What is the River of Life in the Bible?

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The vision of John – The River of Life

The Bible refers to the River of Life in Revelation 22:1 where it says, “the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb.” John adds, “down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations” (Revelation 22: 2,3).

The River of life supplies nourishment to the Tree of Life. This tree (Ezekiel 47:7) was originally in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:9). It was a symbol of eternal life from God, who is the source of life. The twelve fruits that this tree produces point to the constant abundance, sufficient to fill all the life needs of the saved throughout eternity. And the leaves of the tree will be for the healing of all people.

The vision of Ezekiel – The river from the temple

The vision of John can be compared with the vision of Ezekiel 47: “The man brought me back to the entrance to the temple, and I saw water coming out from under the threshold of the temple toward the east (for the temple faced east). The water was coming down from under the south side of the temple, south of the altar. He then brought me out through the north gate and led me around the outside to the outer gate facing east, and the water was trickling from the south side” (v. 1,2)  Abundant water, such as here portrayed, was the sign of adequate precipitation and resultant prosperity. Such blessings were further emphasized by the mention of the fruit trees and the teeming life in the waters (vs. 7–12).

In a prophetic vision, the Lord wanted to show His people that as the stream, which started in a small way, increased as it flowed out toward the desert, so the divine blessings that the Israelites received, were to flow out from them to reach the entire world.

God – the living water of life

The prophet Jeremiah spoke of the Lord as “the fountain of living waters” (chs. 2:13; 17:13). And the prophet Isaiah gave the same message: “With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation” (ch. 12:3). Believers should praise God for His salvation. If there were more praise among God’s children, there would be less fear and worry.

When the Israelites were in the desert, God gave them water from the smitten rock (Exodus 17:6; Numbers 20:8–11). This act of supplying water was commemorated in the promised land, in the temple ceremonies, where water was drawn from the spring of Shiloah (Isaiah 8:6) and carried to the Temple in a golden vessel and poured out at the altar of burnt offering. As the priests went to the spring, with a Levitical choir, many worshipers followed them to drink of the living water as it flowed from the spring on the side of the Temple hill.

Jesus alluded to this ceremony in John 7:37; 6:27, 51 when, on the last day of the feast, He invited the people to come to Him and drink. For He is the fountain whence flows the water that brings life and healing to all (Ezekiel 47:1; Joel 3:18; Zechariah 14:8).

The Lord Himself promised, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4:13,14). Those that drink of the River of Life will find peace, grace to the measure of their need and strength to overcome every trial.

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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