In my studies I am looking at how Jesus fulfils the Laws and the Prophets. I want to look at Ezekiel this month and especially look at Chapter 47.
Ezekiel looks toward the restoration of a kingdom of Israel; Ezekiel’s vision is of a new temple. He describes a river flowing from below the threshold of the temple, the temple where the Divine Glory had entered. (Ezekiel 43:4) Ezekiel’s temple will never be built since Christ will end the need for sacrifices.
So let us look at Ezekiel’s vision:
His vision starts at the entrance to the temple, and he is beckoned onwards by a man whose appearance shone like bronze. (Ezekiel 40:3) Many believers rest at this point; they have entered the temple and become believers.
But Ezekiel is lead into the river (the Holy Spirit) by the man (Jesus). Ezekiel is led into incrementally greater depths. From ankle deep to knee deep until his feet could not touch the bottom. He is asked ‘Mortal, have you seen this.’ (Ezekiel 47:6) Now the believer is swimming moved by the current; the deeper into the water they go the more the spirit is in Control.
Lead back onto the bank Ezekiel sees ever-yielding trees on the river edge. (Ezekiel 47:12)
Jerimiah also writes about seeing trees:
‘Blessed are those who trust in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. They shall be like a tree planted by water, sending out its roots by the stream.’ (Jeremiah 17:7-8)
These trees represent the believers with roots deep and continually drinking of the spirit.
Ezekiel is then told: There will be many fish everything will live where the river goes. As it passes over the cliff at En-gedi people will stand fishing in the ultimate fishing spot. When it reaches the sea stagnant waters will become fresh. Only the swamps and marshes will not become fresh, they are to be left for salt. The author Susan Rohrer sees this vision as Jesus beckoning every believer to drink deeply of the Holy Spirit. Susan Rohrer says:
‘Standing under the waterfall they are continually anointed and refreshed by the spray of the Holy Spirit. Drawn, redeemed, baptised, equipped and trained for fishing for people. This is what life in the spirit is about.’(Rohrer, 2014, pp.58–59)
This is a beautiful interpretation of the vision of ‘a life in Christ’ given to Ezekiel. Author John Drane, describes the river as a ‘wonderful life-giving stream flowing from the restored temple in Jerusalem out to the Dead Sea.
Paul says in Romans 8:29 ‘become like Gods son’. Jesus has been the only one ever to do God’s will perfectly. However, Christians can do the same by the presence of the risen Christ living in them. The way this will happen is by asking the Holy Spirit to transform them into Gods likeness.
Christian fellowship and the lives of the early followers of Jesus were inspired by their experience of the Holy Spirit. The early church had come into being through the work of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. God spoke to its founder members and worked amongst them with such power that they had to respond. As the individual disciples experienced the compelling power of the Holy Spirit which enabled them to grow together as a loving community. Living their love for God each other and love for the rest of the world. The spirit told them what to say in their preaching and empowered them to say it. God changed their lives through the spirit.
How do we as Christians today manage to live the Christian life? With all the worldly distractions we encounter everyday it is hard to stay focused. We need to Pray, study and then go forward in Action. Jesus left us the spirit to help us to live the Christian life. But to do this we need faith to follow him and to step out of the normal. To be encouraged like a child taking his first steps. Opening our hearts to him with the knowledge that he will understand when we unintentionally wobble or stumble.
So we can move ultimately into an intimacy with him that we could never imagine. We are free to ask Jesus to light our path every step of the way. We constantly need to listen to the spirit. The spirit will ask us to trust him; he will let us go at our own pace and will not pull us deeper into the river than we want. He is our constant companion and guide.
Sue Rohrer assures us that ‘with the coming of the spirit we will receive ‘grace gifts’ undeserved and distributed precisely as the spirit wills.’(Rohrer, 2014, p.90).
She also asks us to use Ezekiel’s vision to work out where we are on the River flowing from the throne. So in a quiet moment, sit and…
‘Visualize the grounds surrounding the house— the temple of God. See the spring, bubbling up from the foundation of the sanctuary, running along the base of the altar of atonement. See the redeemed, congregated inside.
Now, watch Jesus as He walks outside and around the temple, into the world. Hear Jesus calling, beckoning those inside the church to follow the course of the stream outward, as its flow expands into a mighty river.
See Jesus leading those who approach the deepening waters of the Holy Spirit— gently drawing each individual in— to the ankles, the knees, the thighs, then deeper still, till the waters overwhelm human control.
Notice the inhabited marshes along the edge. Turn to those well-rooted trees along the bank, along the river as it flows through the Arabah. Watch the glorious cascade of the waterfall off the cliffs of Engedi, the spray anointing the valley below, all the way to the barren Eneglaim, refreshing the dying sea of humanity.
See the fishermen at the bank, pulling in an abundant catch. Study those never aging trees absorbing the mist from the waterfall, bearing fruit continually.’
‘Pinpoint the exact spot, at which you are. Then realistically acknowledge your position in this vision to God, and tell our father where you would like to be.’