The River of God

(Revelation 22)

The river that flows from the throne of God is a beautiful, simple, yet powerful picture of the life of God which is in, and we might well say, is, the Holy Spirit. The river is the Spirit. Here is the vision John saw when he was brought in the spirit into the New Jerusalem. This is the city of which John Bunyan wrote many years ago in Pilgrim’s Progress. You never heard of that my friend? Check it out. He called the destination the Celestial City. By any name it is our goal. Why go there? The Lamb is there, seated on His throne. It is the desire of the bride, of whom we are members, to be with her Bridegroom. That is the motivation that drives us on. Only love for Jesus will provide the strength for us to endure to the end. Only keeping ourselves intimately knowing Him will see us through.

Consider for a moment that this man, John Bunyan, wrote his book from a prison cell. Paul wrote his letters while under arrest with Roman guards. Jeanne Guyon also wrote from a prison cell. And Watchman Nee did the same. Do we see a pattern here? Might we count them all apostles? We may hesitate to say yes but they certainly wrote to encourage those who, like Abraham, were seeking that city whose builder and maker is God. These are all alive and remain as gifts to the church which is His body. They all are sent ones (apostle means “sent one”), sent from the throne of God, to inspire, encourage, and impart something of the resurrection life that is in the Spirit of God to whomever will receive it.

These all were baptized into the river that flows from the throne; they were immersed in the Spirit of God. Their lives and words bear witness to that. Ezekiel’s vision of the river that became waters for him to swim in, is that picture for us to pursue in reality now. The angels, and messengers of God here today, call us to go into the deep of that river, be baptized into the Spirit of God, and be carried away. Are you willing to let go and let God, as we often hear? What still holds you? What may still distract us from the heavenly vision?

I recently was in a service in what we might call a traditional church. One of the hymns sung that morning used the phrase, “the river by the throne.” In Revelation 22, the writer specifically wrote, “a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb.” Somewhere in our past, we began to focus on some future, distant, bye and bye rest for our weary souls. We stopped pursuing Him and earnestly desiring spirituals. We left our first love. We left that communion of, and with, the Holy Spirit where He brings us new revelations of Jesus Christ Himself. We stopped allowing Him to lead us deeper and deeper into the river.

Today, fears of the unknown, of being lost in fanaticism, of being out of control, keep us from a heavenly pursuit. The days grow darker; His coming draws nearer. Acceleration is heard more and more frequently. Sounds redundant, doesn’t it? I hear the Holy Spirit emphasizing that word, “acceleration”. Through the centuries, the church which is His body has sensed an urgency. But the Spirit is never rushed. God is not in a hurry. He still waits on high to have compassion and pour out mercy. Let us press on to know Him, staying close to His throne, the source of the river and place from which His authority proceeds.