What's Feeding You?
Ezek. 47:6 He said to me, “Mortal, have you seen this?” ¶ Then he led me back along the bank of the river.
Ezek. 47:7 As I came back, I saw on the bank of the river a great many trees on the one side and on the other.
Ezek. 47:8 He said to me, “This water flows toward the eastern region and goes down into the Arabah; and when it enters the sea, the sea of stagnant waters, the water will become fresh.
Ezek. 47:9 Wherever the river goes, every living creature that swarms will live, and there will be very many fish, once these waters reach there. It will become fresh; and everything will live where the river goes.
Ezek. 47:10 People will stand fishing beside the sea from En-gedi to En-eglaim; it will be a place for the spreading of nets; its fish will be of a great many kinds, like the fish of the Great Sea.
Ezek. 47:11 But its swamps and marshes will not become fresh; they are to be left for salt.
Ezek. 47:12 On the banks, on both sides of the river, there will grow all kinds of trees for food. Their leaves will not wither nor their fruit fail, but they will bear fresh fruit every month, because the water for them flows from the sanctuary. Their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for healing.”
Here in Ezekiel we have the picture of the water flowing from the Temple -- it is a vision of the future where God comes and dwells among his people. We actually find this in the opening scenes of the Bible where Adam and Eve are in Paradise. There are rivers that flow and nourish everything in the garden. There is no need for any type of an irrigation system, for all is cared for -- including the tree of life. Sadly, Adam and Eve sin before they are able to partake of the fruit of this tree and humanity is on a journey of restoration throughout the entire history of the Book. Here in the middle of the book we have a reminder of God's promise for his people. Again they will find themselves in a place where the waters will flow, bringing life to everything that they touch, and along the banks of this river will be found trees.
The trees found along the river, according to one commentator, represent the ministers of the Gospel. Take this entire scene and place it in a New Testament context and we see that the river begins to flow again. John the Baptist comes and there is but a trickle. Jesus comes and the water begins to flow at a faster pace, and finally with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit we may become caught up in the waist deep waters that will sweep us away -- and nourish us as well. Those who are planted along side these waters -- those who are called to the ministry will grow up along-side this new fresh water. In the deserts there will spring up new life because of those who are fed by the sweet water of life. Every month they will bring forth new fruit -- the fruit of new believers who are growing on the trees and are using their giftedness to minister to the world. These followers of Jesus Christ will be used as food for the hungry and healing for the sick. And everywhere that they grow -- the world will be radically transformed by the already presence of the Kingdom of God.
This vision of Ezekiel is one of transformation -- one in which the entire world is changed because of the presence of the life-giving water made available to you and to me by way of the Holy Spirit. The question for us is whether we are connected to this source or not! If we are not connected to this source then we will become as the Dead Sea. The Dead Sea doesn't have a good history. It was around back in the day of Sodom and Gomorrah -- and to this day it is a place where nothing grows. It is a quite amazing place -- I have never experienced anything like it in my life. One day when I visited the temperature was 114 F. Just the heat alone pretty much made the place feel like a dead zone! The density of the water is so great because of the presence of salt and other minerals that it literally holds you up. You cannot sink in the Dead Sea. It takes a little bit of time to get your bearings to be able to "bob" in the right direction without toppling over. But while all of this is interesting and fun -- there is nothing living in or around the Dead Sea…for it is just that…it is dead.
Without the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives, we too, are dead. We might be fun for a little while, but there is nothing here to sustain us for the long haul. If we hang out too long in this place, we will shrivel up and die. But too many, even those who call themselves followers of Jesus Christ, are not spending enough time being fed by the living waters which flow from the throne of God. This story which we read in Ezekiel is picked up again in Revelation. When the story of God is brought to its conclusion, we find that the water flows from the throne of God and brings life to everything in the New Jerusalem.
This water is the only water that can bring eternal life. It is the only water that can reclaim all that has become dead. It is the water which God is making available to you and to me today -- if only we will get close to the water and drink deeply from the source. That is our responsibility. And once we are connected to him, we will grow and flourish, and God will be able to use us to be the healing balm to the nations. How incredible is that?
Let's plant ourselves beside the living stream. Let's dig in and be fed by God, and God alone -- through the presence of the Holy Spirit -- and allow God to transform us, giving us the life that he had intended for each.
Are you bobbing in the Dead Sea today -- or are you a flourishing tree, providing food and nourishment for all those around you, reclaiming the kingdom for him!
Lord, may you feed me today. Amen.