Life-Study of Ezekielby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
The book of Ezekiel speaks of two rivers. The first river, in chapter one, is the river Chebar, which was in the place where the people of God were held in captivity. The second river, in chapter forty-seven, is the river of life in the holy land. The first river is for carrying out judgment; the second river is for supplying life. To be near the river Chebar is to be in a place of discipline, but to be near the river of living water is to be in a place to receive life. In this message we will consider the river flowing from the house.
Genesis 2 speaks of the tree of life (v. 9) and of a river that went out of Eden to water the garden (v. 10). Both the tree and the river signify that God desires to impart Himself to man as life. The tree of life indicates that God wants us to eat Him, and the river indicates that God wants us to drink Him. The tree and the river in Genesis 2 are the beginning of two lines—one concerning God as living food and another concerning God as living water—that run throughout the Bible until they consummate with the tree of life and with the river of water of life in Revelation 22. Regarding God as man’s food, the Bible speaks of the meat of the lamb, the unleavened bread, the manna, the various offerings, and all the produce, both animal and vegetable, of the good land of Canaan. In John 6 the Lord Jesus spoke clearly about this: “I am the bread of life” (v. 48); “I am the living bread which came down out of heaven” (v. 51); “My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink” (v. 55); “he who eats Me, he also shall live because of Me” (v. 57). Regarding God as water for man to drink, the Bible speaks of the spring (Exo. 15:27), the water out of the rock (17:6; Num. 20:11; 1 Cor. 10:4), the water from the well (Num. 21:16-17), and water from the ground (Judg. 15:19). Psalm 36:8b says, “Thou shalt make them drink of the river of thy pleasures.” Psalm 46:4 says, “There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, / the holy place of the tabernacles of the Most High.” Joel 3:18 says, “A fountain shall come forth of the house of the Lord.” Zechariah 14:8 says, “It shall be in that day, that living waters shall go out from Jerusalem.” The Gospel of John speaks of the living water in 4:14 and 7:37-38. These portions of the Word reveal that God as living water has flowed out from eternity into us to satisfy our thirst.
The portion of the Word that describes the flow of the living water of God in the most detail is Ezekiel 47. It is significant that the flow of the river of life is not in chapter one. In that chapter, instead of the river of life, there was a consuming fire. In chapter thirty-seven there was a wind that became breath to us, but there was no water flowing. The flowing of the water did not begin until chapter forty-seven. The water could not come in before chapter forty-seven, because the house had not been built up.
Several crucial factors brought in the flow of the river. The first was the building up and completion of the house. Following this, the people began to have their living according to the house, according to its pattern, laws, and statutes. Their daily life and all their conduct began to be according to the form, fashion, pattern, statutes, and laws of the house (43:10-11). Next, the serving ones, the priests, were serving the Lord in a proper way. Finally, there were all the offerings: one lamb out of two hundred, one-sixtieth of the wheat and barley, and one-hundredth of the oil. There were yearly offerings, monthly offerings, daily offerings, and all the solemn feasts. We need to realize that the experience of all these matters brought in the flow of the river.
When the Lord saw all these things, He must have been very happy. He had a house—the place of His throne, a place for the soles of His feet, a place where He could dwell for His rest and satisfaction. He saw the house with its forms and statutes, and He saw the priests and the offerings. Therefore, He sent the flowing of the river, and the river began to flow out of the house.
Now we can understand why there is no mention of the flowing of the river before chapter forty-seven. The flow of the river depends on the building. Whenever and wherever a group of believers is built up in oneness as described by Ezekiel, there will be the flowing of the river out of the building. If there is the building in your locality, the flow will come forth out from the building. Suppose regarding the church in your locality the Lord can say, “This is the place of My throne, this is the place where I can put the soles of My feet, and this is the place where I can dwell, rest, and be satisfied.” If the Lord is able to say this about your place, the river will surely flow out of the building.
Today many zealous Christians pay attention to outreach and to gospel work in the mission field, yet their situation is quite poor. They go out to work for the Lord, but no flow follows them, because they neglect the source—the building up of the church. There can be no flow apart from the genuine building. If there is a strong building up in the local churches, there will be river flowing out of the building to other places. There will be the flowing, the flooding, and the impact.
How much we need the building! We need the church to be built up as the temple, the house of God. Out of such a building, the flow of God will issue. The outreach depends on the building. The preaching of the gospel depends on the building. This is the reason that in John 17:23 the Lord Jesus said that when we are perfected into one, the world will know that the Father has sent the Son. This means that when we are built up as one, the world will be convinced. The divided situation of Christianity greatly limits the impact of the gospel.
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