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Imagine for a moment a sunlit river flowing swift and strong through fertile land: just the sight and sound of it is refreshing. Life abounds along its banks. Deepest thirsts are quenched by its waters.

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Bible passage: Ezekiel 47:1–12

Ezekiel 47

The River From the Temple
 1 The man brought me back to the entrance of the temple, and I saw water coming out from under the threshold of the temple toward the east (for the temple faced east). The water was coming down from under the south side of the temple, south of the altar. 2 He then brought me out through the north gate and led me around the outside to the outer gate facing east, and the water was flowing from the south side.

 3 As the man went eastward with a measuring line in his hand, he measured off a thousand cubits and then led me through water that was ankle-deep. 4 He measured off another thousand cubits and led me through water that was knee-deep. He measured off another thousand and led me through water that was up to the waist. 5 He measured off another thousand, but now it was a river that I could not cross, because the water had risen and was deep enough to swim in—a river that no one could cross. 6 He asked me, “Son of man, do you see this?”

   Then he led me back to the bank of the river. 7 When I arrived there, I saw a great number of trees on each side of the river. 8 He said to me, “This water flows toward the eastern region and goes down into the Arabah, where it enters the Sea. When it empties into the Sea, the water there becomes fresh. 9 Swarms of living creatures will live wherever the river flows. There will be large numbers of fish, because this water flows there and makes the salt water fresh; so where the river flows everything will live. 10 Fishermen will stand along the shore; from En Gedi to En Eglaim there will be places for spreading nets. The fish will be of many kinds—like the fish of the Great Sea. 11 But the swamps and marshes will not become fresh; they will be left for salt. 12 Fruit trees of all kinds will grow on both banks of the river. Their leaves will not wither, nor will their fruit fail. Every month they will bear, because the water from the sanctuary flows to them. Their fruit will serve for food and their leaves for healing.

New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

Audio Bible passage

The audio version of the passage is taken from the Contemporary English Version (CEV).


Cosmic work of God
The scope of this amazing book couldn’t be vaster as it depicts the victory of God over evil, life over death. The cosmic work of God brings salvation so total that all creation drinks in its benefits. Like yesterday’s passage, today’s spells h-o-p-e.

Wider and deeper
The river flowing from the place of God’s presence grows wider and deeper the further it gets into the rest of the world. Coursing its way to the least life-supporting place, the salt-saturated Dead Sea, it brings life. Plants, people, fish, activity, food in profusion.

Abundant, eternal life flows from God. The temple, where he dwells and where the sacrifice was central, is the source of the river of life. Echoing Genesis 1 and 2 and anticipating Revelation 22, this vision declares the victory of the holy God over all the penalty, power and presence of sin.

The garden, where death came in, appears now as the place of human thriving. The desert becomes that garden. It is the perfect habitat, our true and happiest homeland.

Life now is not the only life. Don’t even expect it to provide your best life. The best is yet to come.

Dominic Smart


Picture that river flowing even now through the places you go, flowing by the people you know there. Pray that they will be saved for this abundant life by our great Creator-Redeemer.

Deeper Bible study

This vision of a trickle of water emerging from under the threshold of the Temple and growing into a river so deep it can only be swum is, significantly, given to Ezekiel before the final details of the allocation of the land (47:13 – 48:35). ‘… where the river flows everything will live’ (v 9). This statement, pregnant with potential, and the descriptions that accompany it speak powerfully of the life-giving impact of God on all he touches.

It’s also symbolic of the need for the land itself to be cleansed and healed before it could become a place of blessing for those who were to return. In the words of Christopher Wright, ‘At a historical level this vision looks forward to the return of Israel to their land, to their spiritual renewal and to the resumption of the normal tasks of irrigation, fertilising, ploughing, planting and harvesting. They would once again be God’s people in God’s land.’1 They had a deep connection with the land as a gift from God, as we do today with God’s creation, so it’s important we don’t overlook the ecological implications of this vision (Gen 2:15; 3:17–24; Rom 8:18–23).

The source of the river is God’s presence in the Temple. Having returned there in glory, he lets loose his life, healing and fruitfulness far beyond its boundaries, into the wider world. Rich in biblical imagery (Gen 2:10–14; Ps 46:4; Isa 33:21; Joel 3:18; Zech 14:8), the divine river points forward to Jesus in the Temple during the Feast of Tabernacles when, as part of the ceremonies, water was symbolically poured out in anticipation of the Messianic outpouring of the Holy Spirit – Jesus as the source of living water to all who believe (John 7:37–39). Then, in Revelation, the river of life forms part of the city of God, where redeemed humanity will live with him as the source and heart of everything (Rev 22:1–5).

1 p357

Fran Beckett

Background: The life-giving river

Images of water

Frequently in Scripture there is reference to a life-giving stream flowing from God’s sanctuary (see Genesis 2:10–14; Psalm 46:4: Zechariah 14:8). The prevalence of this imagery bears witness to facts of life in the Ancient Near East.

Water was often scarce, but its presence was necessary for life and prosperity. Hence a vision of abundance and blessing is frequently communicated through the image of flowing water (as opposed to a stagnant lake or the undrinkable Dead Sea).

Distinctive characteristics of Ezekiel’s river

● Ezekiel’s river starts as a gentle stream, but ends as a mighty torrent.

● The theme of transformation is stressed. The river brings life from the dead, transforming and healing even the salty waters of the Dead Sea.

● The river bridges the gap between the holy God and sinful humanity. Blessing is not restricted to those who have access to the inner courts of the temple, but flows out widely as a river of life bringing blessing and healing to all.

Contact with Revelation

The river described here is similar in several respects to that in Revelation 22: a river flowing from the throne of God and the Lamb to nourish the tree of life, the fruit of which appears every month, and the leaves of which are for ‘the healing of the nations’ (Revelation 22:2).

Andrew Clark

Bible in a year

Read the Bible in a year.

Deuteronomy 2,3

Acts 26

The river

The river of life is a rich picture of God as the Sustainer, providing his Spirit that keeps us going and brings vitality to the whole world around us. Just as all living beings rely on water, sunlight or oxygen, we remember the One who created it all in the first place and the blessing he continues to provide.

Download this image to use as a computer desktop wallpaper or print it out as a poster as a reminder to come back to the Source for a top-up.

Image by Roby Ferrari, used under a Creative Commons licence.


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In Christ alone
Keith Getty & Stuart Townend
Copyright © 2001 Thankyou Music
Buy this and other great worship songs at www.integritymusic.com

Be the centre
Michael Frye
Copyright© 1999 Vineyard records (UK/Eire)
Buy this and other great worship songs at www.vineyardrecords.co.uk

  • Rachael Hampton | Friday, 15 March 2019

    O the joy of water! Puddles and ponds, roaring oceans and waterfalls, rivers and streams, and Roger’s shower. Washing bodies clean and giving life to us and the land. How much more do we need and enjoy spiritual water, flowing from God, to cleanse our consciences and our lives from dead works; to refresh, and to bring an eternal dimension to our ordinary lives. For Jesus’ extraordinary promise in John 7:37-38 is that this glorious living water that He gives also flows from the Holy Spirit within us! May we bring life by all we say and do. Amen to your prayer Anne for those in NZ, and for all who suffer.

  • Rachael Hampton | Friday, 15 March 2019

    Thank you for your comment Ray. Barbara, continuing to pray for your health.

  • Gilvin Crisifeca | Saturday, 16 March 2019

    V9 so where the river flows everything will live. Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life. Proverbs 13:12. And 17:22 A cheerful heart is good medicine but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. There is no substitute for a mind that's stayed on God. A faith that never quits and the Word flowing into our every thought, will and emotion.

  • Angela Munday | Saturday, 16 March 2019

    As we allow the spiritual water of baptism to cover us we can feel liberated from everything that seeks to keep us static and a prisoner. We can receive Christ, who empowers us to live fearlessly in Him and to travel on into the enormity of God’s Creation; continually moving forward, because “wherever the water flows it will bring life.”

  • Roger Hall | Saturday, 16 March 2019

    On the second day, God created Water. Not just the water in the bath, or the water in the river, but All the water there is! It's no surprise that the water coming from the Throne of Creator may appear as an ever growing river. Creation goes on forever! One of the Wow factors that makes one certain of Who we love.

  • Roger Hall | Saturday, 16 March 2019

    Rachel, yesterday I woke to the appalling news of the hate filled massacre in New Zealand. I have to say that I was full of anger as I got in the shower and asked the Lord one question - why are they killing each other. After a bit as the water got deeper, a word of caution appeared that I should not judge from what I had heard but take time to take it in. Then it later emerged who it was and it made it more difficult to come to terms with it! First thoughts were that those who died, for whom Jesus already shed His Precious Blood were looking to Worship Him. But may not have known how to. However, as the day wore on, I became convinced that God knows exactly how to deal with it. Not with anger, not with cold justice, perhaps the question, "oh Man, now what have you done?" Then an out flowing of Love -the Agapè of God!

  • Jack Russell | Saturday, 16 March 2019

    Gilvin amen to your comment. I would add that there is no judgement in either having a crushed spirit or a cheerful heart - it seems that the proverbs you quote therefore acknowledge the reality of life that either can happen. Of course God will nt break a bruised reed or snuff out a smouldering candle and the joy of the Lord is your strength. What a beautiful picture being painted in today's reading. I take the fruit trees being planted by the river to be a metaphor for people, bearing fruit in season for food and healing whether it be physical, spiritual, emotional or relational and not withering or failing. Yet this is no rose tinted vision, the inclusion of swamps and mashes left for salt shows than not everywhere (or everyone) will be like this. Of course in illness and as we grow older we will wear out but we can have life within us that never will but rather is eternal and life in it's fullness in the here and now not for something in the future.

  • Sue Sebborn | Saturday, 16 March 2019

    This chapter really thrills me as I felt God gave it to me a year ago when we had a new pastor as a promise that his river of life is going to flow out of the church into the village. Now a new vicar has just been installed in the C of E church at the other end of the village and we are excited at working with them to bring Gods love to the village in a new way, that people will taste and see that the Lord is good.

  • David Chipchase | Saturday, 16 March 2019

    In the hard copy of "Deeper", its "Respond" is "Every time you wash your hands under running water, pray for the cleansing and renewing activity of the Holy Spirit in your life."

  • Eileen Smith | Saturday, 16 March 2019

    Thank you for passing that on DAVID

  • Chukwunonso Enyobi | Saturday, 16 March 2019

    The living water (the holy spirit) healed the salty sea, but it didn't heal the miry places and the marshes thereof. Instead they shall be given to salt (significance of salt: Deuteronomy 29:23). Remember that the miry places and marshes were originally made miry and salty by the sea. Now the sea was healed but the land near it which it succeed to corrupt wasn't healed. The miry and marsh ground represents the reprobate part of the world, obstinate and perverse sinners, that abandon themselves to the filthy lists and sensual pleasure; that wallow like swine in the mire and dirt of sin... may God help and save us all

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