Thursday, March 25, 2010

Torrents of God’s Redeeming Love

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On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. (John 7:37-39 NKJV)
This was the last and greatest day of the Feast of Tabernacles. The priests were celebrating the water-drawing ritual, making procession from the pool of Siloam with jars of water to pour out at the base of the alter in the temple. As they went, they sang from Isaiah 12:3, “Therefore with joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.” The word for “salvation” in that verse is yeshuah.

Now here was Jesus — Yeshua is how you say His name in Hebrew; it means “Yahweh saves.” Standing in their midst, He “cried out.” He was making a declaration, an important announcement for all to hear. “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me [Yeshua] and drink.” It was an invitation to come and drink from the true well of salvation, the one God had promised long ago.

Then He added: “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” This is not a direct quote; no verse in the Old Testament comes out and states it in just that way. It is an allusion to things spoken of in the Prophets. Readings for the Feast of Tabernacles included passages from Zechariah and Ezekiel. Zechariah 14:8 spoke of a time when “living waters” would flow from Jerusalem.” Ezekiel 47 spoke of the “day of the LORD” and of water flowing out from the temple, first as a trickle and then becoming a mighty river, a river of living water, bringing life and healing wherever it flows. It is also in Ezekiel that God promised, “I will put My Spirit within you” (Ezekiel 36:27; 37:14). Anyone familiar with the water ceremony and the Scriptures that accompanied it would have understood the dramatic import of Jesus’ words.

The word translated “heart” in Jesus’ declaration is not the usual word, kardia, but koilia, which refers to the abdominal cavity. It is sometimes used of the belly and at other times of the womb. The HCSB has it as, “from deep within.” The NASB says, “innermost being” and The Message, “out of the depths.” It is the place in us where the spirit dwells, where God promised He would put His Spirit. This is what Jesus was talking about, the Holy Spirit in us.

The revelation He was bringing is that the new temple, where God would dwell by His Spirit, would not be a building made with hands, but would be found in whoever believes in Jesus the Messiah. The old temple was about to pass away. The sacrifices offered there would soon be made obsolete by the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. The temple itself, as well as the city of Jerusalem, would be totally destroyed within a generation, as Jesus prophesied in Matthew 24. But the new temple would come when Jesus was glorified. After His death on the cross, after His resurrection from the dead, and ten days after He ascended to heaven, the disciples waited in Jerusalem, during the Feast of Pentecost, for the “promise of the Father” (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4). God poured out the Holy Spirit on His people then and there.

Now all who believe in Jesus receive the Holy Spirit. We have become the temple of God, living water coursing from our innermost being like mighty rivers, bringing life and healing to the nations. Our part is to be filled with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18). This is not something we do for ourselves but something He does in us; we simply yield ourselves to Him. The rivers that flow out from deep within us are the overflow of being filled with Him. They come forth as the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) and the miracles and manifestations of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:7-10). They are the torrents of God’s redeeming love, and through them, we minister the gospel of King Jesus the Messiah that gives life and heals the world.