COME AND TAKE THE WATER OF LIFE

Posted by on Jul 13, 2016 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on COME AND TAKE THE WATER OF LIFE

Blog for July 13, 2016

COME AND TAKE THE WATER OF LIFE

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Before we read the passage we will discuss today I wanted to read you a quote from Ray C. Stedman. I’ve loved the teachings of Ray, who stepped into eternity 24 years ago, for several years now. In his book, “God’s Final Word, Understanding Revelation” Ray makes mention of the fact that 1st century Christians believed Jesus was coming soon. Today, I share the same thoughts that Ray states, that many erroneously state that the Apostles were wrong. That the book of Revelation is wrong. And, after 2000 years what makes anyone think that Jesus is coming back now? I caution, if any of you reading this believe any of those three stances you are on dangerous and deadly ground. Let me quote you what Ray had to say in his book that was first published a year before he died. He said, quote,

But if there is one thing the book of Revelation makes clear it is the fact that John’s vision links time and eternity in ways that transcend human understanding. We look at time as a straight line, marked off in years like inches on a ruler. We see John’s era of the first century A.D. as being at one point on the ruler, our own era some 2,000 years later, and the events of Revelation as occurring at some time further along that ruler. Properly understood, however, the events of Revelation were no further off in John’s future than they are in yours or mine. The final destiny of a human being, whether lost or righteous, begins the instant that individual dies. Eternity is never more than a heartbeat away, never farther in the future than one’s own death. It won’t be long before you and I step out of time and into eternity. And when we arrive in eternity, the saints who preceded us in death by a hundred or a thousand or two thousand years won’t say to us, “What took you so long?” They’ll be just like us, new arrivals in eternity, staring goggled-eyed in amazement at the unguessed-at wonders God has prepared for us.”

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I could read Ray’s words over and over again which I think wonderfully explains the point of Jesus coming soon. Taking up Jesus words by way of invitation is what we read in Revelation 22:17-19 which says, “The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price. I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.” (ESV)

 Notice first that the “Spirit”, which is the Spirit of God Himself, issues the invitation to Jesus to come. That invitation is echoed further by all those whom God has redeemed through Christ. In other words, it is an invitation for believers to take the free gift of the water of life and to come and live eternally with Christ.

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But also notice there is a stern and direct warning. Jesus warns EVERYONE that if His words are tampered with by adding or taking away any of its content then God will remove such them from His kingdom. When we look at the stranglehold of the Pentecostal/Charismatic/Word of Faith movement in the world today this warning is all too relevant. Despite the fact that this movement is the fastest growing movement in the church today I, for one (with many others), believe this Scripture and others are warning these specific churches, which means their pastors and congregants, who believe in what is taught. I believe this warning directly refers to these individuals and churches in such passages. God is abundantly clear and adamant that if a human being, church, or organization twist His Scriptures, either by interpretation or worse, ignoring or accepting sinful practices and allowing for such sin to go unpunished, then those who associate themselves with such blind heresy will be no part of His future plans. Sadly, my heart breaks knowing many people personally who follow these false teachings and who blindly think that they are following God.

Tomorrow we will conclude our journey in Revelation and we have exciting news as to what’s in store with MDR Ministries next series of blogs etc.

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The Bright Morning Star

Posted by on Jul 12, 2016 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on The Bright Morning Star

Blog for July 12, 2016

The Bright Morning Star

As we reach nearer to the end of this wonderful book of prophecy we are told in Revelation 22:12-16, “Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates. Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood. “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.” (ESV)

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 Again, Jesus warns He is coming soon. He underscores that warning that he is bringing His recompense with Him to repay each one what he has done. This refers to their earthly life and their actions and lifestyles based upon their belief system.

Notice Jesus refers to several descriptions of Himself that show He has total authority in what He does. He refers to Himself as the “Alpha and Omega”, “the first and the last”, “the beginning and the end”. He informs us that He is the root and descendant of David. And He declares He is the “bright Morning Star”. These descriptions tell us that Jesus is identifying Himself as God the Creator. That He is the Messiah.

There is no ambiguity in this passage as to each person’s destiny based upon their life course. To repay each one for what they have done is a clear message that EVERYONE will face judgment in front of the Lord Jesus Christ. In 1 Corinthians 3:11-15 Paul tells believers, “For no one can lay any foundation other than the one we already have—Jesus Christ. Anyone who builds on that foundation may use a variety of materials—gold, silver, jewels, wood, hay, or straw. But on the judgment day, fire will reveal what kind of work each builder has done. The fire will show if a person’s work has any value. If the work survives, that builder will receive a reward. But if the work is burned up, the builder will suffer great loss. The builder will be saved, but like someone barely escaping through a wall of flames.” (NLT) While this Scripture confirms that believers will be saved, it also points out there are serious consequences as to the lack of service a person gives to Christ. We should never be complacent and we should never think we have ever done enough in the service of our Lord and Master.

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In contrast, those who reject Christ and do not believe in God are told clearly in Revelation 20:11-15, “Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. The earth and the heavens fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what they had done. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.” (NIV) This passage identifies those whose names will not be in the book of life and there are many Scriptures that describe what works they will be judged by.

Jesus tells us that “Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates. Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.” Here is a direct reference to everything we have been discussing. That those who wash their robes in the blood of the Lamb will have the right to enter the city of the New Jerusalem. While angels stand guard at each of the 12 gates, none of those granted access to the city will be barred from entering its gates.

Outside, which means in the eternal state of hell, will be the dogs. These are not literal dogs. In Jesus’s day, the Jews called anyone who was not of their creed a “dog”. In a broader sense, Jesus is here describing those who are not followers of Him and He goes on to describe what practices they indulge in that prevent them from being part of His kingdom. Remember, the list is not restricted to the few terms mentioned in this Scripture. For a full list, one needs to consult those whom Paul described in “…willfully practicing the works of the flesh” as seen in Galatians 5:19-21.

The final point I want to say today is something we may overlook. Jesus tells us that the angel is His representative to testify these things to the churches. Did you see that? This message, this Revelation, is specifically written for the church. That not only gives us cause for rejoicing but it also comes with a command. That we are to preach the Gospel of Christ so that others may, by the Grace of God, be changed and become part of His church.

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“Worship God”

Posted by on Jul 11, 2016 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on “Worship God”

Blog for July 11, 2016

“Worship God”

In Revelation 22:8-9 John writes, “I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I heard and saw them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed them to me, but he said to me, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers the prophets, and with those who keep the words of this book. Worship God.” (ESV)

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This is an interesting passage in that we can read the first portion in one of two ways. Either John made the mistake again of falling down at the feet of the angel as he had done previously in Revelation 19:10 or John was repeating the event of that verse. Personally, I share the belief that John was so overwhelmed with everything he had seen he again forgot himself, or just simply collapsed in wonder. John doesn’t say he fell down to worship the angel but that he fell at the feet of the angel.

In any event, the angel (and rightly so) felt that it was completely inappropriate for John to do so and hence, issued the command, “You must not do that!” The angel categorically told John and his audience (those who would read these words) that it is only God who is to be worshiped.

The angel rightly points out that he is a fellow servant with both John and the prophets before him, along with “those who keep the words of this book”.  If you do not realize it, that means you and I.

After John received the command of the angel the angel said in Revelation 22:10-11, “And he said to me, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near. Let the evildoer still do evil, and the filthy still be filthy, and the righteous still do right, and the holy still be holy.” (ESV)

Unlike Daniel being told by the angel to seal up the words that the angel spoke to him (See Daniel 8:26; 12:4-10) John is told not to seal up the words of the prophecy of Revelation. We now know many of the words in Daniel refer to the time of the end as spoken of in Revelation, but Daniel did not know that. That is why he told the angel he did not understand. The angel reassured him that the final portion of his message was for the future.

But John was told that the prophecy had to be revealed because of its urgency for everyone to read it. The angel repeats that “the time is near”. Do you realize how privileged we are to be the very ones who were/are allowed to read this book? Think about it, almost 70 years had passed since Jesus had died and returned to heaven. It is not unlikely that some believers who had the privilege of seeing Christ or being one of the first followers of Him and His Apostles had also died prior to the Revelation being given to John. Can you imagine if those who had died had received this prophecy would have felt? We should indeed look at Revelation and realize that we truly are members of the body of Christ whom He has allowed these things to be revealed to in order that we can act upon them by declaring the Gospel so that those whom we preach to, and for ourselves, will be ready for the imminent return of Christ.

The final part of the passage may seem odd but it should not. The angel says, “…let the evildoer still do evil, and the filthy still be filthy, and the righteous still do right, and the holy still be holy”. What is meant here?

It merely points out that by the return of Christ people’s destinies will have been fixed. They are either going to hell or they are going to heaven. This is why it is so important for us to preach the Gospel. It also means that, by this point, EVERYONE will have heard the Gospel. Those who have heard it and choose to continue in their evil ways the angel informs John, “let them”. Their course of action has sealed their destiny which will be eternal hellfire. In contrast, those who practice righteousness and remain holy will receive their eternal reward in God’s kingdom for their faithfulness to God.

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TAKE IT TO THE BANK

Posted by on Jul 11, 2016 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on TAKE IT TO THE BANK

Blog for July 8, 2016

TAKE IT TO THE BANK

As we move into the middle portion of Revelation chapter 22 we are reading the Epilogue. John tells us in Revelation 22:6-7, “And he said to me, “These words are faithful and true”; and the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, sent His angel to show to His bond-servants the things which must soon take place. “And behold, I am coming quickly. Blessed is he who heeds the words of the prophecy of this book.” (NASB)

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If you have ever heard the expression, “You can take it to the bank” then this is exactly what the angel is saying to John. In other words, when the angel told John, “These words are faithful and true” he was stating that he could depend on the truthfulness of that statement. It was not, is not, counterfeit or bogus. The angel was saying to the Apostle, “You can believe me. What I am telling you is the truth. You can take it to the bank. This information is as good as gold.”

He was able to say these things to John with such confidence because it wasn’t his words but God’s word. As John was listening to the angel he received further confirmation that such words and promises would come to pass by being reminded by the angel that God had previously proven His words were truthful by what He said to the prophets in earlier times and that those words had come true.

We then see the expression, “And behold, I am coming quickly”.  Again, the angel is delivering a message. He isn’t coming quickly, Christ is. This expression, or the description of, was spoken of by James, Paul, and Peter.

In James 5:9b we are told, “For look—the Judge is standing at the door!”(NLT)

Paul wrote in Romans 13:11-12a, “Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. The night is far gone; the day is at hand.” (ESV)

In 1 Peter 4:7 the Apostle warned, “The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers.” (ESV)

All of these Scriptures speak of urgency and alertness, that the return of Christ was imminent. We make the mistake of expecting this word to mean it is coming soon. The word “imminent” can have many definitions. But, essentially, it means that an event can occur at any moment. In our modern world, we read about many people attempting to date the event of the return of Christ. Sadly, such men and organizations have misled millions and continue to do so. In the first century AD, Christians had no such thoughts of date setting. The majority of believers, if not all, expected Jesus to return in their lifetime. Therefore, they kept busy in ensuring they were spiritually ready for His return. When some believers fell back into sin we see Paul and others warning them of the consequences and a call to remain vigilant and to repent.

Now, almost 2000 years later, we see a plethora of those who call themselves “Christians” diluting the Gospel, declaring we must adjust God’s word or meaning to fit the culture of our day. That, my friends, is blasphemy against the very word of God. If you disagree with that statement then you are probably one of the so-called “Christians” I am referring to or, at the very least, you’re being misled.

With two millennia gone since Christ stood on this earth, I personally believe that many Christians live in a false bubble, thinking that they have all the time in the world to correct their thinking or change their lifestyle.

But notice what the angel told John. “Blessed is he who heeds the words of the prophecy of this book.” If you think you can cherry pick what you like as to what you read in the Bible to suit your world view and disregard the rest you’re not serving God, you’re paying lip service. God wrote all of these things as a road map, a blueprint for His people to follow. The prophecy that the angel is telling John about WILL take place, whether in our lifetime or those who follow after us. From a Divine timeframe, Christ’s return is indeed imminent. He IS standing at the door. He IS coming quickly. That should be sufficient for anyone us to take heed and be ready.

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NO LONGER ACCURSED

Posted by on Jul 7, 2016 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on NO LONGER ACCURSED

Blog for July 7, 2016

NO LONGER ACCURSED

Following on from the descriptions of the river of water of life, the tree of life and the leaves for healing we read in Revelation 22:3-5, “No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.” (ESV)

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While this passage may seem straight forward there are some things many question as to their meaning, which will be the focus of today’s study.

First, we are told that “no longer will there be anything accursed”. This is a direct reference to man’s former condition. When Adam and Eve sinned, God decreed that His creation was accursed. The consequences of their sin was a direct result of ignoring God’s law. We read this in Genesis 2:17 which tells us, “But from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.” (NASB)

It is inconceivable for anyone not to realize that God must have explained to Adam what separation from God and death meant. Neither of our first parents had any experience of death. While the Scriptures are silent on this, God must have seen to it that they knew, without doubt, what it meant to disobey Him and the ensuing results. After they ignored God’s command we can read what God said next in Genesis chapter 3.

In verse 14a we read, “The Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field.” (ESV)

In verse 15 we see the well-known verse of the enmity between Satan and Jesus that would result in Jesus reclaiming mankind from sin. Revelation is the result of that reclamation which clearly points to the undeserving mercy that God has bestowed upon His creation by the sacrifice of His Son on our behalf.

In verse 17a we read, “And to Adam he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you.” (ESV)

The passage we are now reading is the future timeframe when everything that was caused by sin is no longer there. It has been removed forever. Remember, at this point, there is a New Heavens and a New Earth. The only ones in that new creation are followers of God and His Lamb, Jesus Christ, which leads to our next point – that both God and Christ are with their people and the people gladly worship Him. Notice the verse changes from the description of “God and of the Lamb” (plural) to “Him” (single), which is another proof source that Jesus is fully God.

But what about the Scripture in Exodus 33:20 that says no man can see God’s face and live? In our sinful state that is true. But again, the Scripture is referring to when believers will be in resurrected glorified bodies. There are many verses in the Bible that detail the history of God revealing His purposes to us. For now He has revealed only what we are able to see because of how man’s relationship with God has been injured and limited. This is why we should rejoice in reading Revelation 22:4.  When believers are finally able to see the face of God – what an incredible moment that will be!  Only then will man finally experience the fullness of God. That is when we will finally be able to look upon God the Father and live and experience Him in full.

His name being “on their foreheads” means believers will be His possession for all eternity. Full, complete union with God forever – oh what joy we have in store in realizing that reality, Hallelujah!

The fact that the Scripture says there will be no night is a direct reference to the immense glory of God. Night cannot fall where God’s glory is perpetually present. Some ask whether believers will need sleep, as in the cycle of day and night now. We again must remember that we will then have glorified bodies. Perhaps we will have no need of sleep which, in our present state, is essential in order to restore and rejuvenate, to grow muscle, repair tissue, and synthesize hormones. But when we are transformed and receive our resurrected, glorified bodies there will be no need for repair or restoration as sin, which causes our present deterioration, will no longer be present.

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Finally, we are told believers will “…reign forever”. What that reign consists of is yet to be revealed. What we see from this passage is how loving and merciful God is to those who believe in Him and surrender to His majesty. It would be enough just to be able to live forever in His presence, which none of us deserve. Yet, His undying love for you and me is crowned with God bestowing us with the promise that we will reign forever with Christ, who made all this possible by fulfilling God’s plan and purpose.

When you are troubled or concerned in your life, remember these things we have discussed today. God had a plan from eternity past that ensured those who would accept Christ would receive eternal blessings. Nothing that may befall us can ever take that promise away. Rest in the hope and promises of God.

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EITHER SIDE OF THE RIVER

Posted by on Jul 6, 2016 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on EITHER SIDE OF THE RIVER

Blog for July 6, 2016

EITHER SIDE OF THE RIVER

In our previous blog we were discussing Revelation 22:1-2 which read, “Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.” (ESV)

You will recall we spent the entire time discussing whether the river of the water of life is literal and/or symbolic. Rather than continue to discuss this debate, let me ask you this. Does it matter to your eternal welfare if it is either or both? The answer is unequivocally no. Since we are not there yet, we can debate until we are blue in the face but whatever is the correct definition will be revealed when we arrive there. I’m sure we won’t be arguing the point then but instead, we will be glad that we are counted worthy by the blood of Christ to be there in the first place.

Further description of the water says it is clear as crystal and flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city. That city you will recall is New Jerusalem. We have read previously how crystal has exceptional reflective properties. Here we see it depicts reflecting God’s glory from an ever-flowing source from God’s temple. If we are reading the Scripture in symbolic terms then the ever-flowing water, or Holy Spirit, imparts everlasting life to all those in the city forever, as in a constant flow of a river.

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As for the tree of life it says it is on “either side of the river”. To picture that scene, one could consider if the river branches are on each side or perhaps the river passes through the tree of life, as in an arch type configuration. Scripture does not tell us. But again, it is something we need not trouble ourselves with.

Interestingly, in a sermon published on May 25, 1911, Charles Spurgeon spoke of Jesus Christ being the tree of life. Others have since voiced the same metaphor of Christ being the tree and that, by His sacrifice, He gives us everlasting life and by His blood, we are able to feed from the tree of life (Him) forever.

The fact that it states there are twelve kinds of fruit yielding fruit each month may cause some confusion because in eternity we will not be bound by time. The use of the word “month” can not, therefore, refer to a timeframe because time will not exist. “Twelve” here, together with “months”, may imply the infinite variety we will have in heaven.

Again, we have to be reminded that John is explaining to his readers in the best way possible for their understanding. That being said, we have no concept of what heaven will be like, let alone none us being bound by time ever again. The fact is, whatever meets us in heaven it will be far more glorious than anything we could ever imagine.

Will the tree of life that was first seen in the Garden of Eden be the tree of life spoken of in this passage? Will we eat or drink in heaven? If we do, will our diet consist of 12 different fruits? We simply do not know. But again, we have no need to know, for God will be there and He will provide abundantly for us by whatever means He sees fit. It is only man’s thoughts and interpretations now that paints a picture in our minds. Don’t be surprised when you get there that things may be completely different to what someone may have told you or what you expect based on our limited knowledge and thought as to our interpretation.

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The final point in the passage may cause people additional concern. Why would you need leaves to heal the nations when no sickness will be present in the New Jerusalem? The Greek word used here is therapeia which is where we get the English word “therapeutic from. Rather than denoting healing, it suggests a therapeutic effect as in life-giving or health giving. We could liken that to the fact that everlasting life will be rich and rewarding forever enriching our souls forever. That being said the Scripture does not say we will not eat the leaves or the fruit. In order to find out if we do, make sure your there!

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“..the river of the water of life..”

Posted by on Jul 5, 2016 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on “..the river of the water of life..”

Blog for July 5, 2016

“..the river of the water of life..”

As we begin the last chapter of Revelation today I first want to apologize for your not seeing any blogs for over a week. Debbie and I took several days off to visit with family and to “recharge our batteries”, so to speak. We hope you and your loved ones had a wonderful 4th of July and we pray that God will show mercy on our nation for the many things that are working contrary to His word. More than ever, Christians need to remain faithful to God, no matter what may befall each and every one of us. Remember, we are travelers in this world for, as Philippians 3:20 says, “But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior.” (NLT) As we start our reading in Revelation chapter 22 we see the fullness of that glorious citizenship.

In Revelation 22:1-2 we read, “Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.” (ESV)

The river of the water of life

The river of the water of life

It appears that the angel spoken of in this passage is the same one who was showing John the things he saw in the previous chapter.

Before we delve into the remainder of the passage let me say this. Some people believe the river is literal, some believe it is symbolic and some believe it is both. That, in itself, should indicate that a person should not be dogmatic on what is the correct interpretation. That said, there are other Scriptures that give us some incite as to how we may conclude what is meant by “the river of the water of life”.

Some theologians say that because we are told in Revelation 21:1 there will be no sea that there also will be no rivers. That, I believe, is not necessarily true. First, we are not told in Scripture that rivers will be absent in the new order. Second, to suggest that because there will be no hydrologic cycle due to the absence of the oceans and therefore, no water, implies that God cannot produce water by other means. That simply is again, in my opinion, an affront to God’s majesty. He produced the earth in which we live from nothing. He can certainly produce a water source by whatever means He chooses. Hence, the passage we are reading now could indeed mean there may be a literal river.

On the other hand, we read Scriptures that tell us more about this water being symbolic in nature. For example, we read in Isaiah 12:3 that, “With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.” (ESV)

John wrote the account of Jesus speaking to the Samaritan woman in John 4:13-14, “Jesus answered and said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.” (NASB)

In John 7:38-39 we see a clearer indication of what Jesus was referring to when He spoke of the water He was describing. The Scripture reads, “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.” (ESV) Should you attempt to find the Scripture Jesus was referring to in verse 38, you will not find it. What is more likely is that the text should read “Scriptures” as to the plural number of verses Jesus was quoting. There are indeed many Scriptures, that combined, offer the thought that Jesus was speaking of here. (See Isaiah 58:11; Ezekiel 47:1-12; Zechariah 13:1; Zechariah 14:8.)

We will continue this thought and some further Scriptures in our next blog which will clarify what is meant by this and the rest of the passage of Revelation 22:1-2.

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