RIVERS OF LIVING WATER
The bible uses phrases that we, when we study we will often not do them justice. Jesus spoke about rivers of living water sprining up in our souls. In the passage below we have the two times that Jeuss made reference to this living water. We should pay close attention to these passages for they unlock some other more obscure often confusing passages.
“Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee LIVING WATER.” John 4:10
“Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” John 4:13-14
In John chapter 4, Jesus is speaking to the Samaritan women and he tells her that if she were to drink of the water that he had, she would never thirst again. She understanding him literally was all for that, since if that was the case she would never have to perform the labor of drawing water from that well ever again. Jesus had to correct her literalistic misunderstanding, just as many today attempt to make everything in the scripture literal. In correcting her, he explained that this water was inside of a person and when they drank of it, it would become a spring of everlasting life. Clearly Jesus was not speaking of water in a literal fashion.
“In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow RIVERS OF LIVING WATER. (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)” John 7:37-39
In this amazing passage we have the help of the writer of the gospel in interpreting for us the meaning of “LIVING WATER”. In the parenthetical statement,he informs his readers that he was not speaking literally, but he was speaking of the Holy Spirit which would be given to those who believe on him when he was glorified, (that would be the Day of Pentecost). But Jesus made a fascinating and very revealing statement as he cried out about thie living water. He said; “He that believeth on me, AS THE SCRIPTURE HATH SAID,…”
Jesus is quoting an old testament prophet, “As the scripture hath said”. But from where is he quoting? This is critical to understand for when we see the connection of what Jesus is quoting it gives us great insight into the timing and the nature of this living water.
In an exhasutive search of the old testament scripture I have found only two places from which Jesus could be quoting. If you can find other places that he may be quoting, please send those passages to me. I want to be as thorough as possible. The first place that appears to be a reasonable possibility that he is quoting is at the end of Ezekiel in chapter 47. It is widely agreed that this passage is a reference to the restoration of Israel to their kingdom.
“And by the river upon the bank thereof, on this side and on that side, shall grow all trees for meat, whose leaf shall not fade, neither shall the fruit thereof be consumed: it shall bring forth new fruit according to his months, because their waters they issued out of the sanctuary: and the fruit thereof shall be for meat, and the leaf thereof for medicine.” Ezekiel 47:12.
Here we have a river with two banks and on both sides are trees that produce food according to the month and produce leaves that provide healing. This passage is quoted by John the Apostle in the last chapter of the book of Revelation. Remember that this is the same John who interpreted Jesus words about the living water as being a reference to the Holy Spirit.
“And he shewed me a pure river OF WATER OF LIFE, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.” Revelation 22:1-2
This is nearly a direct quote from Ezekiel. Many interpret this to be in the eternal state. That cannot be, for those same people who interpret it this way claim that “time” is no more in the eternal state. There are no more hours, days, weeks, months, years. We will have transcended time by that point. But the text, both in Ezekiel and Revelation inform us that the tree bears its fruit according to the twelve months. And these same interpreters claim that by the time we are in the eternal state, there will be no more sickness. But if that is the case, why do the nations need leaves from a tree for the purpose of healing? So clearly again, a literal interpretive model fails us.
But if we were to allow scripture to interpret scripture, then the water that is flowing from the temple in both Ezekiel and Revelation would be a reference to the Holy Spirit, (see John 7:37-39).
There is one other passage that is another reasonable possiblity that Jesus is quoting from. That passage is Zechariah 14:8. Interesting point here is that the Zechariah passage is a refernce to the same exact events of the Ezekiel passage. They both speak of the restoration of Israel to her kingdom place.
“And it shall be in that day, that LIVING WATERS shall go out from Jerusalem; half of them toward the former sea, and half of them toward the hinder sea: in summer and in winter shall it be.” Zechariah 14:8
So, if Jesus is quoting either the Zechariah passage or the Ezekiel passage or both, it is clear that the time frame of the fulfillment of all the events depicted in Zechariah 14 were to find their fulfillment in that day in which the Holy Spirit was to be poured out upon the nation of Israel. That would have been at Pentecost, and afterward.
This however presents a problem. As we have seen already in the passages where Jesus used the phrase “Living Water”; His audience had problems interpreting His words literally, when clearly the intent was a spiritual application. The same is true of Zechariah chapter 14. The vast majority of bible scholars and commentators interpret that passage as literal, and as a result push it off into our future. Thas cannot be, for Jesus, has in His words in John 7, declared that these events are to be interpreted in a spiritual sense, and not a literal sense.
So the invitation of Christ in John Chapter 7 still stands for us today…We are invited today to satisfy our spiritual thirst with the Spirit of God, which is the “Living Water” to which Jesus offered to any and all who believe in Him. As Jesus says, you can count on this because, it is “As the Scripture Hath Said.”