“Life is a River”
“And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb (Revelation 22:1).”
Three Michigan women are very fortunate to be rescued after a harrowing ordeal in the Muskegon River. The ladies decided to escape the summer heat and enjoy a cool river ride on inner tubes, although none of them had ever done this before.1 They were informed by somebody at the bridge that the river goes in a circle and would return them near to the same spot where they could come back to their car. Twenty hours later they were hugging a tree, scratched, fearful and crying for rescue. A nearby fisherman heard their cries and called 911.
Some say that “life is river,” and it may be that these three young ladies see that metaphor more clearly now. Most in this world float along trusting the direction of others, with no clear direction or destination in mind. Some, like these women, realize they are adrift in danger and cry out for rescue. Others are not so lucky.
Men have long recognized the life-giving bounty afforded by rivers. Great civilizations such as Egypt, Assyria, Babylon and others were centered on rivers. Even today many of our great cities were built along rivers. While rivers are indeed a source of life the Bible demonstrates that they can also be a source of danger and death as well. Pharaoh dreamed of seven fat cows, representing abundant prosperity, coming up from the river, right behind them were seven gaunt cows, signifying famine (Genesis 41:17-20).
A later Pharaoh purposed the Nile to be a graveyard for Hebrew sons (Exodus 1:22). In just turnabout God struck the river, that the Egyptians deified, to bring death and curses (Exodus 7:21, 8:3). John saw angels pouring out God’s wrath on the rivers of earth which flowed with blood (Revelation 16:4). The General Sisera was determined to wage war against the people of God and mustered his forces at the River Kishon (Judges 4:7). But God used the river as the weapon to under this adversary taking hold of their chariots and defeating this enemy (Judges 5:4, 21).
Those who fear God however understand and respect the power of rivers to bring both life and death but trust Him who directs them. Scripture demonstrates that God uses rivers as boundaries to set off territories and people’s limits. In the very beginning He set off Eden by this means (Genesis 2:10). The inheritance He promised to Abraham was set between the Nile and the Euphrates (Genesis 15:18, 2 Samuel 8:3).
Rivers are portrayed as places of revelation from above (Ezekiel 1:1, Daniel 8:16). They may be seen as a place of prayer (Acts 16:13). The Bible shows rivers as a place of divine healing (2 Kings 5:14, Mark 1:5).
Life is indeed a river but only for those who are wise enough to trust the Lord’s deliverance. One day, at the end of this life, each of us will come to the banks of the chilled waters of that river that divides this world from the next. Those who have crossed over before have never returned to tell of what lies on the other side of this life. But those who follow the covenant of Christ will cross without fear. Just as God’s people followed the Ark of the Covenant across the forbidding torrents of the Jordan (Joshua 3:11-17) into their inheritance; Christian, regardless of the turns in life’s river, or the rocks and rapids, God will bear us over the Jordan at the end of our journey and into that everlasting Land of Promise.
“He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water (John 7:38).”