It’s hard to believe that it was almost a year ago that I visited the Holy Land (Jerusalem/Israel). I loved my trip so very much! Today, as I was remembering my journey to Israel, I recalled a powerful thing I learned. I thought I’d write down some of my thoughts. I pray you are encouraged… and if you make it to the very end of this blog, I believe you’ll be truly blessed:
I went to many different High Schools. My first, was Livermore High School in Livermore, California. I remember one day our school was surprisingly visited by police officers with big, foaming-at-the-mouth German Shepherd dogs. The dogs sniffed every single locker looking for drugs. As a freshman, I remember being extremely intimidated… and thinking to myself, “If I ever do drugs… I’m NEVER hiding them in my locker!” By my senior year, my family had moved to Oregon and I was going to a little public school in Riddle, Oregon. Once again, our school was surprised by the police who were doing a random drug search through the lockers. This time, however, the police brought a single beagle. Literally, a little Snoopy-dog! I remember laughing out loud and thinking how UN-intimidated I was! Honestly, it was pretty hard to take it all seriously.
I wonder if people take us seriously sometimes when we say we are “Christians”. Sometimes we wonder why they’re not more impressed. Could it be that it is because, truthfully… we’re all HYPE.
I remember reading a story about the University of Michigan’s Football coach in 1938. His nickname was “Go-get-em-Yost “… the reason this was his nickname was because he was great at getting his players hyped up. Once, when playing another team at the other team’s home, Go-get-em-Yost was in the locker room screaming at his team and really hyping them up. He said something like, “Okay men, we’re going to go out those doors! We’re going to go out on that field! We’re going to WIN!” The team all yelled and hollered and in unison ran out of the locker room, took a wrong turn, and all fell right into the school’s pool! The entire team, yelling and screaming… ran right into the pool! They had to play the entire game soaking wet!
That’s sorta like what HYPE often does… we can get all excited, then sink miserably.
The truth is, we’re called to be SALT and LIGHT – Salt brings flavor and creates thirst others. It doesn’t simply ‘hype’ them up… it truly makes them thirsty! Likewise, light illuminates darkness. By the way… It only takes a little bit of light to extinguish darkness.
I wonder if we Christians don’t take Jesus’ command seriously in John 15:5, “Without Me, you can do nothing.” We attempt to do it all in our own energy. When the truth is that we desperately need the Holy Spirit in us… empowering us… enabling us to do what we are called by the Master to do. Do you know what one of the biggest differences between Jesus and the Holy Spirit is? The Holy Spirit is with us and can be everywhere, He is not limited geographically like Jesus was. Because of this, the Holy Spirit offers a greater intimacy (the Disciples could see Jesus and try to imitate Him, but even Jesus said it would be better if He left (John 16:6-7), because He’d send the Holy Spirit (Comforter).
Again, an example from my high school years. I was on the track team and competed in the Pole Vault. Because the school I was at was so small, we didn’t have a coach that knew anything about the Pole Vault. So I went to the library and ordered some VHS videos (this was in the days before YouTube). I would watch those videos over and over… then go out to the track and try and imitate what I had seen. I watched and imitated, but never really got that great, because I didn’t have a TEACHER… a COACH. What’s so awesome about the Holy Spirit is that He leads us and guides us… from within!
Galations 2:20 – (this has been called the “POWER VERSE” – 2:20 Power) – “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me…”
Many Christians’ walks are based on imitation not impartation.
I want to read a passage of Scripture that has illuminated this idea to me in a powerful way. It’s found in the Old Testament Book of Ezekiel, chapter 47. Here’s a little background: Jerusalem has just been wiped out, the Babylonians have wasted the city. People are depressed and discouraged – Heaviness over the whole country – they’re wiped! Prophetically, the Lord begins to reveal to Ezekiel a better day that’s coming when Jesus will come back and establish peace for a period of 1,000 years (called the Millinium). This will be a time where everyone abides under his own vine, and every man will experience health and prosperity to the highest degree. The mountains and the hills shall break forth in song and the trees of the fields shall clap their hands and the lion will like down with the Lamb. Everything will be right… and the way it was meant to be.
Ezekiel 47:1, 7-12 – “1 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…7 When I returned, there, along the bank of the river, were very many trees on one side and the other. 8 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. 9 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. 10 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. 11 But its swamps and marshes will not be healed; they will be given over to salt. 12 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.”
This river begins to flow from the East side of the Temple… and trickles to the Dead Sea. The Dead Sea is called that because there is NOTHING alive in it. It is super salty. There is nothing that can survive in its’ waters, due to all the salt. But in this passage we’re told that one day, all of a sudden, lots of healing, life and fruitfulness will begin to happen wherever the river flows. Where the river does not flow remains dead and gross.
Where is this River? What is this River?
John 7:37-39 declares that the Holy Spirit is the River. “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.“
Acts 1:8 says, “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” That word “upon” is interesting, it’s ‘eph’ in Greek, which means ‘over’ or ‘overflowing from’.
Jesus is saying, “I know you believe in Me and that you have the Holy Spirit inside of you when I breathed on you, but wait until I leave and the Holy Spirit overflows from within you.”
But where does the Water begin?
IN THE TEMPLE – (vs. 1 – “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”)
This speaks of Devotion to God. Where does the healing waters begin in your life? In God’s house, the Temple. When you are devoted to the Lord and you are saying, “I want more of You, Lord, in my life!” Matthew 5:6 says, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they shall be filled.” In a sense, you are saying, “I’m tired of the deadness, the dryness, the dirtiness within me, I need your river.”
AT THE ALTAR – (vs. 1 – “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)
This speaks of Death to Self – Place where you die is the altar – rams, lambs, birds… all killed and slaughtered at the altar. People in the church often say, “I want more of the Holy Spirit.” … but why was He given in the first place? He wasn’t given so we could all feel goose-bumps and neat. He was given so that we might be WITNESSES – Read Acts 4:23-31.
We need to pray for boldness – less of us and more of God in our lives!
TO THE WILDERNESS – (vs 8 – 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. )
This speaks of Duty to Others – Acts 1:8 “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” You are going to go out into the wilderness of the World and refresh, renew, bring life to all those that are sick, dry and dead on the inside. The river will flow to all those places that need to be infused with LIFE. God says, “I’m not using you for the purpose of you… but for the purpose of others.”
I’m NOT TALKING ABOUT HOLY SPIRIT HYPE… as a matter of fact, it’s the opposite: The word ‘witness’ is the Greek word ‘marteo’, the word in which we get ‘martyr’. You’ll be so much like Jesus, Whom they crucified and martyred, that they’ll want to kill you too.
Do you see this? The Flow of God’s River starts with:
- DEVOTION TO GOD in the Temple (church)
- DEATH TO SELF at the altar
- DUTY TO OTHERS to the wilderness
Notice that as it flows, the order in which it goes: verses 2-6 …
“Son of man, HAVE YOU SEEN THIS?”
The path starting in the Temple, to altar, but between the altar and the wilderness is the Measuring Man , Who takes Ezekiel by the hand and walks a thousand cubits (¼ mile) and says, “Go in” – Water goes to the ankles
Walked another ¼ mile – Water to the knees
Walked another ¼ mile – Water to the loins.
Walked another ¼ mile – Water over his head carrying him away.
The Lord says, “HAVE YOU SEEN THIS?” Because this is the order of what should be happening in our walk with Jesus.
1. Ankles – We start walking with Jesus and we get our feet wet. We’re standing on the Rock. “This is awesome, my sins are forgiven!”
2. Knees – Michael, I want you to learn what it is to pray when your knees are knockin’ (best thing to do when knees knock is to kneel on them). We can do more than pray, but we can’t do anything until we pray.
3. Loins – Reproducing spiritually, healthy Christians grow just like farms grow…
4. Over Heads – (Not in control of your life anymore… the River is what is in control.)
I think God is still asking today, “Have you seen this?” I think God will take us as far as we want to go… as deep as we want to be… so PLUNGE IN.
Because without Him… you can do nothing! God’s wants us to be so full of Him that we become Salt and Light to this World… out there in the wilderness.
Gang, God wants for you and I to receive POWER (dunamas)… to be DYNAMITE WITNESSES.”
Lastly, for those who’ve made it this far down… you’re about to be blessed: I want to share that as I stood on the Mount of Olives last year, I remember thinking of this passage in Ezekiel. I remember thinking, “How is water going to flow out of that Eastern Gate and all the way to the Dead Sea?” For it to do so, it would literally have to flow UP THIS MOUNTAIN… because between the Dead Sea and the Temple Mount it is NOT flat! I remember thinking, “There is just no way that water could flow up a hill!” But on the plane ride home I found an incredible verse! Check this out: Zechariah 14:4 – “And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, Which faces Jerusalem on the east. And the Mount of Olives shall be split in two, From east to west, Making a very large valley; Half of the mountain shall move toward the north And half of it toward the south.”
On that day, the day that Jesus returns, He will set foot on the Mount of Olives and we’re told that it will split. On my trip there last year, I stood on this very mountain and was told that when the Jerusalem Hilton was built on this mountain, they did seismological surveys to search for potential problems in that area. They found a huge fault line that goes right through the Mt. of Olives, many feet below the surface. The scene is actually set for this split to happen! And it’ll split we’re told and separate the north part of the mountain from the south! This will provide a canyon… for the Ezekiel prophecy found in Ezekiel 47:1, 7-12 to take place perfectly! The water will flow from the Temple/Altar, out the Eastern wall of Jerusalem, through this split, and all the way to the Dead Sea. Prophecy is pretty cool, huh?
I LOVE GOD’S WORD!!!