In Ezekiel chapters 40-48 we read of the visions that God gave to Ezekiel of the coming Millennial Kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ. In chapters 40-42 he was given a description of “the Temple” that will be built; in chapters 43-46 “the Temple Worship” is described; and in chapters 47-48 he was shown a vision concerning the “Land” of Israel. In short, the “Land” is going to be blessed beyond what one could imagine. In 47:1-12 Ezekiel saw a marvelous vision of a RIVER OF LIFE that would begin in the Holy of Holies and make its way through the Temple and flow outward down to the Dead Sea. The passage is too long to quote, but I would encourage you to read the portion. Many have wondered if this river is to be taken literally or symbolically. We believe it will be a “literal river,” but that it also has a “symbolic meaning.”

1)  The description of this river and the blessings that results from it demands the LITERAL VIEW. After describing, in minute detail, the source and measurements of the river in verses 1-6, Ezekiel tells us in verse 7 that “at the bank of the river were very many trees on the one side and on the other.” He adds, in verses 8-9, “These watersgo down into the desert, and go into the sea, which being brought forth into the sea, the waters shall be healed. And it shall come to pass, that everything that liveth, which moveth, whithersoever the rivers shall come, shall live: and there shall be a very great multitude of fish, because these waters shall come thither: for they shall be healed, and everthing shall live whither the river cometh.” Verse 12 goes on to say that because of the river “shall grow all trees for meat” and that the very leaves of those trees shall be “for medicine.” As you read these verses you can see why this could be called the RIVER OF LIFE, for it results in LIFE and HEALING wherever it goes. The prophet Joel also spoke of such a river in Joel 3:18, “a fountain shall come forth of the house of the LORD, and shall water the valley of Shittim.” Zechariah was inspired to speak of the same truth in Zechariah 14:8, “And in that day living waters will flow out of Jerusalem, half of them toward the eastern sea and the other half toward the western sea; it will be in summer as well as winter” (NASB). Isaiah too joined his fellow-prophets with these words in Isaiah 43:19, “I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert” and in 35:1 he exclaimed, “The desert shall blossom like the rose.”  What a “day” that will be when God blesses “the Land” of Israel with actual “physical blessings,” and as we saw the RIVER OF LIFE originates in the Temple showing that God is indeed the SOURCE OF THESE BLESSINGS.

2) We already saw that the prophet Zechariah spoke of a literal river that would bless “the Land” of Israel. In Zechariah 13:1 he speaks of a river that demands a SYMBOLIC VIEW, for it says, “In that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and for uncleanness.” Israel will not only be blessed with physical blessings, but also with spiritual blessings, and this “fountain” speaks of the forgiveness and moral cleansing that they will experience in that coming day. Zechariah had already spoken of this in 12:10, “And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son.” When the Lord Jesus returns to redeem Israel they will see the wounds that they had caused when they had him crucified and they will mourn, in true repentance. But they will also realize, by faith that it is through those very wounds that they will be forgiven. They will enter into the truth of Isaiah 53:5, “But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed.” So, it isn’t just “the Land” that will be healed; the people themselves with be healed as well from their malady of sin. God will give them a New Birth, as we see in Ezekiel 36:25-26, “Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. A new heart will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.”  Notice, it says “a new spirit will I put within you.” This should remind us of Jesus’ words in John 7:37-39, “If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. he that believeth on Me, as the scriptures hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on Him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified).” The Holy Spirit will live in them and cause them to be a channel of blessing to others!  And they will see, as never before, that they owe these spiritual blessings to the Lord Jesus Christ for the work He did on the cross. They will give Him the praise He deserves for being “the fountain of every blessing” and for making them “a channel of blessing” to the world around them! All of this is pictured for us in the RIVER OF LIFE that will flow in that coming day from the temple in Jerusalem, as seen in Ezekiel 47:1-12.  (187.5)  (DO)