River of Life
June 1, 2011
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness...—Galatians 5:22
by Anne Graham Lotz
Read Revelation 22:1-5 and Ezekiel 47:1-9.
In the recent past, our state endured a severe drought. Our shrubbery dropped their leaves and died, our green grass turned brown and crispy, and we operated under city-issued water restrictions. The water reservoir that serves our county dried up to nothing more than a mud flat. The dusty, polluted air was of such poor quality that warnings to remain indoors were issued day after day. We desperately needed rain, and lots of it.
The water shortage has given me a glimpse of what many people around the world endure on a daily basis. All of us have seen pictures of emaciated people standing in line under a blistering sun, dust swirling around them as they patiently wait with a bucket for a few drops of rationed water. Water is essential to life. It’s that simple.
It’s no wonder, then, that throughout the Bible, water symbolizes that which is essential to spiritual life and health. In the very last chapter of the Bible, an angel directs the Apostle John’s attention to a river that runs through the center of our Heavenly home … a river that symbolizes the fact that our Father’s House is saturated in “water.”
I. THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE RIVER
- What was the significance of a river in Genesis 2:10?
- Describe the characteristics of the river from Isaiah 55:1-2; Ezekiel 47:1-9; John 4:13-14 and 7:37-38.
- What are the similarities between the river in Revelation 22 and the river in Ezekiel 47? Are there any differences?
- What do you think the river symbolizes? Base your answer on Scripture.
II. THE SOURCE OF THE RIVER
- Where does the river originate? See Ezekiel 47:1-2 and Revelation 22:1.
- What does the altar represent? See Exodus 30:20; Deuteronomy 27:6; Isaiah 56:7; Genesis 22:1-2, 9-18 with John 19:17-18 and Romans 12:1-2.
- What does the throne represent? See 1 Kings 22:19; Psalm 9:7, 11:4; Isaiah 6:1; Ephesians 1:20-22; Revelation 4:1-2. From the above verses, is the source for this river exclusive, or are there other sources?
- As you combine what you understand about the significance and the source of the river, how does this apply to your life today?
III. THE SATURATION OF THE RIVER
A. The Degree of Saturation
- From Ezekiel 47:3-5, to what four depths did the man go into the river?
- How would you apply each depth to your own experience?
- When you are swimming in the river, what part of your body can be seen by others? Apply this to yourself. See Ephesians 1:22-23.
- Relate this to Ezekiel 47:5, John 7:37-39 and Ephesians 5:18.
- At what depth in the river are you today? At what depth do you want to be?
B. The Delights of Saturation
- From Revelation 22:2, what is the first blessing the river produces?
- Relate this to Genesis 2:9, 3:24 and John 3:16.
- What is the second blessing the river produces?
- Relate this to Galatians 5:22 and Colossians 3:12-17.
- What is the third blessing the river produces?
- Relate this to Isaiah 53:4-5 and Revelation 21:4.
- What does the “curse” represent in Revelation 22:3? See Genesis 3:14-19; Romans 3:23, 6:23; and 1 Corinthians 15:54-57.
- What four things are a direct result of the “curse” being removed? See Revelation 22:3-5.
- Is there any possibility that the river does not exist? Or that saturation in the river does not produce blessing? See Revelation 22:6.
- Do you think the delights of saturation are directly related to the degree you are saturated? Base your answer on Scripture.
Where are you in relation to the river? Are you still on the riverbank, complaining that you are spiritually dry? Have you gingerly tested the waters—just dabbled in your Bible study, toyed with the idea of being a disciple, flirted with prayer—without making the commitment to step into the river? Would you plunge in without reservations, asking God to give you all He has for you? Then invite someone else to go “swimming.” ©2011 Anne Graham Lotz