1 Then he brought me back to the door of the temple, and behold, water was issuing from below the threshold of the temple toward the east (for the temple faced east). The water was flowing down from below the south end of the threshold of the temple, south of the altar. 2 Then he brought me out by way of the north gate and led me around on the outside to the outer gate that faces toward the east; and behold, the water was trickling out on the south side.
3 Going on eastward with a measuring line in his hand, the man measured a thousand cubits, and then led me through the water, and it was ankle-deep. 4 Again he measured a thousand, and led me through the water, and it was knee-deep. Again he measured a thousand, and led me through the water, and it was waist-deep. 5 Again he measured a thousand, and it was a river that I could not pass through, for the water had risen. It was deep enough to swim in, a river that could not be passed through. 6 And he said to me, “Son of man, have you seen this?”
Then he led me back to the bank of the river. 7 As I went back, I saw on the bank of the river very many trees on the one side and on the other. 8 And he said to me, “This water flows toward the eastern region and goes down into the Arabah, and enters the sea; when the water flows into the sea, the water will become fresh. 9 And wherever the river goes, every living creature that swarms will live, and there will be very many fish. For this water goes there, that the waters of the sea may become fresh; so everything will live where the river goes. 10 Fishermen will stand beside the sea. From Engedi to Eneglaim it will be a place for the spreading of nets. Its fish will be of very many kinds, like the fish of the Great Sea. 11 But its swamps and marshes will not become fresh; they are to be left for salt. 12 And on the banks, on both sides of the river, there will grow all kinds of trees for food. Their leaves will not wither, nor their fruit fail, but they will bear fresh fruit every month, because the water for them flows from the sanctuary. Their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for healing.” – Ezekiel 47:1-12 ESV
What an amazing picture of God’s faithfulness. Not only is He going to restore the land and the people to it, but He is also going to rebuild the Temple, reinstate the sacrificial system, and renew their hearts. God is going to make it possible for the Israelites to serve Him faithfully so that they can remain in the land. He will give them new hearts and a new desire to serve Him faithfully.
For I will gather you up from all the nations and bring you home again to your land. Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean. Your filth will be washed away, and you will no longer worship idols. And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart. And I will put my Spirit in you so that you will follow my decrees and be careful to obey my regulations. And you will live in Israel, the land I gave your ancestors long ago. You will be my people, and I will be your God. – Ezekiel 36:24-26 NLT
This entire vision that Ezekiel received was about what God is going to do in the future Millennial Kingdom. God will not only change the hearts of the people, but He will also change the nature of the land of Israel.
In his vision, Ezekiel sees a river flowing from the Holy of Holies, the innermost room of the temple. This river will flow out from the temple grounds and into the Jordan Valley, slowly growing larger and deeper as it makes its way to the Dead Sea. And as its waters flow into the Dead Sea it will transform this lifeless body of water into a fish-filled, tree-bounded paradise. This river of life will dramatically alter the topography of the land.
At the present time, the region around the Dead Sea is a barren wasteland, but in the Millennial Kingdom, it will be transformed into a lush and fruitful paradise. Trees will grow where no trees exist right now. Fish will swim where no fish can exist right now. The aptly named Dead Sea will become a place of life and fruitfulness. Ezekiel is given a glimpse of the transforming power of God. He will make all things new.
The prophet, Zechariah, also alludes to this new water source that will suddenly show up when Christ returns to earth at His Second Coming.
On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem. And the Mount of Olives will split apart, making a wide valley running from east to west. Half the mountain will move toward the north and half toward the south. – Zechariah 14:4 NLT
As a result of Christ’s dramatic and earth-shattering arrival to earth, the topography surrounding the city of Jerusalem will be permanently altered. A spring will open up in the Holy of Holies and flow out of the sanctuary, through the courtyard, and out the gate of the temple complex.
On that day life-giving waters will flow out from Jerusalem, half toward the Dead Sea and half toward the Mediterranean, flowing continuously in both summer and winter.
And the Lord will be king over all the earth. On that day there will be one Lord—his name alone will be worshiped. – Zechariah 14:8-9 NLT
This life-giving spring will turn into two rivers that will transform the landscape, delivering the water of life to the Mediterranean and the Dead Sea. Jesus Christ will reign from the throne of David in Jerusalem, for a period of one thousand years. And during this time, Jesus, the author of life, will be the source of life and sustenance for all who live under his righteous rule.
This future condition of life and fruitfulness stands in stark contrast to the assessment God made of His rebellious people during the days of Jeremiah the prophet.
“For my people have done two evil things: They have abandoned me— the fountain of living water. And they have dug for themselves cracked cisterns that can hold no water at all!” – Jeremiah 2:13 NLT
In the Millennial Kingdom of Christ, living water will flow from Mount Zion, transforming the landscape of Israel. It is a picture of the life-cleansing, sin-atoning work of Jesus on the cross.
In His encounter at the well with the Samaritan woman, Jesus informed her: “If you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask me, and I would give you living water” (John 4:10 NLT). The woman, confused by what Jesus had said, asked, “Where would you get this living water?” (John 4:11 NLT). And Jesus, pointing to the nearby well, responded, “Anyone who drinks this water will soon become thirsty again. But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life” (John 4:12-13 NLT).
This future Kingdom will be like nothing the world has ever seen before. The righteous administration of Christ will govern like no other government that has ever existed. Zechariah describes an environment where the city of Jerusalem will rise above the newly formed plains that surround it. The city will be filled to the brim with citizens anxious to live under the righteous rule of the King of kings and Lord of lords.
All the land from Geba, north of Judah, to Rimmon, south of Jerusalem, will become one vast plain. But Jerusalem will be raised up in its original place and will be inhabited all the way from the Benjamin Gate over to the site of the old gate, then to the Corner Gate, and from the Tower of Hananel to the king’s winepresses. And Jerusalem will be filled, safe at last, never again to be cursed and destroyed. – Zechariah 14:10-11 NLT
But the river flowing from the inner recesses of the Millennial Temple should remind us of another river that will exist in the eternal state. The apostle John was given a vision of this life-giving river and he describes it in the book of Revelation.
Then he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb, in the middle of its street. On either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. – Revelation 22:1-2 NASB
In this future scene, which takes place at the end of the Millennial Kingdom, John sees the river flowing from the throne of God and the Lamb. This vision reveals the New Jerusalem, which will descend out of heaven and come to rest on earth. From this celestial city, God and His Son will reign over all the earth. And from their thrones will flow the river of the water of life.
God is all about restoring life and bringing about healing, and these things flow from His throne. He is the source of life. Only through Him can men be restored to new life. He can take what was once dead and bring it back to life. He can transform dead lives and renew lifeless seas. That’s the God we serve, and He remains the same, now and forever.
New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.