First Reading: Ezekiel 47:1-2, 8-9, 12

A Life-Giving Flood

1 He brought me back to the door of the house; and behold, waters issued out from under the threshold of the house eastward; (for the forefront of the house was toward the east;) and the waters came down from under, from the right side of the house, on the south of the altar. 2 Then he brought me out by the way of the gate northward, and led me round by the way outside to the outer gate, by the way of the gate that looks toward the east; and behold, there ran out waters on the right side.

8 Then he said to me, These waters issue forth toward the eastern region, and shall go down into the Arabah; and they shall go toward the sea; into the sea shall the waters go which were made to issue forth; and the waters shall be healed. 9 It shall happen, that every living creature which swarms, in every place where the rivers come, shall live; and there shall be a very great multitude of fish; for these waters have come there, and the waters of the sea shall be healed, and everything shall live wherever the river comes.

12 By the river on its bank, on this side and on that side, shall grow every tree for food, whose leaf shall not wither, neither shall its fruit fail: it shall bring forth new fruit every month, because its waters issue out of the sanctuary; and its fruit shall be for food, and its leaf for healing.

World English Bible

Living in captivity during the Babylonian Exile, the prophet Ezekiel used dreams and visions as vehicles for prophesy. The images in these dreams and visions were sharply drawn. Some were of utter destruction from God’s judgement. Some were of great glory from God’s presence. These verses spoke of God’s presence, not his judgement.

In these verses, life-giving water poured from the Temple. This symbolized the return of God to his dwelling place and the power of his presence (which, as water, spilled in torrents from all sides of the Temple). With his presence came life, even in the regions of the dead (as fresh water that “sweetened” the Dead Sea in 47:8). With his presence, life grew in abundance. And with life came prosperity.

Ezekiel seemed to transfer the image of the great Tigris and Euphrates rivers to Jerusalem. Just as the waters of these rivers brought life and prosperity to the peoples in the region, so, too, would God return his people and give them life in a great torrent. This image was a promise to the Jewish captives that God would return them to Jerusalem, give them life in abundance, and bring back their glory. He would do everything that the water of a great river in the dessert could do. And more!

Have you ever felt alone, like you were in the empty desert? How has God given you life in those moments? How has his love been like the torrent of a great river?