Water. What a mysterious substance!
On one occasion Jesus said: “Those who believe in Me will have rivers of living water flowing out of their innermost being.” He was speaking about Holy Spirit Who would later come to reside permanently in his followers. (John 7: 37 – 39)
There’s an interesting principle found throughout the Bible that is best encapsulated in 1 Corinthians 15: 46b. The principle goes something like this. Every element in our natural, physical, material universe has it’s greater, more real counterpart in the spiritual dimension, in the invisible Kingdom of God.
For example, when we drink, or bathe in, or otherwise experience water in our natural lives—such as “walking in the rain” as the old song puts it—those experiences always point to a greater, more real, spiritual reality. Such walking in the rain in this material dimension signifies “”walking in the Spirit” as we read, for example in the eighth chapter of Romans in the Bible. That is only one example among many of that basic biblical principle.
In other words, that biblical principle means that first we see a natural element such as water in the visible creation of God, and that portrays for us a different, greater type of “spiritual” water found in the invisible realms of God. Holy Spirit is that “greater water” of God. The abundant pervasiveness of water on earth points to the more abundant pervasiveness of “water” in the spiritual dimension; in this case, it is the abundant pervasiveness of Holy Spirit throughout the transcendent, spiritual dimension of the Kingdom of God, of Eternity.
The Water of LIFE
Our home planet, this azure orb we call Earth, breathtakingly lovely when viewed from space, is covered with approximately seventy percent water in its shining oceans and seas, its polar ice caps, and in its rivers, lakes, and streams. Even more water floats beneath Earth’s surface in vast subterranean pools and aquifers. Every living creature on this earth must have water to survive. Every spiritually alive creature in the spiritual dimension must have the water of Holy Spirit to exist. Holy Spirit is the very LIFE of God.
When most astronauts and cosmonauts view earth from space the first time, they invariably describe Earth as a vast turquoise ocean dotted with a few islands. They marvel at Earth’s waters in all its visible forms. Those who are followers of Jesus cannot help but marvel at Holy Spirit in all his “forms” through not only the material universe, but also throughout the non-material, spiritual universe, the Kingdom of God.
What is natural water? It’s a clear, colorless, nearly odorless and tasteless substance existing in a liquid, solid, or gaseous state depending on its temperature. It is essential for all animal and plant life on our planet. So basic a substance, and so common. A mysterious substance, indeed! Holy Spirit is a “clear, colorless, odorless” Being whom we are told to “taste and see” in the spiritual dimension with our “faith senses.”
Why did God create and place so much water on our planet? There’s really no answer to that question. He simply created water “in the beginning” as told in the first chapter of Genesis. Perhaps water’s basic significance is that its occurrence on our planet is the only large amount on one celestial orb yet known in the universe. However, recent astronomical findings continue to disclose the presence of water in different parts of our solar system. Perhaps there’s much more “out there” on other planets. Only time will tell. Just as there is so much more “out there” for us to experience of Holy Spirit.
Here’s an idea just how much water is a “large” amount. If all the water on our planet alone were equally divided among the 7 billion persons now living on Earth, each would have approximately 80 –90 billion gallons! So much water on our planet alone… When the Bible speaks of God’s vast abundance of love, grace, and truth, it is an abundance conveyed to us by unlimited Holy Spirit, for whom nothing is too difficult, nothing limited.
As noted above, most scientists believe thus far Earth is the only planet yet discovered containing significant “large” amounts of water. In fact, liquid water is still considered to be an extreme rarity in the universe as a whole. Yes, God created water in abundant, lavish amounts on Planet Earth; it is one of the most plentiful and widely distributed substances on (and within) our planet. This “speaks” to us of Holy Spirit, the Living Water God so graciously provides throughout the transcendent spiritual dimensions both here and now and in “places” beyond the limitations of time and space.
Characteristics Of Water
Let’s examine some of water’s natural, physical characteristics and importance before considering its spiritual significance. Chemists know water by the formula H2O, meaning it consists of two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom. Exactly how those three atoms are linked to form a delicate, precisely balanced compound is still a mystery to modern science.
In a molecule of water, each of its three atoms has a large central particle; grouped together the three atoms form three points of a triangle (three points of a trinity, if you please!). Before bonding together, each atom is in a “neutral” state electrically, i.e., none of the three atoms is either positively or negatively charged.
When the three atoms bond, however, becoming a molecule of water, they create a tiny but highly charged, life-giving electrical system. If the three atoms linked even the tiniest fraction of an inch differently than they always do when they become a molecule of water, they would remain electrically neutral and all of their life-giving properties would be changed; they would cease to sustain life for all Earth’s plants and animals. That tiny difference? 1/100,000,000th of an inch! That’s all it would take to render all of Earth’s water lifeless and useless in terms of sustaining life.
We who are followers of Jesus immediately think of the Trinity, the tri-une nature of our God when we read such truths about a simple natural element such as water. Water in its three forms as liquid, solid, and vapor does not point so much to the tri-une nature of God as does the simple three-molecule makeup of water itself. Three “atoms” that sustain physical life: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit who create and sustain not only natural life, but also spiritual LIFE.
Water has a remarkable capacity to absorb heat to a much greater degree than many other substances and elements. As it absorbs and discharges heat, thus releasing energy, it forms Earth’s global temperature control system. Earth’s waters store heat where it is abundant and release it where it is scarce. Warm water is lighter than cold. Thus, the cooler waters of the polar seas continually press toward the warmer regions of the equator.
Those movements of water, coupled with the tides caused by Earth’s rotation and by the tidal pull of the moon, keep Earth’s oceans and seas in perpetual motion. In addition, Earth’s rivers empty 35 billion tons of water back into oceans and seas each year. All those movements of water transport immense quantities of heat in a remarkably uniform and consistent manner.
Earth’s polar ice caps play a large role in this process, keeping Earth from becoming too hot during its summers. Remember, the polar ice caps cover approximately six million square miles of our planet and are more than a mile thick in places! Evaporation and condensation play a role, too. The global energy involved in this process is almost beyond comprehension. Water continually evaporates from all Earth’s oceans and seas, its rivers and streams, from its lakes and swimming pools, and backyard birdbaths—even from cooking utensils and glasses of water placed by one’s bedside. And…from all Earth’s baptismal waters; keep that last fact in mind as you read on.
Age after age, century after century, year after year, water in all its alternating and changing states serves to balance global temperature extremes. In contrast, our waterless moon experiences temperature variations that preclude any life from surviving there. Yes, Earth’s waters in all its forms serve as an amazing thermostatic process to keep our planet home livable and comfortable.
Seeing With Our “Inner Eyes”
Are you beginning to see earth’s vast water supplies with your “inner eyes and ears” pointing to and signifying the vastness of the supply of Living Water God furnishes us for our life “in the Spirit?”
Remember, too, that water is mobile, always in a state of flux. For example, the 100 pounds of water in the body of an adult human is totally replaced approximately seventeen times a year. In Earth’s atmosphere, water is usually about twelve days old because it is always on the move. The water in Earth’s oceans is totally “transferred” every 50,000 years. Yes, Earth’s waters are constantly on the move, renewing and cleansing not only Earth itself, but all life upon it.
The Water of Life, Holy Spirit, is always on the move, too, always flowing in, through and out of our lives to quench the spiritual thirst of others whom God brings into our lives in order to have their deep spiritual thirst quenched.
Water has many other unique traits, too numerous to expound upon in this brief teaching—traits which make it unique and different from virtually all other similar compounds. In fact, in some instances water seems to defy many natural “laws.” For example, in some cases it defies gravity as it “climbs” from within to the top of tall trees.
Another amazing characteristic of water is found in the billions of clouds that drift to and fro thoughout earth’s atmosphere, sometimes drifting lazily, sometimes swirling with the awesome force of a hurricane or typhoon. An “average” sized cloud drifting lazily through the blue skies above you on a warm summer day carries many hundreds of tons of water in it—defying the pull of gravity. What keeps the clouds in the sky? What keeps them from “falling” to earth all the time?
Holy Spirit defies all natural laws as He moves in and out of our lives, unbound by human conventions and traditions, unbound by all the ways we attempt to limit Him with our human-made teachings and doctrines. He absolutely will not be limited by any human-made “religious boxes” in which we attempt to confine Him.
Waters of Baptism
What are some more of the spiritual characteristics or traits of water. Earlier, I mentioned baptismal waters. Consider this—in an average drinking glass, there are 900,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 molecules of water, all in such a constant state of flux that statistically it can be calculated with certainty: every single baptism ever performed involves water molecules that flowed in the Jordan River when Jesus was baptized! Think of it: your baptismal water contained some of the same molecules with which Jesus was baptized!
We are indeed one with Him in baptism—and one with all others who have ever been baptized in Him in the past 2,000 years. That is the true “communion (coming-into-union) of our baptisms. When each of us is baptized in water, we come into true spiritual union with Jesus and with all other followers of Jesus allwhere and allwhen who have also been baptized.
As previously mentioned, in John 7: 38 and 39, Jesus said water is symbolic of Holy Spirit who would flow out of his followers as living water. Earlier, Jesus told a woman at a well about living water which would flow from his followers as an artesian fountain (John 4: 14). How is water like the invisible Spirit of God? We’ve already seen how water exists in different forms, each form having different properties; Holy Spirit comes to us in different forms: gentle as a dove, strong as a mighty, rushing wind, quiet as a still, small voice, power from on high, guarantor of our inheritance, one who intercedes for us, deep water, Living Water…
In the natural realm water has unequaled cleansing ability; given enough time—and in large enough quantities—water can cleanse and remove virtually any stain. We are soiled and stained by sin as we journey on our way from earth to our eternal state. The cleansing power of Holy Spirit washes us and cleanses all humanity from all sin (1 Corinthians 6: 11), based upon the all-atoning sacrifice of Jesus of Nazareth upon the cruel cross of Calvary.
Earlier, we were reminded that water is absolutely vital to all living things, nourishing and sustaining all plant and animal life; without water, we would die. Jesus spoke of himself as the Vine and we as the branches (John 15). When we are nourished by the Water of Life, Holy Spirit, we—the vines—bring forth rich fruit (Galatians 5: 22 and 23). We are nourished and sustained by the life of Holy Spirit. Without Him, we can do nothing of any lasting, spiritual value.
Historically, water has played a vital role in humanity’s development of power. Before the widespread use of fossil fuels to power machines and factories, much energy came from water in the form of water wheels strategically built on rivers and streams. Even now, water continues to produce physical energy. Holy Spirit empowers us; he is the Spirit of power (2 Timothy 1: 7).
As relaxing by a seashore brings tranquility… as gazing westward from a ship at sea, observing the grandeur of a stunning sunset over the waters brings calmness to the troubled soul… as reclining by a babbling brook on a mild summer’s day evokes peace… as taking a hot bubble bath on a cold winter’s night releases tension and reduces stress… Holy Spirit gives us peace which transcends all human comprehension and understanding, such peace being a fruit of Holy Spirit “grown” in each of us in a sovereign manner (Philippians 4:7; Galatians 5: 22).
If you are an adult reading this teaching, you have in your body right now about forty to fifty quarts of water! Consider this interesting analogy. When Jesus returns to earth, your physical body—composed mostly of water—will be transformed into a spiritual body; just as you are now composed largely of water, you will then be resurrected to a state wherein you will be composed mostly of spirit—enlivened and energized, and nourished by the Spirit of God instead of by water (Romans 8: 11; Philippians 3: 20 and 21; 1 Corinthians 15).
H2O is a label given to water to help us understand what it is. But the label is really just a tool attempting to explain a substance beyond understanding. Water is a unique, complex, amazing, created compound; one scientist, P. H. Kuenen, calls water “”he most extraordinary substance known to science.”
The next time you take a drink of water, feel a raindrop light gently upon your forehead, or swim at the local pool, remember that water is a mysterious compound—God’s miraculous gift to Earth—through which all biological life is sustained and by means of which we catch a few glimpses into the realm of Holy Spirit as symbolized by water. Remember the spiritual realities behind God’s amazing gift of water to you.
The Coming Kingdom
There is coming a future time—eons after Jesus has returned to earth to establish his Kingdom—when the ages and eons of time will end and be “swallowed” up and “replaced” by eternity. When that occurs, the great city the Bible calls the New Jerusalem will descend out of heaven to earth to become God’s capitol city of the entire universe. God’s eternal throne will be in the center of that city. Just as his throne is now at the center of our beings.
Flowing from that throne will be a pure river of LIFE-giving water. No human now knows much about that eternal city nor about that river of LIFE. It is my own opinion, however, that the river of LIFE will not only be a river of natural, LIFE-giving water, but will also be Holy Spirit flowing from that throne, giving the LIFE of eternity to the entire universe…and beyond.
One of my favorite songs (a so-called Celtic Christian song) makes me think of the throne of God and that River of Life flowing from that throne each time I hear it sung; it’s entitled “Down The Mountain The River Flows’:
Down the mountain the River flows,
And it brings refreshing wherever it goes.
Through the valley and over the field,
The River is rushing and the River is here.
The River of God sets our feet a dancing.
The River of God fills our heart with cheer.
The River of God fills our mouths with laughter,
And we rejoice for the River is here.
We rejoice for the River is here!
The River of God is teeming with life,
And all who touch it can be revived.
And those who linger on this rivershore
Will come back thirsting for more of the Lord.
Up the mountain we love to go
To find the presence of the Lord.
Along the banks of the river we run.
We dance with laughter,
Giving praise to the Son.
Water. What a mysterious and wondrous substance God has created for our use, reminding us of the deep, deep, ever deeper Waters of Life!
Revised and Updated March 2023