One of the most beautiful places in America is an amazing natural spring in North Central Arkansas. It is more than a small spring bubbling up out of the ground, the Ozarks Mountains of Arkansas and Missouri have lots of those, but this one is special. The name of the spring gives a bit of perspective regarding its size; it is called Mammoth Springs and it is located in a city that bares the same name. There in this small, sleepy Ozark town the ground opens wide and a spring roars out that creates a beautiful clear water river. This river flows and refreshes miles of Arkansas land between its headwaters and where it empties into the White River fifty-seven miles down stream. Hour after hour over nine million gallons of water emerges into the light of day flowing from a mighty underground river. You can’t see it, but it flows for miles underground before it reaches the surface there in Arkansas.
In a similar way there is also a Spiritual river flowing. It made its first surface expression at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem during the Feast of Pentecost nearly two thousand years ago. Night and day, year after year it flows, although it can’t be seen with the natural eye yet it flows from a mighty unseen heavenly stream. As Cathy and I prayed about the year 2013 (a normal thing for us to do) and what the Lord was saying to us regarding this year, I have felt directed to focus on that river. Let me walk you through the highlights of what the Scripture says about this heavenly stream.
The first verse that gripped my heart (convicted me frankly) is found in Jeremiah 2:13, “ For My (God speaking) 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” (New King James Bible). Two things that God says that His people have done wrong:
1.) They have forsaken the Lord, the source of living waters,
2.) They have replaced that flowing source of water with their own man-made containers to hold water from their own sources.
It strikes me how religion, apart from relationship, with all its rules and regulations often does just that. It causes us to replace an authentic relationship with God with devices of our own making. I tweeted recently, “Legalism allows for the practice of religion without the necessity of a god.” But religion is not the only culprit. We also live in a day where Christian’s have walked away from lives that are surrendered and dedicated to Christ and drinking from His living water fountain to being drawn away by the allure of and love for this world and its Godless systems.
But let’s look at what we have turned away from. The Apostle John, writing toward the end of the first century, in Revelation chapter 22, describes this heavenly river and says that its source is the Throne of God and of the Lamb, in other words, he connects the headwaters of this heavenly stream to God, Himself. He goes on to say that, on either side of the stream grows the Trees of Life, which bears different fruit each month, revealing a divine provision for every month of the year. And the leaves of the trees have medicinal qualities; they are for the “healing for the nations.” So, In Revelation we see a river that flows from God in Heaven, with life, provision and healing with its refreshing by products.
But there is another passage to consider as we look into to this subject. Ezekiel 47 speaks of this same river that John saw in Revelation and he sees it flowing out of the Temple in Jerusalem. He writes some 600 years before the times of Christ (an amazing prophetic perspective when you consider that he is a prisoner of war held in Babylon along the river Cebar). He, also, sees trees growing along side the river that bear fruit every month and here also the river has healing qualities transforming every thing it touches. In its stream are abundant resources, both with fish and with vegetation for food.
When we harmonize the two passages we learn that the River begins in heaven and flows from the Throne of God and through the Temple in Jerusalem. In the Temple we see the idea of a place where the river previously unseen and flowing from Heaven’s glory, makes its earthly appearance in the Temple of Jerusalem.
What can we learn from these two records as they speak to us about the River of God?
1. There is a River, which flows from Heaven, specifically the Throne of God.The source of a stream has everything to do with its quality to support life and provide nourishment and strength to the land.
2. The throne of God is closely associated with the nature, power and person of God. It speaks of His reign as King. Flowing from His throne speaks of His majesty, and Kingly prerogatives.
3. It is a river of life, healing and provision.
4. It flows from God’s Throne and through His Temple. This speaks of His Government. The River starts with Him, flows through Him and carries in it His authority, His character and His purpose.
5. We also see a prophetic picture of us as Christians (saints as the Scripture calls us). We are the Temple of the Holy Spirit and the dwelling place of God on earth. As the Temple we become the opening or outlet for the River of God to flow into the World. It begins with Him and at His throne and flows unseen until it reaches our hearts. Through us it flows out and into our families and into our worlds.
The same qualities of the River that John and Ezekiel saw in the Scripture are still flowing today. Jesus said in John chapter seven that out of our hearts would flow rivers of Living water. John said that He spoke of the Holy Spirit that those believing in Him would receive once He was glorified.
Our answers, hope , help and power are found in our commitment to the River of God; to staying with it and in it. When we do, we can expect the same effects in and through us impacting everything we touch.