Tuesday, 31 August 2021
And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb. Revelation 22:1
John has been describing New Jerusalem and the glory that will be beheld there. With the start of the final chapter, that continues, beginning with, “And he showed me a pure river of water of life.” Some manuscripts leave out the word “pure.” Either way, the focus of the water is on it being “water of life.”
This has already been hinted at in Revelation –
“They shall neither hunger anymore nor thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any heat; 17 for the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to living fountains of waters. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” Revelation 7:17
“And He said to me, ‘It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts.’” Revelation 21:6
The idea of “water of life” is that of vibrancy. Thus, it is that which springs forth as opposed to that which is, or has become, stagnant. One can then extend the thought to “life-giving,” because it is fresh and wholesome rather than containing contaminants.
In the Greek, the words are in the genitive, giving the idea of water that itself possesses life or life-giving power. It is water that issues forth with life and provides life as it continues on. Whether the word “pure” belongs in the original or not, it would be implied. There is purity to it as it issues forth. Of this water, John next says it is “clear as crystal.”
The Greek adjective is lampros. One can see the word “lamp” in it. Thus, it signifies brilliant, shining, etc. The waters are so pure that they are bright. The idea of “living water” is brought forth. Their purity will reflect the state of all things in New Jerusalem. It is a place where nothing defiled exists. There will be only that which is pure, and the waters will provide a continual introduction of that purity as they issue forth. And that is expected based on its source, as John next notes, saying that they are “proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb.”
As God is the Source of all purity and goodness, the water issuing from His throne is a reflection of His very being and life-giving power. Noting God and the Lamb in the same context is, as it was in verse 21:22, an indication that the two are One. Both verses use articles that suggest it is singular. There is one throne and one source from which the waters issue forth.
Life application: There is an eternal river flowing from the throne of God in New Jerusalem. This takes the reader of the Bible back to the Genesis narrative concerning the Garden of Eden. There in verse 2:10, it says –
“Now a river went out of Eden to water the garden, and from there it parted and became four riverheads.”
When man fell through disobedience, he was cast out of Eden and from the Source of this water, even though the waters continued. These four riverheads picture the four gospels and thus point directly to Christ.
Later, at the time of the Exodus, the people were conducted through the wilderness, but were given glimpses of the true life-giving Water by the use of real-life pictures. One was when they came to Marah where the waters were bitter. In that account, it says, “So he cried out to the Lord, and the Lord showed him a tree. When he cast it into the waters, the waters were made sweet” (Exodus 15:25). This was a picture of the cross and thus the spiritual healing and life-giving waters of Christ.
Again, in the wilderness, at two separate times, water was made to flow from rock. One of the accounts says –
“Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock in Horeb; and you shall strike the rock, and water will come out of it, that the people may drink.” Exodus 17:6
The second time water was to come from the rock, the Lord instructed Moses to speak to the rock, not strike it. However, Moses disobeyed and was punished for this. The two accounts point to Christ under the law and Christ as the fulfillment of the law, and thus the Giver of grace. Both directly point to Christ. Paul notes this in the New Testament –
“… all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ.” 1 Corinthians 10:4
All along, the Israelites received their life-sustaining power from Christ, whether they acknowledged it or not. The Bible’s journey of the Water of Life continues through the Old Testament. For example, it is referred to in Isaiah 55:1 which anticipates the work of Christ once again –
“Ho! Everyone who thirsts,
Come to the waters;
And you who have no money,
Come, buy and eat.
Yes, come, buy wine and milk
Without money and without price.”
Another picture of Christ and His work in the redemptive narrative is found in the book of Ezekiel. It is in a prophecy of the future temple that will stand during the millennial reign of Christ –
“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.” Ezekiel 47:1
This water, flowing from the right side of the temple is an earthly taste of what will be realized in the eternal city, the New Jerusalem. Again, the water pictures the healing work of Christ as is described in the passage. These and other passages fill the Old Testament with a continuous stream of thought concerning Christ, the true Source of all life-giving water.
In the New Testament, we see the fulfillment of the Old Testament shadows and pictures. They are realized in the Person of Jesus. We know this from the words He proclaimed when speaking to the Samaritan woman at the well of Jacob –
“Jesus answered and said to her, ‘Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.’” John 4:13, 14
In John 7, we see the correlation between Jesus’ claims concerning the life-giving water and the Holy Spirit –
“On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, ‘If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. 38 He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’ 39 But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.” John 7:37-39
Now, in Revelation, the final picture of this wonderful anticipation of our being restored to paradise, where pure water of life issues forth is seen. What God offers is to be found again through the giving of His Son, Christ the Lamb. He is the One who is eternally revealing the unseen Father to us, and it is the Spirit of Christ who issues from the Father, through the Son.
This life-giving water is surely real water and a real river, but it is also an eternal reminder of the true Life which flows eternally from God to the redeemed of the world. From beginning to end, and at all points along the redemptive narrative, we are seeing God reveal Himself to us through Christ, our wonderful Lord JESUS!
O God, Your word is so rich and pure. We can see how You have tied it all together, pointing to our Lord and Savior Jesus each step of the way. We long to drink from the eternally flowing river which proceeds from Your throne and to revel in the beauty which surrounds it. May that day be soon! Amen.