Embracing Grace: Rivers of Living Water

A 365 Day Devotional Journal

Day 46

Scripture: Ezekiel 47; Joel 2:28-32, 3:18-20; John 7:37-39

Rhine Falls, near Schaffhausen, Switzerland. Photo credit: Earth explorer. Public Domain.

Grand scale agriculture is the foundation of modern civilization. Gentle soaking spring rains are a vital component to this model of farming. One such region in the United States is known as the Bread Belt. Here, vast crops are consistently produced on its rich, black loam. When drenching fall rains raise local water tables, however, they act as harbingers of worse things to come. If followed by violent spring weather, flash flooding occurs and results in the ruin of crops and devastation of homes or businesses which lie in the path of the flood plain.

During the flood of 1993, the north central plains received somewhere from 400 to 750% more than their normal rainfall. The great floods of 1993 and 1951 caused extensive damage along the Mississippi and Missouri rivers to crops, businesses and homes.

When we lived in Indiana, some friends of ours bought land along the flood plain of the Wabash River. It was risky, they said, but the soil was extra fertile and the corn grown upon it produced a harvest much greater than elsewhere in the region. One year, floods wiped out their crop. The only thing which saved them financially was the fact that the previous year’s crop had been an overly abundant one.

Given the history of flooding along lowland areas like these floodplains, why then do farmers continue to risk tilling the lands? The answer is simple:

Black loam.

Loam is farmer’s gold. Black loam is the stuff of agricultural legend.

While flash floods and heavy spring flooding cause havoc all across the globe, there is one river which, because of its unique nature, can like clockwork be tapped for its riches.

This is the Nile River.

Civilization has been sustained there without interruption for 5,000 years along its flood plain. Only in the last two centuries, due to a population increase from a couple million to more than 66 million today, were the methods based on the river’s natural rhythms interrupted with a more extensive management system requiring complete control of the river’s flow.

What is unique about the Nile River is that its flow is more precise.

Civilizations along the Indus valley, in Babylonia, Sumer, and the Mesopotamian valley were unable to continuously sustain themselves like the peoples who lived along the Nile due to wars and conquests. Not so with the Nile. Even in the aftermath of pandemics, the foundation of agriculture along the Nile River remained operational. Both the Tigris and Euphrates rivers have characteristic flash floods, but the Nile River’s flow is so predictable it could almost be marked on the calendar.

Also unique is the direction the river flows, from south to north. It originates in the highlands of Ethiopia during Africa’s monsoon season. The river’s rise begins in the southern reaches of Egypt in early July. It approaches flood stage in mid August at the first cataract, where modern day Aswan and the Aswan High Dam are situated. Due to the presence of dams, the river is today regulated, but in ancient times the waters would have surged to the north four to six weeks later and, at its peak, covered the entire floodplain 1.5 meters deep. Then it would begin receding, and by the end of November a layer of rich silt would be deposited across the plain, a fertile, fine black loam ready to be plowed and planted. Wheat and other grains were then planted at the start of the mild winter, harvested the following spring, beginning mid-April.

The system of water management these ancient peoples practiced is today called basin irrigation, a ponding of flood waters to hold back the water as long as possible, so as to extract as much alluvium from it as possible, and as a source of water for young plants. This is the method used historically and today in growing paddy rice and other such crops, and is currently the method used in hot, arid places such as Arizona for watering citrus trees.

What I get from this is that not all flooding is bad. Why a flood occurs and to what extent is as important as what the waters deposit when they recede.

Even a devastating flood can produce something good. God opened the floodgates of heaven and the fountains of the deep, as told in Genesis 7 and 8, to wipe out the evil that had entrenched itself upon the earth. For God to cause such a flood upon the face of the earth is indicative of the depth of depravity in man at the time. Yet it was because of mercy and for the ultimate good of mankind that God caused the Great Flood to occur in the first place.

Do I believe God truly is both just and merciful?

If I do, then I can see His mercy and justness in Jesus. He came to die in my place for my sins and for the sins of the world. In the act of offering His sinless life, our debt was paid, the curse reversed.

Ezekiel speaks of springs flooding from under the temple. In Old Testament times, the temple of the Lord was a physical place. Ezekiel and Joel both saw visions of this river and wrote about it. John the revelator wrote about the river of life in heaven which flows from the throne of God. I do not believe these speak just prophetically of things to come, for

We are the temple of the Lord today.

Ezekiel 47 states that the river’s flow brought healing, revived the land, and produced fruit. The river of the Holy Spirit today is meant to flood from our innermost being, just as Jesus said in John 7:37-39. As we allow the Holy Spirit to flow in abundance out from us, He becomes a river so large He cannot be swum across.

Like a river’s flood, I cannot move fully in the Holy Spirit and remain in control. The only recourse is to allow Him to lead where He wills.

The word for “rivers” in John 7:38 is ποταμός, potamos (Strongs G4215), and is used to mean river, torrents, or floods.1 It is derived from two other Greek words, πίνω, pinō (Strongs G4095), which means to drink, figuratively, to receive into the soul what serves to refresh, strengthen, nourish it unto life eternal; and πότος, potos (Strongs G4224), which is drinking, carousing, and is used to refer to banqueting.2

Interesting.

On the day of Pentecost, Jesus’ followers were accused of being drunk in the morning. These were the same rivers Jesus spoke about in John 7:38.

These are the same rivers that flow in some meetings today. And today, the people touched by the Holy Spirit in these meetings are many times accused of acting inappropriately and the leaders of these meetings condemned.

Why are we so threatened by the idea of a flood of the Holy Spirit? Why do we insist on controlling Him from moving freely and look with judgment upon meetings where God does choose to move in seemingly reckless abandon?

Isn’t this exactly how a flood moves – in reckless abandon?

The word in Joel 3:18 used for the spring that comes from the temple and the word used for fountains (of the deep) in Genesis 7:11 and 8:2 are the same, מַעְיָן, ma’yan (Strongs H4599). This word does not just refer to a fountain or a spring but to a collection of many springs gushing forth a great quantity of water at one place.3

Genesis calls it fountains of the deep.

We call it flood.

In verse eight of Ezekiel 47, the waters flowing from the temple heal the salt water, making it fresh. Fresh water is indicative of life. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life, and He came to give us life in abundance.

In verse nine, the river transforms everything in its path. What is transformation? Simply put, transformation is revival, a renewal of the land of our hearts.

In verse twelve, fruit grows everywhere the river flows. As we walk in the Spirit, we produce the fruit of the Spirit continuously. These fruit, Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self-Control, are all part of God’s character and nature. Since only God can bring life, it stands to reason that His fruit will, too. After all, the Tree of Life is now situated in heaven (See Revelation 2:6-8 and Revelation 22.)

The trees along the banks of this river in Ezekiel 47 produce fruit each month and its leaves do not wither, nor does its fruit fail. Likewise in our lives, when the fruit of the Spirit is producing, it will not fail to bring healing to those around us.

There is a place in this passage of Ezekiel, however, where the river does not bring life, and that is to the swamps and marshes, where the scripture says it is “left for salt.” A swamp or marsh reeks of stench and decay. Little grows there because of the lack of fresh water. This is a subject for another time, but I am reminded of Lot’s wife, who was turned into a pillar of salt because she longed for the world more than she longed to obey God.

Ultimately, the choices of the heart must be made individually, and the fruit produced in my life will be directly in proportion to the level of my choice and trust in the One who sent the Holy Spirit.

Am I willing to take a risk with God, to take my hands off and open the floodgates of my heart to the move of the Holy Spirit? Or will I content myself with what I know to be safe – the status quo – or worse, look backward with longing?

Read:  Ezekiel 47; Joel 2:28-32, 3:18-20; John 7:37-39. Journal your private thoughts.

Father God, it scares me to be out of control, for I have been taught that this is bad. But the truth is I lost control years ago, when I invited Jesus to sit on the throne of my heart. And really, my desire to control You moving through me with rivers of living water is nothing more than pride disguised as maturity. Forgive me, Lord, and open the fountains of the Holy Spirit within my life. For Jesus’ sake, and for the kingdom’s, amen.

_____________________

1 Blue Letter Bible. “Dictionary and Word Search for potamos (Strong’s 4215).” Blue Letter Bible. 1996-2011. 28 Mar 2011. http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G4215&t=NASB
2 Blue Letter Bible. “Dictionary and Word Search for pinō (Strong’s 4095).” Blue Letter Bible. 1996-2011. 28 Mar 2011. http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G4095&t=NASB; Blue Letter Bible. “Dictionary and Word Search for potos (Strong’s 4224).” Blue Letter Bible. 1996-2011. 28 Mar 2011. http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G4224&t=NASB
3 Blue Letter Bible. “Dictionary and Word Search for ma’yan (Strong’s 4599).” Blue Letter Bible. 1996-2011. 28 Mar 2011. http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=H4599&t=NASB

Copyright © 2011, Érin Elise

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