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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Persistent Purpose of God # 54

A River That Could Not Be Passed Over: The Fullness of the Spirit

We are coming to the end of our time together, and that means that there is a very great deal in Ezekiel that we shall not be able to consider. So I suggest that we give our attention to chapter forty-seven. As you know, this is the chapter of the river. I think that this chapter is well enough known by you that we shall not have to read it right through. However, we ought to read the second chapter of the Book of Acts, because I feel that Ezekiel forty-seven and Acts chapter two go together. The second chapter of the Acts is the New Testament fulfillment of what we have here in this chapter in Ezekiel. But there is a passage of Scripture between these two chapters, found in the seventh chapter of John's gospel, and we will read that. John, in chapter seven:

"Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, "If any man is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, 'From his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water.'" But this He spoke of the Spirit, Whom those who believed in Him were to receive: for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified."

Now strict interpretation demands that we observe one point, for that which the Lord Jesus was referring to in John seven, "the last day, the great day of the feast," was not strictly what we have in Ezekiel forty-seven, but related to the Feast of Tabernacles, and that takes us a long way back before Ezekiel; it takes us back into the life of Israel in the old days. You will remember that the Feast of Tabernacles was the commemoration of Israel's coming out of Egypt and living in tents in the wilderness. We need not dwell with the details of that feast because that is not our subject, but it was to that that Jesus was referring.

Ezekiel forty-seven is not a celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles, but there are some common features which are in Ezekiel forty-seven. John seven, and Acts two. We know that when Jesus spoke those words He was in the temple at Jerusalem. It was in the temple that the Feast of Tabernacles was being celebrated, and at that time the priest went down to the pool of Bethesda and brought water back and poured it out over the threshold of the temple. Jesus took hold of that and applied it to Himself.

The Source of the River Is the Man Hidden in the Sanctuary

Now the common feature in these three places - Ezekiel, John, and Acts - is this: the waters are flowing out from the House. And then there is another common feature of these three places: in the House, as we have seen, everything related to the Man Glorified in the Throne. The Man Glorified in the Throne governed everything. Now here in John seven, John makes that comment. He said, "This He spoke of the Spirit, Whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified." So that pointed on to the future when Jesus was Glorified. Undoubtedly, that was fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost. Jesus was Glorified and the waters came out from the House. So, you see, we do have some common features in these books.

Now we come to some details of Ezekiel forty-seven, and to begin with, we must note that this whole situation is one that sets forth a condition in this dispensation. As we know, many believe that all this belongs to the Millennium. Well, the situation is this chapter is not a situation in the Millennium. Neither does this fully correspond to the end of the Book of the Revelation. It is true that in Revelation we have the river flowing out from the Throne  of God and o the Lamb, and there are many features that just like these features in Ezekiel. However, what we have here in Ezekiel is neither in the Millennium nor in the Coming Age, but it relates to the dispensation in which we are living. As you see, in Ezekiel it is a situation of need, it is a scene of death, and the leaves of these trees are for medicine to heal disease; it is a scene of great need. In the millennium death will be suspended for a time, and at the end of the Book of Revelation, death is no more. Here in Ezekiel death has to be met and overcome. Here an unhealthy condition has to be dealt with. It is important to realize that this chapter in Ezekiel applies to the present dispensation.

Now let us take note of a few other details. First, the Source of the river. The Source of the river is somewhere hidden under the threshold of the House. The Word says that the waters issued from under the threshold of the House, they came out from under the threshold. Perhaps we should conclude that they came out of the threshold and moved toward the side of the House, because it says that they went down toward the east. This seems to have been the movement. Now we shall come to that again in a minute. For the moment, the waters issued from some secret place under the House.

Now we know that the Lord had said the Sanctuary was the place of the Throne and the place of His Glory, the place where the Lord dwelt. I think we are to conclude that the waters came from there. Of course, this is all type and symbol. We are not told exactly where the waters started, but we are told that they came "out from under the threshold."  think that we can conclude that they started in the place of the Throne and the Glory, and that is a hidden place in the presence of God, for we know that God was hidden in the Sanctuary.

The Man in heaven is hidden in the Sanctuary. He is the Heavenly Mystery. He is on the Throne. He is Glorified, and then the Spirit comes out from Him as in that position and in that condition. We remember that Jesus said, "afterward He would not manifest Himself to the world, He would manifest Himself to witnesses whom He had chosen." After His resurrection, He did not show Himself personally to the world. So far as the world is concerned, Jesus has gone right out. The world does not know of His personal existence. He is a mystery to the world. He is an unreality to the world because He has hidden Himself from the world. He is hidden in Heaven. But there is a manifestation of Himself, and that is in the Spirit of Life which comes out from the Sanctuary. Christ is not only personally in heaven, He is enshrines within the heavenly Church.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 55)

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