Unnoticed Connections in Scripture: Lesson 2: Water

The Flood

Last week, we looked into creation, God first creating from nothing and then using what He made to finish His creating work.  The pattern continues with God using what He made for His purposes.  Now, however, we find a contrast with His earlier creation.

Read parts of Genesis 6-8 as needed

 

Creation The Flood: Creation in Reverse and Creation Anew
Receives divine approval: described as “very good” (Gen 1:31) Receives divine disapproval: God sees how corrupt the earth became (Gen 6:5, 12)

 

Water preceded the creation of life (Gen 1:1)

 

Water preceded the destruction of life (Gen 7:11)
God separated the water below from the water above (Gen 1:6-8)

 

God brings the water below and above to come together (Gen 7:11)
Allows the marking of time: God creates lights in the expanse of the sky to serve as signs for seasons, days, and years (Gen 1:14) Suspends time: God will never again strike down every living thing, as long as the earth endures summer and winter, and day and night will not cease (Gen 8:21-22)

 

Life begins anew: The Spirit [ruach] of God was hovering over the surface of the waters (Gen 1:2)

 

Life again begins anew: God caused a wind [ruach] to pass over the earth, and the water began to subside (Gen 8:1)
This flourishing of life takes place on the “seventh” day, when God completed His work: On the seventh day God had completed His work, and He rested and declared it holy (Gen 2:1-2) This flourishing of life takes place on the “seventh,” when God takes away the destructiveness of the water and flood:

·         Noah brought seven of each sacrificial animal into the ark (Gen 7:2), which delivered God’s forgiveness to the people

·         In the seventh month, the ark came to rest on Mt. Ararat (Gen 8:4)

·         Noah sent out a dove every seven days to find out when all the waters receded (Gen 8-12)

 

God will now use water (with His Spirit) to bring life, not death.  In a reversal of creation, the water in the flood brought death.  After the flood, God will use water to bring life, not death.  Now, we can understand the flood as a re-creation event, through which God, like He used the sacrificial animals, will deliver His forgiveness.

 

The Flood Points Forward to Baptism

Peter wasn’t playing fast and loose when He connected God’s salvation of Noah and his family from the danger and chaos of the flood (Genesis 6) and Baptism.

God patiently waited in the days of Noah while the ark was being prepared.  In it [the ark] a few—that is, eight people—were saved through water.  Baptism, which corresponds to this [God saving Noah and his family through water], now saves you (not as the removal of dirt from the body, but an appeal of a good conscience toward God) through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. [1 Peter 3:20-21]

  • According to Peter, what does baptism do?

 

  • How does baptism save?

 

  • How does someone have a clean conscience toward God?

 

So also with Pastor Titus:

When the kindness of God our Savior and his love for mankind appeared, he saved us—not by works of righteousness that we had done, but according to his mercy—through the washing of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit. [Titus 3:4-5]

“regeneration”: palingensia, new birth or rebirth.  This is something that did not exist before.

“renewal”: anakainosis, renewal, a change for the better.  That which now exists is something better.

  • According to Titus, how does God save us?

 

Through the waters of Baptism, God saves us from chaos, danger, and death. He snatches us from the precipice, brings us back from the brink of disaster, calls us by name, delivers us from destruction, and carries us into the loving and safe arms of our Deliverer.

 

Jesus and the Water of Birth

Read John 3:1-5

  • According to Jesus, what does God use to allow someone to belong to the kingdom of God?

 

  • What does being born show us about our role in being born from above?

 

We contribute as little to our spiritual birth as we do to our physical birth: nothing.

For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. [1 Peter 1:23]

“have been born again”: anagennao, from ana, meaning “new” or “again,” and gennao meaning “birth.”  This is not being born a second time but a new birth; hence, “born anew” is a better translation.  Here, the verb is passive, which is something done to the person who is born anew.

  • What does God use to give water the power to give someone a new birth?

 

Thirsting for Water

In the Old Covenant

Read Exodus 15:22-25

  • What did God provide for His people in their wilderness wanderings?

 

  • What did He use to make the water drinkable?

 

Moses throws the piece of wood into the bitter water.  The wood sweetens the water, and the crisis passes.  As we learned last week, a standard pattern of God is to use some aspect of creation to provide for or save His people.  At the bitter waters of Marah, God is following His standard pattern.

Later, Israel faces a problem of not undrinkable water, but no water at all.

Read Exodus 17:1-7

  • How does God provide water on this occasion?

 

Here, we see God’s creational activity, for He brings water where none earlier existed.  Later, God’s prophets will develop this theme in the visions of the new creation brought about by the promised Messiah (Isaiah 35:6-7, 41:17-18; Ezekiel 36:24-26, 47:7-12.  See also 1 Corinthians 10:4).  As “the Word” Jesus was at the first creation (Genesis 1:3 and following, John 1:1-3), so was He also in the desert.

For I will take you from the nations and gather you from all the countries, and will bring you into your own land.  I will also sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean. I will cleanse you from all your impurities. [Ezekiel 36:24-25]

All drank the same spiritual drink.  For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and that rock was Christ. [1 Corinthians 10:4]

 

Jesus and Thirsting for Water

In the Gospel of John, we learn of Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well.  Jesus is sitting by the well when a woman comes to draw water.  He asks her for a drink of water and then says:

“Everyone who drinks from this water will get thirsty again.  But whoever drinks from the water that I will give him will never get thirsty again.  In fact, the water I will give him will become a well of water springing up in him for eternal life.” [John 4:13-14]

  • What does Jesus give?

 

  • Though the water Jesus gives, what is the result?

 

  • Are there any baptismal tie-ins?

 

Excursus: The Feast of the Tabernacles and Its Link to Jesus

The Festival of Tabernacles (also known as Booths, Sukkoth in Hebrew) was a seven-day fall festival held each year in Jerusalem.  The festival celebrated God’s providential care for his people both in giving them the fall harvest each year (Deuteronomy 16:13-15) and during their time in the wilderness after the exodus (Leviticus 23:42-43).  Throughout the week, Jewish pilgrims lived in small huts made of tree branches called “booths,” remembering their ancestors’ time in the wilderness.

Jesus used two ceremonies from this feast as a backdrop for what He taught in John 7-8.  Today, we only look at “water,” not “light” (John 8:2).  Each morning, the priests drew water from the pool of Siloam, carried it in procession to the water-gate of the Temple while a trumpet was blown amid shouts of joy.  On the east side of the altar was a silver bowl for the water and the west had another for wine.  Both bowls were poured out simultaneously on the altar.

So what does this have to do with Jesus as the Messiah?  Nothing, until we learn the historical background of the water in the Pool of Siloam.  The water did not originate there but came from a tunnel constructed by King Hezekiah from a spring in Gihon.  So, this spring was known as “The King’s Pool” (Nehemiah 2:14).

The pool received its name when King David decided Solomon should become king after him.  To do this, David didn’t choose for Solomon to be anointed king in Jerusalem.  Instead, he sent Solomon out with a priest (Abiathar), a prophet (Nathan), and the king’s official (Benaiah) to anoint him king in Gihon, the source of water for the Pool of Siloam.

Rabbinical tradition states, “Kings are anointed only at the side of a spring, so that their rule may be prolonged.”  The son of David, Solomon, was anointed king next to “the King’s Pool” in Gihon.  After becoming king, Solomon processed with others back to Jerusalem amid trumpet blasts and joyful cries that followed him to take his throne (1 Kings 1:32-34).

Solomon’s anointing and enthronement became the pattern of what later takes place with the water used during the Feast of Tabernacles.  However, the water ceremony of the Feast didn’t commemorate Solomon becoming king.  No, it anticipated another “Son of David,” the prophesied Messiah King.

So, Jesus says, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink” (John 7:37).  Through the backdrop and meaning attached to the water in the Feast, Jesus is revealing Himself to be the Messiah, the Son of David to which the ceremony pointed.

Still, Jesus has more to say.  “The one who believes in me, as the Scripture has said, will have streams of living water flow from deep within him” (John 7:38).  John tells us this refers to the Spirit Jesus will later give to believers.

The Old Testament speaks of the Spirit being linked to water being poured out.

Indeed, a king will reign righteously, and rulers will rule justly.  Each will be like a shelter from the wind, a refuge from the rain, like flowing streams in a dry land and the shade of a massive rock in an arid land….  For the palace will be deserted, the busy city abandoned.  The hill and the watchtower will become barren places forever, the joy of wild donkeys, and a pasture for flocks, until the Spirit from on high is poured out on us.  Then the desert will become an orchard, and the orchard will seem like a forest. [Isaiah 32:1-2, 14-15]

For I will pour water on the thirsty land and streams on the dry ground; I will pour out my Spirit on your descendants and my blessing on your offspring. [Isaiah 44:3]

But which Scripture is Jesus quoting?  We cannot find an exact match, but Zechariah 14:8-9 comes close.  “On that day, living water will flow out from Jerusalem … the Lord will become King over the whole earth.”  Zechariah links the flowing of living water with the King’s enthronement.  If Jesus is referring to this passage, He will do more than provide “living water” for people; He is also revealing who He is.  He is the awaited Messiah King, who, at His enthronement, will pour out the Spirit when He will be glorified (John 7:39).

Many of the people listening to Jesus understood this and got the connection back to Zechariah.

When some from the crowd heard these words, they said, “This truly is the Prophet.”  Others said, “This is the Messiah.” But some said, “Surely the Messiah doesn’t come from Galilee, does he?  Doesn’t the Scripture say that the Messiah comes from David’s offspring and from the town of Bethlehem, where David lived?” [John 7:40-42]

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Read John 7:37-38

  • What does Jesus promise?

 

  • Remembering what Jesus said about “living water” in John 4:13, what does “living water” signify?

 

  • How does Jesus connect the Spirit and living water?

 

Link to the next Lesson.

 

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