Rivers of living water
The Festival of Booths was the 7th annual Jewish festival, where thousands would go to Jerusalem to live in shelters or booths and worship. It was a reminder to the Jews that God had delivered them from slavery in Egypt and taken them through the wilderness to the promised land.
At first Jesus isn’t sure whether He should go. He’s waiting for the Father’s instructions. When He does go it is in secret, but everyone is looking for Him! So Jesus teaches, part way through the festival, in the synagogue. He thoroughly divides opinions – some say He is a demon, others that He is the Christ. The Pharisees and religious leaders have made up their mind already, while others with open minds are still thinking it through. (I’m wading through Lee Strobel’s Case for Christ, that has an excellent chapter on a Jew working through the Old Testament with an open mind to find Christ!)
On the last day of the Feast Jesus stands up and gives the teaching that would be very familiar to many of us, that if we believe in Him rivers of living water will bubble up from within. He is talking about us having the Holy Spirit within us.
The background to this is amazing. On the last day of the feast there was a ceremony where the chief priest would fill a pitcher of water from the pool of Siloam and process with it to the temple to pour it out on the altar in the temple. It was partly praying for rain for crops and partly longing for the fulfilment of Ezekiel 47. There Ezekiel prophesied water flowing from the altar, through the temple and out, becoming a river that brings life and healing wherever it flows.
Jesus is saying that Ezekiel 47 is fulfilled in Him. God has come to dwell on the earth and so the temple, the place of His presence is becoming obsolete (to go forever in AD 70). By extension, as we believe in Jesus and get baptised in the Spirit we have living waters bubbling up from within, bringing life and healing wherever we go. We too are the fulfilment of Ezekiel 47. We don’t need a third temple rebuilt. We don’t need people to go to Jerusalem to carry out the physical symbol of water flowing from the Temple. It is fulfilled and we are part of the fulfilment. The greater has come! Jesus has come. He has died for us. He rose again. He ascended on high and is seated at the right hand of the Father ever praying for us. He has sent the Spirit who dwells within us and bubbles up rivers of living water to bring life and healing wherever we go!
Lift up your weary heads! Strengthen your feeble knees. God is in you! You have a never-ending spring of living water for your blessing, power to be holy and to bring life and healing to those around you.
Up and at it saints!