We all start the new year thinking of the concept of new and what the new will be like. Usually it’s on our minds so much during the new year season that we even entertain the idea of a new year’s resolution. We may resolve to lose weight, read more, keep our home tidier, or to spend more time with God in the coming 12 months. However, not everyone has always had the same outlook. In Ecclesiastes 1:8-10 King Solomon openly writes that “what has been is what will be,” “there is nothing new under the sun,” and “it has already existed in the ages before us” (HSCB). So, what is really “new” about a new year?
As Christians, we remember our pasts and we are grieved by them, but we are able to have hope because God’s mercy is new every morning (Lamentations 3:19-23). This is not referring to new as “different,” but rather, “refreshed.” Just like how we wake up some days feeling “like a whole new person,” we aren’t really a different person, but we are refreshed. We should all look ahead with expectation and anticipation as Paul spoke about in Philippians 3:13-14. There is something much greater waiting ahead, than what we’ve experienced in our past. God is bringing forth something new, He is making a way in the wilderness; even while it may seem that we are walking through a “dry season” or “desert land” He provides the rivers that will allow us to keep pressing on to the new that He has in store for us (Isaiah 43:15-20).
In Ezekiel 47:1-12, we read of a river that flows from the temple, bringing nutrition and life to the plants and animals that use it for nourishment. We are promised new fruit in verse 12, but we must understand that this new fruit is not material things, or possessions. In fact, Luke 12:15 warns us to guard ourselves against greed because our lives are not found in the things we own. The more we get, the more we tend to want, and contentment won’t come until Christ is present in our lives. Rather, the new fruit that we read about in Ezekiel 47:12 is the seeds that we have planted, as a church, in the hearts of the unbelievers; it is the harvest from what we have planted and watered. However, before this promise of new fruit can be fulfilled there are some things that must align.
First, we should recognize that the temple/tabernacle in the Old Testament is the only place where God dwelt among His people. So, we can understand that the priests and Levites needed water supplied to the temple for ceremonies they would perform/take part in. But, there was no water at the top of the hill, so, the water would need to be piped up to it for their supply. Next, we read that as the water flowed out of the temple it grew gradually deeper until it was no longer tread-able, but only swim-able.
There are a few examples of symbolism in this scripture. First, the water. The water was life-giving. Jesus tells us in John 7:37-39 that the Holy Spirit is the living water (post-Jesus-being-glorified). So, it is obvious that the water found in Ezekiel 47:1-12 represents the Holy Spirit. Next, we come upon the temple. The temple represents us as Christ-followers. Here, is where the Holy Spirit is drawn to because of our worship. It is also where the water is used and worked with, as in our own lives, here is where we should put the Holy Spirit to work. We should be living, breathing, walking examples of what God wants us to be like. Then, the water flows out of the temple. This is representative of how the Holy Spirit should be working in our world. The Holy Spirit is not meant to be locked inside and hidden, it is for us to share with everyone we meet. When we share the Holy Spirit with the rest of the world, we harvest new fruit for God’s Kingdom. The more we share, the more we harvest. As we saw in the passage, the further the water flowed, the deeper it got, and the more that grew and prospered because of its presence. If the river stops flowing, there will be no new fruit. 2 Corinthians 3:6 tells us, that God has made us ministers of the Spirit that gives life. We should be saturating Earth with so much of the Holy Spirit that the only option anyone has is to swim in it. When water is unable to flow, it sits stagnant; the longer it sits stagnant, the worse it will smell and the more pests it will attract. The same goes for the Holy Spirit. When we don’t allow the Holy Spirit to flow, the more “pests,” or sin, we will attract. Finally, the new fruit. The new fruit presented in the scripture is representative of those we aid in coming to Christ. The more water, the more vegetation and life. The more Holy Spirit, the more healing and life.
How will the Kingdom of God grow through you in this coming year?
Jeremiah 17:7-8 “The man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence indeed is the Lord, is blessed. He will be like a tree planted by water: it sends its roots out toward a stream, it doesn’t fear when heat comes, and its foliage remains green. It will not worry in a year of drought or cease producing fruit.”