Friday, November 09, 2018

Wherever the River Flows

Wherever the River Flows

“Wherever the river flows, every sort of living creature that can multiply shall live, and there shall be abundant fish, for wherever this water comes the sea shall be made fresh."  Ezekiel 47:9

You are God's building. According to the grace of God given to me, like a wise master builder, I laid a foundation, and another is building upon it. But each one must be careful how he builds upon it, for no one can lay a foundation other than the one that is there, namely, Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 3:9C-11

Jesus answered and said to them, "Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up." The Jews said, "This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and you will raise it up in three days?" But he was speaking about the temple of his Body. Therefore, when he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they came to believe the Scripture and the word Jesus had spoken.  John 2:19-22

When you live in a desert, dryness and death are all around.  That is exactly where Ezekiel lived 2,500 years ago.  It was not only the natural desert but also the political desert in which Nebuchadnezzar, the Babylonian ruler, besieged Jerusalem.

Ezekiel’s first vision was walking through the desert, encountering dead, dry bones with no life.  Humans have no power to bring those bones to life.  When the Israelites encounter the Dead Sea, they find no life. However, today’s passage from the Hebrew Bible makes the turn from death to life.  As the waters of faith flow, life is given in abundance.

The life and refreshment produced wherever the Temple stream flows evoke the order and abundance of paradise we encounter in Genesis and Psalms.

Then God said: Let the water teem with an abundance of living creatures, and on the earth let birds fly beneath the dome of the sky. (Genesis 1:20)

Streams of the river gladden the city of God, the holy dwelling of the Most High. (Psalms 46:5).

These visions of water represent the coming transformation Ezekiel envisions for the exiles and their land. Water signifies great blessings and evidence of the Lord’s presence. This vision of the Temple stream which transforms places of death into places of life is similar in purpose to the oracle of making the dry bones come to life through the breath of the Lord in Ezekiel 37:1–14.  Despite being surrounded by desert and death, the prophet offers the exiles hope for the future.

Ezekiel is clear on one hope-filled point: The Lord punishes and restores for one reason—for the sake of his name, in order to demonstrate once and for all that he is Lord.[i]

Just like no one can literally understand how God can bring dry bones to life, neither can they understand what Jesus means when he says that he will rebuild the temple in three days. Even trying to understand the resurrection of his body is beyond human comprehension.

Ever wonder why the beach is such a popular vacation or retirement destination?  Maybe that is because we still seek the refreshing waters of life.  While we may not be escaping from the dry, sandy desert, our modern deserts are made from glass, steel, and concrete.  Our Jerusalem is besieged not by the Babylonians but by the politics of cynicism, division, and victory at any cost. Even many Church leaders (read “bishops!”), seem to be slow to act to restore confidence in the physical church. They seem to want to take forty-six years to reconstruct the “temple.”

Is it any wonder, then, why so many people are turning from the man-made churches to live in the natural church and cultivate a direct relationship with Jesus?  

How are you God’s building?  How are you building upon the foundation Jesus set in your Baptism?

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