Saturday, November 22, 2014

Flowing Triplets: Fount of Every Blessing

As we saw last week, the signature of the Trinity is evident even in the triune nature of water that sustains, nourishes, and cleanses us! This is true not only in the physical realm, but also in the spiritual sense. Christ Himself is the Living Water, the Fountain of every blessing, and the cleansing Flow Who alone can give us eternal life (John 3:16), abundant life (John 10:10), and salvation from our sins (Romans 1:16).

When Jesus spoke to the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4:1-42), she had come to draw water to satisfy her physical thirst (v. 13), but her needs were deeper than that. Her broken relationships had left her in an emotional desert (v. 16-18), and her spiritual drought led her to seek answers in religious tradition (v. 20) rather than in the Living Water Who had come to her personally.

Jesus knew the significance of this Divine appointment, for He left Judaea, and was headed to Galilee, but “must needs go through Samaria” (v.3-4). This was an odd route to choose, as the Jews of that day were prejudiced against the Samaritans and would have gone to great lengths to avoid them (v. 9). Yet He tells her that if she had realized the gift of God the Father in sending His Son to earth, she would have asked Him for Living Water, referring to the Holy Spirit (v. 10) He gives freely to anyone Who trusts Him.

Still not recognizing Who sat before her, the woman brings up three worldly obstacles to accepting Him, which are still a stumbling block to those who reject Him even today. She saw Him as lacking physical power (for He appeared to have no bucket to draw the water), as being no match for the physical challenge (the well was deep), and as lacking the prestige of the patriarch Jacob, who had given the well to provide water for himself, his descendants, and his cattle (v. 11-12):

Sadly, many lose out on the freely given gift of salvation because instead of trusting Him, they trust their own flesh (Philippians 3:4-8), they fear the opinions of the world (James 4:4), and they rely on their religious traditions (Colossians 2:8; 1 Peter 1:18).

Jesus told the Samaritan woman that whoever would receive His gift of living water would never thirst; for that water would be a well (fountain) of water, springing up into everlasting life (John 4: 14).  Later He offered the same free gift to the Jews gathered at the feast of tabernacles, saying “If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. As the Scriptures had prophesied, whoever believed in Christ would have rivers of living water flowing from his belly, with the Holy Spirit giving him the Word of Truth (John 7: 37-39).

God brought His chosen people, the nation of Israel, into the Promised Land, described as a good land of brooks of water, of fountains and depths that spring out of valleys and hills (Deuteronomy 8:7). On their journey, God provided water in the desert by standing before Moses on the rock in Horeb, having Moses strike the rock, and causing water to spring from the rock (Exodus 17: 5). God’s provision of water for His people was spiritual as well as physical, for Christ was the Rock from which their spiritual drink flowed (1 Corinthians 10:4).

But Moses was not permitted to enter the Promised Land because of his subsequent disobedience (Numbers 20: 7-12). On that occasion, God gave Moses clear instructions to provide water to the people by speaking to the rock which would give forth water, proving God’s goodness before their eyes, and bringing them water that flowed from the rock.

Instead, Moses did not believe God would do this, so he chastised the people and struck the rock twice with his rod. Because of the earlier incident, Moses may have thought the power was in the rod rather than in the One Who had given it to Him as a sign of His power. Moses even implied that he and Aaron, not God, had the power to provide the water by asking the people “must we fetch you water out of this rock?”

The sin of Moses was therefore threefold: lack of faith, disobedience, and pride, which are the root cause of all sin even today. The consequences of his sin were that he lost the power of his testimony with the Israelites; he was not permitted to enter the Promised Land; and he had struck the rock, or Christ, twice, foreshadowing how the Jews would scourge and crucify their promised Messiah.

Even though God provided abundantly for His people, they rejected Him as the fountain of living waters (Jeremiah 17:13). Instead they placed their trust in false gods that were as useless as broken cisterns that held no water and as polluted as the Egyptian waters of Sihor (the Nile) and the river waters of Assyria (Jeremiah 2:13-18).  But thankfully, God extended His gracious offer of salvation to all people, the Samaritan woman being an early example of a Gentile who could be grafted into God’s family tree by trusting in Christ (Romans 11:17-24).

The Song of Solomon speaks of the Bridegroom and His beloved as a metaphor foreshadowing the relationship between Christ and His church (Ephesians 5:23-32), meaning all those, whether Jew or Gentile, who are born again (John 3:3-8). He is a fountain of gardens, a well of living waters, and streams from Lebanon, and she is an enclosed garden, a spring shut up, and a fountain sealed, referring to her spiritual purity in Him. His living water allows her to be fruitful, producing pleasant fruits, spices, and healing plants (Song of Solomon 4:12-15).

As soon as the Samaritan woman realized that Jesus was the Christ, sent of the Father to be worshipped in Spirit and in truth (John 4:23-26), she left behind the cares of this world, symbolized by her water pot; ran back to the city without fear of facing those who had rejected and scorned her; and spread the Good News that she had found Christ (v. 28-29).

Once we are born again by placing our trust in His death, burial and resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) as the only Way to Heaven (John 14:6), should we not do the same, and tell everyone how He has  changed us? Thanks to the Samaritan woman’s testimony, her salvation led to the salvation of those who believed her witness, and to the salvation of those who were just curious at first but who came to see Him for themselves (John 4:39-42). Praise God that whosoever believes in His Son can now have the Spirit of living water within him!

Not only is God the Living Water and the Fountain of every blessing, but His blood is the cleansing flow that washes away all our sins (1 John 1:7). The covenant God had with Israel was that He would wash her with water, thoroughly wash away the blood of her sins, and anoint her with oil (Ezekiel 16:8).

Old Testament sacrifices requiring animal blood and ritual cleansing with water and herbs only covered sins and had to be repeated often (Leviticus 14: 4, 51-52). Trespass offerings of oil and blood of the slain animal had to be placed on the right ear, right thumb, and right great toe of the person to be cleansed (Leviticus 14:14,17,25,28)

Yet Christ’s shed blood that flowed freely for us has once and for all removed us from our sins (1 John 1:7), past, present and future. He is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth, Who loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and made us kings and priests unto God and His Father (Revelation 1:5-6).

Before Jesus even reached the cross, His blood flowed mingled with sweat (Luke 22:44) in His passionate prayer at Gethsemane; from the crown of thorns piercing His head (Matthew 27:29; Mark 15:17); and from the agonizing whipping He bore on His back (Isaiah 53:5; 1 Peter 2:24). On the cross, blood flowed from His nail-pierced hands and feet (Luke 24:39-40) and gushed from His side, where the soldier stabbed Him, releasing not only blood but water (John 19:34).

Even in the Great Tribulation, those who trust Christ and deny the antichrist will be washed clean in the blood of the Lamb, will never thirst again, and will be led to living fountains of waters (Revelation 7:13-17).

Praise God that Christ will come again, bringing peace to Israel like a river and glory to the Gentiles like a flowing stream, nourishing all with His life-giving sustenance! (Isaiah 66:12). In that day, when living waters shall flow from Jerusalem; the Lord shall be king over all the earth, there shall be one Lord, and His Name shall be One (Zechariah 14:8-9).

Revelation 21:6 And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.

© 2014 Laurie Collett
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Saturday, November 15, 2014

Flowing Triplets: Living Water Sustains Life!

Photo by D. Illiff

Jesus Christ is the full expression of the Triune Godhead (Colossians 2:9), with love, light, and living water flowing freely from His radiant Presence. The essence of water itself reflects His Triune signature, beginning with its molecular structure composed of three atoms: two hydrogen and one oxygen. In its pure form, this vital substance is tasteless, odorless, and colorless.

At temperatures found on the planet Earth, water exists abundantly in all three states of physical matter: water (liquid), ice (solid; Job 6:16; 38:29; Psalm 147:17), and water vapor (gas), and it is the only common substance found on earth in all three states. Earth’s treasure of water is contained above the earth in clouds (Proverbs 8:28), on the earth’s surface, and within the earth as groundwater, including soil moisture, water in underground caves, and aquifers (Genesis 7:11; 2 Samuel 22:16). 

Sources of water on the earth’s surface include bodies of water, which cover about 71% of the earth’s surface, as well as water contained in plants and in animals. Much of the water humans consume comes from fruits and vegetables such as melon or cucumbers (Numbers 11:5), and even water stored in cacti or other succulents can save the life of someone in the desert far from any other water source.

God created bodies of water (Genesis 1:10; Proverbs 8:28) including oceans, lakes and rivers, containing salt water, fresh water, or brackish (a mixture of salt and fresh). Ocean waves, which consist of several crests (peaks) separated by troughs (valleys), can be described using three characteristics. The height of the waves is the amplitude, the distance between neighboring wave crests is the wavelength, and the time between neighboring wave crests is the period.

God designed an amazing system to circulate water through its various storehouses, thereby cleansing it and providing us with drinkable water. Although discovery of this water cycle was credited to the imperial Romans, the Bible described it more than one thousand years earlier (Job 26:8; Ecclesiastes 11:3; Amos 9:6).

There are three ways that water leaves the surface of the earth and returns to the atmosphere: evaporation, in which liquid water heated by the sun turns to water vapor; sublimation, in which ice gives off water vapor without melting first, and transpiration, in which water molecules move through a plant, entering from soil through the roots and evaporating from leaves, flowers, and stems.

Atmospheric water returns to earth in three distinct forms of precipitation: rain (liquid droplets), snow (ice crystals), and hail (frozen balls of rain). Sleet is actually a mixture of rain and snow. We think of snowflakes as being six-sided, but the hexagonal shape actually arises from a triangle. On rare occasions and at temperatures of around −2 °C (28 °F), snowflakes form as triangular crystals with three equal sides.

This three-sided snowflake can give rise to the characteristic hexagonal snowflake, known as a Koch snowflake, by dividing each side of the triangle into three segments of equal length, forming an equilateral triangle that has the middle segment from each side of the original triangle as its base and that points outward, and continuing the process to develop intricate crystalline shapes that have six-sided symmetry.

Water is required for life on earth for three reasons. It is a necessary ingredient in biochemical reactions that sustain life; it dissolves so many substances that it is called the universal solvent; and it has unique physical properties offering lubrication, cushioning, and thermal protection. Photosynthesis is the biochemical reaction occurring in all green plants, in which water plus carbon dioxide (containing three atoms, namely one carbon and two oxygen) are transformed into glucose (simple sugar) and oxygen.

This reaction serves three essential functions. Firstly, it converts light energy from the sun into chemical energy stored in sugar where it can be used by plants and animals. Without photosynthesis, we would all starve. Secondly, it uses up carbon dioxide, which animals and humans exhale, and which, in excess, would suffocate us. And thirdly, it generates oxygen, which animals and humans need to fuel their muscles, their heart, and chemical reactions releasing energy needed for other cells to function.

Water is the universal solvent, meaning that it can dissolve most substances. (Thankfully, it doesn’t dissolve everything, or we couldn’t find a container to store it in, and we would melt like the Wicked Witch of the West when it rains!).

Because of its solvent qualities, water dissolves minerals found in the sea and within plant and animal cells where they sustain life. Water transports other vital chemicals dissolved in our blood plasma to where they are needed in the body. Finally, the solvent properties of water allow us to use it for cleansing, keeping our bodies, food, and environment relatively free of disease-causing and otherwise unpleasant contaminants (Leviticus 15).

Minerals dissolved in the sea are consumed by God’s abundant creation of fish, shellfish, and marine manmals (Genesis 1:20-21), as well as of algae, seaweed, and other water plants that animals and humans eat to avail themselves of these nutrients. The oceans are still a largely untapped source of undiscovered organisms that may provide as yet unknown health benefits.

Chemicals dissolved in our intestinal juices, blood plasma, and urine are transported to where they are needed as our amazingly designed body (Psalm 139:14) digests food, provide organs with raw materials for specialized growth and function, and eliminates waste. Without water, which makes up 55% to 78% of the body, all these essential processes literally dry up and shut down the body.

God even utilized the mechanical properties of water in His design of our bodies. For example, water lubricates our joints. The two bone surfaces, which are relatively hard (22% water) do not contact one another directly, which would soon cause considerable grinding, wear and tear. Rather, the contacting surfaces are covered with cartilage, a firm gel-like substance containing 65%-85% water, and lined with a membrane secreting synovial fluid (90% water) to reduce friction.

The low compressibility of water makes it an excellent cushion, shock absorber, and protection not only for the joint surfaces, but also for the brain and spinal cord, which are bathed and suspended in cerebrospinal fluid, and for the unborn baby, who floats in amniotic fluid within his mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13).

Water has a very high specific heat capacity. This helps the body to maintain a normal temperature by conserving heat when needed and by releasing heat when blood flow is directed to the skin surface. Heat stored in the water content of blood can dissipate from dilated blood vessels through heat transfer processes of radiation (directly emitted from the skin), convection (carried away from the skin by a breeze), and conduction (transferred from the skin to a cooler substance, like a babbling brook). Sweat glands also secrete sweat, which is 98% water, to cool the body by evaporation.

Throughout the Bible, we see God providing His children with lifesaving water (Isaiah 41:17). In the Garden of Eden, God made a mist from the earth to water the whole surface of the ground (Genesis 2:6), and a river flowing out of Eden to water the garden (Genesis 2:10). When Hagar and Ishmael were about to die of thirst in the desert, God provided a well (Genesis 21:14-19)

As the Hebrews wandered through the desert, God brought forth water from a rock (Isaiah 48:2). The Promised Land where He led them was a land of brooks of water, of fountains and depths that spring out of valleys and hills (Deuteronomy 8:7). In the Millennial Kingdom, living waters will go forth from Jerusalem (Zechariah 14:8), the rivers of Judah will flow with waters, the mountains with new wine, and the hills with milk (Joel 3: 18).

Thank God for His precious gift of water, without which we cannot live! But even more essential is that Christ is the Living Water giving us abundant and eternal spiritual life, for all who trust in His death, burial and resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) as the only Way to Heaven (John 14:6), as we shall see next week!

© 2014 Laurie Collett
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