by Bishop Claion Grandison – Article / April – June 2020
John 7 is the conclusion of the seven day Feast of Tabernacles culminating in a visual procession of the priest carrying water in a golden pitcher to the Water Gate, marching around the altar seven times and then pouring it out.
This act symbolized among other things, Yahweh’s provision of water in a dry place reminiscent of the water that flowed miraculously from the rock in the desert during the Exodus from Egypt (Numbers 20:8).
It is at this apex of Jewish celebrations that Jesus makes his announcement in John 7:37,38 and invites anyone who is truly thirsty to come and if they believe to drink. With this, he makes the promise that out of their bellies would flow rivers of living water.
Year after year their festivals were purely symbolic and would evaporate from the Jewish consciousness as quickly as the water being poured out on the altar. Jesus stands up, and with no pitcher in his hand unceremoniously pitches to the crowds a bizarre idea. He interrupts the status quo by asking “believers” if they truly believed to come and drink.
No longer would they need to wait for the waters to be stirred by an angel as in John 5:4; the stirring would come from within.
Up until that point, everything was an outward show, a spectacle that the Jewish Diaspora located themselves in Jerusalem to witness and enjoy; but it lacked substance. Like the disciples in Mark 13:1 who were enamoured by the stonework of the temple and not the purpose for which it was built, so the people came away excited by the theatrics of the feast but not its theology. As the prophet Jeremiah lamented;
“For my people have done two evil things: They have abandoned me— the fountain of living water. And they have dug for themselves cracked cisterns that can hold no water at all!
Jeremiah 2:13 (NLT)
They were dying of thirst as a nation while the true fountain stood right in their midst. The Jews sought to kill Him 7:1, while His own brothers ridiculed Him 7:3-5. Their cracked religious practices were the very reason they rejected Jesus as a true prophet.
In John 6:51, He declared Himself as bread, a concept that greatly offended even Jesus’s followers. But in chapter 7 we see He is also the life-giving stream. Many focus on the bread and ignore the water until their fattened souls become parched and desperately in need of refreshing.
Sadly, we have become a dehydrated church, full of the word but our hearers are not refreshed nor are they revived. As was the case with Moses and the children of Israel who had manna but no water. Indeed many of our churches have become the dead sea spoken of in Ezekiel 47, expansive but not life-giving, impressive to look at but toxic underneath.
The Old Testament passage goes on to depict a life-giving stream with its source located in the temple of God that goes against the flow of restrictive conservatism and begins to create life.
The Evangelist makes clear in John 2:21 Jesus is that temple from which the river flows and despite their attempts to destroy said temple or to strike it, in three days He would be raised up and like the rock in Numbers 20, the Spirit’s water would gush forth.
As God’s called-out people, we would do well to speak to the rock during our wilderness period; we ought to stand up at the end of meaningless ceremonies, conferences, conventions and challenge this generation to truly engage in the prophetic and invite God’s people to drink of His Holy Spirit.
In an age where many speak from the top of their heads, it’s time for us to speak out of our bellies, speak from the heart of the spirit and say, “thus saith the Lord” without fear of contradiction.
We must walk away from dried up stagnant pools of rancid religious rhetoric, go beyond the ankle and waist-high waters and begin to swim in the possibilities of Gods prophetic flow, transforming as we go, both those in the river and those on its banks looking on (Ezek 47:1-12).
As Pastor Skip Heitzig stated in 7:44-46, the officials went to arrest Jesus for the words he spoke but instead were arrested by the words he spoke.
When we become conduits for this supernatural flow, the words we speak will arrest the hearers because our words will be His words and our loud voice will be H Beonais echo.