they will observe your good works and will glorify God on the day he visits. Submit to every human authority because of the Lord, whether to the emperor as the supreme authority or to governors as those sent out by him to punish those who do what is evil and to praise those who do what is good. For it is God’s will that you silence the ignorance of foolish people by doing good. Submit as free people, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but as God’s slaves. Honor everyone. Love the brothers and sisters. Fear God. Honor the emperor… For you were called to this, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. He did not commit sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth; when he was insulted, he did not insult in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten but entrusted himself to the one who judges justly.” (1 Peter 2:11-17, 21-23 CSB)
When we come to faith in Christ and become the temple of God’s life-giving Holy Spirit, we are also transferred from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of God. Though we live on this earth and hold citizenship in the nation that we inhabit, our true citizenship is in the kingdom of heaven. We are not to act like the people of the world. We are not to follow the ways of the kingdom of darkness. As carriers of the life-flow of God, we are to be people that bring life, health, order and peace into every situation. We are called to conduct ourselves with godliness, even if and when we have every earthly right to treat people otherwise. We are to respect authority. We are to practice good works, even when people treat us with malice and evil intent. Ultimately, we are to have the same attitude and composure of Christ who when He was insulted, did not insult in return… who when caused to suffer, did not threaten suffering. In everything He trusted His Father to bring justice in His manner and time. As we are filled with Christ’s Holy Spirit and bear the character of Christ through the Spirit’s fruitfulness in our lives, we are to be carriers of life and healing, not death and destruction.
Psalms: “Teach me, Lord, the meaning of your statutes, and I will always keep them. Help me understand your instruction, and I will obey it and follow it with all my heart. Help me stay on the path of your commands, for I take pleasure in it. Turn my heart to your decrees and not to dishonest profit. Turn my eyes from looking at what is worthless; give me life in your ways. Confirm what you said to your servant, for it produces reverence for you. Turn away the disgrace I dread; indeed, your judgments are good. How I long for your precepts! Give me life through your righteousness.” (Psalms 119:33-40 CSB)
This one line communicates the main intent of this section of Psalm 119: “Help me stay on the path of your commands.” God’s word, God’s will, and God’s ways bring life. Everything outside of and opposed to God’s word, will and ways is in the end completely worthless, brings disgrace, and ultimately leads to death. May we, as the psalmist did, long for the Lord’s precepts and obey His instructions with all our hearts – and in the process find life through His righteousness.
Prayer: Lord, I thank You for the rivers of living water that are available to me through faith in You and the filling of Your Holy Spirit. I desire to be someone who stays on the path of Your commands, who comports myself with forgiveness and grace, and brings life, good fruit and healing into every situation. I know that as I remain in You by faith and remain full of Your Holy Spirit, you will make my life into a river of living water that will bring life to the barren and lifeless world around me. Help me to do just that by Your grace. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.