There are many themes or threads that run through the Bible. In this post we are going to think about the theme of rivers. We are going to look at seven rivers in the Bible.
1) Rivers as a place of creation: Genesis 2:10-14
Gardens need water. Eden may mean “well-watered place”. The Tigris and Euphrates are rivers known today, but the Pishon and Gihon are unknown. The rivers flowing from Eden went out to water the world, just as Adam and Even should have extended the garden to fill the world.
2) Crossing the river to enter the promise: Joshua 3:14-17
After 40 years in the wilderness, the children of Israel are finally at the place that had been promised to them and are about to cross the Jordan and claim the land of Canaan.
3) Rivers as a place of healing: 2 Kings 5:1,9-14
2 Kings 5:1; 2 Kings 5:9-14
Naaman had leprosy. An Israelite girl who had been taken to Syria in a raid knew that the Lord could heal him. Elisha sent word to Naaman to say what he had to do. Naaman had to abandon his pride and he was healed.
4) Rivers in Exile: Psalm 137:1-4
The Chebar was a canal of the Euphrates in Babylon where the exiles gathered to pray. Despite being far from home they kept their identity. The reality of exile meant that singing the songs of Jerusalem was just too painful.
5) Rivers as a place of theophany: Ezekiel 1:1, 3:15
Ezekiel 1:1; Ezekiel 3:15
Theophany means ‘appearance of God’. God revealed himself to Ezekiel as he was by the river Chebar; the place where Psalm 137 was written. Ezekiel was overwhelmed by the glory of God.
6) Jesus’ baptism: Matthew 3:13-17
Jesus went to be baptised by John. God revealed himself to Jesus and affirmed his identity. You are my son, who I love, in you I am well pleased.
7) The river from the throne of God: Revelation 22:1-5
In the new heaven and the new earth, when God once again dwells with his creation, like he did in Eden, a new river with flow from his throne.
So, as you read this, which river do you find yourself by? Let God speak to you now.
Are you by the rivers flowing from Eden – the place of creation? Are you being sent out to water the world?
Or are you by the Jordan, getting ready to cross over as you enter into the promise?
Are you in need of healing? Are you the Israelite girl who knows that God would heal and despite her own circumstances had compassion and pointed the way.
Perhaps you are by the rivers of Babylon – an exile in a foreign land? Finding it just too hard to sing the songs.
Are you by the river Chebar? The place where God has revealed his Glory and you are overwhelmed.
Or are you by the Jordan and need to hear from God? You are my son, you are my daughter. I love you and I am pleased with you.
Are you by the river flowing from the throne of God? Soaking in His presence.
Jesus said that whoever believed in him, out of their inner most being will flow ‘rivers of living water’ (John 7:38). Oswald Chambers writes, ‘The river of the Spirit of God overcomes all obstacles. Never focus your eyes on the obstacle or the difficulty. The obstacle will be a matter of total indifference to the river that will flow steadily through you if you will simply remember to stay focussed on the Source.’