A Journal for Bible Teachers

The River of God

The River of God

John 7:2 refers to the Feast of Tabernacles being at hand. The Feast of Tabernacles was one of the three major feasts of the Lord—the other two being the Feasts of Passover and Pentecost. It was a seven-day feast in the seventh month of the Jewish year. The Jews from all over would gather in Jerusalem, stay in booths made of palm branches, and all the Jewish males would present an offering before the Lord. It was a time of great celebration of the ingathering of the main harvest of the year, with great rejoicing and praise.


The Waters of Siloam
During the Feast of Tabernacles, the Jews had a ceremony. On the last day of the feast, they would go down to the pool of Siloam, and get a bowl of water from the pool. The priests would then bring the water to the temple and pour it down the steps so that the water would trickle down the temple steps.

Pools of Siloam in Jerusalem

The water from the pool of Siloam originated from a spring named “Gihon” (meaning bursting forth or springing forth) just outside the city of Jerusalem. It flowed into the city of Jerusalem by an underground tunnel dug by Hezekiah. The waters of Siloam speak of the Lord Jesus and His ministry. The word “Siloam” means “sent.” Jesus was the Sent One from God. Like the water that came from outside the city of Jerusalem, Jesus was crucified outside that city. Further, just as the waters of Siloam gushed out from the spring “Gihon”, Jesus the Sent One from God was going to the cross shortly and from His side was going to gush out water and blood, which opened the way for the rivers of God to flow and for us to be part of that mighty river of God in these last days.

It was on the occasion of this ceremony and about six months before He was crucified, that Jesus came to Jerusalem and spoke of the rivers of living water in John 7:37-39:

“In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.).”

The River of God in the Millennial Temple
Here, Jesus speaks about the rivers of living water gushing forth from our innermost being. In so speaking, He was referring to the vision that the prophet Ezekiel had in Ezekiel 40-48.

Millennial Temple

It was a vision of a temple in Jerusalem – one different in dimensions from Solomon’s temple, Herod’s temple and the Restoration temple, one that had never been built, but which will be built in the Millennium, after the Lord Jesus returns again to rule and reign for 1000 years on earth. In this vision, Ezekiel sees the river of God and of living water, which will come to pass as a literal river in the Millennium. When Ezekiel came out from the north gate of the temple, he saw the waters, which became progressively deeper further from the temple. When the waters had reached a distance of 4000 cubits or approximately 6000 feet out from the temple, the river became too deep to walk through.

Water is a Picture of the Holy Spirit

Water is a beautiful picture representing the flow of the Holy Spirit. It is so important for us to be guided, baptized and led by the Holy Spirit, be a friend of the Spirit, and exercise the beautiful gift of speaking in other tongues.

There are several fulfillments of the river of God in Ezekiel 47:

  • First, there is the literal fulfillment, which will happen during the Millennium. A temple will be built in Jerusalem in accordance with the pattern given to Ezekiel, and in Ezekiel 47:1-5, it speaks of waters flowing from the threshold of this temple east in the direction of the Dead Sea. Today, the Dead Sea is without life because it is full of mineral deposits and salt. However, when the river of God flows into the Dead Sea in the Millennium, it will come alive again, bringing life and refreshing (see Ezekiel 47:8). |
  • Second, it speaks of the spiritual fulfillment in the church in the last days. We have read of the Lord’s invitation in John 7:38 to those who thirst to come to Him and drink. The context of that invitation was not during the Feast of Pentecost but during the Feast of Tabernacles, which speaks of the last day revival, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in many nations of the world, and bringing life, refreshing, power, healing, miracles and a great harvest of souls.
  • Third, it speaks of a fulfillment in each one of our hearts. God wants the river of the Holy Spirit to be a life-giving river, increasing and growing in our lives, so that there is a progressive flow of life and blessing in each one of our lives.

The Different Levels of the River of God

The River of God at Ankle Level
We saw in Ezekiel 47 that when the waters first came out from the throne of God, they were up to the ankles. We could liken that to our first experience of being born again and saved by the Spirit of God, because even in salvation, the Holy Spirit is involved. Jesus said to Nicodemus that except he be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God (see John 3:5). In a measure we begin to experience the Holy Spirit even at the time of salvation.

The River of God at Knee Level
The waters were no longer at the ankles but had risen to the knees (Ezekiel 47:4). There was a progression of the water arising. This is the next level of the Spirit, which we could say corresponds to the baptism of the Holy Spirit. This is a wonderful experience of speaking in other tongues and of being filled with the Holy Spirit. However, we cannot simply stay there. In fact, if we do not use it, we will lose it. We are to minister to the Lord and keep on being filled with the Holy Spirit.

The River of God at Waist Level – To the Loins
The waters in Ezekiel 47 did not stop at the knees but went higher still, even to the waist. The waist covers the area of the reproductive organs and it speaks of fruitfulness and tremendous blessing coming in our lives. The water came to the loins, the place of strength and as John says in 1 John 2:14 the young men are strong and have overcome the wicked one and have the Word of God dwelling in them.

The River of God as a Full River
In Ezekiel 47:5, it speaks of waters to swim in. This is a picture of those who allow the waters to hold them up. This can be likened to being right in the presence of God and being totally enveloped by His presence, the Lord Himself as our inheritance. It is coming to the place where we are totally controlled by the Spirit of God.

Things that Stops the Flow of Living Waters in Our Lives

In John 4, Jesus spoke to the woman at the well about living water. This woman was a Samaritan and had been living a life of sin, having had five husbands and the man she was currently living with was not even her husband. She had come at noon time to draw water from the well in Samaria. Although the Jews would normally avoid Samaria, Jesus was guided specifically by the Holy Spirit to go there to meet and talk with this woman about the living water that she could know and experience. Jesus said to her in John 4:14 that whosoever drank of the water that He gives shall never thirst, but that water shall be a well of water springing up unto eternal life. At salvation, God puts within us a well of bubbling water which He wants to spring and bubble up, flowing forth from our lives. The problem with many of us is that even though we received that water of life at salvation, our well becomes blocked up with criticism, bitterness, hardness of heart, unforgiveness, gossip, sin or the things of the flesh. When we are involved in those things, the well of the flow of God begins to block up and dry up.

The Dangers of Envy
In Genesis 26, we read about Isaac and when Isaac was traveling through the land, he came to the wells that Abraham had dug, which the Philistines had out of envy blocked up again. If there is envy or jealousy in our hearts and lives, it will block up the flow of the Spirit and the water of God in our lives. We need to ask God to take away the stones and boulders, representing the things in our lives that block up the flow of God’s Spirit. Envy is a killer and one of the quickest ways to stop the life of the Spirit. We need to ask God to deal with our hearts and to be very careful that we are not covetous of what others have got- whether it be a possession, position or ministry. God has created you uniquely. Do not try to copy someone else or to be envious of what others have got, otherwise your well will be blocked up, and there will be no flow of the Spirit of God in your life.

In Genesis 26:20, it reads: “And the herdmen of Gerar did strive with Isaac’s herdmen, saying, The water is ours: and he called the name of the well Esek; because they strove with him.”
“Esek” means contention. If there is strife, contention or fighting with others, even in the family, work or elsewhere, it will block the flow of the Spirit of God in your life.

In Genesis 26:21, it goes on to say: “And they digged another well, and strove for that also: and he called the name of it Sitnah.”
“Sitnah” means hatred. There can be hatred in our hearts for another race, or people of a different level in society, and God wants to take that hatred out of our hearts because it will block up the flow of God’s life in our heart. God wants to deal with these things so that our wells will be free and not blocked up.

Keys to Being Continuously Filled with the Holy Spirit

Ephesians 5:18-19 reads: “And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.”

Here, the Apostle Paul exhorts us not to be drunk with wine, but to be continuously filled with the Holy Spirit. One of the ways we continue to be filled with the Spirit is speaking to ourselves in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord in our hearts. When King David was in a battle and discouraged, he spoke to his soul and urged his soul to be encouraged, to trust and hope in God. He was not led by his emotions and soul, not allowing discouragement to get the upper hand. His spirit prevailed. God wants us not to be soulish Christians, up one moment and down the next, but Christians who are controlled and dominated by the Spirit of God. David got victory over the pit of depression that he was in.

Also, it is important to pray daily in other tongues so that our spirit is strengthened and built up (1 Corinthians 4:4). Another key to keeping the river of God flowing in our lives is singing unto the Lord. In Numbers 21:17, the children of Israel were asked to sing unto the well, and as they sang, the well began to bubble up again. We can sing unto the Lord, sing in tongues and have Christian music playing in your home, having an atmosphere of worship, singing and rejoicing.

The River of God Brings Healing

In Ezekiel 47:8-10, it speaks of the river of God flowing out to the Dead Sea and bringing healing:

“Then said he unto me, These waters issue out toward the east country, and go down into the desert, and go into the sea: which being brought forth into the sea, the waters shall be healed. And it shall come to pass, that every thing that liveth, which moveth, whithersoever the rivers shall come, shall live: and there shall be a very great multitude of fish, because these waters shall come thither: for they shall be healed; and every thing shall live whither the river cometh. And it shall come to pass, that the fishers shall stand upon it from Engedi even unto Eneglaim; they shall be a place to spread forth nets; their fish shall be according to their kinds, as the fish of the great sea, exceeding many.”

There are three things about the above verses:

  • Everything in that river will live. Jesus has come that we might have life and have it abundantly, that we might live in the blessing of God, in the river of God and that we would know His hand upon us, and we would know the fullness of the Spirit of God flowing through our lives.
  • It says in that river that there shall be a great multitude of fish. In the Dead Sea, no fish can survive there right now because of all the salt and mineral content. But there is going to be a great multitude of fish, literally. Also spiritually in the last day revival, there will be a great multitude of souls, and in fact, this is already happening in several places. One of the reasons we need to be filled with the Spirit and flowing in the river of God is that God wants to use us to bring in the souls. It speaks of worldwide revival and a great harvest in the last days.
  • It also says that everything that is dead shall be healed, for the water brings healing. In the river of God, there is life, blessing and healing. God is wanting us by the grace of God to go deeper in the river of God.

Danube River

There is a village in Germany where there is a small well that bubbles up from the ground. It trickles down and becomes a stream that grows progressively bigger, and then other rivers join that stream and it grows in size until it becomes the mighty Danube river which goes right through Europe where large ships can pass. The point is, it started from that little stream and ended up a mighty river in Europe.

That is what God is wanting to do in our hearts and lives, for the flow of the Spirit of God to increase to deeper and touch us and for us to go on until we are totally immersed and controlled by the Spirit of the Living God in our lives.

Conclusion

Going back to John 7:38-39, when they poured this water down the temple steps, it was almost too much for Jesus and He cried out with a loud voice, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink and out of his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water”, speaking of the Holy Spirit. Let us press in through the grace of God and not be content where we are. Let us believe God in our individual lives for a fresh and new flow of the river of God, that we would experience the river of God and allow God to take us deeper into the fruit, gifts, power and anointing of the Spirit in our lives.




About the Author

Rev. David R. Wallis has served as a missionary in the Philippines and India for over 19 years. He has ministered in over 35 nations at pastors’ seminars, conventions, Bible colleges, and churches. He is the Assistant Chancellor of Zion Ministerial Institute.

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