Summary: We can draw from the River of Life now and forevermore.
When I lived in Tyler, I got a call with an unusual request from the man on the other end of the line. He wanted me to pray at the State Water Convention. Well, I had never prayed at a Water Convention before. Evidently, it was a pretty big deal and sure enough it was. When I got to Harvey Convention Center, it was filled with people. I wasn’t quite sure what to pray for at a Water Convention. I mean, you know when you’re asked to pray at a football game, that’s easy. You just pray for your team to win! I’m kidding.
Anyway, this made me think about all of the things that we use water for. It gives and sustains life. All of creation is dependent upon it. Without it, we die. It keeps things clean, cleanses wounds, provides electricity. Cities have often been built by waterways throughout the ages, because it can give life to the people. It is a means of transportation. It has power! The power of water can smooth stones. There’s a calming effect from water. Many of us on vacations go to lakes, rivers or oceans and enjoy them. There’s something calming about them. I know I love to go to the ocean and just watch the vastness of it. Just to know that the God who created this entire universe, created this seemingly endless ocean! There’s power in it!
There can also be a destructive nature in water. When there are hurricanes or floods or the pipes burst at home because they’re too cold, too old or faulty and create a flood, there are problems. If water sets for a while, it can become stale and breeds mold and mildew and can become quite nasty. A problem we have with a lot of our waterways today is that they are polluted.
In addition to these elements of water, there is a lot of religious significance to water. Again and again, the scriptures make reference to water. When the earth is flooded during the time of Noah, God brings forth life from Noah and his family. They begin again with a new covenant and the rainbow to seal it. The Syrian military leader Naaman is healed of his leprosy in the River Jordan. The Israelites as they are seeking deliverance from the slavery in Egypt prepare to cross the Red Sea. Close behind them is the Egyptian army. The Sea is parted. They go across dry land and they receive deliverance because of the Red Sea. There are the waters of baptism. Through the waters of baptism, we receive the cleansing of sin and we become new creations in Christ. We are claimed as children of God. When I was in Israel, we went to the Dead Sea. I always thought that the Dead Sea would be kind of ugly. With the name "Dead Sea," I just anticipated that. It wasn’t. I was suprised. It was a beautiful blue and green. While I was there, I learned that people all over the world go there to bathe in the waters because it is believed to have medicinal qualities. People with skin problems go there for weeks at a time from Europe. There are all kinds of skin products, like lotions and facial cremes, made from the salts of the Dead Sea. I bought some Ahava products while I was there and they really work! Even though I don’t know of references to the Dead Sea’s healing qualities in the Bible, the Biblical people must have known something about the power of the Dead Sea.
In Psalm 46:4, it states, "There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High."
In the book of Amos, water is compared with justice. "But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an everflowing stream." Amos 5:24
Jesus has a conversation with the woman at the well, how he can give her living water. He says to her, "Those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life." John 4:14
Then, we turn to the use of water in the book of Revelation. A lot of times, people are afraid of the book of Revelation. It is not to be feared. It is a book that is meant to give us hope! It is a book that uses beautiful poetry to point us to the belief that in the end, God will be victorious. Good will win. Justice will win.
So, in chapter 22 of Revelation, it once again has some beautiful imagery for us. It speaks of the river of the water of life that flows. It is bright as crystal. It is pure and clear. It is contrasted with the polluted water that is mentioned earlier in the book of Revelation about the time of tribulation or sin.