What does John 13:7 mean?
Many lessons taught to the disciples are introduced long before they are understood. In some cases, these men need to see how Jesus' role as Messiah will be fulfilled in order to put together all the pieces (John 2:19–22).
In other cases, like this, they need a drastic dose of humility. Jesus has surprised them by performing a servant's task: washing the disciples' feet. Later, He will explain the example this should set (John 13:12–20).
For now, the disciples are too concerned with power (Luke 9:54), prestige (Mark 9:34), and the thrill of recent events (John 12:12–13). Only after they see the extent to which Jesus humbles Himself (Philippians 2:8) will they grasp the significance of this foot washing. Peter, especially, will mature from this night's arrogance (John 13:37) into someone deeply aware of the need for humility (1 Peter 5:5).
"You don't understand now, but you will" is a clear response to Peter's objection. But Peter has always been too hard-headed to listen the first time around (Mark 8:31–33). He will reply with a flat-out, absolute rejection of what Jesus is attempting to do (John 13:8), then completely reverse direction and once again fall short of full understanding (John 13:9).
Ezekiel was born into the priestly line (Ezekiel 1:3), but he served God as a prophet. In Ezekiel 40–48 Ezekiel sees a detailed vision of a grand and glorious temple. This lengthy vision has been the subject of much speculation and various interpretations through the years.
Ezekiel began his prophetic ministry before Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed by Babylon in 586 BC. Prior to the destruction, many false prophets assured the people that God was with them and that nothing would happen to them (Ezekiel 13:8–16). True prophets like Jeremiah and Ezekiel warned the people that God’s judgment was coming (Ezekiel 2:3–8). In Ezekiel 8–11, the prophet sees the glory of God leaving the temple.
Ezekiel was taken into exile to Babylon, probably in the second deportation of Jews, in 597 BC. In exile, he encouraged Israel that judgment would not last forever, but that God would restore Israel and once again live among them. In Ezekiel 37 he relates the vision of “The Valley of Dry Bones,” in which he describes the reunification and reanimation of a dead Israel. In chapters 38–39, Ezekiel predicts a battle with Gog and Magog, in which Israel’s enemies are defeated. Then, in chapters 40–48, in the twenty-fifth year of Israel’s captivity, Ezekiel describes an enormous new temple (chapters 40–42). The glory of God returns (chapter 43), sacrifices are resumed (chapters 44–46), and the land is restored to the people of Israel (47–48). The hearts of the people will have been changed (Ezekiel 36:26–27), and even Gentiles have a place in the restored kingdom (Ezekiel 47:22). The land will be ruled by a Davidic Prince (Ezekiel 44:3; see also 37:24–25; 34:23–24).
In his vision of the temple, Ezekiel is taken to Israel where he sees a mountain and a city. He is met by “a man whose appearance was like bronze; he was standing in the gateway with a linen cord and a measuring rod in his hand” (Ezekiel 40:3). The man tells Ezekiel to pay careful attention to everything he sees and hears and to relate all the details to God’s people (verse 4). The measuring of the layout of the temple complex fills the next three chapters of Ezekiel.
The question is when and how will the vision of Ezekiel’s temple be fulfilled? Should we look for a literal fulfillment? Or is this vision symbolic of the future perfection of God’s presence among His people? Has it already been fulfilled? Or is the fulfillment still future? If Ezekiel’s temple is future, will it be fulfilled in the church age, the millennium, or in the eternal state? The answers to these questions will be determined, most likely, by the interpreter’s presuppositions regarding the literal or symbolic nature of prophecy and fulfillment.
Arguing for a literal fulfillment of the prophecy of Ezekiel’s temple are the numerous details of Ezekiel’s vision and the specific dimensions of the temple. If the vision is to be literally fulfilled, then the fulfillment must be future, for nothing like what is described in Ezekiel 40–48 has taken place up to this point. The dimensions of Ezekiel’s temple are far larger than the temple in Jesus’ day, and that temple was a grand structure.
Most who expect a literal fulfillment of Ezekiel’s temple expect it to be erected in the millennial kingdom, a 1,000-year reign of Christ upon the earth. During the millennium, glorified saints from the present age will live in contact with natural human beings who will still need to make a decision for Christ in order to be saved—and many will choose not to trust Him. The sacrificial system described in Ezekiel cannot be for the forgiveness of sins, for Christ has accomplished that once and for all (Hebrews 10:1–4, 11–14). In this interpretive approach, the sacrifices are seen as memorials of Christ’s death or as rites for the ceremonial cleansing of the temple, but not as a means to forgive sins.
In the figurative view of Ezekiel’s temple, the prophet’s vision simply reiterates that God will once again dwell with His people in a perfect relationship. This relationship is described in the language that the people of the day (and especially for Ezekiel as a priest) would have understood—a Jewish temple of magnificent proportions, with regular, perfect sacrifices, with the Messiah presiding, and with the glory of God visibly evident. In later visions to other prophets, God revealed more about how He would accomplish this with the Messiah Himself replacing the temple, the sacrifices, and the land. The presence of God through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit would be more immediately evident than ever before. The fulfillment of Ezekiel’s temple could thus be realized in the church age to some degree and, in the age to come, to perfection.
Regardless of which approach is taken, the vision of Ezekiel’s temple says that God has not forsaken His people and that His relationship with them will be restored and elevated to a new, never-before-conceived glory and intimacy. Present circumstances should never cause one to doubt the promises of God.
Date of Writing: The Book of Ezekiel was likely written between 593 and 565 B.C. during the Babylonian captivity of the Jews.
Purpose of Writing: Ezekiel ministered to his generation who were both exceedingly sinful and thoroughly hopeless. By means of his prophetic ministry he attempted to bring them to immediate repentance and to confidence in the distant future. He taught that: (1) God works through human messengers; (2) Even in defeat and despair God’s people need to affirm God’s sovereignty; (3) God’s Word never fails; (4) God is present and can be worshiped anywhere; (5) People must obey God if they expect to receive blessings; and (6) God’s Kingdom will come.
Ezekiel 2:3-6, "He said: 'son of man, I am sending you to the Israelites, to a rebellious nation that has rebelled against me; they and their fathers have been in revolt against me to this very day. The people to whom I am sending you are obstinate and stubborn. Say to them, "This is what the Sovereign LORD says." And whether they listen or fail to listen—for they are a rebellious house—they will know that a prophet has been among them.'"
Ezekiel 18:4, "For every living soul belongs to me, the father as well as the son—both alike belong to me. The soul who sins is the one who will die."
Ezekiel 28:12-14, "'You were the model of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone adorned you: ruby, topaz and emerald, chrysolite, onyx and jasper, sapphire, turquoise and beryl. Your settings and mountings were made of gold; on the day you were created they were prepared. You were anointed as a guardian cherub, for so I ordained you. You were on the holy mount of God; you walked among the fiery stones."
Ezekiel 33:11, "Say to them, 'As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, O house of Israel?'"
Ezekiel 48:35, "And the name of the city from that time on will be:
THE LORD IS THERE."
Brief Summary: How can you cope with a world gone astray?
Ezekiel, destined to begin his life’s ministry as a priest at age thirty, was uprooted from his homeland and marched off to Babylon at the age of twenty-five. For five years he languished in despair. At age thirty a majestic vision of Yahweh’s glory captivated his being in Babylon. The priest/prophet discovered God was not confined to the narrow strictures of Ezekiel’s native land. Instead, He is a universal God who commands and controls persons and nations. In Babylon, God imparted to Ezekiel His Word for the people. His call experience transformed Ezekiel. He became avidly devoted to God’s Word. He realized he had nothing personally to assist the captives in their bitter situation, but he was convinced God’s Word spoke to their condition and could give them victory in it. Ezekiel used various methods to convey God’s Word to his people. He used art in drawing a depiction of Jerusalem, symbolic actions and unusual conduct to secure attention. He cut his hair and beard to demonstrate what God would do to Jerusalem and its inhabitants.
Ezekiel’s book can be divided into four sections:
Chapters 1-24: prophecies on the ruin of Jerusalem
Chapters 25-32: prophecies of God’s judgment on nearby nations
Chapter 33: a last call for repentance to Israel
Chapters 34-48: prophecies concerning the future restoration of Israel
Foreshadowings: Ezekiel 34 is the chapter wherein God denounces the leaders of Israel as false shepherds for their poor care of His people. Instead of caring for the sheep of Israel, they cared for themselves. They ate well, were well-clothed and well-cared for by the very people they had been placed over (Ezekiel 34:1-3). By contrast, Jesus is the Good Shepherd who lays down His life for the sheep and who protects them from the wolves who would destroy the flock (John 10:11-12). Verse 4 of chapter 34 describes people whom the shepherds failed to minister to as weak, sick, injured and lost. Jesus is the Great Physician who heals our spiritual wounds (Isaiah 53:5) by His death on the cross. He is the one who seeks and saves that which is lost (Luke 19:10).
Practical Application: The Book of Ezekiel calls us to join in a fresh and living encounter with the God of Abraham, Moses and the prophets. We must be overcomers or we will be overcome. Ezekiel challenged us to experience a life changing vision of God’s power, knowledge, eternal presence and holiness; to let God direct us; to comprehend the depth of and commitment to evil that lodges in each human heart; to recognize that God holds His servants responsible for warning wicked men of their peril; to experience a living relationship with Jesus Christ, who said that the new covenant is to be found in His blood.
Ezekiel 47:1-23 - River Of The Temple, Division Of The Land And Its Boundaries
1 Then he brought me back to the door of the house; and behold, water was flowing from under the threshold of the house toward the east, for the house faced east. And the water was flowing down from under, from the right side of the house, from south of the altar. 2 He brought me out by way of the north gate and led me around on the outside to the outer gate by way of the gate that faces east. And behold, water was trickling from the south side. 3 When the man went out toward the east with a line in his hand, he measured a thousand cubits, and he led me through the water, water reaching the ankles. 4 Again he measured a thousand and led me through the water, water reaching the knees. Again he measured a thousand and led me through the water, water reaching the loins. 5 Again he measured a thousand; and it was a river that I could not ford, for the water had risen, enough water to swim in, a river that could not be forded.
6 He said to me, “Son of man, have you seen this?” Then he brought me back to the bank of the river. 7 Now when I had returned, behold, on the bank of the river there were very many trees on the one side and on the other. 8 Then he said to me, “These waters go out toward the eastern region and go down into the Arabah; then they go toward the sea, being made to flow into the sea, and the waters of the sea become fresh. 9 It will come about that every living creature which swarms in every place where the river goes, will live. And there will be very many fish, for these waters go there and the others become fresh; so everything will live where the river goes. 10 And it will come about that fishermen will stand beside it; from Engedi to Eneglaim there will be a place for the spreading of nets. Their fish will be according to their kinds, like the fish of the Great Sea, very many. 11 But its swamps and marshes will not become fresh; they will be left for salt. 12 By the river on its bank, on one side and on the other, will grow all kinds of trees for food. Their leaves will not wither and their fruit will not fail. They will bear every month because their water flows from the sanctuary, and their fruit will be for food and their leaves for healing.”
13 Thus says the Lord God, “This shall be the boundary by which you shall divide the land for an inheritance among the twelve tribes of Israel; Joseph shall have two portions. 14 You shall divide it for an inheritance, each one equally with the other; for I swore to give it to your forefathers, and this land shall fall to you as an inheritance.
15 “This shall be the boundary of the land: on the north side, from the Great Sea by the way of Hethlon, to the entrance of Zedad; 16 Hamath, Berothah, Sibraim, which is between the border of Damascus and the border of Hamath; Hazer-hatticon, which is by the border of Hauran. 17 The boundary shall extend from the sea to Hazar-enan at the border of Damascus, and on the north toward the north is the border of Hamath. This is the north side.
18 “The east side, from between Hauran, Damascus, Gilead and the land of Israel, shall be the Jordan; from the north border to the eastern sea you shall measure. This is the east side.
19 “The south side toward the south shall extend from Tamar as far as the waters of Meribath-kadesh, to the brook of Egypt and to the Great Sea. This is the south side toward the south.
20 “The west side shall be the Great Sea, from the south border to a point opposite Lebo-hamath. This is the west side.
21 “So you shall divide this land among yourselves according to the tribes of Israel. 22 You shall divide it by lot for an inheritance among yourselves and among the aliens who stay in your midst, who bring forth sons in your midst. And they shall be to you as the native-born among the sons of Israel; they shall be allotted an inheritance with you among the tribes of Israel. 23 And in the tribe with which the alien stays, there you shall give him his inheritance,” declares the Lord God.
(22) By lot.--See Note on Ezekiel 45:1.To the strangers.—An entirely new feature is here added to the Mosaic law. According to Leviticus 19:34, strangers were to be treated with kindness, but the entire territory was to be divided among the Israelites, and strangers could therefore acquire no land except in so far as they might purchase a temporary right between the years of Jubilee. Now, however, such of them as “shall beget children among you,” thus showing a disposition to permanent residence, are to receive an inheritance along with the tribes and in the portion of that tribe where they may have chosen to fix their residence. This privilege is absolute, without any condition of receiving circumcision.
Verses 31-34. - The gates of the city.
These should be twelve in number, three on each side, and named after the twelve tribes (comp. Revelation 21:12). The gates leading northward should be those of Reuben, Judah, and Levi, all children of Leah (Genesis 29:32, 35), as Keil observes, "the firstborn in age, the firstborn by virtue of the patriarchal blessing, and the one chosen by Jehovah for his own service in the place of the firstborn." The same three occupy the first three places and in the same order in the blessing of Moses (Deuteronomy 33:6-8). Towards the east should lead the gates of Joseph, Benjamin, and Dan, the first and second sons of Rachel, and the third a son of Rachel's handmaid (Genesis 30:6, 24; Genesis 35:18). In the blessing of Moses Benjamin precedes Joseph (Deuteronomy 33:12, 13). The south gates receive the names of Simeon, Issachar, and Zebulun, again all sons of Leah. The west gates are those of Gad, Asher, and Naphtali, that is, two sons of Leah's handmaid and one of Rachel's.
It is observable that in the naming of the gates Levi resumes his place among the tribes, which necessitates the substitution of Joseph the original tribe-father instead of Ephraim and Manasseh his two sons.
(On the phrase, one gate of Judah, literally,
the gate of Judah one, see on ver. 1.)
The city had a great and high wall with twelve gates inscribed with the names of the twelve tribes of Israel, and twelve angels at the gates.
And he measured the wall thereof, an hundred andforty and four cubits, according to the measure of a man, that is, of the angel…
For we were bondmen; yet our God hath not forsaken us in our bondage, but hath extended mercy unto us in the sight of the kings of Persia, to give us a reviving, to set up the house of our God, and to repair the desolations thereof, and to give us a wall in Judah and in Jerusalem.
And at the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem they sought the Levites out of all their places, to bring them to Jerusalem, to keep the dedication with gladness, both with thanksgivings, and with singing, with cymbals, psalteries, and with harps.
And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel…
Every man of the children of Israel shall pitch by his own standard, with the ensign of their father's house: far off about the tabernacle of the congregation shall they pitch…
Ezekiel 44:6-14 - The Levites' Duties And Privileges
6 You shall say to the rebellious ones, to the house of Israel, ‘Thus says the Lord God, “Enough of all your abominations, O house of Israel, 7 when you brought in foreigners, uncircumcised in heart and uncircumcised in flesh, to be in My sanctuary to profane it, even My house, when you offered My food, the fat and the blood; for they made My covenant void—this in addition to all your abominations. 8 And you have not kept charge of My holy things yourselves, but you have set foreigners to keep charge of My sanctuary.”
9 ‘Thus says the Lord God, “No foreigner uncircumcised in heart and uncircumcised in flesh, of all the foreigners who are among the sons of Israel, shall enter My sanctuary. 10 But the Levites who went far from Me when Israel went astray, who went astray from Me after their idols, shall bear the punishment for their iniquity. 11 Yet they shall be ministers in My sanctuary, having oversight at the gates of the house and ministering in the house; they shall slaughter the burnt offering and the sacrifice for the people, and they shall stand before them to minister to them. 12 Because they ministered to them before their idols and became a stumbling block of iniquity to the house of Israel, therefore I have sworn against them,” declares the Lord God, “that they shall bear the punishment for their iniquity. 13 And they shall not come near to Me to serve as a priest to Me, nor come near to any of My holy things, to the things that are most holy; but they will bear their shame and their abominations which they have committed. 14 Yet I will appoint them to keep charge of the house, of all its service and of all that shall be done in it.
Ezekiel 44:15-31 - The Priests' Duties And Privileges
28 “And it shall be with regard to an inheritance for them, that I am their inheritance; and you shall give them no possession in Israel—I am their possession. 29 They shall eat the grain offering, the sin offering and the guilt offering; and every devoted thing in Israel shall be theirs. 30 The first of all the first fruits of every kind and every contribution of every kind, from all your contributions, shall be for the priests; you shall also give to the priest the first of your dough to cause a blessing to rest on your house. 31 The priests shall not eat any bird or beast that has died a natural death or has been torn to pieces.
River Of The Temple, Division Of The Land And Its Boundaries
11 But its swamps and marshes will not become fresh; they will be left for salt. 12 By the river on its bank, on one side and on the other, will grow all kinds of trees for food. Their leaves will not wither and their fruit will not fail. They will bear every month because their water flows from the sanctuary, and their fruit will be for food and their leaves for healing.” 13 Thus says the Lord God, “This shall be the boundary by which you shall divide the land for an inheritance among the twelve tribes of Israel; Joseph shall have two portions.
Then he brought me back to the door of the temple; and there was water, flowing from under the threshold of the temple toward the east, for the front of the temple faced east; the water was flowing from under the right side of the temple, south of the altar. He brought me out by way of the north gate, and led me around on the outside to the outer gateway that faces east; and there was water, running out on the right side. Ezekiel 47:1-2
The prophet Ezekiel had a vision which revealed a prophetic shift in the move of the Spirit among the people of God. This shift was from pious worship in the temple to a flow outside of the walls of the house of worship. As we continue to endure the effect of the coronavirus pandemic on our gathering together in the church; we see this shift happening in our generation here and now.
What does the flow of water represent spiritually?
Ephesians 5:26 says water sanctifies (sets apart) and cleanses us — that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, — the scripture reference is about the church.
This is to say that the flow of water spiritually represents cleansing and washing by the word.
In Ezekiel’s vision,
the word of God is flowing from the altar
out of the temple into the nation of Israel.
In our generation, the word of God is flowing from the altar out of the church through livestream, social media and other channels. We are forced to touch lives and do ministry outside of our normal traditions. Hebrews 10:22 says — let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. The writer of Hebrews talks about pure water washing our conscience and our bodies. We must present our bodies to God clean, as vessels fit for the Masters use.
The water also represents the Spirit of God as it is written in John 7:37-39 — On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink.
He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.
Do you thirst for more of God?
We are like a river that flows into the sea. A severe drought can dry up a river, but a vast ocean can withstand the scorching sun due to its enormous depth. So it is, with our God who is without limits, there is no way His depth can ever be exhausted, so let us flow in the Spirit that is without measure.
The prophet Jeremiah has instructed the believers for all time about fountains of living waters — living waters refer to the movement and flow of water.
In Jeremiah 2:13 the prophet speaks as an Oracle of God concerning the fountain of living waters;
For My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, And hewn themselves cisterns—broken cisterns that can hold no water.
Again in Jeremiah 17:13 the Lord declares that He is indeed the fountain of living waters;
O LORD, the hope of Israel, All who forsake You shall be ashamed. “Those who depart from Me Shall be written in the earth,
Because they have forsaken the LORD,
The fountain of living waters.”
We can see in scripture that the flow of water from the temple represents the Spirit of God moving by the word of God into the nations. In other words, the LORD Himself is moving and inviting His people to get in the flow.
May we all get into the flow as we represent the king of glory in the earth!
EZEKIEL 47 – THE RIVER OF LIFE
A. The river from the temple.1. (1-2)
The river’s source: the temple.
Then he brought me back to the door of the temple; and there was water, flowing from under the threshold of the temple toward the east, for the front of the temple faced east; the water was flowing from under the right side of the temple, south of the altar. He brought me out by way of the north gate, and led me around on the outside to the outer gateway that faces east; and there was water, running out on the right side.
a. There was water, flowing from under the threshold of the temple: Led back to the door of the temple(presumably by the radiant man of Ezekiel 40:3), Ezekiel saw something that never existed in the temple before: a river flowing directly from the temple.
i. “Ezekiel uses this imagery to affirm that the new temple, like the old, will be a font of blessing for Israel.” (Vawter and Hoppe)
ii. Significantly, the river does not come from a king’s palace or a government building. It doesn’t come from a marketplace, a place of business, or an athletic arena. It comes from God’s house.
b. There was water, running out on the right side:
In all of its recorded history, Jerusalem never had such a river. There were streams and springs, but never a rich, mighty river, and never one flowing from this part of the city. In the semi-arid geography of Israel a river like this was both a blessing and a miracle. It brought life, growth, vitality, refreshment, hope, and security.
i. “Blessing, fertility and water are almost interchangeable ideas in the Old Testament” (Taylor). We think of the beauty of Psalm 46:4: There is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God.
ii. “Jerusalem is the only great city of the ancient world that wasn’t located on a river, and in the east, a dependable water supply is essential for life and for defense. During the Kingdom Age, Jerusalem shall have a river such as no other nation ever had.” (Wiersbe)
iii. Running out on the right side: “The waters seem to have been at first in small quantity; for the words imply that they oozed or dropped out. They were at first so small that they came, drop by drop; but they increased.” (Clarke)
iv. “We have reminders that flowing streams are parables of the flowing life of God (e.g. Psalm 42:1; Jeremiah 2:13; John 4:10-15).” (Wright)
v. Trapp gave a typical spiritualized explanation of this river: “The gospel of grace, and the gifts of the Holy Ghost thereby conveyed into the hearts of believers, and poured out upon the world by the death of Christ.”
vi. Though such a river has symbolic meaning, we should not miss the plain promises of such a river in the coming kingdom of the Messiah.
· A fountain shall flow from the house of the LORD (Joel 3:18).
· And in that day it shall be – that living waters shall flow from Jerusalem (Zechariah 14:8).
vii. John mentioned a similar river relevant to the eternal state in Revelation, but it isn’t the same as this river. “The variance between Ezekiel’s account of this river and that of John in the Revelation centers on the river’s source. God is the source of both rivers; but Ezekiel saw the river issuing from the temple, whereas John saw the river coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb (a temple not existing according to Revelation 21:22).” (Alexander)
2. (3-5) The river’s increasing depth.
And when the man went out to the east with the line in his hand, he measured one thousand cubits, and he brought me through the waters; the water came up to my ankles. Again he measured one thousand and brought me through the waters; the water came up to my knees. Again he measured one thousand and brought me through; the water came up to my waist. Again he measured one thousand, and it was a river that I could not cross; for the water was too deep, water in which one must swim, a river that could not be crossed. He said to me, “Son of man, have you seen this?” Then he brought me and returned me to the bank of the river.
a. When the man went out to the east with the line in his hand: Ezekiel’s unnamed guide followed the course of the river as it flowed out to the east. He followed the river one thousand cubits (about one-third of a mile or one-half a kilometer) from some point, perhaps its origin from the temple.
b. He brought me through the waters: Together with the unnamed guide, Ezekiel went into and through the waters. The river was not something for Ezekiel to simply look at or think about; it was something for him to enter into.
c. The water came up to my ankles: At the measured distance (one thousand cubits), the river was as deep as Ezekiel’s ankles. It wasn’t very deep, but Ezekiel was in it as much as he could be, experiencing all the depth the river had at that point.
i. The phrase, the water came up to my ankles, is literally water of ankles. Taylor relates how this led to a bad translation and bad theology: “So strange did this phrase seem to the lxx translator that he virtually transliterated it and made ‘water of remission,’ with the result that many early Christian commentators applied this symbolism to the waters of baptism. A warning to both translators and interpreters!”
d. Again he measured one thousand and brought me through the waters: Ezekiel’s guide continued eastward with the flow of the river, and he brought Ezekiel with him along the way. This continued for four measures of one thousand cubits in total.
e. The water came up to my knees… up to my waist: As Ezekiel continued, the river became deeper at each measuring point. Starting at ankle depth, then up to his knees, then his waist. At each point along the way, Ezekiel was in the river as deep as he could be. He didn’t artificially sink himself into the river, but his experience matched the actual depth of the river.
i. This rapid increase in depth – from a small trickle of a stream to ankle depth, to knee depth, to waist depth, all in the course of about a mile (or 1.5 kilometers) – is miraculous. We read nothing of other streams leading into this; it is a miraculous and abundant provision.
ii. “Why was it necessary to bring Ezekiel through the waters in vision? The purpose was to reveal to him both the size and depth of the river. The trickle (the literal of ‘ran out’ of v. 2 is ‘trickled forth’) had become a veritable river during the measuring activity of the man in the vision.” (Feinberg)
f. It was a river that I could not cross; for the water was too deep:
The rapid increase of the river’s depth and power showed what a mighty river this was. It soon came to the point where the water was over Ezekiel’s head, and all he could do was swim.
i. Fundamentally, this shows us the miraculous nature of a real river in a real Messianic kingdom to come. Yet by spiritual analogy, there is a powerful picture of increasing progress and depth in our spiritual life. It illustrates a progression from ankles, to knees, to waist, to depths where one can no longer touch the ground and must swim. God’s people read this and feel a call to go deeper. They shouldn’t stop until they are swimming, carried along by God’s currents and comfortable in that place.
ii. “We need the ankle-depths of walking to be exchanged for the knee-depths of praying; and these for the loin-depths of perfect purity; and these for the length, depth, breadth, and height of the love of Christ.” (Meyer)
iii. Spurgeon saw a spiritual analogy between the life of faith and swimming. We start out “floating in faith,” somewhat passively, just keeping our head up out of the water. We then progress to swimming by faith. “How blessedly our friend Mr. Mueller of Bristol swims! What a master swimmer he is! He has had his feet off the bottom many years and as he swims he draws along behind him some 2,000 orphan children, whom, by God’s grace, he is saving from the floods of sin and bringing, we trust, safe to shore.” (Spurgeon)
iv. Many commentators and preachers through the centuries have seen the increasing depth of this river to be an illustration of the great depths of God’s word. “Scriptures have their shallows wherein the lamb may wade, like as they have their profundities wherein the elephant himself may swim. Augustine condemned the Holy Scriptures at first, as neither eloquent nor deep enough for the elevation of his wit. But afterwards, when he was both a better and a wiser man, he saw his own shallowness, and admired the never enough adored depth of God’s holy oracles.” (Trapp)
g. He brought me and returned me to the bank of the river:
When it was clear that the water was too deep for Ezekiel and he could not cross it, then his guide brought him out of the river and back to the bank. He asked Ezekiel to carefully think about what he saw and experienced (have you seen this?)
3. (6-12) The power of the river.
When I returned, there, along the bank of the river, were very many trees on one side and the other.
Then he said to me: “This water flows toward the eastern region, goes down into the valley, and enters the sea. When it reaches the sea, its waters are healed. And it shall be that every living thing that moves, wherever the rivers go, will live. There will be a very great multitude of fish, because these waters go there; for they will be healed, and everything will live wherever the river goes. It shall be that fishermen will stand by it from En Gedi to En Eglaim; they will be places for spreading their nets. Their fish will be of the same kinds as the fish of the Great Sea, exceedingly many. But its swamps and marshes will not be healed; they will be given over to salt. Along the bank of the river, on this side and that, will grow all kinds of trees used for food; their leaves will not wither, and their fruit will not fail. They will bear fruit every month, because their water flows from the sanctuary. Their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for medicine.”
a. Many trees on one side and the other:
Once out of the river Ezekiel noticed the many trees.
They grew along both sides of the river.
i. “The deepest valley rift in the world is the Arabah in the Holy Land.
The waters of the river will flow east through the Arabah into the Dead Sea. ”
b. When it reaches the sea, its waters are healed: Ezekiel’s guide described the miraculous properties of this river. As the river flowed out from Jerusalem then down into the Dead Sea, those lifeless waters were healed.
There would be a very great multitude of fish in that strange body of water that previously held no life.
This can and will be fulfilled
both literally in a coming kingdom age
and is also a fitting symbol of God’s present work through the gospel.
i. There is also an obvious but possibly overlooked point here: God cares about the environment and promises to restore and heal it. Despite the many who worship the creation instead of the Creator, God Himself cares about His creation.
His salvation and work of redemption extend to the environment.
ii. “Its waters are miraculously healed, rapa normally refers to the healing of a diseased body, but in this case the miracle involves neutralizing the baneful chemicals in the water, so it becomes fresh.” (Block)
iii. Jesus may very well have had this image of Ezekiel in mind (or a similar one) when He spoke of rivers of living water (John 7:37-38).
There is a valid spiritual application of this wonderful image, and a literal fulfillment to come.
d. Will grow all kinds of trees used for food: Along the sides of the river, there were remarkable fruit trees with leaves that will not wither and fruit that will never fail. In some unknown way, their leaves will be used for medicine.
i. “These trees most likely were palmetto trees, whence the balm that healeth, the fruit that feedeth, and juice that refresheth, and allays our thirst.”
B. The borders of the land.1. (13-14) The promise of the land, and two portions for Joseph.
Thus says the Lord GOD: “These are the borders by which you shall divide the land as an inheritance among the twelve tribes of Israel. Joseph shall have two portions. You shall inherit it equally with one another; for I raised My hand in an oath to give it to your fathers, and this land shall fall to you as your inheritance.
a. These are the borders by which you shall divide the land: This emphasizes that this was not a symbolic or spiritual land, God gave specific borders to mark it. There will be real land that will be given to the real twelve tribes of Israel.
i. These are all twelve tribes. “Although the nation had been divided politically for nearly four hundred years, as in the case of all his prophetic colleagues Ezekiel’s vision of Israel’s future is based on the tradition of a united nation consisting of twelve tribes of Israel descended from Jacob’s twelve sons.” (Block)
ii. “The boundaries are substantially those originally given to Moses in Numbers 34:1-15. In Numbers the southern boundary is given first; here the reckoning is from the north.”
b. Joseph shall have two portions:
As was with the division of the land under Joshua, the two sons of Joseph (Ephraim and Manasseh) would each have their portion.
c. I raised My hand in an oath to give it to your fathers,
and this land shall fall to you:
Again, God emphasized that this was a real land that would continue and fulfill the promises of a real land to Israel’s patriarchs. God made these promises to:
· Abraham in Genesis 13:15 and 15:18.
· Isaac in Genesis 26:3.
· Jacob in Genesis 28:13.
i. This granting of the land in the millennial kingdom will be an extension and a fulfillment of those long ago and often repeated promises.
2. (15-20) The borders of the land on every side.“This shall be the border of the land on the north: from the Great Sea, by the road to Hethlon, as one goes to Zedad, Hamath, Berothah, Sibraim (which is between the border of Damascus and the border of Hamath), to Hazar Hatticon (which is on the border of Hauran). Thus the boundary shall be from the Sea to Hazar Enan, the border of Damascus; and as for the north, northward, it is the border of Hamath. This is the north side.
“On the east side you shall mark out the border from between Hauran and Damascus, and between Gilead and the land of Israel, along the Jordan, and along the eastern side of the sea. This is the east side.
“The south side, toward the South, shall be from Tamar to the waters of Meribah by Kadesh, along the brook to the Great Sea. This is the south side, toward the South.
“The west side shall be the Great Sea, from the southern boundary until one comes to a point opposite Hamath. This is the west side.
a. This shall be the border of the land: Using landmarks on the north, east, south, and west, God described the borders of Israel in the period of Ezekiel’s temple, a period regarded as the millennial reign of Jesus Messiah.
i. “This is the area which God swore to give to the nation (14, cf. Genesis 15:18-21; Numbers 34:1-12), and which was ruled by Solomon (1 Kings 4:24).”
ii. In his commentary, Daniel Block has a very good map. As he envisions it, if these borders were put upon a modern map it would include all of Lebanon and a good portion of Syria (including Damascus). It would notinclude modern Jordan or Egypt, and not extend southward to modern Eilat.
iii. “Only twice in Israel’s history did the political borders of Israel extend as far north as Lebo-hamath: under David and under Jeroboam II (2 Kings 14:25).” (Block)
b. From the Great Sea, by the road to Hethlon: Many landmarks are listed, but we believe that since the geography of this part of the world will be significantly transformed right before this period begins, it is impossible to exactly establish what these places will mark in the coming age. In general, we can say that it is an area somewhat larger than the land Israel occupied in the Old Testament.
i. The description shows that this is not the eternal state. “The western boundary was the Great Sea (v.20; cf. Numbers 34:6). In contrast the land of God’s people in the eternal state will have no sea since the sea will no longer exist (Revelation 21:1).” (Alexander)
3. (21-23) The command to divide the land.“Thus you shall divide this land among yourselves according to the tribes of Israel. It shall be that you will divide it by lot as an inheritance for yourselves, and for the strangers who dwell among you and who bear children among you. They shall be to you as native-born among the children of Israel; they shall have an inheritance with you among the tribes of Israel. And it shall be that in whatever tribe the stranger dwells, there you shall give him his inheritance,” says the Lord GOD.
a. Thus you shall divide this land: The repeated commands to divide the land indicate that this is a real land, not a spiritual representation. The best way to understand this is that this division of the land is yet to come, but will come in a kingdom period when the world is ruled in a direct way by Jesus Messiah.
i. You will divide it by lot: The general allotments of land were assigned to each tribe. Within each tribal allotment, particular portions of land would be assigned to families by lot.
b. And for the strangers who dwell among you: The land God promised to Israel in this kingdom period would not be for Israelites alone. There would be people from other lands and ethnic groups (strangers) living there also. By God’s command, these were to be treated as native-born among the children of Israel. They would even have inheritance rights.
Ezekiel 47:1-12 -- The River of Life
THE LIFE-GIVING WATER FLOWING FROM THE TEMPLE BECOMES A POWERFUL RIVER
Lamar Cooper: The view taken here is that Ezekiel 47:1–48:35 is neither wholly symbolic nor wholly literal. The best approach, considering the apocalyptic character of the text, is to regard the chapters as both a literal description with accurate details but also as highly symbolic with deeper truths. This approach is adopted by Davidson and will be the one followed in the discussion of 47:1–12.
Wiersbe: Jerusalem is the only great city of the ancient world that wasn’t located on a river, and in the east, a dependable water supply is essential for life and for defense. During the Kingdom Age, Jerusalem shall have a river such as no other nation ever had.
Daniel Block: the renewal of God’s people is from start to finish a miraculous work of divine grace. The revitalization of the landscape is not achieved through human ingenuity, technology, or effort; it is the result of Yahweh’s lifting of the curse and replacing it with his blessing. This river of life does not originate in the palace of the earthly king, but in the house of God. Wherever it flows, it produces life, even in the Dead Sea, the ultimate symbol of the curse (cf. Gen. 18). At the same time, the manner in which God produces life out of death is most remarkable. From small and often imperceptible beginnings and with little promise, God’s grace transforms a hostile world. Such is the mystery of divine power, miraculously bringing life out of death.
I. (:1-2) THE DIVINE SOURCE OF THE RIVER = THE TEMPLE
A. (:1) Flowing from under the Temple Porch
“Then he brought me back to the door of the house;
and behold, water was flowing from under the threshold of the house
toward the east, for the house faced east.
And the water was flowing down from under, from the right side of the house, from south of the altar.”
David Guzik: Significantly, the river does not come from a king’s palace or a government building. It doesn’t come from a marketplace, a place of business, or an athletic arena. It comes from God’s house.
B. (:2) Flowing from under the Eastern Gate
“And he brought me out by way of the north gate and led me around
on the outside to the outer gate by way of the gate that faces east.
And behold, water was trickling from the south side.”
Constable: Just south of the east gate he saw water trickling to the east, a continuation of the stream that he had observed inside the temple enclosure.
This visionary experience portrays and proclaims the temple as source of blessing for the land. . . Ezekiel evidently stands at the entrance to the nave of the temple. . . A trickle of water ran down the steps in the direction of the east gate. However, since the altar stood in the way of a direct flow, the water first flowed down the right side of the steps and along the south sidewall of the temple before crossing the inner court in a course to the south of the altar. That course was apparently maintained across the outer court and beyond the outer east gate, as the prophet discovered after a necessary detour through the north gate(s), since the east gates were closed. There is an implicit reminder that this was the route that Yahweh had traveled in his return to the temple (43:1–5). The stream, virtually retracing his path, was flowing from the very presence of God.
The river flowing from Ezekiel’s temple follows the sacred route eastward from the inner court, out through the (closed!) east gate of the outer court (Ezek. 47:2). Because Ezekiel cannot follow it through there, he is brought round by the north gate and sees it trickling out of the south side of the gate. In comparison with the abundant streams of the traditional picture, the renewed temple provides at first a minimal flow. Yet the stream that starts out so pitifully small miraculously becomes progressively larger the further he journeys along it.
The water that flowed from the threshold proceeded from the sanctuary on the east side and then flowed southeasterly past the altar on the south side, then to the south side of the eastern gate (v. 2). From that point it became a stream that flowed into the Kidron Valley at first turning south, then continuing past the Hinnom Valley, and then taking a turn southeast. . .
God alone is the Source of life and provides the Word of life that is the life-giving water that quenches the thirst of the human heart for life, forgiveness, and salvation (47:1–2; John 4:14; Eph 5:26; Rev 7:17; 21:6; 22:1, 17).
II. (:3-5) THE RAPIDLY INCREASING DEPTH OF THE RIVER = UNFORDABLE RIVER – SUFFICIENCY OF THE RIVER
A. (:3) Water Up to the Ankles
“When the man went out toward the east with a line in his hand,
he measured a thousand cubits, and he led me through the water,
water reaching the ankles.”
B. (:4a) Water Up to the Knees
“Again he measured a thousand and led me through the water,
water reaching the knees.”
C. (:4b) Water Up to the Loins
“Again he measured a thousand and led me through the water,
water reaching the loins.”
David Guzik: This rapid increase in depth – from a small trickle of a stream to ankle depth, to knee depth, to waist depth, all in the course of about a mile (or 1.5 kilometers) – is miraculous. We read nothing of other streams leading into this; it is a miraculous and abundant provision.
D. (:5) Water So Deep = Unfordable
“Again he measured a thousand; and it was a river that I could not ford, for the water had risen, enough water to swim in, a river that could not be forded.”
Constable: This description suggests that some major topographical changes will have occurred east of present-day Jerusalem by this time. Other revelation supports this conclusion (cf. 34:26- 30; 36:8-12, 30-36; 37:25-28; 45:1-8; 48:8-14; Joel 3:18; Zech. 13:1; 14:4-8). The water will follow the contours of the altered terrain, not the past or present landscape. Zechariah recorded that the water flowing from Jerusalem will divide with half of it going west to the Mediterranean Sea and half east to the Dead Sea (Zech. 14:8). Ezekiel described only the branch that flowed east.
Feinberg: Why was it necessary to bring Ezekiel through the waters in vision? The purpose was to reveal to him both the size and depth of the river. The trickle (the literal of ‘ran out’ of v. 2 is ‘trickled forth’) had become a veritable river during the measuring activity of the man in the vision.
Leslie Allen: vv. 3-6a -- In just over a mile the stream increases to a deep river. Normally one would envisage tributaries and drainage as the cause of such a phenomenon. Here, however, a miracle is at work, somewhat like the unspent jar of meal and unfailing cruse of oil in 2 Kgs 8:1–6, or like the growth of the kingdom of God from mustard seed to spreading tree (Mark 4:31–32; cf. Dan 4:8) or like the stone that became a great mountain (Dan 2:35). Still more surprises are in store. As the question implies, Ezekiel has seen nothing yet!
Lamar Cooper: The river is like the blood of the Messiah from the cross of Calvary that began as a trickle (John 19:34). Finally, the blood, like the river, became a flood of redemption for all people (Rev 1:5). So the flow from Calvary became a fountain of redemption for all people including Israel (see Zech 13:1–6; Rev 1:5–6). Just so, the water of life that the prophet saw coming from the threshold came forth gently, then began to flow, and finally became a mighty river of life healing all in its wake. When God’s Word is received, he transforms death into life and produces life in abundance springing up as life-giving water within every person. This abundant sustenance was made available to all people through Jesus Christ (John 4; 10:10).
III. (:6-12) THE LIFE-GIVING POWER OF THE RIVER = TRANSFORMING DESOLATION INTO PARADISE – STRENGTH OF THE RIVER
A. (:6-7) Giving Life to Many Trees
“And he said to me, ‘Son of man, have you seen this?’ Then he brought me back to the bank of the river. 7 Now when I had returned, behold, on the bank of the river there were very many trees on the one side and on the other.”
B. (8-:11) Giving Life to Many Fish
“Then he said to me, ‘These waters go out toward the eastern region and go down into the Arabah; then they go toward the sea, being made to flow into the sea, and the waters of the sea become fresh. 9 And it will come about that every living creature which swarms in every place where the river goes, will live. And there will be very many fish, for these waters go there, and the others become fresh; so everything will live where the river goes. 10 And it will come about that fishermen will stand beside it; from Engedi to Eneglaim there will be a place for the spreading of nets. Their fish will be according to their kinds, like the fish of the Great Sea, very many. 11 But its swamps and marshes will not become fresh; they will be left for salt.’”
Constable: These millennial waters will purify the waters of the Dead Sea and make it a live sea. The Dead Sea presently contains 24-26 percent minerals, compared with normal seawater that contains 4-6 percent. This is the reason no fish or other aquatic life live in it. But the water of this future river will give life to all of the creatures that will gather in swarms along its banks, as well as to the fish that will swim in it.
Lamar Cooper: The sufficiency of the water of life from the throne of God is evidenced by the fact that no additional elements were needed to produce life, fruit, transformation, or healing. With the life-giving water from God the barren becomes fruitful, the dry becomes nourished, the empty becomes filled, the bitter becomes sweet, the unhealthy is healed, and the dead is made alive (vv. 6–8; Luke 7:21–22).
Charles Dyer: The Dead Sea today is a symbol of barren desolation. This future change is a visible reminder that God can turn death to life. Our God specializes in changing the unchangeable!
Peter Pett: we must recognise its intention. It was to bring life wherever it went (Ezekiel 47:9). To the ancients the primary power of water was to give life. Those who lived in Canaan knew what it was to watch all nature die in a waterless and very hot summer. And then the rains came, and almost immediately, like magic, the bushes came to life, greenery sprang from the ground, and the world came alive again. That was the life-giving power of water. In Babylonia Israel had also witnessed the power of the great rivers. Along their banks life always flourished, and water was taken from them by irrigation to bring life to drier areas. The wilderness blossomed like a rose. They knew that the coveted Garden of Eden had been fruitful because of the great river flowing through it that became four rivers and watered the world. So that was their dream for their everlasting homeland, a great and everflowing river that would bring life everywhere, and especially in men’s hearts.
Feinberg: En-gedi is located at about the middle of the west shore of the Dead Sea, whereas En-eglaim has not been definitely identified. Some think it is Ein Feshkha near which are the caves of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Thus En-gedi and En-eglaim may loosely represent the two extremities of the Dead Sea. The sea in its entire length will be completely changed. . .
Even the Talmud pointed out that salt from the Dead Sea was preferred above all other kinds because it was reputed to hasten the burning of the sacrifices, as well as to minimize the unpleasant odors of burning flesh.
Constable: The entire Dead Sea region would not become fresh, however; the swamps and marshes would remain saline, perhaps to provide salt and or other minerals for the people.
Daniel Block: The preservation of some pockets of saltiness is intentional, recognizing the economic benefit of the minerals found in and around the Dead Sea. Salt (melah) is not only a valuable seasoning and preserving agent; the word functions generically for a wide range of chemicals extracted from the sea.
C. (:12) Giving Life to All Kinds of Trees for Food
“And by the river on its bank, on one side and on the other, will grow all kinds of trees for food. Their leaves will not wither, and their fruit will not fail. They will bear every month because their water flows from the sanctuary, and their fruit will be for food and their leaves for healing.”
Constable: The river that Ezekiel saw was a real river with life-giving and healing properties. But like the rivers in Genesis 2 and Revelation 22 it also has symbolic significance. Many interpreters spiritualize the entire passage and see no literal fulfillment in the future. It represents the spiritual life and healing that flow to humanity from the throne of God (cf. John 4:14; 7:37- 38).
Leslie Allen: Barren land was to be transformed into a scene of sustenance and herbal healing, a perennial antidote to pain and need.
Iain Duguid: The numerous trees of Ezek. 47:7 are now more closely defined as “fruit trees” (lit., “food trees,” 47:12). They will not suffer from any lack of moisture; rather, as with the depiction of the righteous person in Psalm 1, “their leaves will not wither, nor will their fruit fail.” Indeed, they will be so full of life that they will bear new fruit every month to feed the population, and their leaves will be for healing (Ezek. 47:12). All of this will be brought about because they are fed from the source of life-giving fruitfulness, the stream that flows from the temple.
Charles Dyer: Another way God will provide for Israel is by the trees on the riverbanks that will bear fruit year-round. The fruit will provide food and their leaves will provide healing. How healing will come from the leaves is not clear, but sickness will be virtually eliminated. God will use these trees to meet people’s physical needs.
“And it shall come to pass,”וְהָיָ֗הTo exist, i.e., be or become, come to pass (always emphatic, and not a mere copula or auxiliary)come pass“that”(No Hebrew definition. English implied.)“ye shall divide”תַּפִּ֣לוּTo fall, in a great variety of applications (intransitive or causative, literal or figurative)divide“it by lot”אוֹתָהּ֮Properly, self (but generally used to point out more definitely the object of a verb or preposition, even or namely)lot“for an inheritance”בְּנַחֲלָה֒Properly, something inherited, i.e., (abstractly) occupancy, or (concretely) an heirloom; generally an estate, patrimony or portioninheritance“unto you, and to the strangers”וּלְהַגֵּרִים֙Properly, a guest; by implication, a foreignerstrangers“that sojourn”הַגָּרִ֣יםProperly, to turn aside from the road (for a lodging or any other purpose), i.e., sojourn (as a guest); also to shrink, fear (as in a strange place); also to gather for hostility (as afraid)sojourn“among”בְּתוֹכְכֶ֔םA bisection, i.e., (by implication) the centeramong“you, which”אֲשֶׁרWho, which, what, that; also (as an adverb and a conjunction) when, where, how, because, in order that, etcyou which“shall beget”הוֹלִ֥דוּTo bear young; causatively, to beget; medically, to act as midwife; specifically, to show lineagebeget“children”בָנִ֖יםA son (as a builder of the family name), in the widest sense (of literal and figurative relationship, including grandson, subject, nation, quality or condition, etc., (like father or brother), etc.)children“among”בְּתֽוֹכְכֶ֑םA bisection, i.e., (by implication) the centeramong“you: and they shall be”וְהָי֣וּTo exist, i.e., be or become, come to pass (always emphatic, and not a mere copula or auxiliary)you and they shall be“unto you as born in the country”כְּאֶזְרָח֙A spontaneous growth, i.e., native (tree or persons)born country“among the children”בִּבְנֵ֣יA son (as a builder of the family name), in the widest sense (of literal and figurative relationship, including grandson, subject, nation, quality or condition, etc., (like father or brother), etc.)among children“of Israel;”יִשְׂרָאֵ֔לHe will rule as God; Jisraël, a symbolical name of Jacob; also (typically) of his posterityIsrael“they shall have”יִפְּל֣וּTo fall, in a great variety of applications (intransitive or causative, literal or figurative)they shall have“inheritance”בְנַחֲלָ֔הProperly, something inherited, i.e., (abstractly) occupancy, or (concretely) an heirloom; generally an estate, patrimony or portioninheritance“with”אִתְּכֶם֙Properly, nearness (used only as a preposition or an adverb), near; hence, generally, with, by, at, among, etcwith“you among”בְּת֖וֹךְA bisection, i.e., (by implication) the centeramong“the tribes”שִׁבְטֵ֥יA scion, i.e., (literally) a stick (for punishing, writing, fighting, ruling, walking, etc.) or (figuratively) a clantribes“of Israel.”יִשְׂרָאֵֽל׃He will rule as God; Jisraël, a symbolical name of Jacob; also (typically) of his posterityIsrael
‘You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.’”
Explanation and Commentary of John 13:7Jesus’ words could have applied to nearly everything he did and said among his disciples. They had not yet received the Holy Spirit that would illuminate so much, nor had they the benefit of hindsight of the greatest moment in the history of creation, the resurrection of Jesus. No event or statement can ever be made sense of completely apart from the Lamb of God slain and resurrected for the restoration of the world. That is why he is the “light of the world” (Jn 8:12).
In this particular instance, Christ has washed the feet of his disciples after the Last Supper in the upper room. Peter has shown again his great talent for missing the point and is first protesting Christ’s service to him and then misunderstanding the magnitude of the act (Jn 13:6). What Peter does not understand is that Jesus’ followers will be cleansed of their sins by his death for them, this is the bath that cleans their whole body, but they may still be in need of confession and repentance of individual sins when they occasionally sin afterward.
Jesus also meant to show his disciples that though he was their master, he would humble himself to serve them, showing them that they too should lead that way, treating one another as he has treated them.
Breaking Down the Key Parts of John 13:7#1 “Jesus replied,”
Peter has protested at Jesus’ desire to humble himself to wash Peter’s feet.
#2 “‘You do not realize now what I am doing,”
Jesus acknowledges that he knows what he is doing is enigmatic, but his goal is to normalize such an act from a leader and teacher to his disciples, teaching the value of servant leadership.
What does Romans 8:18 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]
This much-loved and often-cited verse is about Paul's perspective. He has previously written that all who are in Christ are heirs of God's kingdom with Christ, since all who are in Christ will share in His suffering before sharing in His glory.
This begins a powerful passage in which Paul discusses living, as a Christian, through the suffering that comes with this life on earth. Some Bible teachers suggest that Paul is referring "only" to suffering caused by persecution for faith in Christ. Based on the full context of the passage, however, there is every reason to understand Paul to include the everyday suffering that comes with living on this sin-stained planet. He will be clear that it is experienced by all creatures (Romans 8:20), but that only those who are in Christ look forward to sharing in the glories of God's kingdom afterwards.
Paul's perspective is that our present sufferings are not even worth holding up in comparison with the glories that will be revealed in us. Some readers might be tempted to hear Paul glossing over the enormous pain, physical and emotional, that comes with human existence. He is not. Instead, Paul is elevating the much more enormous glory to come. Paul understood pain very deeply. Second Corinthians 11:23–29 contains a small sampling of his experiences: hunger, thirst, danger, imprisonment, torture, and persecution. And yet, he says all of that suffering cannot compare to the glories that will be revealed at some future time to saved believers as God's heirs with Christ. Truly, those endless glories must be incomprehensibly wonderful, satisfying, and meaningful.
Without Christ, we could never participate in God's glory because of our sin (Romans 3:23). In Christ, as God's fully adopted heirs, we will fully experience His glory forever (Romans 6:23). This verse does not minimize the pain we experience—it simply puts it into an eternal perspective.
Philippians chapter 4
1 Therefore, my brothers and sisters, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, dear friends!
2 I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. 3 Yes, and I ask you, my true companion, help these women since they have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel, along with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are in the book of life.
4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me--put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
10 I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. 11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
14 Yet it was good of you to share in my troubles. 15 Moreover, as you Philippians know, in the early days of your acquaintance with the gospel, when I set out from Macedonia, not one church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving, except you only; 16 for even when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me aid more than once when I was in need. 17 Not that I desire your gifts; what I desire is that more be credited to your account. 18 I have received full payment and have more than enough. I am amply supplied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God. 19 And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.
20 To our God and Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
21 Greet all God's people in Christ Jesus. The brothers and sisters who are with me send greetings. 22 All God's people here send you greetings, especially those who belong to Caesar's household.
23 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.
When a Christian utters the phrase all things work together for good, he or she is referring to a portion of one of the most quoted, claimed verses in the New Testament, Romans 8:28: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Or, as the KJV translates it, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”
God works all things together for good--
both His good and our good.
As God is glorified, His people benefit.
In Romans 8,
Paul contrasts a life lived in selfish pursuits (the flesh) and one lived in league with, or in accordance with, God (the Spirit). He impresses upon readers that our sovereign God is all-knowing, all-wise, and all-powerful.
Those who love God can trust His goodness, His power, and His will to work out all things for our good. We journey together with Him.
The promise that God works all things together for good does not mean that all things, taken by themselves, are good. Some things and events are decidedly bad. But God is able to work them together for good. He sees the big picture; He has a master plan.
Neither does the promise that God works all things together for good mean we will acquire all that we want or desire.
Romans 8:28 is about God’s goodness
and our confidence that His plan will work out as He sees fit.
Since His plan is always good,
Christians can take confidence that,
no matter our circumstances or environments,
God is active and will conclude things according to
His good and wise design.
With this knowledge we can learn to be content
(see Philippians 4:11).
The fact that God works all things together for good means God’s plan will not be thwarted. In fact, we are part of His plan, having been “called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). When we trust God and His way, we can be sure that
He is active and powerful on our behalf (see Ephesians 3:20).
God knows the future, and His desires will be accomplished.
“I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say, ‘My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please’” (Isaiah 46:10). Even when things seem chaotic and out of control, God is still in charge.
We sometimes worry about what’s happening to us because we do not know what is best for us. But God does.
The principle of God working all things together for good is well illustrated in the Old Testament account of Joseph’s life.
Early in Joseph’s life, Joseph’s jealous brothers sold him into slavery. In Egypt, Joseph rises to a position of responsibility. Then, he is unjustly imprisoned and forgotten about by his friends. God gifts him the ability to interpret dreams, and through that ability Joseph is once again raised to a place of honor and power. When drought forces Joseph’s brothers to seek food elsewhere, they travel to Egypt and encounter Joseph, who eventually saves them from starvation and grants them a livelihood in his new land.
Throughout his life, Joseph trusted God no matter his good or bad circumstances. Joseph experienced plenty of bad things: kidnapping, slavery, false accusations, wrongful imprisonment, rejection, and famine.
But in the end God brought things to a wonderful, life-affirming conclusion.
God blessed Joseph’s entire family through those painful circumstances and through Joseph’s faith.
You can read about Joseph’s life beginning in Genesis 37.
Paul’s life is another testament to how God works all things together for good. Paul suffered shipwrecks, beatings, imprisonment, murder attempts, temporary blindness, and more—all within God’s plan to spread the gospel (see Acts 9:16 and 2 Corinthians 11:24–27).
Through it all, God was steadfastly working to bring about good and glorious results.
After promising that God works all things together for our good, Romans 8 concludes with the wonderful fact that
God trumps everything
that comes against Him
and those who belong to Him.
The Christian is assured that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?
Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? . . . No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:35–39).
God’s love is everlasting, and His wisdom is infinite. It doesn’t matter who or what attempts to thwart God’s plan; no one and nothing can. God will work all things together for the good of those who love Him. Our decision to align our will with God’s and to always trust Him will be rewarded.
The clause “the Lord is my shepherd”
comes from one of the most beloved of all passages of Scripture, the 23rd Psalm. In this passage and throughout the New Testament we learn that the Lord is our Shepherd in two ways.
First, as the Good Shepherd, He laid down His life for His sheep and,
second, His sheep know His voice and follow Him (John 10:11, 14).
In Psalm 23,
God is using the analogy of sheep
and their nature to describe us.
Sheep have a natural tendency to
wander off and get lost.
As believers, we tend to do the same thing. It’s as Isaiah has said: “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way” (Isaiah 53:6). When sheep go astray, they are in danger of getting lost, being attacked, even killing themselves by drowning or falling off cliffs.
Likewise, within our own nature there is a strong tendency to go astray (Romans 7:5; 8:8), following the lusts of our flesh and eyes and pursuing the pride of life (1 John 2:16). As such, we are like sheep wandering away from the Shepherd through our own futile self-remedies and attempts at self-righteousness. It is our nature to drift away (Hebrews 2:1), to reject God, and to break His commandments.
When we do this, we run the risk of getting lost, even forgetting the way back to God. Furthermore, when we turn away from the Lord, we soon find ourselves confronting one enemy after another who will attack us in numerous ways.
Sheep are basically helpless creatures who cannot survive long without a shepherd, upon whose care they are totally dependent. Likewise, like sheep, we are totally dependent upon the Lord to shepherd, protect, and care for us.
Sheep are essentially dumb animals that do not learn well and are extremely difficult to train. They do not have good eyesight, nor do they hear well. They are very slow animals who cannot escape predators; they have no camouflage and no weapons for defense such as claws, sharp hooves, or powerful jaws.
Furthermore, sheep are easily frightened and
become easily confused.
In fact, they have been known to plunge blindly off a cliff following one after another.
Shepherds in Bible times faced incredible dangers in caring for their sheep, putting their own lives at risk by battling wild animals such as wolves and lions who threatened the flock.
David was just such a shepherd (1 Samuel 17:34–35). In order to be good shepherds, they had to be willing to lay down their lives for the sheep.
Jesus declared that He is our Shepherd and demonstrated it by giving His life for us. “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28).
Through His willing sacrifice, the Lord made salvation possible for all who come to Him in faith (John 3:16). In proclaiming that He is the good shepherd, Jesus speaks of “laying down” His life for His sheep (John 10:15, 17–18).
Like sheep, we, too, need a shepherd. Men are spiritually blind and lost in their sin. This is why Jesus spoke of the parable of the lost sheep (Luke 15:4–6). He is the Good Shepherd who laid down His life for us.
He searches for us when we’re lost,
to save us and to show us the way to eternal life
We tend to be like sheep, consumed with worry and fear, following after one another. By not following or listening to the Shepherd’s voice (John 10:27), we can be easily led astray by others to our own destruction. Jesus, the Good Shepherd, warns those who do not believe and listen to Him: “I did tell you, but you do not believe . . . you do not believe because you are not my sheep. My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand” (John 10:25–28).
tells us that the shepherd meets the sheep’s every need: food, water, rest, safety, and direction. When we as believers follow our Shepherd, we, too, know that we will have all we need. We will not lack the necessities of life, for He knows exactly what we need
Sheep will not lie down when they are hungry, nor will they drink from fast-flowing streams. Sometimes the shepherd will temporarily dam up a stream so the sheep can quench their thirst. Psalm 23:2 speaks of leading the sheep “beside the quiet [stilled] waters.” The shepherd must lead his sheep because they cannot be driven. Instead, the sheep hear the voice of their shepherd and follow him—just as we listen to our Shepherd, Jesus Christ—in His Word and follow Him (John 10:3–5, 16, 27). And if a sheep does wander off, the shepherd will leave the flock in charge of his helpers and search for the lost animal (Matthew 9:36; 18:12–14; Luke 15:3–7).
In Psalm 23:3, the Hebrew word translated “paths” means “well-worn paths or ruts.” In other words, when sheep wander onto a new path, they start to explore it, which invariably leads them into trouble. This passage is closely akin to the warning in Hebrews 13:9: “Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings.” The apostle Paul also alludes to this idea in Ephesians 4:14.
Finally, the shepherd cares for the sheep because he loves them and wants to maintain his own good reputation as a faithful shepherd. As we’ve seen in Psalm 23, the analogy of the Lord as the Good Shepherd was also applied by Jesus in John chapter 10. In declaring that He is the shepherd of the sheep, Jesus is confirming that He is God. The Eternal God is our Shepherd. And we would not want it any other way.