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1 And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb.
In the things communicated to Ezekiel by the Spirit of Christ, he saw much that he could not discern, or penetrate to the bottom of, from a lack, common to all the prophets, of what Paul terms "spiritual understanding", in Col. 1:9. They prophesied of the grace and truth to come through Jesus Christ, and inquired and searched diligently to find out, if possible, what the Spirit signified by the things they were commanded to write; but they were informed, that it was not for their special information that what they saw and heard was made known to them; but that they ministered as prophets the things they wrote concerning "the sufferings of the Christ, and the glory that should follow, " for the use of those to whom the Gospel of the Kingdom should afterwards be preached by the apostles and the bride; into which things the angels desire to look (John 1:17; 1 Pet. 1:10,12).
Among the things pertaining to "the glory that should follow," Ezekiel, Joel, and Zechariah, saw living waters flowing out from Jerusalem. Ezekiel saw the exact locality of the fountain from which they issued. It was, he says, at the south side of the Altar, and from under it they came. From thence, they made their way under the threshold of the front, or east, gate of the temple. They continued their outflow eastward: and were measured by the angel from the brink 4000 cubits, or four separate measurements, representative of a square. He was informed, that after a certain distance the streams flowed in two channels; one towards the Dead Sea, into which it is discharged with healing effect upon its waters; so that it teems with finny tribes, as the fish of the Great Sea; while the other half of the stream flows into the hinder, or Mediterranean, sea.
These things are all stated with such geographical and practical particularity as to make it evident that these healing waters are as literally rivers of waters as the Hudson or the Thames. We can see, how that Jerusalem can become the centre of navigation and commerce, as well as the metropolis and capital of the world. By the waters flowing between the rent divisions of the Mount of Olives (Zech. 14:4) into the Jordan and with it into the Dead Sea, and thence by an old channel into the Red Sea, a water communication will be established with Hindostan, China, Australia, California, and the islands and shores of the Pacific generally; and by the branch flowing into the Mediterranean, with Europe, and the north and south Atlantic coasts of North and South America.
This gives Jerusalem a position highly favorable for a geographical centre of government and religion; and for the easy access of Hindoos, Chinese, Japanese, Americans, and Europeans, when they shall go up from year to year to worship the King, Yahweh Tz'vaoth, to be instructed in His ways, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles (Isa. 2:3; Zech. 14:16).
But the Eternal Power has a higher and grander purpose to be accomplished than that of geographical changes in the physique of Palestine, and filling the Dead Sea with fish. It is evident that more is signified in what was revealed to Ezekiel than this. The waters he saw came out of a holy place inaccessible to flesh and blood, and had healing properties. There must therefore be flowing with them a stream of healing power.
Pour all the waters of the Hudson and the Amazon into the Dead Sea, and they would not heal it any more than the Jordan has been able to heal it, though emptying itself therein, ever since the days of Lot. Hence, the waters Ezekiel saw must be regarded in the light of the visible containing the invisible, whose existence is discerned by the supernatural and unwonted effects attributed to the visible stream. In other words, there is deep spiritual significance underlying all that Ezekiel saw, which was Apocalyptically exhibited to John in the present chapter.
Ezekiel saw and described the temple which Zechariah says, far off peoples shall come and build (ch. 6:15); and Isaiah testifies shall be called a house of prayer for all the people, and upon the altar of which, the rams of Nebaioth shall find acceptance (ch. 56:7; 60:7). This is a temple in Jerusalem, as literal and visible as Solomon's, when she becomes the residence of the Great King, and the capital of his dominion. But in the New and Holy Jerusalem, "John saw no temple therein; because YAHWEH ELOHIM, all-powerful, and the Lamb are the temple of it". The Eternal Spirit embodied in the Saints are the temple in the highest sense; and the Most Holy Priesthood, the Seed of Zadok, who minister unto the Invisible Deity in the House of Prayer for all people.
Ezekiel saw the Dead Sea in two states - without any living soul in it; and afterwards teeming with life of every kind. John saw the same thing in its spiritual significance - the sea of nations dead in trespasses and sins; and the same sea full of nations walking in the light of the New Jerusalem. Ezekiel saw that it was the stream effluent from under the altar that gave life and health to the Dead Sea; and John saw that it was the stream issuing from the throne that gave to the leaves of the tree the power of imparting health and life to the world.
The pure transparent stream of water of life issuing from the throne of the Deity is his Almighty power, or Spirit, by which He creates, regenerates, makes glorious, and subdues all things to Himself. "Look upon Zion, the city of our solemnities; thine eye shall see Jerusalem a quiet habitation; a tabernacle that shall not be taken down: but there the glorious YAHWEH will be to us a place of rivers and streams; wherein shall go no galley with oars, neither shall gallant ship pass thereby" (Isa. 33:20,21). In this the place, the rivers, and the streams, stand for YAHWEH and His power.
That the water of life represents the Spirit in all its relations and effects, is evident from the words of Jesus in John 7:37-39: "if any man thirst," saith he, "let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the Scripture hath said, out of his body shall flow rivers of living water. This spake he," adds John, "of the Spirit which they that believe on him should receive; for Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus had not yet been glorified". A stream of this pure, transparent water of life was poured out upon the apostles on the Day of Pentecost. That, however, though great and marvelous in its effects, was only the earnest of what is yet to follow. It anointed them with knowledge, wisdom, and power; but it left them as it found them, subject to disease, sorrow, pain, and death.
Now, people have so much Holy Spirit in them as they have of the words and ideas of the Deity understood, affectionately believed, and obeyed (John 6:63). But, when the time of the great Pentecostian outflow of Holy Spirit shall arrive, the assembled multitude of the approved convened before the judgment seat of Christ, will be filled, and covered over, and thoroughly saturated in all the atoms of their substance, with the flood of downpouring Spirit from unapproachable light; whereby they will be changed, and all that is in them of earthiness and mortality "swallowed up of life". Henceforth, the pure, transparent stream of living water is distributed through them as its channel to mankind, until the knowledge of YAHWEH the fountain of living waters, shall cover the earth as the waters cover the sea (Isa.45:8)
The vision of Zlon' s waters flowing out of Jerusalem to heal the Dead Sea were seen by Joel, Zechariah and EzekieI as well as John, In Ezk.47, these living waters are seen flowing down the south side of the Harel or hill of God, from underneath the great Altar.
They then flow from underneath the thresholds and deepen eastwards eventually pouring through the cleft in the Mount of Olives into the Dead Sea and healing this, a parable of the Truth going forth from Zion and healing the nations (ls.66.19 'sounders of the bow,' Pslm 68.11, Is.52.7, Rev. 14.6, Is.2.3).
Another branch appears to flow southwards, as well as the one flowing north into the Mediterranean and the seven oceans. The southern fork flows into the Red Sea along the Aravah Valley. These life giving waters energised by the Spirit, bring fertility and create Jerusalem a centre of worship, navigation and commerce in the Age to Come, as well as constituting Jerusalem a geographically favourable centre of government, the metropolis and capital of the world connecting with the Far East, Hindustan, China, Australia, the Pacific, as well as the Atlantic provinces to the West.
All nations will be able to go up from year to year to keep the Feast of Tabernacles (Zech.14.16). Thus this river of Zion is no ordinary river but a river with healing properties to purge the earth of all man's pollution and corruption that are destroying the planet and its living things that God has created to beautify the earth with an abundance of life.
The literal Temple seen by Ezekiel in all its glory as an ample and most majestic and magnifical edifice, will be "a house of prayer for all nations", far off peoples shall come and build (Zech.6.15), and the sacrifices of nations shall be offered there (ls.66.7, Is.60.7), on the great altar, in the city of the Great King, beautiful for situation on the sides of the north, the joy of the whole earth (Pslm 48, Pslm 122), all its wonderful towers and gates and pillars and arches, its great courts and palaces and mighty walls, foursquare and a circle.
But in the Apocalyptic Temple which is the Bride, Yahweh Elohim and the Lamb are the Temple (Gk naos = nave) or dwelling place of Deity. They constitute the Most Holy Priesthood, the Seed of Zadok, who minister to the Invisible Deity, the Most High Ail as the Melchizadek Priesthood, an everlasting immortal priesthood (Ezk.44.155,16, Rev.21.22).
The nations once dead in trespasses and sins, now walk in the light of it, paralleling the literal Dead Sea seen by Ezekiel in two states - dead, and then living, with innumerable fish .. Thus John sees the pure waters healing the nations, imparting health and life to the world (ls.33,20,21).
The peaceful rivers and streams of Zion stand for Yahweh and his power quenching the peoples of the earth who come up to worship with living water (Jhn 7). These streams of living spirit power were poured out on Christ, then the Apostles on the day of Pentecost, and finally on the saints before the judgement Seat of Christ, if approved, when they shall shine forth as the sun in his strength, as the principal channel of pure transparent living water to mankind, until the knowledge of Yahweh the fountain of living waters covers the earth as the waters the sea (ls,45.8, Hbk.2.14).
Bro Richard Lister -
The Apocalyptic Messenger,
2 In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.
The street (broad space) of the city Bro Thomas sees as the congregation of the saints, or
"the general assembly of the Firstborns'' (Hb.12.23).
They constitute the avenue of Yahweh's blessings in the Kingdom Age. They are those who denied the flesh, repudiated every evil way, guarded the Truth, and having overcome, are granted to eat of the Tree of Life which is in the Paradise of God to become fragrant trees of righteousness in the garden of God (Rev.2.7, Song 4.12). ."
In the midst of the street of the City, and on each side of the stream was a Wood (Xulon) of Life.
Thus although Ezekiel sees a literal orchard of fruitful trees by the waters of Zion, with wonderful leaves for the healing of the sick, John sees a figurative or symbolic wood (xulon) of life (not a dendron, singular tree); speaking of a multitude or plurality of trees of righteousness in the paradise of God (Pslm.1.3, Is.61.3, Song 4.12-15), who produce fruit and have curative leaves.
The apostles were the fruit bearing and leaf bearing branches of the true vine (John 15), who enlightened, fructified and healed by the spirit breathing apostles on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2), three thousand gathered from all nations, an earnest of John's vision on the Isle of Patmos, when "a multitude that no man can number" (Rev.7.9) shall be breathed on by the Spirit and become majestic and stately trees purifying the whole earth and filling it with Yahweh's glory.
So the true brethren of Christ are fruit bearing, and adorned with purifying leaves, not dead, boasting of empty works, giving nothing forth but barren statements that produce nothing spiritual, and help no one spiritually, except to blow up themselves as some sort of paragon of outward righteousness, or Christadelphian in the dead or dry tree state, like Israel of old (18.1.30)
"For ye shall be as an oak whose leaf fadeth, and as a garden that hath no water."
Here is a dried up garden with dead trees, a picture of the ecclesial company at the time of the end, with nothing to say. Barren and lifeless, yet full of pious works. Israel in this state could do nothing for the nations, neither anciently in its apostate state seen by Isaiah, or now regathered in unbelief of the Messiahship of Jesus. But the day will come when Jacob shall "take root" and
"Israel shall blossom and bud, and shall fill the world with fruit" (ls.27.6).
Bro Thomas says that leaves are the-breathing organs of a tree (like the lungs of a man), they are unfading in this case (Pslm. 1.3), and symbolise the incorruptible and immortal most holy hosts of the new heavens who breath out purifying life upon the nations, and by the same token purge the nations of corrupt exhalations of Mohammedanism, Hinduism, papalism and protestantism, humanism, hedonism.
They correspond with the eyes of the Cherubim, each individual saint being thus a purifying leaf or an eagle piercing eye (manifesting divine intelligence, filled with the light of the Word) (Mtt 6:22,23).
Trees are also symbols of nations (Dan.4, Ezk.31.3,8,9), and the glory of Christ's Kingdom is so depicted (Mtt.13 .32). The unfading leaves of the Kingdom tree are the saints who teach and rule.
''Ye shall shall know them by their fruits''.
A good tree bringeth forth good fruit, a corrupt tree bringeth forth corrupt fruit, and is cast out and burnt (Mtt. 7 .15-19). The trees of Zion yield fruit every month, that is twelve months, and are continuously producing buds, flowers, fruits of spiritual development in their probation, so-that in the Kingdom Age they shed forth the fruit for the fructifying of the peoples and nations that come to worship round the year to praise Yahweh and learn of his ways (ls.2.3).
Bro Richard Lister -
The Apocalyptic Messenger,
20 He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.
May the Sun of Righteousness soon arise and dispel the shades of darkness that everywhere intercept the light of heaven, and doom the millions to misery and death!
The Ambassador of the Coming Age, Dec 1867.