Thursday, October 17, 2013

Ezekiel 47-48: Grow Deeper by Going Farther



Ezek 47:1-12 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.  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. 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. 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. 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. He asked me, "Son of man, do you see this?" Then he led me back to the bank of the river. When I arrived there, I saw a great number of trees on each side of the river. 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. 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. Fishermen will stand along the shore; from En Gedi to En Eglaim there will be places for spreading nets. The fish will be of many kinds — like the fish of the Great Sea.   But the swamps and marshes will not become fresh; they will be left for salt. 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." 

Ezek 48:35 "And the name of the city from that time on will be: "THE LORD IS THERE." 

This picture of streams coming from the Temple and turning into a river of life giving life wherever it goes is a perfect picture of the new covenant Temple, which is the Body of Christ. Jesus himself alludes to this metaphor when He cries out in John 7:37-39, "On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, 'If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.'  By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified." Here Jesus identifies the river that gives life as the Holy Spirit, who now dwells within every believer and every assembly of believers.

The life-giving power of God in any believer and church is the Holy Spirit. He cannot be ignored nor over-emphasized. He is the Source of Life and the Church that keeps Him under the wrap of "the Word" is really denying itself the very reason for the Word--which is the Spirit of Life. A church will remain without life-giving power if it does not make room for the Holy Spirit to overflow. The Holy Spirit is not just a doctrine or a theological debate. He is the very divine life that brings healing, restoration and revival to any believer and church. Without His ministry among us, we remain as dead as the swarmps and marshes and the Dead Sea.

The further we go from the temple, the deeper the river gets. In other words, ministry that is life-transforming takes place away from the comfort zones  of the local assembly of believers. We can only grow deeper as we go farther. God is experienced at the frontiers of death, to bring life to the spiritually lost and spiritually dead. Jesus says, "Follow me and I will make you fishers of men" (Mt 4:19). Wherever the river flows, fishes are caught and live: "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. 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" (Ezek 47:8-9). If we want to become fishers of men, we have to go out of the four walls of the church. Spiritual warfare is fought over the souls of unsaved men, not over saved believers. The unsaved are generally not found inside the churches.

Father, help us to grow deeper by going farther--to where the river can impart life to dead water, so that life may spring forth. Amen.

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