Rivers of Living Water
Bible Reading: John 7
John 7:37-39, “On the last day of the great feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, ‘If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’ Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.”
From my childhood, I’ve loved rivers and streams. I’ve loved to see them and hike along them and fish in them or even just to sit beside one. They’ve an inherent beauty as they cascade along, their waters teeming with the living creatures who call them home. It may surprise you to know that as a child of God, you’ve got a river running through you. And its beauty is sourced in God Himself!
Sacrifices took place on each day of the Feast of Tabernacles. On the great day, the last day, a procession of worshippers made their way to the temple. When they reached the Pool of Siloam, a priest filled his golden pitcher with water. We should note that the name “Siloam” is “Shiloh” in the Hebrew (meaning “one sent”) and was a name that spoke prophetically of the coming Messiah. The procession then made its way to the temple and just as the priest passed through the water-gate (so named for this particular ceremony) he was welcomed by a three-fold blast of the Priests’ trumpets. The priest was then joined by another, who carried the wine for the drink offering. Both ascended the rise of the altar together and then together simultaneously poured out the water and the wine into funnels, which then led down to the base of the altar. Immediately after ‘the pouring of water,’ the “Hallel” Psalms (113-118) were chanted by all the people. Every aspect of the Feast anticipated the coming Messiah (Zechariah 14:16, 8). Year after year, for centuries, it had been observed in the hope of its ultimate future fulfillment.
Everything in the feast pointed to the promised Messiah—the sacrifices made, water taken from the pool of Siloam, the entrance through the water-gate, the Psalms sung, etc.—but, for the most part, the multitude of thirsty souls present did not recognize that fulfillment of the promise stood in their midst. Many in today’s world struggle to find clean, drinkable water, but even more live day-after day thirsty of soul for God.
On the last day of that great feast as the priest poured out the water—an act which anticipated the pouring out of a living water through the coming Messiah — “Jesus (the Messiah) stood up and cried out, ‘If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink’ (John 7:37). His reference to “living water” was to the ministry of the Spirit who was to come (John 7:39). The Spirit did come at Pentecost. He has ever since provided an inexhaustible torrent of “life” that works to enliven from within those who are born again.
During a particularly difficult time in his missionary work in China, Hudson Taylor was blessed by the truth of this passage. He wrote to a friend, “And now I have the very passage for you, and God has so blessed it to my own soul? John 7: 37-39: ‘If any man thirst, let him come unto ME and drink.’ Who does not thirst? Who has not mind thirst, heart-thirsts, soul-thirsts, or body-thirsts? Well, no matter which, or whether I have them all— “Come unto me and’ remain thirsty? Ah no! ‘Come unto me and drink.’ What, can Jesus meet my need? Yes, and more than meet it. No matter how intricate my path, how difficult my service; no matter how sad my bereavement, how far away my loved ones; no matter how helpless I am, how deep are my soul-yearnings—Jesus can meet all, all, and more than meet … Can it be? Can the dry and thirsty one not only be refreshed—the parched soul moistened, the arid places cooled—but the land be so saturated that springs well up and streams flow down from it? Even so! And not mere mountain-torrents, full while the rain lasts, then dry again…but ‘from within him shall flow rivers’—rivers like the mighty Yangtze, ever deep, ever full. In times of drought brooks may fail, often do, canals may be pumped dry, often are, but the Yangtze never. Always a mighty stream, always flowing deep and irresistible!” (J. Hudson Tayler, “J. Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret”).
SPRING UP, O WELL
I’ve got a river of life flowing out of me!
Makes the lame to walk, and the blind to see.
Opens prison doors, sets the captives free!
I’ve got a river of life flowing out of me!
Spring up, O well, within my soul!
Spring up, O well, and make me whole!
Spring up, O well, and give to me
That life abundantly.