This river in this chapter has already been mentioned by Joel (3:18), and it will be mentioned when we study Zechariah. Zechariah recorded that this river would divide, with half going to the Dead Sea and half flowing to the Mediterranean (Zechariah 13:1; 14:8). It is also similar to the river in Revelation 22:1, 2. Some commentators see it as a literal river and others as symbolic of the blessing that will flow from Jerusalem.
Ezekiel recorded that this river flows from the Holy of Holies to the Dead Sea and out into the Arabah which is the Jordan Valley that runs south from the Sea of Galilee to the Dead Sea and to the Gulf of Aqabah. Each time the guide measured, it was deeper. The Dead Sea water that is six times saltier than the ocean will become fresh and the swamps and marshes will be left for salt. God will provide "fruit for food and leaves for healing" to His people (47:12).
Ezekiel 47 concludes with the boundaries of the land of Palestine. It will be similar to the boundaries promised in Number 34:1-12.
Rivers are amazing. My town is situated on the mighty Willamette River here in Oregon. Last time I went to the river, I picked a bounty of blackberries from its life-giving shores. I love my time by there. I have a more than 30 year history of going there when I need to get away and talk to God. I always come back refreshed and refocused.
Most cities were settled along rivers because they provided a dependable water supply. Jerusalem was the only great city of the ancient world that was not located on a river. Yet, Ezekiel's vision saw one of immensity, far beyond any other ever known. Jesus spoke of the Holy Spirit as being like a river (John 7:37-39), and John had a vision of one in heaven (Revelation 22). Rivers give life to civilizations.
For years, my friend has jogged up in the hills behind her house and prayed for me every time she comes to "my stream ." Periodically, she gives me updates:
April 2: Just wanted to tell you that I am still praying for your Easter Talk. I stopped at your spot this morning. Kinda [sic] interesting what my eye was drawn to. The water that your spring feeds is flowing and a beautiful sound, but I noticed that all the wind and storms have knocked a lot of trees down..most not real healthy, but there is new life all around the water coming from your stream. Life after the storms...hope..
Made me very refreshed and hopeful. Certainly your ministry is blessed and blessing others...many will remain unseen.
May 4: Passed your spot again and prayed over you today.
September 10: how does your stream stay so full...everything around it is dry and it's full...really full!! : ) hmm..
October 18: I will check your stream again tomorrow morning. It's the only one around with water in the heat of the summer...odd...
November 18: I am doing a word study on rhema...word....the spoken word lived out...thinking of how you keep your stream so full..is not the faith and the Word lived out a big part of it?
This stream is indicative of how my life has gone lately. Not that I am any expert on living the abundant life, but I am growing in this area more and more. Since 1983, I have prayed for a moment-by-moment connection with God so that He would flow through me. It seems like every year it has gotten better and better. In 2006, God removed some major unhealthy trees in my life that have allowed my stream to flow even more! Being in His presence by staying in His life-giving Word has also continued to help the streams to flow.
It is all about being connected to Him and allowing His Spirit to flow through us. It is about overflow that through the years becomes an ever deepening river meant to continue to flow to bless beyond its borders. It is living out the life of Jesus who proclaimed during the water ceremony of the Feast of Tabernacles, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water’" (John 7:37b-38).
It has been an incredible year, not because I am anybody superior or sinless but because God is flowing. He always will if we let Him.
Do a "stream assessment" today. In what ways are you inhibiting the flow? What enhances it?
Flow through us God. We ask this in Jesus' name. Amen.