Today I heard a message by Pastor Tony Evans titled “Water in God’s House,” referencing the first twelve verses of Ezekiel 47. Ezekiel was a priest and prophet to the southern kingdom of Judah while they were living in captivity in Babylon. The main idea of Evans’ message was that the living water which is tied to life and the work of the Holy Spirit is in the Church (believers of the Lord, Jesus Christ), and if we want to see our culture change, the water has to flow out from the Church and into the community.
I’ll admit that Ezekiel is one of those books of the Bible that many times has left me dumbfounded. There are all sorts of visions and prophecies that can confuse a simple lay person like myself. That is why we should listen to trusted Bible teachers and then read it, meditate on it and study it for ourselves. So that’s what I did.
The reason this story struck a chord with me is because I absolutely love being in the water! As a young girl growing up in the south, our above ground swimming pool was my go-to spot to beat the oppressive heat of most summer days. As I got old enough to drive, the coastal waters became my source of refreshing. Living over 200 miles from the coast for the past 28 years, I have adapted to another invigorating water source, the indoor pool. After my son began swimming on a neighborhood swim team, the familiar lure to immerse in the water again was stronger than ever. I joined the local YMCA and began swimming laps. That was almost twenty years ago and I still enjoy that time in the water.
Ezekiel was privileged to see visions of the future where the temple was restored along with Israel and the priesthood. But the returning of the Lord’s glory to the temple had to have been the most magnificent of all the visions! After this in Chapter 47, he is shown the water that comes out from under the threshold of the temple which starts out as a trickle. As they move about 1700 feet from the temple, the depth of the water increases to ankle-deep water, then moving another 1700 feet it increases to knee-deep water. Once they move out another 1700 feet it becomes waist deep. But after the next 1700 feet, the water was too deep to walk through, one would have to swim. This water represented the work and life of the Holy Spirit.
As I listened to Tony Evans, I realized on a personal level I could chart the waters of the the Holy Spirit in my own spiritual walk. In my early childhood days of hearing the Bible stories in Sunday School, a trickle is all I received. Granted, as very young girl, I would not have been able to swim in the deep spiritual waters. As I grew and I learned more about Jesus, I accepted him as my Savior and the water rose a little more (ankle-deep). For several years I splashed around in his knee-deep waters at church and youth group, even venturing a little into the waist deep waters of God’s word. But then in my late teen years I refused to go near the water. I believed the lies of Satan that I didn’t need that water anymore. For over fifteen years my soul was as dry as the acreage in the California wildfires.
Then one day my younger sister who lived in another city told me about a Bible study she was participating in that had groups meeting all around the world. She encouraged me to find out if there was a group in my area and I did. The first day I attended is when I put my toes back in the water!
This particular Bible study was not for those who needed floaties to get in the water! It was for the serious swimmer. We had daily homework in which we not only delved into God’s word, but learned how to apply it. My enthusiasm led me from ankle-deep water to water over my head in a matter of months, and I have been lap swimming in God’s word for over twenty years now.
But there is more to Tony Evans’ message than just the developing of a personal relationship with the Lord. God wants more from us than just swimming in the word for our own spiritual revitalization. In Ezekiel’s vision, he was asked by his guide, “Son of man, do you see this?” It’s like God was saying, “Don’t you get it? I’m so glad you are enjoying my word, but it’s there for others, too. I want you to send it out to those who are the living dead.” God wants us to take his living waters, his Holy Spirit and the truth of His word to all those who are dead in their sins, lost. When we do this the those who were once spiritually dead will come alive!
This gradual flow of the living water in Ezekiel reminds me that God works in all of our lives in different ways and in different timing. I must be patient and let him do the work as others start their own spiritual water therapy. Some may take longer to move from ankle deep to knee-deep water than others. Some may get stuck in waist deep for awhile. That’s ok as long as there is forward progress. My job is to encourage them to stay afloat by trusting in God and his word.
I may not know everything about God’s word or understand all the ways the Holy Spirit works, but I do know this. Jesus died for my sins and sent His Holy Spirit to keep me from drifting away from all that God has in store for me in this life and in the life to come with Him in heaven.
He will do the same for you.
All you have to do is get your toes wet!