The Old Testament prophet Ezekiel painted word pictures to communicate his message. His most famous word picture was of the valley of dry bones that came to life. He talked about how God could come and join those bones together again and make something of that mess, and breathe life into the bones. (Read Ezekiel 37.) Remember singing the old Dry Bones song, “The foot bone connected to the ankle bone – the ankle bone connected to the leg bone…?”
In Ezekiel 47 he describes the relationship God desires with Israel. He uses another beautiful word picture of the Temple and a stream to show the importance of Israel’s relationship to God and how they could find life. Here are some lessons:
1. He said he saw a stream flowing Eastward from under the Temple and passing by the alter (v.2). As he begins to later describe what this stream can do he wanted to make sure that everyone knew it came from the Temple. It wasn’t some public stream – it was a special stream.
God always wants us to understand that real life comes from Him. It doesn’t come from public or cultural things that we might have or achieve – real life comes from Him. We discover life when we know it comes from Him and nowhere else. Living life without God is like trying to dribble a football. You can’t do it. Living life with God is like dribbling a basketball. Anybody can do that!
2. The stream is always getting deeper. Life with God is always growth. He describes that the water is up to his ankles (v.3). As he walks along the water it is up to his knees (v. 4), then it is up to his waist ( v.5), then it is so deep that it has become a river, and he would have to swim to cross it.
That’s the way it is in our relationship to God – it’s constantly growing. If our relationship with God doesn’t grow, it dies. It goes from ankle deep until it is over our heads.
3. This stream changes everything that it touches. It even goes into salty waters and makes salt water fresh (v.8).
The great thing about our relationship with God is that it changes everything about life. A relationship with God doesn’t make us a better person; it makes us a new person. Paul said, “Old things have passed away, all things have become new” (II Cor. 5:17). Anything we face in life, God can change it. He can make salt water pure. He can change and heal anything!!
4. Everything that the stream touches it brings life (v.9-11).
Even at the Dead Sea, you will see people fishing. The shores will be filled with nets drying in the sun. Fish of every kind will fill the Dead Sea, just like they are in the Mediterranean. Fruit trees will grow and will always produce fruit. There will be a new crop every month.
That’s what a relationship with God means. It brings life. Jesus reminds us that He came to bring us the abundant life now and the promise of eternal life forever. Miracles are common when God touches situations and brings life.
He reminds us again (v. 12) that “all of these things will happen when they are watered by the river flowing from the Temple.” The fruit will be for food, and the leaves will be for medicine.
I can see Ezekiel’s picture – and understand it. The important thing is for me to apply it to my life – and for you to apply it to yours. Are you experiencing the water from the Temple that brings growth, healing, change, and life?
Step into that stream!