The Biblical Vision Explained
The River
The rich passage of Ezekiel 47:1-12 focuses on a river, strangely flowing from the temple which the prophet Ezekiel has been touring. He notices the river flow by the altar, flow out the east side of the temple, and rush into the lifeless waters of the Dead Sea.

We believe this river represents the person of Jesus.  Why do we believe this?

First, the river passes by the altar, the place of sacrifice, the Jewish location for the payment of sin. Jesus passed through the place of sacrifice, the cross, to pay for mankind's sin.

Next, we notice the river flow out the east side of the temple. In Ezekiel 43:1-2, we see God enter the temple through the east gate, and in Ezekiel 44:1-2, He says that the gate is shut - no one can use the east gate because God has used it. Yet, this river flows out the east side, indicating its divinity. Jesus claimed in the New Testament Gospels that He was God.

Also, this river comes from the temple, which was the Jewish place of worship, because God's presence was believed to be there. Likewise, Jesus came from heaven, the ultimate place of worship and God's presence.

Then we see the river flow into the Dead Sea. When it does, the waters suddenly teem with life! All kinds of fish can be found in the "Dead" Sea because of the waters of this river. Jesus said in John 10:10 that He came to give life, and give it abundantly. Ephesians 2:4-5 makes it clear that when someone enters into a relationship with Christ, they cross from death to life. This is why Jesus said in John 3:3 that people are to be "born again" (or born from above).

The passage of Ezekiel 47:1-12 ends with imagery of trees. It is our belief these trees represent the people of God. Again, how do we come to this conclusion?

Romans 8:29 makes it abundantly clear that God will transform His followers into the likeness of His Son, Jesus Christ. The river represents Jesus, which heals the waters of the Dead Sea to bring life. The trees perform a similar function, using their leaves for healing and their fruit for food (life). This means the trees have a similar purpose (likeness) as the river.

Inside of a tree's fruit is seed, which possess the ability to reproduce more trees. Disciples of Jesus are commanded to spread the "seed" of the gospel to go make more disciples (Matthew 28:18-20).

Lastly, the trees are fed by the river. This echoes the imagery of Psalm 1:1-3 and Jeremiah 17:7-8 where those whose trust is in God alone are compared to trees growing by streams. Colossians 2:6 exhorts Christians to be "rooted and built up" in Christ.

But how does an obscure Old Testament passage become a modern day project?

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