Saturday, February 11, 2012

Water of Life

By one count there are over 700 references to water in the Bible. The first mention, Genesis 1:2, describes the water-covered early earth, swathed in darkness, with “the Spirit of God hovering over the face of the waters.” What a picture of God’s tender care for this unique planet! In future eons God would create unicellular life within earth’s waters in preparation for future complex multi-cellular forms of life. Creation acts culminated with the recent sudden onset of man “in our image.” Humans were the eventual recipient of the redemption God had in mind for them before the beginning of time (I Cor. 2:7, Eph. 1:4, 2 Tim. 1:9, Tit. 1:2).

The first biblical mention describes the plentiful physical water present on the primitive early earth. This water, recycled endlessly since that time, is virtually all still present on our planet. This concept supplies an interesting object lesson for the water referenced in the Bible’s last mention of water -- the “water of life” of Rev. 22:17. This water is symbolic of our eternal salvation, the gift of God to those He redeems. Earth’s physical water continues its life-giving work throughout earth’s long ages. The spiritual water of eternal life, as taught by Jesus to the Samaritan woman (John ), would become “a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

Earth’s physical water is cleansing, thirst quenching, and life giving as explained by hundreds of scripture passages. Hymn lyricists poetically express the same qualities in a spiritual context. Its cleansing qualities are illustrated by this invitation set to music: Come to the life giving water, for just one sip will cleanse the soul from sin. Spiritual thirst is quenched as expressed in this popular chorus: As the deer panteth for the water, so my soul longeth after thee. And this hymn text by Christian Stover compares the physical life water provides for earth's living things to the spiritual life acquired by consumption of the living water: Nobody can live who hasn't any water, When the land is dry and nothing much grows; Jesus gives us life if we drink the living water, Sing it so that everybody knows.

The benefits of water do not end with one incident of use. Earth's water has been recycled thousands of times over thousands of years. But we must recognize one important difference between earth's physical water and the spiritual water of scripture. The role of earth's phsical water will come to an end before the onset of the New Creation described in Rev. 21. The function of the water of life, the symbol of our eternal salvation, however, continues from the moment of our spiritual birth throughout endless eternity.