“There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High. God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns.” (Psalm 46:4-5 ESV)
River systems viewed from the air or drawn on a map look like a circulatory system, with smaller creeks and streams branching out in all directions, delivering life-giving water across the landscape. Rivers branch out through Holy Scripture, too, playing their part in the story of God’s work in the world as they weave their way through the story of our salvation.
A river watered Eden and flowed out of the garden to divide into four rivers, two of which were the Tigris and Euphrates. From the land between those two rivers, God called Abraham to be the father of a chosen nation and an ancestor of the promised Messiah. Another great river, the Nile, carried the Hebrew infant Moses into a life among Egyptian royalty until God called him to lead Israel out of slavery and into the Promised Land. The Israelites finally reached the land God promised to them. God held back the flood of the Jordan River so that His chosen people could cross safely into their new home. Generations later, it was to that river, the Jordan, that Jesus the Messiah came to be baptized by His kinsman John.
Those great rivers—the Tigris, the Euphrates, the Nile, and the Jordan—still exist today, providing water for the people who depend on them. But the water in those rivers can only quench earthly thirst. Jesus Christ rose up from the Jordan to take up His path to the cross. Jesus alone promises, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water'” (John 7:37b-38). The gift of the Holy Spirit, like a river of living water, flows through the hearts of all who trust in Jesus for salvation. We have the thirst-quenching peace that comes only through the forgiveness of sins that is ours through faith in Jesus. It is a peace that flows through our lives and out into the world. As the Holy Spirit works through our lives of service and witness, others will believe in Jesus and drink of the living water.
One day, this world’s history will come to an end and earth’s great rivers will cease to run. Then, by faith in our crucified and risen Lord, we will see and taste the water of the river that flows through eternity, “the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city” (Revelation 22:1b-2a). It is the “river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High.” That blessed city will be our holy habitation for all eternity, where all hunger will be satisfied and every thirst quenched.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, let Your peace flow through me to bring comfort and hope to others in Your name. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Carol Geisler.
Originally published in The Lutheran Hour on October 24, 2022
Used by permission from International Lutheran Laymen’s League, all rights reserved
1. Do you have a favorite river? If so, what do you like most about it?
2. Why do you think rivers play such a prominent role in the Bible?
3. What do you think the “river of the water of life” will be like?