You know, I think my annual trip through Ezekiel is bearing some fruit. Not that I “get it” . . . but I do think I’m, at least, becoming more familiar with it. The imagery isn’t as “out there” as it once was . . . the “storyline” (such as it is) of Ezekiel’s various prophecies is becoming clearer. However, there’s still a fog that hovers over Ezekiel. I haven’t really connected all the dots of his prophetic visions . . . and probably won’t unless I determine to take some extended time to dive deep.
But this morning as I continued reading the latter portion of the book, Ezekiel’s vision of a future temple, something grabbed me. Now some say Ezekiel’s vision should be understood literally (probably my leaning) and speaks of a temple during the Millennial reign of Christ. It is a rebuilt, re-commissioned, re-inhabited by the glory of God, fully-functioning temple of God. Others, according to my study Bible, interpret it more symbolically . . . indicating something of God’s presence among the church, the living temple of God . . . or, of God’s presence among His people in the new heavens and new earth. Regardless of the interpretation, what set my mind in motion this morning was the fact that, from that temple, there is a river.
The first part of Ezekiel 47 says that from the temple, the place of God’s dwelling, there emerges a trickle of water (47:1-2 ESV). And as Ezekiel is led to follow this issue of water from the temple, about every quarter mile (1,000 cubits) he is led through the water to experience its depth. At the first checkpoint it is ankle deep . . . next time he is led through the water it is knee deep . . . when he next steps into the water it is up to his waist as he wades through it . . . as he hits the 1.2 mile mark he is unable to enter the river . . . “it was deep enough to swim in, a river that could not be passed through” (47:5).
And wherever the river goes it is teeming with life (47:9) . . . and on the banks there grows “all kinds of trees for food . . . their leaves will not wither, nor their fruit fail.” These trees bear fresh fruit every month because they are watered with the flow from the sanctuary . . . their fruit good for food . . . their leaves able to be utilized for healing.
And as I read this, the words of Jesus came to mind . . .
On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” Now this He said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive . . . (John 7:37-39a ESV)
There is a river flowing from the temple of God. As individuals, our bodies are temples (1Cor. 6:19) . . . as a called-out gathering of God’s people, corporately as the church, we comprise “a dwelling place for God by the Spirit” (Eph. 2:22). And where God’s glory resides, there is a river.
Though it might start as a trickle, its flow increases. What began as something we felt we could dip our toe into, becomes something that we long to dive into and become enveloped by. It is the flowing river of living water, the blessed Spirit of God. He is the source of life . . . from Him all fruit is borne . . . the outpouring of the glory of God through those whom God inhabits.
O’ praise God there is a river. That I might wade into it more fully . . . that I might drink of it more deeply . . . that I might swim in His grace more completely . . . that through me His glory might be seen more clearly.