Water and God's Holy Spirit

John Plunkett
May 27, 2012

Where do you think we should turn for our first scripture on this Feast of Pentecost?  Acts chapter 2, of course:

Acts 2:1:
When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.  And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.  Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them.  And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

In this account of the first Feast of Pentecost in the New Testament era, God shows us through Luke, two symbols of His Holy Spirit: Rushing mighty wind and divided, fire-like tongues.

But today, on this Feast of Pentecost 2012, I would like discuss yet another very well-known symbol of God’s Holy Spirit – water.  I would like to speak specifically about rivers and fountains of living water.  To introduce the topic, let us move forward in God’s sacred year, from the Feast of Pentecost to the Last Great Day:

John 7:37-38:
On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, "If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink.  He who believes in me, as the scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water."

Just what was this "living water" that Jesus referred to here?  John tells us in the very next verse:

Verse 39:  But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, which those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.

Back in verse 38, Jesus says, “as the scripture has said.”  Which scripture was He referring to?  The various Bible scholars and commentators have a really difficult time with this, because there is no single scripture that exactly matches this quotation from Jesus.  But as with other similar cases, it is actually multiple scriptures that Jesus puts together to get His message across.  We will dig in to some other ‘living waters’ verses as we go along.  

The Four Rivers out of Eden

But before we do that, let us go to the book of Genesis – all the way back to the beginning of man's history.  Here we read that God initially caused a river to flow out from Eden, and from there it split into four tributaries. All four of those tributaries appear to symbolize various aspects of God’s Holy Spirit:

Genesis 2:10-11:
Now a river went out of Eden to water the garden, and from there it parted and became four riverheads.  The name of the first is Pishon; it is the one which skirts the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold...  

Let us briefly concentrate on the word ‘Pishon,’ which means 'increase.'  There are lots of anti-types of God's Spirit and we only have time to go into a few.  Here we are looking for the word ‘increase’ as it applies to God’s Holy Spirit.

Colossians 2:19:
And not holding the Head, from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increases with the increase of God.

God, through His Holy Spirit, provides increase to His people:

Mark 4:8:
And other
(seed) fell on good ground, and did yield fruit that sprang up and increased; and brought forth, some thirty, and some sixty, and some an hundred.

There was increase that came from this seed; and it also comes in a spiritual way from spiritual seed:

I Corinthians 3:6-7:
I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.  So then neither is he that plants any thing, neither he that waters; but God that gives the increase.

Increase is very important to God.  It is not counted as one of the fruits of God’s Holy Spirit; but rather is the actual increase of that fruit in a Christian’s life; an so it is very important.

Now let us return to Eden for a look at the second tributary:

Genesis 2:13:
And the name of the second river is Gihon: the same is it that compasses the whole land of Ethiopia. 

The word ‘Gihon’ in English, means 'bursting forth.' Can you imagine a river in full flow?  

Are there any scriptural mentions of 'bursting forth' with reference to God’s Spirit?

James 3:11:
Does a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter?

The Greek word that James uses here for ‘send forth’ is ‘bruo’ and it means to abound, to gush forth, to send forth abundantly, and to teem.  Again, we get this idea of huge quantities of water bursting forth.

Verse 12:  Can the fig tree, my brothers, bear olive berries?  Either a vine, figs?  So can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh.

Here is the idea of a fountain bursting forth with water.  Can the same fountain yield salt water and fresh at the same time?  James’ word for ‘yield,’ is the Greek word ‘poieo,’ and this can mean to shoot forth, or to burst forth. 

The gushing forth of God’s pure water of His Holy Spirit is, of course, very good.  But please remember that Satan has evil counterfeits of virtually everything that God gives us that is good.  Satan tries to get in there and fool us and deceive us with an evil counterfeit.  We have to always be careful of this.  One symbol of Satan’s evil counterfeits of God's pure spiritual water is salt water.

Back to Genesis to read about the third tributary:

Genesis 2:14a:
And the name of the third river is Hiddekel: that is it which goes toward the east of Assyria...

There is some argument as to where these rivers were and went, and as to whether or not they still exist.  But I want to get into the actual meanings of their names, which are more important for our topic today.  'Hiddekel' means 'rapid.'  Again, we might think of a huge river narrowing down and bursting over the rocks.  But what could be more rapid than God’s Holy Spirit?  It can act faster than the speed of thought and it is not even limited by time.  God already knows the future; He even knows our thoughts and our future intents.  In Isaiah 65:24 and Daniel 9:1-23, we read that God has the ability to hear our prayers and act on them even before our prayers are finished!  Even before we say those prayers and are merely thinking about praying about something, God already knows, and sometimes He even has His response already on its way!  What could be more rapid than that when He is responding or acting faster than the speed of light?

Hebrews 4:12:
For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. 

God’s Word is often synonymous with His Holy Spirit; as we often see throughout the scriptures. Again, we see here this same concept that God knows what is in our minds even before we get down on our knees and cry out to Him with our request.

Although in both Greek and English, the word 'quick' here primarily means 'living' or 'alive' it can also mean 'lively' as in speedy.  Let us look at a few other scriptures that show that God and His Spirit are swift:

Psalms 147:15:
He sends forth His commandment on earth: His word runs very swiftly.

Also, if we have God’s Holy Spirit dwelling in us, we too are to be swift.  This doesn’t mean to say that, in our advancing years, we need to be able to run a marathon or a hundred yard sprint!  But what God is showing us here is that we are to be swift to hear and to obey His Word:

James 1:19:
Why, my beloved brothers, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.

We really need to 'have our ears peeled' to hear God’s Word.  There are two related scriptures on this in the books of Isaiah and Jeremiah:

Isaiah 18:2:
That sends ambassadors by the sea, even in vessels of bulrushes on the waters, saying, "Go, you swift messengers, to a nation scattered and peeled, to a people terrible from their beginning till now; a nation meted out and trodden down, whose land the rivers have spoiled!"

If we get into the context of this verse, we will find a lot more meaning behind it.  But the idea for today's topic is with reference to the 'swift messengers' and also the mention of the 'land the rivers have spoiled.'

Are God’s angels the swift messengers here?  They probably are in this particular circumstance.  But are God’s angels His only swift messengers?  Or could we Christians be included as well, in order to go and to serve the scattered brethren of spiritual Israel.  It is interesting that the last word of this verse is “spoiled.’  Let us go over to Jeremiah, because he ties these two concepts together, as well:

Jeremiah 4:13:
Behold, he shall come up as clouds, and his chariots shall be as a whirlwind: his horses are swifter than eagles.  Woe to us!  For we are spoiled.

We in God’s church – in spiritual Israel – can be spoiled if we resist God’s spiritual water.  We have to be careful not to do that.  We don’t want to be spoiled, so we should be careful of not resisting God’s spiritual water.

Back to Genesis 2 just once more and let’s look at the fourth and final tributary:

Genesis 2:14b…….. And the fourth river is Euphrates.

The word 'Euphrates' means 'fruitfulness.'  This opens up many kinds of concepts of God’s Holy Spirit.  Fruit, fruitfulness and the bearing of fruit are all common symbols of the use of God’s Holy Spirit:

Galatians 5:22-23:
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

This is a list of things that we all need to be working on on an ongoing basis.  We should not limit the fruit of the Spirit to Galatians 5.  It is a good idea to pop into the parallel scripture to this one in Galatians, where we are given a few more of the fruits of the Spirit:

Ephesians 5:9:
For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;

‘Goodness’ seems to be repeated here from Galatians 5.  The other two are 'righteousness' and 'truth' – also things that we really do need to be concentrating on.  We all need to really make sure that we not only tell the truth, but that we love the truth.  It is very important that we love the truth.

Old Testament Rivers of Living Water

There are lots more questions that we could ask about those four mighty streams of Genesis 2; but we really must move on, as we have other things to cover.  Next let us read about the "rivers of living waters" – as mentioned throughout the Old Testament.

Song of Solomon 4:15:
A fountain of gardens, a well of living waters, and streams from Lebanon.

Ezekiel 32:14:
"Then will I make their waters deep, and cause their rivers to run like oil," said the Lord GOD.

Oil is, of course, yet another symbol of God’s Holy Spirit.  This scripture actually mentions the conditions after God’s future punishment on Egypt while this next one talks about the conditions in the world after God has punished Israel:

Isaiah 58:11:
The LORD will guide you continually, and satisfy your soul in drought, and strengthen your bones; you shall be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.

We see the concept coming through yet again, even in the Old Testament, likening springs of water, fountains of water, and rivers of living water with God’s Spirit.  So we ask the question: “When will all these blessings be poured out on Israel, on Egypt, and on the whole world?

Zechariah 14:1, 4, 6, 8:
Behold, the day of the LORD is coming, and your spoil will be divided in your midst...  And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which faces Jerusalem on the east.  And the Mount of Olives shall be split in two, from east to west, making a very large valley; half of the mountain shall move toward the north and half of it toward the south...  It shall come to pass in that day that there will be no light; the lights will diminish...  And in that day it shall be that living waters shall flow from Jerusalem, half of them toward the eastern sea and half of them toward the western sea; in both summer and winter it shall occur.

These are scriptures that we usually turn to during the fall Holy Days.  I do not know how much rainfall they get in the summer and winter in the land of Israel today, or how much they had back then in "Bible times."  My family and I used to live in Victoria, British Columbia, where we were blessed to have a two-acre lot with a beautiful creek running through the side and back of the property.  Every night during the winter months, we could listen to the lovely sound of the fast-moving, bubbling creek running through.  But during the summer months the creek dried up.  However, these living waters "in that day" – as mentioned by Jesus, Solomon, Isaiah, Ezekiel and Zechariah – will continue to flow throughout every year.  We will come back to this again later.

All of these conditions were foretold and the human Jesus repeated many of them.

The Samaritan Woman at Jacob's Well

I have a lot of favourite scriptures; but this next account is one of my special favourites because there is so much in it. There is so much inspiration in this intriguing account of Jesus’ meeting with a Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well.  Again, we can get many different lessons from this account; but in this case, I would like to focus on Jesus' reiteration of the spiritual symbolism of living water:

John 4:4:
But He needed to go through Samaria.

This short statement is very interesting just on its own.  Jesus apparently needed to meet this particular woman, perhaps in order to set the stage for some major important teachings.  Continuing in:

Verse 5:  So He came to a city of Samaria which is called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph.

There is symbolism in the word ‘Sychar’ too. It comes from the Greek word ‘suchar,’ which can refer to strong wine, symbolic of Jesus’ blood.

Verse 6:  Now Jacob’s well was there.  Jesus therefore, being wearied from His journey, sat thus by the well.  It was about the sixth hour.

This English word ‘well’ comes from the Greek noun ‘pege,’ which can also mean 'fountain' or 'spring.'  We usually think of a well as being very quiet and still.  But the word origin for ‘pege’ gives the idea of ‘gushing plumply,’ perhaps symbolic of the outpouring of Jesus’ blood (which we discussed yesterday) and the outpouring of God’s Holy Spirit – both gushing plumply!

Verse 7:  A woman of Samaria came to draw water.  Jesus said to her, "Give me a drink."

Please don't think that Jesus was being chauvinistic here.  Again, He was setting the stage for some major, important teachings, as we shall see:

Verses 9-14:  Then the woman of Samaria said to Him, "How is it that you, being a Jew, ask a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?  For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans."  Jesus answered and said to her, "If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water."  The woman said to Him, "Sir, you have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep.  Where then do you get that living water?  Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well, and drank from it himself, as well as his sons and his livestock?"  Jesus answered and said to her, "Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst.  But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life."

These are wonderful words – wonderful promises that this lady did not understand at the time.  God is the original fountain of living water.  Here, Jesus tells us that living water itself – in other words His Holy Spirit itself – will become a fountain of living water, giving eternal life.

Verse 15:  The woman said to Him, "Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come here to draw."

There is a later indication that that Samaritan woman did come to conversion, and also some of her family members as well.  She likely did receive God’s Holy Spirit eventually.  Yes, she did receive that living water herself.

Different Types of Bodies of Water

Let us talk about the different types of bodies of water.  There are many different types of bodies of water and most of them are very beautiful.  We have oceans, seas, lakes, rivers, creeks, fountains, wells; and then, going to extremes, we might think about frozen water like snow, ice and glaciers.  

My wife and I have been very blessed to be able to travel widely.  We have visited Alaska and have seen the glaciers there.  Very inspiring!  Also, a few times when we have been flying back home to Canada from England, we have flown over Greenland.  When it is clear, you can see huge icebergs in the water broken of from the massive glaciers.  Such sights can take ones breath away!

Rivers and streams are sometimes fast flowing; sometimes slow and meandering.  Glaciers are the slowest flowing of them all, with the slowest travelling less than 20 inches per year.

Lakes are usually relatively still, peaceful and calm – or appear to be.  Most lakes are not totally motionless.  If they were, they would soon become stagnant.  Yes, even in a lake there is much movement in its waters. We used to have a little lake close to our home.  On a sunny summer's day, when we swam down the lake, if we swam past an inlet creek, we would get a jolt of freezing cold water!  As the streams flow into and out of a lake, it is constantly moving.  This keeps it alive and fresh.  This is also important in a spiritual way.

The oceans and seas are ever changing.  Sometimes they are calm and sometimes they are rough.  Sometimes they are peaceful and sometimes they can be dangerous.  Whatever conditions the oceans and the seas are in, they are always awe inspiring.

Waters in the Heavens

Again, God has blessed Trish and I very richly and we never take these things for granted; but we are blessed to live close to the Georgia Strait which separates Vancouver Island from the British Columbia mainland.  Back in the eighties we spent a couple of years in Ottawa, Ontario, where we were three thousand miles away from the ocean in either direction.  Other than those two years, we have always lived close to the sea so, when we lived in Ottawa, we felt "cut off" somehow.  But back here on the west coast, most days we walk down to the water to pray on one of the beaches.  There we meditate on the wonder of the beauty of the water; and we often think about the sea of glass.  One day we will be able to see that sea of glass in heaven; even to be able to stand on it!  Let
us go and take a quick look at those two "sea of glass" verses in the book of Revelation:

Revelation 4:6:
And before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto crystal…

Revelation 15:2:
And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God.

Can you imagine seeing this?  Not only seeing it; but actually standing on it?  I look at the physical ocean and how beautiful it is; then I think of this sea of glass and I think that it must be even more beautiful than the earthly sea.  Can the sea of glass really be still, solid and lifeless when the earthly seas are so vibrant, ever-changing and full of life?  I think that there must be more to the heavenly sea of glass than just solid glass, which I personally think would be somewhat boring.  I'm sure it is not boring at all!

Waters in the heavens are also mentioned by Jeremiah.  It is interesting, because these two verses say exactly the same thing:

Jeremiah 10:13:
When He utters His voice, there is a multitude of waters in the heavens; and He causes the vapours to ascend from the ends of the earth; He makes lightning with rain, and brings forth the wind out of His treasures.

Jeremiah 51:16:
When He utters His voice, there is a multitude of waters in the heavens; and He causes the vapours to ascend from the ends of the earth; He makes lightning with rain, and brings forth the wind out of His treasures.

God inspired Jeremiah to use identical words in both of these verses.  Herbert Armstrong used to tell us that repetition in the scriptures is usually for emphasis.  I wonder if these two identical verses give some additional detail of the dynamic nature of the sea of glass at God’s Throne.  Just a possibility for us to think upon!

Physical and Spiritual Water Cycles

Let us now take a look at the water cycles: both the physical water cycle and the spiritual water cycle.

First, let’s look at the typical physical water cycle.  We start with clouds, which condense and their moisture falls to the earth as rain or snow.  Puddles are formed and they expand into tiny rivulets, creeks and larger rivers.  They move downhill and on their way down they may form lakes
– either natural or man-made.  In some cases reservoirs store water for human use.  In other cases, the downhill impetus of the water is harnessed and diverted through generators which we call "dynamos."  This word "dynamo" comes from the Greek word "dunamis," which means "power." 

I think that you might know where I am leading with this, with its spiritual aspect.  Electrical power is generated and that power is used to do various types of work – some of it good; some of it evil.  Once the water gets through the lakes, reservoirs and dams, it continues headlong downhill to the ocean.  Once it is in the ocean, the heat evaporates it, clouds form once again and the wonderful cycle begins all over again.

In 2009, Trish and I were very blessed to visit Cape Town in South Africa. While their we took a cable-car to the top of Table Mountain.  One of the most amazing sites I have ever seen was clouds being produced.  As the water vapour rose from the sea below and evaporated in the warm African air, right before our eyes we saw clouds coming into existence
– seemingly from out of nothing!  I have never seen anything like it before.  It was absolutely fantastic to be able to see it.

When we first emigrated to Canada in 1974, we lived in North Vancouver, where we had lots of different types of bodies of water.  The sea, small creeks, larger rivers and beautiful year-round snow on the mountains.  If you have ever seen pictures of Vancouver, you might remember its backdrop of the North Shore mountains which are snow-capped virtually all year round.  Highlights include two mountain peaks called "The Lions" because they really do look like two African lions reposing. 

Again, just to repeat what we have already said, the snow melts from those North Shore mountains, the waters flow downhill as the Capilano River, emptying into the Burrard Inlet and flowing on into the mighty Pacific Ocean.  Back up in the hillside, the Cleveland Dam was built to artificially block the Capilano River thus creating Capilano Lake for use as a reservoir.  Visitors can look over one side of the dam into the lake which is perfectly calm and over the other side with the water bursting through
– very violent and noisy!  That is the physical water cycle. 

In the Living Water cycle, God repeats this
– but in a spiritual way.  He sprinkles His Spirit liberally upon us – liberally but gently on those whom He has called out:

Psalms 72:6:
He shall come down like rain on the mown grass: as showers that water the earth.

Just like the gentle rain and showers, God's Spirit comes down upon us.  His chosen people are to gather that living water and we are to put it to good use.  God’s spiritual water must flow into us, through us, and out of us.  It must turn our spiritual dynamos, so empowering us to do God’s work.  If we do not have God’s Holy Spirit dwelling in us we cannot do God’s work.  

Isaiah 55:10-11:
For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, and do not return there, but water the earth, and make it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth; it shall not return to me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.

This virtually describes the spiritual water cycle.  The physical rain does all kinds of work.  Just as the water returns to the clouds, God's Holy Spirit returns to Him to begin its cycle all over again.  But again, there is work being done – doing something very, very useful.

Negative Waters

Let us digress and discuss negative waters for a few minutes – negative and polluted waters.  Just for illustration, here are two physical examples:

Firstly, referring back, once again, to the time when we lived in North Vancouver, Trish and I sometimes walked with our daughters close to the place where the Capilano River came down from the Cleveland Dam and emptied into the Burrard Inlet. We came to a stagnant ditch, and the water was still with very little coming in, and none going out. That is why the actual movement of water is important. But in this ditch the water was putrid, it smelled badly, and it was polluted. I was struck by the difference of the bubbling flowing water of the river with this putrid water in this ditch.

Secondly, not so very long ago, in the days of sailing ships, their drinking water was carried in barrels. Although this sounds fine, their drinking water did not remain fresh for very long and resulted in life-threatening diseases amongst the sailors and passengers on long voyages. 

The problem in both of these example was the lack of flowing water.

As with so many of God’s good things, Satan has set up evil counterfeits.  In this particular case, he has set up counterfeit spiritual water
– a clever counterfeit of God’s Holy Spirit of which we need to be very careful and on our guard.  Let us look at some of the references to this – scriptures which should serve as a warning for us all.  Satan’s counterfeits are often manifested through human agents. We might call them "the wicked of the world" and might include "the wicked of Israel" – both physical and spiritual Israel.  Yes, this can include members of God’s church who have forsaken Him:

Jeremiah 17:13:
O LORD, the hope of Israel, all who forsake you shall be ashamed.  "Those who depart from me shall be written in the earth, because they have forsaken the LORD, the fountain of living waters."

Jeremiah 2:13:
For my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewn themselves cisterns—broken cisterns that can hold no water.

Jeremiah is referring here to Israelites who have forsaken God.  When we in God’s church today read these warnings, it is good for us to apply them to spiritual Israel – to the church.

Those who forsake God
– the Fountain of pure, living, spiritual water – those who reject Him and depart from Him are carving out their own counterfeit spiritual cisterns or reservoirs.  The result of their counterfeit water cycle reveals that its originator and designer is Satan.

When studying counterfeit water systems, we are not just looking at counterfeit spiritual rivers; but also at counterfeit spiritual seas:

Isaiah 57:20:
But the wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt.

Here we have a very negative point of view of the sea.  Satan’s counterfeit spiritual water is not clean, living, fresh and sparkling as God’s is. Satan’s counterfeit water casts up mire and dirt.  It is filthy, polluted and dead.

This next scripture is probably one of the best known that mentions Satan’s counterfeit water:

Revelation 12:14-16:
But the woman was given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness to her place, where she is nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent.  So the serpent spewed water out of his mouth like a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away by the flood.  But the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed up the flood which the dragon had spewed out of his mouth.

God will cause the earth to help the spiritual woman.  Some kind of spiritual drain or canal will be set up in order to safely divert Satan’s polluted spiritual water away from the woman.  When you read this, please don’t think that Satan’s flood is going to be physical water, because I'm sure it will not be.  Yes, it could be both; but I believe that, primarily, it will be spiritual water; so we must be on our guard.  Please remember that Satan has deceived the whole world.  If you will excuse the pun, this is going to be one of Satan’s "last ditch" efforts to get at God’s people.

End Time Rivers of Living Water

But let us not give Satan the last word on this Feast of Pentecost.  Let us not close on a negative point.  Let us go to some more very positive scriptures that teach us about the outpouring of God's pure living water – the outpouring of His Holy Spirit during the Millennium and beyond.

God inspired Ezekiel to describe a river that will exist during the Millennium, originating under the Temple at Jerusalem and flowing eastward to the north end of the Dead Sea and beyond.  We often mention this during the Feast of Tabernacles and sometimes on the Last Great Day; but I believe that it fits in so well with today’s Pentecost subject matter.  I honestly believe that there will be physical water flowing in this river; but I also believe that the more important part of it is the aspect of the spiritual water which will be going out from the temple too:

Ezekiel 47:1-8:
Then he brought me back to the door of the temple; and there was water, flowing from under the threshold of the temple toward the east, for the front of the temple faced east; the water was flowing from under the right side of the temple, south of the altar.  He brought me out by way of the north gate, and led me around on the outside to the outer gateway that faces east; and there was water, running out on the right side.  And when the man
(probably Jesus or an angel) went out to the east with the line in his hand, he measured one thousand cubits (about half a mile) and he brought me through the waters; the water came up to my ankles.  Again he measured one thousand and brought me through the waters; the water came up to my knees.  Again he measured one thousand and brought me through; the water came up to my waist.  Again he measured one thousand, and it was a river that I could not cross; for the water was too deep, water in which one must swim, a river that could not be crossed.  He said to me, "Son of man, have you seen this?"  Then he brought me and returned me to the bank of the river.  When I returned, there, along the bank of the river, were very many trees on one side and the other.  Then he said to me: "This water flows toward the eastern region, goes down into the valley, and enters the sea.  When it reaches the sea (the salty Dead Sea), its waters are healed...

Please note that the waters of the sea are healed.  Continuing in:

Verse 9:  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...

In the Dead Sea right now nothing can live because of the high salt content.

Verses 10-12:  It shall be that fishermen will stand by it from En Gedi to En Eglaim; they will be places for spreading their nets.  Their fish will be of the same kinds as the fish of the Great Sea, exceedingly many.  But its swamps and marshes will not be healed; they will be given over to salt.  Along the bank of the river, on this side and that, will grow all kinds of trees used for food; their leaves will not wither, and their fruit will not fail.  They will bear fruit every month, because their water flows from the sanctuary.  Their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for medicine.

Again we ask the questions: Will this be a physical river?  Will it be physical food and medicine?  Or will they be spiritual?  I personally believe that they will be both physical and spiritual.  Spiritual food and water are mentioned again in Revelation.  Let us go to these seemingly parallel scriptures with Ezekiel 47:

Revelation 7:17:
For the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them
(the innumerable multitude that will have just come out of the tribulation) and lead them to living fountains of waters.  And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.

What are tears?  They are drops of salt water – water that we don’t want!  These people who make up the innumerable multitude will really, really need what God has for them here, after all that they have gone through.

Revelation 21:6, 10, 22:
And He said to me, "It is done!  I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End.  I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts...  And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God..  But I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.

By the time written of here, the physical Temple will no longer exist.  So we can pin-point the time frame as the time of the fulfilment of the Last Great Day.

Revelation 22:1:
And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb...

Again, the throne of God the Father and Jesus Christ will exist there but there will no longer be any physical temple by that time.

Verse 2:  In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river, was the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month.  The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations...

This is similar to the medicine in the leaves of the trees on the banks of the river described by Ezekiel.  We can also see similarities to the fruitful river and the four tributaries flowing out from Eden that we read about in Genesis 2.  Finally, we have come full circle back to the fulfillment of the Last Great Day, and to the end of the story:

Verse 17:  And the Spirit and the bride say, "Come!"  And let him who hears say, "Come!"  And let him who thirsts come.  Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.

So God’s holy Word ends just as it began: with a specially created river, which God offers to us freely.  We – the advance guard – have been offered this.  God has called us, chosen us, and He has offered His living waters to us.  Do you hear what God is saying to His children here?  Do you hear it?  Do I hear it?  Are you thirsty for God’s living, spiritual water?  I am and I know that you are too!

As He invites us through His apostle John, God is saying, “Come!”  Let us accept His invitation.  Let us continue to go forward.  Let us keep on drinking the pure living water of God’s Holy Spirit.