The River of Living Water



Dr. John Hoole – January 19 & 26, 2014




We are coming to the end of our study of the Millennial reign of Jesus Christ.  There are variety of changes that will take place during this 1,000 years.  Today we will focus on Ezekiel 47, which speaks of a river of living water, and next week, we will finalize our study of the Millennium in Ezekiel 48, which addresses the borders of the promised land and how it will be distributed.


Before getting into the details of this River, let return to the beginning of Ezekiel’s prophecy concerning the 1,000-year reign of Christ, as stated in Ezekiel 40.


Ezekiel 40:1-3 NKJV


1       In the twenty-fifth year of our captivity, at the beginning of the year, on the tenth day of the month, in the fourteenth year after the city was captured, on the very same day the hand of the Lord was upon me; and He took me there.

2       In the visions of God He took me into the land of Israel and set me on a very high mountain; on it toward the south was something like the structure of a city.

3       He took me there, and behold, there was a man whose appearance was like the appearance of bronze. He had a line of flax and a measuring rod in his hand, and he stood in the gateway.


I take you back to the beginnings of Ezekiel’s visions to see that from the very start, Ezekiel is led from place to place by the man mentioned in verse 3.  Here is a map of the Millennial Temple about which Ezekiel is given much information.  This map takes you through the places he was taken during the first three chapters of Ezekiel.


At the end of chapter 42, Ezekiel is at the outer Eastern Gate, and He is there at the beginning of chapter 43.  And he is there to see the glory of the Lord come from the east and fill the Temple.  He is brought back again to the outer Eastern Gate at the beginning of chapter 44.


At the end of chapter 46, Ezekiel is taken to the four corners where there are four kitchens.  At the beginning of chapter 47, the man who has been with him, brings him to the door of the Temple.  We will join him there in a few minutes.


In an earlier lesson, when discussing what the Bible says about Jerusalem being elevated above its surroundings, we read Zechariah 14:10.  Now let’s look at the verses surrounding it.


Zechariah 14:8-11 NIV


8       On that day living water will flow out from Jerusalem, half to the eastern sea [Dead Sea] and half to the western sea [Mediterranean Sea], in summer and in winter.

9       The LORD will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one LORD, and his name the only name.

10     The whole land, from Geba [6 miles north of Jerusalem] to Rimmon [About 40 miles south], south of Jerusalem, will become like the Arabah. But Jerusalem will be raised up and remain in its place, from the Benjamin Gate to the site of the First Gate, to the Corner Gate, and from the Tower of Hananel to the royal winepresses.

11     It will be inhabited; never again will it be destroyed. Jerusalem will be secure.


Manfred Kober has provided this illustration of the future topography of the Holy Land.  It depicts this amazing river that flows into two seas.  On this map, he has mentioned a few places.  Geba was located about 6 miles north of Jerusalem, while Rimmon was about 40 miles south of the city.  Zechariah also writes, as we have already studied, that Jerusalem will be elevated above all the surrounding area.  You will be able to see it from a great distance.


Here is an aerial view of the Mount of Olives and its surroundings.  This mountain will be cut in two, with half the mountain moving north and half to the south.


In the passage we just read, verse 8 says all this will happen “on that day.”  What day?  That phrase links what he is writing here to what he wrote earlier in the chapter.


Zechariah 14:4 (NKJV) tells us what, “on that day,” has already happened.


4       And on that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which faces Jerusalem on the east. And the Mount of Olives shall be split in two, from east to west, making a very large valley; Half of the mountain shall move toward the north and half of it toward the south.


When the earthquake splits the Mount of Olives, it will unleash a living fountain of water.  According to Revelation 16:18, this earthquake will be the worst in the history of the earth.


This fountain of water flowing from the Temple is not a small trickling brook.  It forms two rivers, flowing west and east from Jerusalem.  One river will flow the 37 miles west to the Mediterranean Sea.  The other will flow east 15 miles to the Dead Sea.


Ezekiel, chapters 40 through 48, is a lengthy passage which talks about the Millennial temple and the division of the land among the 12 tribes.


         Chapters 40-43:      Gives details of the dimensions of the Millennial Temple.


         Chapters 44-46:      Describes the worship in Jerusalem during the Millennium.


         Chapters 47-48:      Speaks of the Land – Its changes and its distribution among the tribes.


In Chapter 47, we are told of a great river issuing from beneath the threshold of the Temple.  I am not absolutely sure, but this is quite probably the same river mentioned by Zechariah.  Ezekiel elaborates greatly on the river that flows to the Dead Sea.  Keep in mind that Zechariah says this river consists of “living water.”


All during Ezekiel’s vision of the Millennial Temple, he was being led by an angel with a rod and measuring line in his hand.  Let’s follow where the angel leads him in Ezekiel 47.


Ezekiel 47:1-2 NKJV


1       Then he brought me back to the door of the temple; and there was water, flowing from under the threshold of the temple toward the east, for the front of the temple faced east; the water was flowing from under the right side of the temple, south of the altar.

2       He brought me out by way of the north gate, and led me around on the outside to the outer gateway that faces east; and there was water, running out on the right side.


In these two verses, Ezekiel is shown the origin of a river.  It begins its flow from under the threshold of the temple – flowing eastward.  Let’s read these two verses again, while I show you a layout of the Temple.  From the threshold, flowing to the right of the altar of sacrifice, and run past the Eastern Outer Gate on the right side.  I have included what the prophet Zechariah said, telling us the river splits into two rivers heading east and west.  From the door of the Temple, the man leads Ezekiel through the northern outer gate, then around to the outer East Gate.


A key test for whether a person interprets the prophetic Word literally is the river that is describe in this chapter and in other places in the Old Testament.  The descriptions given of this river are as literal as literal can be.  There are clear geographical references made in connection with this river in Ezekiel 47,  which includes exact distances and depths measured out.  This amazing river will originate from the house of the LORD as a shallow stream.  Gradually the stream will get deeper and fuller until it is over a man’s head.


In Ezekiel 47, the prophet focuses on the eastern branch of this river.  But, as we read earlier in Zechariah 14:8, one branch flows west to the Mediterranean Sea.  The river eventually travels east until it reaches the Dead Sea, which will then be a misnomer because the waters of the Dead Seas will be healed.  With the now fresh waters of the Dead Sea, it will be a great place for fishing.  It will be a living sea.


When people depart from a literal interpretation they deny the plain sense and they give the text some other sense according to their own imagination.  It is interesting to read commentaries that do not take this literally.  Some say it refers to the “stream of the church history.”  Others say it refers to going deeper in the Christian life (from ankle deep to swimming).  Some think it refers to water baptism.  Some say it refers to spiritual vitality flowing forth from Holy Ground of a Christian.  When all else fails, why don’t we just let it say what it says?  Does God really mean what He says or do we need to take what God seems to say and force our own meaning upon it?


If a person rejects the literalness of this river, they must also reject the literalness of the Temple which is described with exacting detailed dimensions.  If the rivers were not literal, why would other passages of Scripture mention the river as well?


We have already read what Zechariah says about this river.  Let’s read a few more sources.  When teaching on the Psalms, which I haven’t done for some time now, one of my favorite Psalm is the 46th.  Many of you will probably be familiar to the first verse.  It contains a promise that we can claim for ourselves during times of difficulty.


Psalms 46:1  NKJV


1       God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble.


That is a tremendous promise – and we should claim it.  But this actually is a Messianic Psalm.


Verse 5 speaks of Jesus coming to defend his people at Armageddon.  Verse 6 tells of the rage and trouble among the nations when He arrives on the scene.  Here we are told of the nations that come against the city of God.  Verse 7 & 8 tell us the Messiah will take up residence in that city, and invites the people to observe the works of God after He arrives.


Verse 9 says that He makes wars to cease, and destroys all weapons of war.  Verse 10 says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”


I don’t think there is any question this Psalm is speaking of the arrival of Christ and His millennial reign on earth. Now, let me return you to verses 2, 3 & 4, which tell of the geographical and topographical changes that occur when Jesus arrives.


Psalm 46:2-4 (NKJV)


2       Therefore we will not fear, Even though the earth be removed, And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;

3       Though its waters roar and be troubled, Though the mountains shake with its swelling. Selah

4       There is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God, The holy place of the tabernacle of the Most High.


There’s that river again.  I believe it to be the same one mentioned by Zechariah and Ezekiel.  And the Psalmist says this river will make the city of Jerusalem glad.  I believe this means the river will not flow directly to the Dead Sea, but will flow through Jerusalem first, then split into two rivers.  This is similar to what we read about the Garden of Eden, where one river flowed through the Garden, then split into four rivers.


Joel 3:18 (NKJV) predicts a fountain out of the temple.


18     And it will come to pass in that day That the mountains shall drip with new wine, The hills shall flow with milk, And all the brooks of Judah shall be flooded with water; A fountain shall flow from the house of the Lord And water the Valley of Acacias.


The Valley of Acacias is located in the Jordan valley, which we saw in earlier passages is exactly from the eastern branch flows first.


When Jesus touches down on the Mount of Olives, an earthquake occurs, splitting the Mount, with a great east-west valley between.  It makes sense to me to think of this valley as being the conduit through which the waters will flow, from the Temple, through Jerusalem, and on to the Dead Sea.


Can you imagine what it’s going to be like when this happens.  When the earthquake occurs, everyone will know the King of kings has arrived.  The nail-printed hands of our Lord will have been put on the map of the earth, and He is claiming if for His own.


For many years, people in the hotel business have wanted to build hotels on the Mount of Olives.  And for decade, they wouldn’t build there, because it was a well-known fact that a geologic fault line runs east – west directly under the Mountain.  In more recent years, some hotels have been built, but with the latest earthquake technology.  Unfortunately, they have no idea the magnitude of the quake will be when Jesus arrives.


After coming to the part of the river that is deep enough to swim in, the angel brings Ezekiel back to the banks of the river.


Ezekiel 47:6-7 NKJV


6       He said to me, "Son of man, have you seen this?" Then he brought me and returned me to the bank of the river.

7       When I returned, there, along the bank of the river, were very many trees on one side and the other.


On both sides of the river there were luxuriant trees of many kinds.  In verse 12, we are told more about the trees.


Ezekiel 47:12 NKJV


12     Along the bank of the river, on this side and that, will grow all kinds of trees used for food; their leaves will not wither, and their fruit will not fail. They will bear fruit every month, because their water flows from the sanctuary. Their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for medicine."


These trees will not be like fruit trees today, that grow only during one season of the year.  On these trees near the river, there will continually be fruit to eat.  A new crop of fruit will grow each month, because of the water that flows from the sanctuary.


But these trees do more than provide fruit.  The leaves of the trees will never wither and will be used for medicine.  The ability of these trees mark them as unlike anything that has grown since the fall of man.  And they are the direct result of the river that flows from the sanctuary of God.


Zechariah referred to the waters coming from the Temple as “living waters.”  Ezekiel says that when these “living waters” reach the Dead Sea, the waters will be healed, and it will no longer be a dead sea.


Now, let’s investigate more of what Ezekiel 47 tells us about this river of living water.


Ezekiel 47:8-10 NKJV


8       Then he said to me: "This water flows toward the eastern region, goes down into the valley, and enters the sea. When it reaches the sea, its waters are healed.

9       And it shall be that every living thing that moves, wherever the rivers go, will live. There will be a very great multitude of fish, because these waters go there; for they will be healed, and everything will live wherever the river goes.

10     It shall be that fishermen will stand by it from En Gedi to En Eglaim; they will be places for spreading their nets. Their fish will be of the same kinds as the fish of the Great Sea, exceedingly many.


The water of this eastern river flows first into the valley where the Jordan River is.  It is after that, the waters flow into the Dead Sea, causing it to live.  At present, the Dead Sea is so inhospitable that only a few forms of microorganisms can survive.  Any fish that inadvertently swims from the Jordan River into the Dead Sea dies quickly.  However, when the healing powers of the millennial river cascade into the Sea, the status quo is bound to change.  The millennial river has such an inherent healing effect that the Dead Sea will require a name change.


Let me mention a side note here.  We call this body of water, the lowest place on the surface of the earth, the Dead Sea.  It may surprise you to learn that the phrase, “Dead Sea,” is never mentioned in the Bible.  It did not get that name until the second century after Christ.  This sea is mentioned by a number of names in the Bible.


                   •  The "salt sea" (Genesis 14:3; Numbers 34:12),

                   •  The "sea of the plain" (Deuteronomy 3:17),

                   •  The "east sea" (Ezekiel 47:18; Joel 2:20),

                   • "The sea" (Ezekiel 47:8).


         The Arabs call it Bahr Lut, i.e., the Sea of Lot.


Verse 9 says life will come to the sea, as seen in the abundance of fish that will be found there.  Verse 10 says the Dead Sea will contain the same variety of fish that are found in the Mediterranean Sea.  That tells me that either Christ miraculously makes the variety of fishes to appear, or, since they are the same variety as the Med. Sea, that they swim upstream as far as Jerusalem, then downstream to the Dead Sea.  Then this passage also mentions two places where fishermen will gather.


This is the only verse in the Bible that mentions En Eglaim, so, because of this reference, they assume it to be located on or near the Dead Sea.  The EN at the beginning of the word means “fountain.”  En Eglaim means, “fountain of two calves.”  En Gedi, on the other hand, is a known place where you can travel today.  En Gedi means “fountain of the kid.”  It is a tropical oasis, located on the western banks of the Dead Sea, about equidistance from both ends.


Let me show you a map of Ein Gedi and its Dead Sea surroundings.


Song of Solomon 1:14 NIV


14     My lover is to me a cluster of henna blossoms from the vineyards of En Gedi.


For your information, in Middle Eastern tradition, the henna blossoms were often used in a bride’s bouquet


According to 1 Samuel 24:1-4, it was here, at En Gedi, that David hid in a cave from King Saul.  It was also here that David snuck up on Saul and cut off a corner of Saul’s robe.


According to the writings of the historian, Josephus, the persimmon gardens at En-Gedi provided the fruit for a perfume that, according to Cleopatra, drove men to madness.


Other miraculous sources of water in the Millennium


The removal of the curse not only affects the physical earth.  It also will have a large impact on the plant life.


Isaiah 35:1-7 NIV


1       The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom. Like the crocus,

2       It will burst into bloom; it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy.  The glory of Lebanon will be given to it, the splendor of Carmel and Sharon; they will see the glory of the LORD, the splendor of our God.


6       Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy.  Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert.

7       The burning sand will become a pool, the thirsty ground bubbling springs. In the haunts where jackals once lay, grass and reeds and papyrus will grow.


Think of it.  All nature will finally do what it was created to do.  It will exist in harmony and perfect balance.  There won’t be any earthquakes, hurricanes, or volcanic eruptions.


Isaiah 41:18-20  (NIV) speaks specifically of the land of Israel.


18     I will make rivers flow on barren heights, and springs within the valleys. I will turn the desert into pools of water, and the parched ground into springs.

19     I will put in the desert the cedar and the acacia, the myrtle and the olive. I will set pines in the wasteland, the fir and the cypress together,

20     so that people may see and know, may consider and understand, that the hand of the LORD has done this, that the Holy One of Israel has created it.




We have looked at the details concerning this River of Living Water.  It is going to be something very wonderful to see how this river will bring life wherever it goes.  I believe this river and its tributaries will be that which causes an abundance of crops.


Isaiah 35:1-2 NKJV


1       The wilderness and the wasteland shall be glad for them, And the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose;

2       It shall blossom abundantly and rejoice, Even with joy and singing. The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it, The excellence of Carmel and Sharon. They shall see the glory of the Lord, The excellency of our God.


If you looked at the terrain around Jerusalem today, you would see a great deal of parched land.  While Israel has reclaimed a great deal of the land to bring forth a great harvest of crops, it will be a thousand times that during the millennium.


 Amos 9:13-14 NIV


13     "The days are coming," declares the LORD, "when the reaper will be overtaken by the plowman and the planter by the one treading grapes.  New wine will drip from the mountains and flow from all the hills.

14     I will bring back my exiled people Israel; they will rebuild the ruined cities and live in them. They will plant vineyards and drink their wine; they will make gardens and eat their fruit.


The land will become so fertile that the rapid growth and abundant harvest will be normal.


Ps 96:12  NKJV


12     Let the field be joyful, and all that is in it. Then all the trees of the woods will rejoice before the LORD.


Joel 2:21-24 NIV


21     Be not afraid, O land; be glad and rejoice. Surely the LORD has done great things.

22     Be not afraid, O wild animals, for the open pastures are becoming green. The trees are bearing their fruit; the fig tree and the vine yield their riches.

23     Be glad, O people of Zion, rejoice in the LORD your God, for he has given you the autumn rains in righteousness.  He sends you abundant showers, both autumn and spring rains, as before.

24     The threshing floors will be filled with grain;  the vats will overflow with new wine and oil.


The psalmist said, “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein” (Psalm 24:1).  This earth, since the sin of Adam and Eve, has never seen what God can do with it because it has been held in the grips of an usurper.


But the Lord is coming personally, visibly and physically in His glorified body to possess it and redeem this world from Satan’s grasp.  He will then transform and remake it into an instrument that can be used for His glory.


 And the earth shall be full of the glory and the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.  When He manifests the glory of God to this earth, we will be with Him.


One of the most beautiful pictures in the Bible is that of a renovated physical earth, along with the changes that will occur in the flora and fauna on this earth.  The Garden of Eden far surpasses any imagination we might have of it.  That is, it was until sin came, and the ground was cursed for man’s sake.


One of the specific parts of the whole curse was that the ground thereafter would bring forth thorns and thistles.  It was more than 1,900 years ago that the Lord Jesus went to Calvary, wearing upon his head a crown of thorns – the very symbol of the earth’s curse.  And as the Lord of all the earth, He purchased redemption for the earth as well as fallen mankind.  And all creation is waiting for the Lord to come to earth, so that the curse upon the earth will be lifted.