It was not originally my intention to write another article on the subject of “water” after last month’s post on rivers. However, there is a bit more to this topic that I would like to share. So call this a two-part series, or call it another article on a similar topic. I’ll be happy either way.
If you will recall, in Ezekiel 40-48 the prophet had a vision of a perfect temple from which a trickle of water flowed. That trickle of water increased the farther it went until the desert became filled with life and the Dead Sea became fresh water. As we noted, it is a beautiful picture of the Messianic age. It depicts that time as one of abundant life from God Himself.
God spoke of the Messianic age as a time when His Spirit would be given abundantly to all who wanted it (i.e., to His own people). Consider these passages:
“It will come about after this that I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind; and your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on the male and female servants I will pour out My Spirit in those days” (Joel 2.28-29).
“I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him like the bitter weeping over a firstborn” (Zech 12.10).
Even Paul uses this language: “He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior” (Titus 3.5-6).
What is important to note here is that God uses the verb “pour out” in these passages, the very word that is also used of water. There is a connection that appears when we consider these passages together: just as a river is a source of life for man, so God’s Spirit is the source of true, spiritual life for man. As just as God made rivers in the wilderness for Israel in order to make them live, He now provides His Spirit to the people of the Messiah which gives life to those who are spiritually dead, like a river in a desert.
It should not surprise us, then, when some Biblical authors make this very connection. In Isaiah 44 we have a passage about the Messianic age. Notice how God described it:
“Thus says the Lord who made you and formed you from the womb, who will help you, ‘Do not fear, O Jacob My servant; and you Jeshurun whom I have chosen. For I will pour out water on the thirsty land and streams on the dry ground; I will pour out My Spirit on your offspring and My blessing on your descendants; and they will spring up among the grass like poplars by streams of water” (Isa 44.2-4).
“For the land of my people in which thorns and briars shall come up; Yea, for all the joyful houses and for the jubilant city. Because the palace has been abandoned, the populated city forsaken. Hill and watch-tower have become caves forever, a delight for wild donkeys, a pasture for flocks; until the Spirit is poured out upon us from on high, and the wilderness becomes a fertile field, and the fertile field is considered as a forest” (Isa 32.13-15).
“Then they will know that I am the Lord their God because I made them go into exile among the nations, and then gathered them again to their own land; and I will leave none of them there any longer. I will not hide My face from them any longer, for I will have poured out My Spirit on the house of Israel, declares the Lord God” (Ezek 39.28-29).
It is clear here that the imagery that we noted in our previous article – the image of a river of water going into desert places and making everything live – is used here also of the giving of God’s Spirit in the Messianic age. Furthermore, it should be clear that in those other passages (which we noted in the previous article), where God speaks of the Messianic age as a time when He would make rivers of water for His people, that God was actually speaking of the giving of His Spirit in those texts.
But there is one more element to this wonderful picture. We might ask, is there a specific characteristic to God’s Spirit that accounts for its life-giving quality? I think there is. In Romans 5.5 Paul says “hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” Note again the term “poured out.” The Holy Spirit bears the love of God to our hearts, and it is His divine love that ultimately gives all life.
Perhaps it is this element of divine love that is suggested by God’s statement about the Messiah in Isa 53.12: “I will allot Him a portion with the great, and He will divide the booty with the strong; because He poured out Himself to death, and was numbered with the transgressors; yet He Himself bore the sin of many, and interceded for the transgressors.”
A more extensive treatment of this subject can be found here: https://bible.org/article/scriptural-use-archetype-water