Sunday, November 24, 2013

The River of God

 One Year Bible
Old Testament passage for Sunday, November 24, 2013:  Ezekiel 47:1-48:35

And it shall be that every living thing that moves, wherever the rivers go, will live. There will be a very great multitude of fish, because these waters go there; for they will be healed, and everything will live wherever the river goes.   Ezekiel 47:9 (NKJV)

Rivers are a big deal in Scripture.  We find a river flowing out of Eden in Genesis 2:10.  In the last chapter of the Bible, we find a river flowing from God's throne in the New Jerusalem (Rev. 22:1).  Rivers are a metaphor for all that flows from God to us.

The river of God is the Gospel.  The river of God is the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.  This river is God's grace that heals mankind.  It is a river of Truth that liberates.  Rejuvenation, renewal, and revival are delivered in this river.

Psalm 46:4 says, "There is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God."  Jesus spoke of this river as the ministry of the Holy Spirit with His fruit, gifts, and graces that enrich the thirsty believer (John 7:37-39).

Ezekiel 47 is a vivid picture of the river of God.  Four things stand out to me.

 1.  The river PURIFIES.

Environmentalism is a big issue these days (and rightly so).  Pollution is a growing problem.  Whether it be the Deepwater Horizon or the dumping of toxic wastes, once a river or ocean is contaminated, years of expensive clean-up is necessary.

God's river works opposite to our natural experience.  All it takes is one bad dumping to pollute the pure.  But, in God's economy,  the pure CLEANS UP the unclean.

2.  There are degrees of ENGAGEMENT.

God brings Ezekiel to different levels of the river:  ankle deep, knee deep, waist deep, and over his head (47:3-5).

God beckons us all to go out into deeper water.  Jesus did this with Peter (Lk. 5:4).  His Gospel, His Truth, His Spirit, His grace -- are waters to swim in!

He will let any of us get in as deep as we desire.

3.  The river produces LIFE.

This is more than just liveliness and vitality.  It actually produces "a multitude of fish" (47:9).  If we can get into God's river, there is life-giving power in those waters.  This parallels the unusual story told in John 5 about the Pool of Bethesda.

God's river brings a boat-load of fish.  In this sense, I believe that a day of Gospel evangelism lies before us greater than any we have ever seen or heard of.

4.  Near the river are also STAGNANT WATERS.

Ezekiel 47:11 says, "But its swamps and marshes will not be healed; they will be given over to salt."  It is always amazing to me that right in the midst of a great revival can be those who die on the vine.  While many are blessed, some may stagnate.

Every great river has back-waters.  When you jump in the river, just realize that cross-currents and dead-ends can trap you.    Stay out in the middle of what God is doing.  Don't be a shore-hugger.

I want to live in the river of Truth, the river of grace, the river of God's power.  Will you join with me in diving in?  Let's find where this river is leading.

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