“The man brought me back to the entrance to the temple, and I saw water coming out from under the threshold of the temple toward the east (for the temple faced east). The water was coming down from under the south side of the temple, south of the altar. He then brought me out through the north gate and led me around the outside to the outer gate facing east, and the water was trickling from the south side.
As the man went eastward with a measuring line in his hand, he measured off a thousand cubits and then led me through water that was ankle-deep. He measured off another thousand cubits and led me through water that was knee-deep. He measured off another thousand and led me through water that was up to the waist. He measured off another thousand, but now it was a river that I could not cross, because the water had risen and was deep enough to swim in—a river that no one could cross. He asked me, “Son of man, do you see this?” Ezekiel 47:1-6 NIV
This is a curious vision that God has sent Ezekiel. It is full of encouragement for the Christian believer. At the centre of the picture is a huge gushing stream that runs out and becomes a huge expanse of water. This mighty stream runs out from the temple of God as a fresh water river bringing life and refreshment. It is symbolic of that river of life that flows from the throne of God in the Apostle John’s vision of the Revelation of Jesus Christ. This river will dispel every drought and quench every thirst, most especially, in a future time of blessing that the prophets looked forward to.
It comes out from under the door. The water starts at the inner sanctuary of the temple – the absolute glory of God and the provision of His salvation to a world of sinful people. The water comes from the Southside of the temple, to the south of the altar. It is described at the start as a trickle of water, which grows into the abundant outpouring from the altar of God. The day of grace was coming and Ezekiel saw this manifestation of it. We Christians in the end times, live in this day. God’s mercy is poured out to all people like never before. What a privilege to be part of it.!
God’s mercy must be experienced and our failure dealt with. The altar is the place of sacrifice. It is the place where the sin offering is placed to pay the dreadful penalty of sin. The streams of mercy can flow from it, because the price is paid. The Lamb has been slain and people can be forgiven. God’s mercy flows to us through Christ, the one sacrifice for sin forever. When God’s law is satisfied and the restitution for sin is made, the mercy flows.
A man goes towards the East with a measuring stick. He measures out almost half a kilometer and the water reaches to his ankles. He measured another half kilometer and the waters are knee high. Move on another half kilometer and the flood has reached the waistline. Another half kilometer goes forward and the waters are now so deep that the bottom cannot be felt – we can swim in this water. The river is now so wide that no person can cross it, without swimming in the depth of its flow.
This river is the picture of the holiness of God. It is given to people who have been shown mercy and are forgiven from sin and rescued from death. God’s mercy flows out to all people, and we must seek Him, if we are to experience it in our lives and to grow in holiness. Holiness flows from the throne of God. It grows in our lives as we draw near to Him and become increasingly like Him. Holiness grows in our whole being, as we progress to heaven.
No one can be too holy. Holiness is actually something that cannot be measured, and something so valuable that we must give up all to get it. It is not a commodity that we can buy somehow, but is a heart condition that we must foster. The Christian must seek this holiness if they are to see God. No one enters heaven with anything less than holiness.
We enter the Christian life in faith, and we progress in faith also, and grow like our Saviour, Jesus.
We can paddle around, wade in the waters, stand in the flood as it engulfs us, or launch out into the deep. Swimming in the mercy of God and being buoyed up by His holy power, is the way we are supposed to live. Are we too hesitant to strike out for the distant shore, knowing that only holiness of life will get us there?
What kind of Christian will you be?
Playing in the shallows?
Striding through the water or
waist deep waiting for the plunge?
Or will you give yourself to that mercy and swim out into the deep waters with God. Swim in His love and mercy, and with every stroke getting closer to the far off shore. You are safe. No ill can befall those who trust in Him and are not afraid to be in those deep waters. Christ our Saviour has been there before us and we need not be afraid.
O to experience that utter abandon as we give up all our care and the safety nets we put around ourselves, and to rest in our God.! The complete security of being in those deep waters is the faith that will bear us up all the way. The swim to the far shore will mark a life-long journey with God – a journey of increasing holiness and the godly character crafted by God’s mercy.