The River of Salvation
Ezekiel 47:1-12
Afterward he brought me again to the door of the house; and, behold, waters issued out from under the threshold of the house eastward…

The prophet has advanced from step to step in his outline sketch of Israel's destined glory. The temple is now complete. The throne is to be erected on a foundation of righteousness. The better order for sacrificial worship is instituted. The climax of blessing is almost reached. One great defect had been manifest in Israel's past history. They lived for themselves. They were the exclusive favorites of Jehovah. This defect shall be remedied. Israel shall henceforth be a blessing to the world. From under the temple altar a stream of life is seen to flow, which deepens as it flows, and which shall irrigate and vitalize whatever is Barren in the land. From Israel, as from a center, gracious power shall go forth to penetrate with new life the human race. Such is the significance of the vision. Yet this structure of future hope rests upon a groundwork of fact. Within recent years it has been discovered that immense reservoirs of water exist under the identical spot where once the altar stood. Ezekiel borrowed the material of his vision from the physical features of the temple area, and from the formation of the country lying to the east. By a geographical necessity, this stream flowed (in Ezekiel's day) down the valley of Jehoshaphat, along the valley of the Kedron, through land blasted with desolation, and found its way into the Dead Sea. With this raw material of fact the prophet weaves a gorgeous tapestry of prophecy. He foresees the glorious reality of Messiah's day. He limos in outline the magnificent results of Calvary.. Pentecost, with its far-reaching consequences, was filling his heart with joy: hence he describes in glowing colors man's regenerated state through the abounding grace of God.

I. MARK THE SOURCE OF THIS LIFE - GIVING STREAM. "Behold, waters issued out from under the threshold of the house eastward... the waters came down from under from the fight side of the house, at the south side of the altar." Here we have an early unfolding of God's great plan of salvation - an anticipation of the closing vision in John's Apocalypse. There is vital instruction in every line. The stream had its rise under the altar, which altar is the emblem of the Saviors cross. Hence we learn that the stream of Divine mercy, the river of life to men, has its source in suffering rod sacrifice and death. Atoning death, the outburst of pent-up love, is the spring of life to the world. Such was the spectacle to the prophet's eye; this was revelation enough for the moment; yet there was a gracious fact further back. The real, invisible source of this salvation is in the heart of infinite love; but for wisest reasons the stream flows through the channel of the cross. Therefore, to the eye of man the most fitting spot whence this stream should seem to rise is the altar in the temple, where for ages God had been sought and his mercy had been found. The plural word "waters" signifies "abundance." They gushed forth in copious plentifulness. The impression made upon the mind was the very opposite to stint or reluctance. It was a generous overflow, a glad relief from previous restraint. Such is the quality of God's mercy to men. It leaps forth in generous abundance. There is no limit to his kindness. His love is equal to men's largest needs - equal to the salvation of the race. If God is the purveyor, there can be no lack. He gives with the heart of a Father and with the freeness of a King.

II. MARK THE RAPID GROWTH OF THE STREAM. At the distance of a thousand cubits from its source the waters reached only to a man's ankles. Another like distance was measured, now they reached the knees; and soon the stream was a river to swim in - a fiver that could not be forded. Impressive picture this of the development of God's plan of redemption! In Eden there was only an obscure promise. Down to the days of Abraham the rill of experienced mercy reached only to the ankles. But it steadily grew in depth and fullness. It would be a waste of blessing if God should disclose his grace faster than man has capacity to receive. In Paul's day the stream had swelled in volume, so that, having tried his sounding-line, he stood confounded, and could only exclaim, "Oh the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!" Still the stream rolls on and increases in magnitude. At its banks every thirsty soul may drink and live. For six thousand years it has been flowing, and, instead of giving any sign of diminution, the volume still increases and shall increase. For this saving knowledge shall cover the earth as the natural water fills the caverns of ocean. So important did God conceive it to be that Ezekiel should know of this steady increase, that he caused him to test it by personal experiment. It did not suffice that Ezekiel looked upon this increasing volume with his eye; he must go into it, and have deepest knowledge of the fact. They who preach to others must have personal experience of the truth. Theory and tradition and speculation will not suffice for the instruction of men. The preacher sent from God must declare what he has "tasted and handled and felt of the good word of life." Attention is summoned: "Son of man, hast thou seen this?"

III. MARK THE SALUTARY EFFECTS OF THIS STREAM. "Everything shall live whither the river cometh." The prophet soon left the region of natural fact. There then a stream flowing out from under the temple; but its waters were not sweet; it did not grow in bulk as it proceeded; it did not bring fertility and life to the district. The country through which the Kedron flows is the most rocky and desolate to be found in Palestine. Although this little stream has been flowing for ages into the Dead Sea, it has not perceptibly alleviated its bitterness. Nauseous and pungent to the taste as ever is that water. Though beautiful to the eye as the Sea of Galilee, no animated life is on its shores; all verdure is wanting; and not the tiniest animalcula can live in its depths. It is the scene of silence and desolation. Pathetic emblem this of man's moral barrenness!

1. Food is provided. To this natural spectacle what a contrast does Ezekiel's picture present! This copious stream brings life and beauty to both its banks. Here grows every tree that can yield fruit. Here no scarcity can be found, for the trees bear in constant succession. As soon as one sort of fruit is exhausted another is purple with ripeness. No winter is here; it is perpetual summer. Such fruits may be enumerated:

(1) knowledge;

(2) repentance;

(3) pardon;

(4) peace;

(5) obedience;

(6) adoption;

(7) Divine communion;

(8) strength;

(9) purity;

(10) patience;

(11) hope;

(12) immortality.

Already the deserts of earth have blossomed; already these fruits of Paradise have been tasted. For long years the prophecy has ripened into fact.

2. Medicine. "The leaf thereof shall be for medicine." The provision which God makes is always complete. Man is not only the subject of hunger, he is a victim of disease. He is racked with pain, torn with sorrows, tormented with a thousand cares. And as in nature the leaves and cells of plants contain medicine for every bodily disease; so in his kingdom of grace God has furnished remedies for all care and sorrow. "The leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations." And what else can these leaves be except the truths and promises of the gospel of Christ? Is it not a fact well attested that these words and pledges of Jehovah have alleviated the distress of many an anguished soul? acted as cooling balm to many a fevered heart? How many men, fettered with chains of despair, have broken them by virtue of the promise, "Him that cometh unto me, I will in no wise cast out!" How many no tongue can tell. And like healing medicine to a thousand afflicted souls has bee,, the whispered assurance, I will never leave thee; and this, My grace is sufficient for thee." "He has sent forth his word and healed them."

3. There is perpetual virtue. Of these trees "the leaf shall not fade." As a willow planted by the riverside is well-nigh always verdant, so the trees of righteousness were beauteous in immortal verdure because their roots were nourished by the river of God. Human nature (unvisited by God's grace)is a desert more bald and sterile than the hill-country of Judaea. But wherever this crystal stream of mercy comes, life - luxuriant, joyous life appears. The plants of holiness flourish - "trees of the Lord, full of sap." A thousand such deserts have already blossomed, and the prophecy is undergoing fulfillment before our eyes.

4. Abundant life is yet another effect. "There shall be a very great multitude of fish, because these waters shall come thither." It is in keeping with the allegory that the prophet should speak only of fish as the kind of life generated by this stream. Yet as the result of this human life was sustained. Population increased, for men found useful occupation. The whole circumference of the Dead Sea became a scene of activity - the home of industry and plenty. Again we have a graphic sketch of the life-giving grace of our God. Wherever it has penetrated it has been life from the dead. Bodily life has been valued and prolonged. The curative art has developed. Domestic life has been enriched. All forms of intellectual life have unfolded. National life has been purified and organized. Population has grown. Best of all, the spiritual life in man has been awakened, and practical love to the human race has flourished. A moral revolution among mankind is in progress. The regeneration of society is proceeding.

5. Exceptional barrenness is incurable. "But the miry places thereof, and the marshes thereof, shall not be healed; they shall be given to salt." There is a certain physical condition of barren land which no abundance of water will fertilize. So in the kingdom of grace resistance of Divine influence is possible. Among the chosen twelve there was a Judas. In the first Church avarice and hypocrisy wrought havoc of death. Some always "resist the Holy Ghost." Some "count themselves unworthy of everlasting life." To some in his day Jesus spake with pathetic sorrow, "Ye will not come to me, that ye might have life." - D.

Parallel Verses
KJV: Afterward he brought me again unto the door of the house; and, behold, waters issued out from under the threshold of the house eastward: for the forefront of the house stood toward the east, and the waters came down from under from the right side of the house, at the south side of the altar.

WEB: He brought me back to the door of the house; and behold, waters issued out from under the threshold of the house eastward; (for the forefront of the house was toward the east;) and the waters came down from under, from the right side of the house, on the south of the altar.

The River of Life
Top of Page
Top of Page