Rivers of Living Water

“Jesus said, `I am with you for only a short time, and then I am going to the one who sent me. You will look for me, but you will not find me; and where I am, you cannot come.’

“The Jews said to one another, `Where does this man intend to go that we cannot find him? Will he go where our people live scattered among the Greeks, and teach the Greeks? What did he mean when he said, `You will look for me, but you will not find me,’ and `Where I am, you cannot come’?

“On the last and the greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, `Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.’ By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.” (John 7: 33 – 39 NIV)

Much of Scripture is subject to more than one interpretation. In Zechariah we find many references that lend themselves to Messianic prophetic interpretation. For example:

“`Awake, sword, against my shepherd, against the man who is close to me!’ declares the Lord Almighty.

“`Strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered, and I will turn my hand against the little ones. . . ‘ (Zechariah 13: 7 NIV)

We read this passage as prophetic and was mentioned by Jesus referring to what would happen at His arrest. (See Matthew 26: 31) The mysterious admonition that Jesus included in His instructions to His disciples at the Last Supper, “and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one.” may be making reference to Zechariah.

However, I am making reference here to the words in Zechariah specifically mentioned in connection with living water flowing out of Jerusalem. The Zechariah passage speaks specifically of a physical event. I believe the passage can also be a prophecy of what Jesus proclaimed on the great day of the Feast of Tabernacles quoted above.

“On that day living water will flow out from Jerusalem, half of it east to the Dead Sea and half of it west to the Mediterranean Sea, in summer and winter. The Lord will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one Lord, and his name the only name.” (Zechariah 14: 8, 9 NIV)

We humans are very predictable. When we read of a prophetic message we usually make one of two choices. We expect the passage to be fulfilled in a manner that can be recognized with our physical senses and we also expect that the passage will be fulfilled by the Lord with someone other than ourselves being involved. We read the passage in Zechariah and wait for it to be fulfilled physically sometime in the future with an earthquake and the splitting of the Mount of Olives. I certainly am not denying the physical fulfillment of this prophecy. However, I also read this prophecy as being fulfilled by the pouring out of the Holy Spirit in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost and the preaching of the kingdom of God going throughout the earth—“The Lord will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one Lord, and his name the only name.”