Saturday, August 17, 2013

Living Water

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.”  But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.” – John 7:37-39

When I was a little girl we had three ponds within walking distance on the farms that surrounded us.  I spent many days walking to them, usually with a fishing pole or two.  But there was one pond that was much closer than the others, and I’d usually stop there first.  But over the years, the pond became scum covered, good for nothing but turtles and tadpoles, and before long the fish in it died out and the water dried up.

But on down the road from where we lived, there was a creek bed.  Now we were told not to go to the creek bed because of snakes and such, but there were times when I didn’t do what I was told.  We would sneak down to the creek bed and always find a spot where the water was not dried up, and still cold and clear.  I’d often cup my hand and drink that ice-cold water from the creek.  And many times we’d roll up our pant legs and wade through the water, take a net and catch minnows for pets, or even find a deep enough spot to jump in for a swim.

There are two kinds of water.  There’s the kind that has rain as its source, and is dependent on getting rain, which was the case with the pond.  Then there’s the kind that’s connected to a greater source, and has continual supply of fresh water.  That was the case with the creek.

In John 7:37-39 Jesus is in Galilee and preaching to the Jews, who still could not discern who He was.  They believed Him to be a prophet or a teacher, but not the Messiah.  His own disciples who followed him from place to place, seeing all the miracles He did still did not believe in Him (John 7:5).  As He spoke to the Jews and His disciples, and also to us who would read the words in this age, He said, “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.” 

At the time, the Jews had no understanding of the Holy Spirit that would come to dwell in the hearts of believers after Jesus’ death and resurrection. But Jesus referred to the Holy Spirit when He said “living water”.

Many times water is used to describe the Holy Spirit in God’s word.  In Isaiah 44:3-4 God speaks concerning Israel and says “For I will pour water on him who is thirsty, and floods on the dry ground; I will pour My Spirit on your descendants, and My blessing on your offspring”.  But then later in Jeremiah 2:13 God refers to Himself as “the fountain of living waters”, and speaks of Israel’s rebellion.  He said they had turned from Him to drink from cisterns that would not hold water, and of the brook of Egypt, Sihor, whihc no longer exists because it was disconnected from the Nile (Jeremiah 2:18).  He speaks of how they denied their sins saying “I am not polluted”(Jeremiah 2:23) as we would refer to a polluted stream. 

He spoke of this same “living water” when talking to the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4:10, telling 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.”  And in Joel 2:28-29 God speaks to the Prophet saying And it shall come to pass afterward that I will POUR OUT My Spirit on all flesh”, speaking of the day of Pentecost when His Holy Spirit was first sent to God’s believers.

Understanding what is meant by “living water” leads to the purpose of the Holy Spirit.  Living water refers to a source with endless supply, continually connected and receiving a fresh supply.  This is the type of water God uses to describe the Holy Spirit given to all believers.  The Holy Spirit is continually supplied by God, from an endless supply of life, joy, peace, and love.  Living water doesn’t grow stagnant or dry up. 

When you have a continual source of water, you will not be thirsty.  We humans long for the filling of our souls, the filling of that emptiness inside.  Many of us have tried several ways to fill that void, including relationships, drugs, possessions, power, and the list goes on.  But the problem is that the emptiness cannot be satisfied with things that are temporary and stagnant.  We aren’t boxes to be filled with things, and satisfying our feelings doesn’t lead to continual satisfaction.  Along the path of “personal fulfillment” we always end with a dried up feeling, nothing left inside to offer us joy and peace.

Our souls were made to be in constant connection to God, who is Spirit.  We were made in His image (Genesis 5:1), with both flesh and spirit, being given our own spirit. Before sin entered, God walked in the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:8) and they had His fellowship.  The Garden of Eden was a peaceful place where there was no work, no pain, and the constant companionship of God and all His blessings were theirs. 

But our sin broke that fellowship with God.  Yet in Ezekiel 36:26.27 God speaks to the Prophet concerning cleansing us from our sins through faith, and says “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I WILL PUT MY SPIRIT WITHIN YOU and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.” He goes on to talk of the desolate [empty] place, and likens it to the Garden of Eden.  In verses 33-35 He says On the day that I cleanse you from all your iniquities, I will also enable you to dwell in the cities, and the ruins shall be rebuilt. The desolate land shall be tilled instead of lying desolate in the sight of all who pass by. So they will say, ‘This land that was desolate has become like the garden of Eden; and the wasted, desolate, and ruined cities are now fortified and inhabited.’” God’s intention is to remove the emptiness, and recreate the peacefulness of Eden.

 In John 14 Jesus is explaining the coming of the Holy Spirit to His disciples.  He says in verses 16-17, And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever— the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.”  He fills the emptiness, and He does so with purpose.  In verses 26-27 Jesus continues by saying, “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.  Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. 

When we become believers, we receive that living water, which is our Helper, our Guide to all Truth, and He brings the Peace of Jesus Christ.  His peace is not the same as the peace that the world can give because the world’s peace isn’t alive, with a continual supply from the Holy Spirit’s connection to God.  The world’s peace is as temporary as daytime.  But the Peace of Jesus Christ given to us through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit fills that emptiness inside, and is eternal. 

David said in Psalms 23 that “He makes me to lie down in green pastures [rest]; He leads me beside the still waters[peace]. He restores my soul [rebuilt, as Eden]; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.[guidance]”  He keeps us from fear, and comforts us, and we know that because He is within us, goodness and mercy do follow us all the days of our lives. 

“Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!” – Psalms 34:8

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