Best of Daily Reflections: The Transforming River
He said to me, "These waters go out to the eastern region, flow down the steep slopes, and go into the Dead Sea. When the flowing waters enter the sea, its water becomes fresh."
During last summer's trip to the Holy Land, my family and I visited the Dead Sea. We reached this spot by driving over verdant hills and then descending to the edge of this unique body of water, which lies 1,296 feet below sea level. Because the Dead Sea has no outlet, mineral rich water that flows in cannot flow out. Evaporation takes the water, leaving the minerals behind, especially salt. Thus, the Dead Sea is about seven to ten times saltier than the ocean.
On the advice of our guide, we stopped at a beach in order to sit in the Dead Sea. That's right, to "sit" in the Dead Sea. Because the water is so dense with minerals, you can literally sit in the water as if in a beach chair, with your head and shoulders completely above the water. I can't adequately explain how strange it felt to do this. It was rather like sitting in a kind of liquid Jello.
Yet the Dead Sea is far from sweet. It's called "dead" because the high salinity prevents anything from living in the Sea. The only exception is when there is a great quantity of rain in the area. For a brief time, algae can live in the Dead Sea. But this occurrence is quite rare.
In his revelation to Ezekiel, the Lord uses the unique character of the Dead Sea in order to make a point about the Temple, which lay about 15 miles away from and 3,800 feet higher than the Sea. He describes a miraculous river that flows from the Temple down to the Dead Sea: "These waters go out to the eastern region, flow down the steep slopes, and go into the Dead Sea. When the flowing waters enter the sea, its water becomes fresh" (47:8). Thus, "great schools of fish" thrive in the Dead Sea because of the transformative power of the water from the Temple.
This vision in Ezekiel 47 demonstrates what happens in us when the water of the Holy Spirit flows into our hearts. It touches and transforms every part of us, so that we might be more fully alive and life-giving to others. The dead parts of us are invigorated by God's Spirit, so that we might live more abundantly now, in anticipation of the life that is yet to come.
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: How has your life been transformed by the "water" of God's Spirit? What parts of you need to be touched by the life-giving power of God?
PRAYER: Gracious God, thank you for this stirring picture of the river in Ezekiel 47. Thank you for being a God who gives life, not just in creation, but in re-creation as well.
O Lord, let your living water flow into my life. Transform me so that I might live more fully and share your life with others. Amen.