Two men are driving through Texas when they get pulled over by a state trooper. The trooper walks up and taps on the window with his nightstick.
The driver rolls down the window and “WHACK,” the trooper smacks him in the head with the stick. The driver says, “What did you do that for?” The trooper says, “You’re in Texas, son. When we pull you over, you better have your license ready when we get to your car.” The driver says, “I’m sorry, officer, I’m not from around here.” The trooper runs a check on the guy’s license, and he’s clean.
He gives the guy his license back and walks around to the passenger side and taps on the window. The passenger rolls his window down, and “WHACK,” the trooper smacks him with the nightstick, too. The passenger says, “What did you do that for?” The trooper says, “Just making your wish come true.”
The passenger says, “Huh?” The trooper says, “I know that two miles down the road you’re gonna say, ‘I wish that tough cop would have tried that routine with me.'”
WATER is frequently mentioned in Scripture as an element of life, blessing and cleansing. The Middle East is a dry area and because of that water becomes even more important. Therefore, we are not surprised that water is used symbolically in Scripture. We understand this because of our own need for water and its importance. The long rainy season in Palestine means a considerable rainfall, and while it lasts the land gets a thorough soaking. The heavy rains are quickly drained away, the wadis are left dry, the lakes become marshes or dwindle to dirty ponds. The water of running streams and fountains, as opposed to that of stagnant cisterns, pools, or marshes, is called living water, figuratively. Water occasionally is used for tears. Water is used for children or posterity. Divine support. The wrath of God. Deep water is used in the counsel of the heart. Water “spilled on the ground” is a figure of death. Among the optical illusions that the deserts of the East have is the mirage.
Given this background, we better understand our own Christian baptism. As they traveled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said, “Look, here is water. Why shouldn’t I be baptized?” Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him. (Acts 8:36)
Then Peter said, “Can anyone keep these people from being baptized with water?
They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.” So he ordered that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. (Acts 10:47)
All of this helps us to understand the image that Ezekiel has of the River.
As far as the Jewish people where concerned, the Temple was the center of the universe. Because in the Temple, the Holy of Holies, God resided.
The Temple gate facing the east was the main gate and according to scripture will be the very gate that Christ walks into in the last days. Today, we know that a cemetery is directly in front of this blocked up gate. In Ezekiel’s vision, a river is flowing from the Temple out of this Eastern Gate. A man is trying to measure it. A “cubit” is one forearm from a closed fist to the end of the elbow. 1000 cubits is measured at a time. As he takes the measurements the water gets deeper and deeper.
As we read this vision of Ezekiel’s we are mindful of a similar vision in Revelation. Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever. (Rev. 22)
I believe that both the story in Ezekiel and in Revelation convey the same truths to the readers. Life comes from God. Life is not complete without God. I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. (John 15:1)
John 4:6 Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about the sixth hour. When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.” (John 4:6)