The scriptures say that this "Temple Mount River" (my name for it) flowed all the way into the Dead Sea and "healed" the waters. Today, the Dead Sea is about 34% salt and minerals, one of the saltiest bodies of water in the world. In fact, it is so salty that no plant or animal life lives in it, hence, its name. But the life-giving Temple Mount waters will cause it to be "healed" and filled with fish and plant life (47:10).
Vs. 9 even says that
"every thing shall live whither the river cometh."And, along its banks, all sorts of fruit trees will grow in abundance, nourished by these special life-giving waters. Even the leaves of these trees will have special medicinal properties (40:12).
The "man" who was showing Ezekiel around (who is most likely the pre-incarnate Christ) carried a measuring line and he measured a distance of 1000 cubits (a little less than 1800 feet) from the Temple down the river. Then, he brought Ezekiel into the river and it was
ankle deep. He measured another 1800 ft. and when he brought Ezekiel into the water there, it was
knee deep. Again, he measured another 1800 ft. down the river and brought Ezekiel in at that point and it was about
waist deep. Then, for the fourth time, the man measured another 1800 ft. further down the river and Ezekiel said that at that point the water was deep enough that he couldn't pass over it without swimming. (We'll just say the depth was
over his head.)
What could possibly be the point of having Ezekiel go into the river at 1800 ft. intervals to notice the increasing depth of the waters? Well, for sure, there will be a literal river such as this during the Millennial Kingdom. But there is most likely a spiritual application here as well.
By the fact that the river comes from the house of God and provides miraculous, life-giving qualities to all who partake of it, we might think of it as symbolic of
our fellowship with Jesus Christ.
salvation which when once obtained cannot be lost, our
fellowship (closeness) with God after we become a Christian can be weak or strong depending on how submissive we are to the will of God. And, it can change over time. We can grow close to the Lord, then, fall away from Him, and later be restored in that closeness.
The thing to remember is that God ALWAYS wants us to be close. But how close we are to God depends on US. We can be as close as we want to be... as close as we seek to be. So, perhaps it is possible to see the varying depths of this life-giving river as a spiritual picture of our FELLOWSHIP with Jesus Christ.
What is the source of this life-giving fellowship?Notice that its source is not city hall, the market place, or some athletic stadium. Some people may see politics, commerce, sports, etc. as the source of their "life", but the fulfillment and joy that everyone desires in life is not found in those places. This life-giving river flows from the House of God!
Some Christians want only an "
ankle deep" fellowship with the Lord. They are satisfied with a very
nominal intimacy with Him, preferring to call upon Him only in times of emergency...
never becoming really active in the Kingdom work... and making only an
occasional appearance at the church.
Some Christians make a small effort at being consistent in their fellowship with the Lord. They do a
quick "daily Bible reading" if it's convenient to their busy schedule. Their
prayers are spoken hastily so that they don't feel guilty about not saying them and they might even show some sort of reverence occasionally by kneeling down. They
attend church MOST of the time, but are easily persuaded to miss church if there's some other event they feel they need to attend (a sporting event, a chance to go to the lake for a little relaxation, etc.).
"Waist Deep" Christians have reached a point
where their walk with Christ is important to them. Consequently, they are somewhat
consistent in doing those things that produce spiritual maturity (prayer, Bible study, church attendance, etc.). They even
participate in some church-sponsored activities like mission trips, spiritual retreats, religious camps, etc. And, in all fairness, this group
does experience short "spurts" of going deeper with God, but for some reason, they can't live that way.
Over the Head Deep
This group of Christians is rare in our time. They have discovered that having an
intense intimacy with Jesus Christ is worth more than anything in the world. They've experienced the overwhelming presence of God (
being filled with His Spirit) and they are so hungry for it that nothing else matters as much. They are not necessarily hermits or monks in a monastery or people who have abandoned the usual lifestyle of working and having a family, but
life has an entirely different meaning to them. Their faith yields
divine appointments and miracles, most of which goes unnoticed by the rest of the world. They have discovered what Paul meant by "
walking in the spirit" (Gal. 5:16). To the world, this person's life looks dull and boring. But the truth is that these Christians are
"flying high" in Christ and have a quality of life filled with joy, peace, and excitement that totally eludes the world.
Where are YOU in your fellowship with Jesus Christ? Take a moment to evaluate how deep you are in the Life-Giving River. And, as Shakespeare wrote, "To thine own self be true."
Today is THE day of deception! It's everywhere! There is deception in politics, the news media, Hollywood, churches, and even among our own families and friends.
But as bad as all deception is,
the WORST kind of deception is SELF- DECEPTION! When a person deceives himself, he is both the liar and the victim of a lie. And it's self perpetuating. In other words, when you lie to yourself and believe it, that behavior has a way of coming up again and again in many situations throughout your whole life!
A person who deceives himself into thinking that he is saved, when he really isn't, is probably the most difficult person of all to reach with the true Gospel of Jesus Christ. His attitude is, "I'm alright. I go to church. I got baptized. I'm not as bad as a lot of other people in the church." Such self justification with one's own lies, no doubt, leads millions of people to Hell! They were LOST, but they believed their own lie that they were "OK with God" (saved).
"I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew thee out of my mouth." (Rev. 3:15-16) In other words, He was saying that He preferred someone to be spiritually cold (lost) or hot (saved and on fire for God) than to be lukewarm (lost, but thinking you're saved). He says that those kinds of people are nauseating (like tepid water) and He will spew them out of His mouth.
Those "lukewarm" people are lukewarm because they THINK they're ok when they're really not. They are SELF-DECEIVED! They're not even ankle deep in their FELLOWSHIP with the Lord because a person must be born again (John 3:3) before he can have ANY fellowship with God. Prior to being saved, we were at ENMITY with (hostile towards) God (Rom. 8:7).
That same self-deception about one's salvation can be evident in his
fellowship with the Lord. So, be honest when you ask yourself the question, "How good is my fellowship with the Lord?" Or, "How deep am I in that Life-Giving River?"
Here's the good news. No matter what spiritual plane you're on... no matter how close you are to God, whether you're only ankle deep or over your head, there's always MORE to experience with God.
There's always a deeper, more intimate fellowship to be had with God. One thing about serving an infinite God is that you will never get all of Him! There's always more to learn about Him. There's always more to experience with Him. You will NEVER reach the pinnacle of the possible fellowship God!
But you may be wondering, "What's the point? Why is it so important to always strive to be closer to the Lord?" You may even think that giving so much of your time and life to God will mean that somehow there is
less of you. Actually, the opposite is true. Mark Batterson, in his book "Draw the Circle", writes, "The more we give to God, the more we have and the more we become. It's only in losing our lives that we really find them." (1)
Matt. 16:25 -
For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.
Batterson also wrote, "If you press into God's presence like never before, you will experience God like never before." And, I might add that experiencing God is the greatest of all experiences!
Cornelis Drebbel is credited with building the first navigable submarine in 1620. It is reported that it could travel at a depth of 15 feet for approximately three hours.
Today, the US Navy nuclear powered submarines can travel at depths of over 800 feet, staying submerged for up to six months, and only needing to be refueled every twenty years. One such submarine carries destructive power that is more than all the bombs dropped in WW1 and WW2 combined. To say that submarines and bomb technology has greatly advanced is a huge understatement.
It is truly amazing how man's ability to go deeper in the oceans has advanced. But it is equally sad at how many Christians have never gone deeper in their fellowship with Christ. So, don't deceive yourself! Let's start seeking God today!
Let's go swimming!!!
1) Mark Batterson, Draw the Circle (The 40 Day Prayer Challenge) (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2012)