People emptied store shelves this week as news of the coronavirus, both real and fake exploded in the media. Hand soaps, sanitizers, tissues, and paper towels were some of the first to go, but by far the biggest gaping holes could be found on the water aisles. Even with no imminent threat to any water system, people still grabbed pack after pack to take home “just in case.” Human beings are made of water, and we can’t get very far without it. On a subconscious level, it represents life. In the Bible, though, water is a symbol of God’s power over it.
Water Symbolizes the Power to Destroy Life
In the flood narrative in Genesis 6 and 7, God used water from both from the deep and the sky for destruction. People had become wicked and fallen angels were causing all sorts of problems. So, God destroyed all of mankind except Noah and seven of his family members.
In Exodus 14, God parted the Red Sea with Moses’ staff to allow the Israelites safe passage on dry land. When the Egyptians tried to follow them, God caused the water to flood back over them. Everyone who could not make it back to shore perished.
In 1 Kings 17, King Ahab of Israel was unfaithful to God by worshipping Baal and teaching God’s people to do the same. At God’s word through the prophet Elijah, God withheld rain. No crops could grow, so there came famine in the land. In 1 Kings 18, after a clear lesson about who exactly was the one true God, God again brought the rain to stop the destruction.
In Mark 4, Jesus and His disciples were in a boat when the waves of a storm started beating furiously at the sides. As the water started to fill the boat, the men were afraid and woke up Jesus who was asleep in the stern. “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?” they asked Him. But Jesus simply rebuked the storm. “Peace, be still,” He said, and the wind and the waves obeyed.
In each case, water is symbol of destruction. For the wicked, God flooded the earth, drowned the Egyptians, and refused rain to idolaters. On the other hand, God used the very same situations to protect those He loved from harm. He gave Noah foreknowledge to prepare to survive the deluge. He gave the Israelites supernatural safe passage by parting the waters of the sea, and He brought them rain again when they repented of their idolatrous ways. Finally, He used the threat of destruction by water to teach His disciples to have faith in God and His protection. In every situation, God was and is in control. He has power over the elements to destroy or preserve life.
Water Symbolizes the Power to Give Life
In Exodus 17, the people of Israel, having just escaped the Egyptians, were thirsty in the desert wilderness. There were no natural lakes, rivers, or streams around, so God instructed Moses to use his rod to strike a rock. From there, enough water flowed for all of them to drink freely.
This is a physical picture of what happens spiritually when someone believes on the Rock of Christ Jesus (1Corinthians 10:4) as Savior. In John 7:37-39, Jesus said, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’ But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.” “Living water” is the Holy Spirit. Without Him, there is no life (John 6:63).
John 4:14 also speaks of the Holy Spirit as a “well of water springing up to eternal life.” Once we partake of Him, we will never thirst for our old ways again. We will have a new relationship with sin so that we hate what we once used to love.
Ezekiel 36:25 says, “Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols.” At the time, the priest was speaking of the ritual water purifications and the cleaning of the outside of the body. However, it is also a prophecy that would only be fulfilled later with the New Covenant when the Holy Spirit will clean the inside. He continues with, ” I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them” (Ezekiel 36:26-27).
Revelation 21:6 speaks of the “water of life.” Isaiah 12:3 talks about the “wells of salvation.” Both of these are about redemption from sins and the power (water) that only comes from God Himself who is the fountain (Jeremiah 2:13).
The Holy Spirit is known as living water. He and only He has the power to give life that lasts forever. When Moses smote the rock, this was a physical picture of Jesus, our Rock and Redeemer, being put to death on the cross. After Christ’s death, the Holy Spirit, the fountain of living water, could come. We are born again through the spirit and baptized in water. This represents being buried, dead to our old lives, and rising again to a new life in Christ Jesus. Water washes us physically while the blood of Jesus spiritually cleanses us from all sin. In John 3:5, “Jesus answered, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.’” Water symbolizes the power to give life. Without it, we remain dead in trespasses and sins.
Water Symbolizes the Power to Sustain Life
In Psalm 1, we learn that those who delight in the Lord will be like trees planted by rivers of water. When we are born again, we get plugged into the source of life. That nearness to Him sustains us to bear the fruit of the Spirit and never wither on the vine. John 15:6 warns about what will happen to those who do not remain connected to the Source. “If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.”
In Isaiah 58:11, God lets us know that He will guide us. We are compared to “a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.” We are separated to Him, and God satisfies us and keeps us alive in every sense of the word.
Ephesians 5:26 speaks of “the washing of the water by the Word” as we renew our minds. Once given Life, we must continue to cleanse our minds from the filth of the world by reading the Bible every day.
And once we have tasted the precious water that only comes from God Himself, we are thirsty for more. Psalm 42:1 says, “As the deer pants for the water brooks, so pants my soul for You, O God.” This is His gift of grace to us. The more we desire Him, the more we seek after Him. And if we seek Him with all of our hearts, we will find Him (Jeremiah 29:13).
The living water of the Holy Spirit, once obtained at conversion, keeps us healthy and growing into maturity. He sustains us with His power to bear fruit and renew our minds, making us ever desiring more of Him.
Water is a Symbol of God’s Power Over Life
In the Bible, water is a symbol of God’s power. God has the power to destroy and the power to save from destruction. He has the power to give both physical life and eternal life. Once that life is obtained, God has the power to sustain a person in it. He matures us and draws us nearer and nearer to Him. Whatever happens with the coronavirus in the coming weeks, Christians must remember our true Source for water doesn’t come from a store. It comes with power from our God who can protect us and sustain us in any situation.
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