|John 7:39 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: touto de eipen (AAI) peri tou pneumatos o emellon (IAI) lambanein (PAN) oi pisteusantes (AAP) eis auton; houpo gar en (IAI) pneuma, hoti Iesoun oudepo edoxasthe (API):
THE GIFT OF THE
But this - What is this? The rivers of living water, Jesus' figurative description of the Holy Spirit.
Keddie - John writes from a post-John 20/Acts 2 perspective and wants it clearly understood that the living water is a metaphorical bridge between the water poured out at the Feast of Tabernacles and the work of the Holy Spirit in the post-Pentecostal church. The giving of the Holy Spirit and his gifts was reserved for the time after Christ had actually died, risen and ascended into heaven, so demonstrating that salvation and newness of life are the fruit of Christ’s mediatorial sacrifice for sin. (Ibid)
It is fascinating that in John 4 Living Water is a picture of Jesus and here in John 7 Living Water is a picture of the Holy Spirit. We should not be surprised that God uses the same phrase to describe the Son and the Spirit, for other NT passages refer to the Spirit as the Spirit of Christ (Ro 8:9, 1Pe 1:11), the Spirit of Jesus (Acts 16:7) and the Spirit of Jesus Christ (Phil 1:19). The Trinity is truly a mystery but it is just as surely a true mystery!
If you quench the Spirit (1Th 5:19),
The Spirit - Jesus speaks of the Spirit as a Person, not an it.
Just as water satisfies thirst and produces fruitfulness, so the Spirit of God satisfies the inner person and enables us to bear fruit.
Ray Pritchard on the Spirit - Are you spooked out by the Holy Spirit? Perhaps I should say, “Are you spooked out by the Holy Ghost?” Lots of Christians are, you know. They say things like, “I know about God the Father, and I know about Jesus, but the Holy Spirit is a mystery to me.” You may remember the story about the little boy who liked to scare people by saying, “Boo! I’m the Holy Ghost.” That story is apt because the Holy Spirit (“Ghost” is the older term) scares many Christians. Maybe they’re heard things or seen things on TV. Or perhaps the idea of a “Holy Spirit” seems hard to grasp. We understand the concept of God the Creator, and we certainly know about Jesus who walked among us 2000 years ago. But the Holy Spirit is another matter. Where does he fit in?...One of the oldest prayers of the church contains only three words: “Come, Holy Spirit.” Here is the ultimate irony of this message. Because the Holy Spirit opens our eyes to see spiritual truth, we need the Holy Spirit to understand the Holy Spirit! So we pray “Come, Holy Spirit, and help us to know you better. Amen."...The Holy Spirit brings the life of God to the thirsty soul. That’s what the Holy Spirit provides for us. He will fill our lives with living water. If we are thirsty, we are invited to take a drink and see for ourselves. Have you ever felt like spiritually “dry ground"? Have you ever felt “thirsty” for more of the Lord? Have you ever felt empty and needing to be filled? The Holy Spirit is God’s answer for our deep inner thirst. When He comes into our lives, He comes like a river rushing over dry ground. He pours out His blessings and our lives begin to blossom again. No one need stay “dry” or “empty” or “thirsty” forever. We weren’t made to live in a desert. God’s river called the Holy Spirit can flow through our lives, slaking our thirst, filling our emptiness, covering the arid ground with the water of life. (Water, Wine, Wind, Fire - Keep Believing Ministries)
Ray Pritchard in another sermon speaks of the Spirit asking "what does the Holy Spirit do? He brings God to us. When Jesus was on the earth, His name was Immanuel—God with us. Now that he has gone back to heaven, the Holy Spirit comes and brings God to us. The moment we believe in Jesus, the Holy Spirit opens the springs of life and a river of living water begins to flow from within us. But God never gives his blessings simply to be hoarded. He gives his blessings to us so that we can share them with others. Here is a simple sentence to help you think about this truth: The Holy Spirit brings God to us so we can bring God to others. The river flows from us to others. A genuine believer in Christ is not self-centered. He says to himself, “I have been greatly blessed. I must pass these blessings along to others. I can’t keep them for myself.” What God gives me, I give away. If it’s money, it’s not mine anyway. If it’s my time, it all belongs to God anyway. If it’s something I own, I can give it away because I don’t own anything; God owns it all. If it’s a helping hand, I can do that because God reached down and helped me. Behind this principle is the truth I call the Greater Golden Rule: “Do unto others as God has done unto you.” Has God blessed you? Then bless others. Has God been kind to you? Then be kind to others. Has God shown grace to you? Then show grace to others. Has God forgiven you? Then forgive others. Be a river of living water for some thirsty soul this week. (When God Comes Near- “I Believe in the Holy Spirit”)
It only takes a spark to get a fire going,
I’ll shout it from the mountain top—PRAISE GOD!
Were to receive - At the time Jesus gave this promise, the New Covenant had not been inaugurated, but it would be by His death, burial and resurrection. Then the OT New Covenant promise of Ezekiel would be fulfilled - "Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from 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 be careful to observe My ordinances." (Ezek 36:26-27) This promise was fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost when the saints "were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance." (Acts 2:4)
In keeping with the picture of the Holy Spirit as like rivers of living water, Paul describes the Spirit as the One Whom the Father "poured out (ekcheo - see Ro 5:5 below) upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior." (Titus 3:6-note)
In Romans Paul writes that
In the OT we see the Spirit repeatedly portrayed as being poured out like water...
In the book of Acts Luke has four descriptions of the Spirit being poured out...
In Zechariah we see great prophecy of the topographical changes that will occur when Messiah returns and the Messianic (Millennial) Age begins...
In the OT the Spirit was given to saints but indwelt them only temporarily, but now Jesus promises He will be in them forever (See Jn 14:16-17 "I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever.")
Whom those who believed (pisteuo) in Him were to receive - Belief is the condition, reception is the promise.
For the Spirit was not yet - Note that "given" is added by the translators. He was not yet is even more powerful! He was not yet received because He had not yet been given.
Peter describes Jesus giving the Spirit after He was resurrected and ascended...
Therefore having been exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured forth (ekcheo = speaks of a lavish outpouring to the point of overflowing - see other passages that describe Him as poured forth = Acts 2:17-18, Acts 10:45 Ro 5:5 Titus 3:6, See also numerous OT prophecies of the Spirit, like living water, being poured out with these promises speaking primarily of a yet future fulfillment in the Millennium = Isa 32:15, Isa 44:3, Ezekiel 39:29, Joel 2:28-29 [only partially fulfilled at Pentecost - e.g., Joel 2:30-32 was not fulfilled at Pentecost!], Zechariah 12:10 = this outpouring will bring about national confession and repentance when the Messiah returns. The oldest interpreters of this passage however both Jewish and Christian, understood this passage clearly referred to the Messiah to come. ) this which you both see and hear (Ed: Speaking in languages that were not their native tongue)." (Acts 2:33, cp Acts 2:38-39)
Comment: Even as out from the smitten rock of Ex 17:6 (Nu 20:10-11) flowed the living waters in the OT, so too now as a result of Christ the smitten Rock (crucified, resurrected, ascended, glorified), there is an eternal flow of the living waters, in the form of the Holy Spirit.
Below are other NT Passages that allude to the giving of the Spirit to believers. Notice that the Father and the Son are both involved in the giving of the Spirit.
(Luke 24:49) (Jesus speaking) “And behold, I am sending forth the promise of My Father upon you; but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”
(Acts 1:4) Gathering them together, He (Jesus) commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, “Which,” He said, “you heard of from Me
(John 14:16) (Jesus declared) “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever.
(John 14:26) (Jesus declared) “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, Whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.
(John 15:26) (Jesus declared) “When the Helper comes, Whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth Who proceeds from the Father, He will testify about Me,
(John 16:7 (Jesus declared) “But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you.
For - term of explanation - What is Jesus explaining? Obviously He is explaining that this was a promise yet to be fulfilled. While that was true for His immediate audience, the condition of the promise was fulfilled by Jesus some 9 months later. Now in the Church Age the promise is not future but present, for now ALL believers receive the Holy Spirit when they believe. Paul writes "you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him." (Ro 8:9)
Because Jesus was not yet glorified - Notice that because is another term of explanation. When was Jesus glorified? He was glorified at His crucifixion, His resurrection and His ascension, taking His seat at the right hand of the Father (See Acts 2:33). John speaks often of the glorification of Jesus - John 8:54; 11:4; 12:28; 13:31–32; 14:13.
Tenney notes that glorified "has varied meanings in this Gospel. It may refer to establishing status or to enhancing a reputation (John 8:54; 12:28; 13:32; 14:13; 15:8; 16:14; 17:1, 4, 5, 10; 21:19). In this particular context it refers to Jesus’ death, which, despite all appearances, would be the entrance to glory for him (John 7:39; 11:4; 12:16, 23; 13:31). The death and resurrection of Jesus would demonstrate the perfection of God’s love and power through humiliation” (Expositor's Bible Commentary)
Glorified (1392)(doxazo from doxa = glory) has a secular meaning of to think, suppose, be of opinion but strictly speaking is not used in this sense in Scripture where it usually means to give a correct opinion or correct estimate of God, as possessing infinite greatness, grandeur and worth.
W E Vine - The Lord thus promises a twofold source of refreshment and satisfaction: He Himself satisfies the thirsty soul (cp Jn 4:10, 13-14), and by the indwelling Holy Spirit the believer is to be the means of satisfying others. To the Samaritan woman He had spoken of the water bestowed by Him as becoming in the recipient “a well of water springing up unto eternal life” (Jn 4:14); now He enlarges the promise: the believer is to be a channel of the fullness of life-giving ministry and enrichment to needy souls. He does not say “a river of living water,” but “rivers.” What a contrast to the golden picture of water poured out each day at the Feast of Booths! How great the possibilities of a Spirit-filled life! How important that we should permit nothing to clog the channel! This being “filled with the Spirit” is not an attainment securing a condition of permanent freedom from any defect on our part, it necessitates recourse to the efficacy of the cleansing blood of Christ (1 John 1:7), and the renewing of our mind (Ro 12:2). The purpose of the Spirit is to glorify Christ (John 16:14) and this ministry He fulfills in and through the believer who, seeking to refrain from grieving the Spirit, presents his body to God as a living sacrifice. So let us thirst, come, be filled, and be a channel of supply. The “living waters” were figurative of the Holy Spirit (v. 38) and the Lord was promising what would, and did, take place at Pentecost, and from that time onward. The Spirit would not be given thus till the Lord Jesus was glorified. There is no mention here of the Church; only the individual believer is in view. Further, what is here mentioned is not the Spirit’s work of regeneration. He was to be a gift to those who were already believers when Christ was on earth. What takes place since Pentecost is that when we believe and are born of the Spirit, He indwells us and becomes a river flowing through us in blessing to others. (Collected Writings)
Rich Cathers on Lessons from John 7:37-39 - Spirit Filled. Are you thirsty? Are you unsatisfied with your life? Maybe you have never opened your life to Jesus. Maybe you realize that you need help. Maybe you are a Christian, but you’ve been living your life in your own strength. Four things from this passage: 1. Thirst - You have to have a need for Him. You have to “suffer from thirst”. There must be a strong sense of need in our life. We need to come to the point where we realize just how much we need God's help. If we're complacent about it, and don't really care one way or another, then don't expect anything. 2. Come to Jesus - You have to realize that to be filled with the Holy Spirit, you're going to have to come to Jesus. Going to Mohammed won't do. Nor Buddha. Coming to a special pastor to pray over you is a nice sentiment, but if you want to be filled with the Holy Spirit, you must come to Jesus. If you aren’t coming to Jesus to have your thirst met, it’s like (show video of Nestea gone wrong – people falling backward and hitting the dust) Only He has paid the price for your sins, enabling you to come into a personal relationship with God. 3. Drink - To drink a glass of water, you first have to open up your mouth. Imagine drinking a glass of water with your mouth closed. You would certainly have a “drinking problem”! To receive the Holy Spirit, you have to open up your heart. Dr. A. B. Simpson used this illustration about being filled with the Spirit: “Being filled with the fullness of God is like a bottle in the ocean. You take the cork out of the bottle and sink it in the ocean, and you have the bottle completely full of ocean. The bottle is in the ocean, and the ocean is in the bottle. The ocean contains the bottle, but the bottle contains only a little bit of the ocean. So it is with the Christian.” A. W. Tozer wrote, “We are filled unto the fullness of God, but, of course, we cannot contain all of God because God contains us; but we can have all of God that we can contain. If we only knew it, we could enlarge our vessel. The vessel gets bigger as we go on with God.” 4. Believe - Jesus didn’t say, “He who feels this tingle down his back will have rivers of living water ...”.
He said, “He who believes ...” Being filled with the Holy Spirit is based on trust, on faith, not on feelings.
Robert Neighbour - Ezekiel gives a wonderful description of the flowing of these Waters. Ezekiel 47:1-8 says that the waters issued out from under the threshold of the house, eastward. They flowed with ever increasing depth and width. Then we find the statement "These waters go down into the desert, and go into the sea." Then comes the remarkable phrase, "It will come about that every living creature which swarms in every place where the river goes, will live." (Ezek 47:9) To us this is exceedingly suggestive. The Holy Spirit begins to flow rivers of blessing from us when He is exalted to the throne of our hearts. He goes forth into the deserts of the world with blessing. Everything that He touches lives. Every miry place and every marsh is healed. In Ezekiel, on either side of the river there were all trees for meat. Their leaves did not fade, and their fruit could not be consumed. Would that God would give us such lives as these (Pr 4:23). The Spirit-filled life is the dominant need of every believer. Unless we are filled with the Spirit we cannot get God's best, neither can we prove ourselves able to give forth God's best. No wonder the Bible says, "Be filled with the Spirit." (Eph 5:18) (Living Water Commentary)
Tony Evans' illustration regarding the Holy Spirit - In 2006, the Arizona Cardinals signed former Indianapolis Colts tailback Edgerrin James to a four-year contract worth $30 million, which included a signing bonus of $11.5 million. We live in a time when professional athletes not only ask for, but often expect, a signing bonus. In some ways, it has ceased to function as the special gift it was intended to be. This is also how we as believers can find ourselves treating the Holy Spirit. Sometimes we need to be reminded that the Holy Spirit is God's great gift to us. In John 7:37-39, Jesus stood on the crowded streets of Jerusalem and declared that those who believed in Him would experience living water springing from their innermost being. the Holy Spirit's job is to run interference so we can move forward in our spiritual lives. In Jn 7:39 John says, "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." Something that is given is a gift, which is exactly what the Bible calls the Holy Spirit. Unfortunately, many believers today function as if the Holy Spirit is the bench player of the Trinity. They know He is there, but they don't let Him in the game very often. Yet the Holy Spirit is the most active member of the Godhead when it comes to spiritual growth, so it's vital we learn what God's Word says about Him....The Holy Spirit lives in every believer (Ro 8:9, 1Cor 12:13), but not every believer allows Him full control of their lives. This comes through the Spirit's filling (Eph 5:18), which opens up the rivers of living water that He wants to send flowing through us. Why do we try to live life by our own strength rather than God's strength? When do you find it easiest to turn over control to God's Spirit in your life? (Get in the Game - An Athlete's Guide for the Spiritual Journey)
It’s Bubbling In My Soul - Decades ago, I visited a ministry center in West Africa and saw a little girl climb onto a truck that had a public address system. Smiling, she began to sing over the microphone:
It’s bubbling, it’s bubbling,
I heard her sing that song only once. But the joy in her voice was so evident and powerful that I remember the lyrics and tune to this day. The parallel in the song between water and spiritual refreshment is a biblical one. During the Feast of Tabernacles, a Levite priest would pour out water as a symbol of God providing water for Israel in the wilderness. During that feast, “Jesus stood and cried out, saying, ‘If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water’?” (John 7:37-38). Jesus was talking about the Holy Spirit promised to those who would believe in Him (Jn 7:39). This thirst-quenching water is a picture of the spiritual satisfaction that only He can provide. Perhaps you’ve lost that joy you first experienced at salvation. Confess all known sin right now (1 John 1:9). Be filled with God’s Holy Spirit (Eph. 5:18), and let Him provide you with a “bubbling in your soul.” -- Dennis Fisher (Our Daily Bread)
Christ departed so that the Holy Spirit could be imparted.
Vance Havner - "If Any Man Thirst" - "Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. "He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, from within him shall flow rivers of living water. "But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believed on him were to receive: for the Spirit was not yet given; because Jesus was not yet glorified."—John 7:37-39, R.V.
OUR Lord was at the feast of tabernacles. It is very likely that He had just been observing a peculiar ceremony which was a custom at that time. It seems that each day a priest with a golden pitcher went to the pool of Siloam followed by a throng of people. Filling the pitcher at the pool, he bore it down the streets amid the shouting and singing of the multitude and the sound of trumpets and cymbals. When he reached the temple he poured out the water by the altar while all the people sang, "Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation" (Isaiah 12:3-note). It was such a hilarious occasion that, according to Lightfoot, it was said, "Whoever has not witnessed it has never seen rejoicing at all."
Doubtless our Lord had just witnessed this ceremony and, although it was very impressive, He must have been struck with the futility of it all. For, although these jubilant multitudes sang and shouted and went into raptures, after it all was over they went home with their same old heartaches and cares and fears. Then, too, it was a perfect picture of the fact that the law, represented by the priest, and legalism and religiousness and ceremony, represented by the pouring out of the water, could never assuage the thirst of the human heart. And more than that, it symbolized the utter inability of the waters of earth, its pleasures and possessions and philosophies, to satisfy the weary soul. Men might make great ado over these things, might for the moment rejoice in them, but always they must go away thirsty, because they have forsaken the fountain of living waters and hewn them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water (Jeremiah 2:13).
But there stood among the throngs on this feast day One Who could satisfy the thirsty soul. While the worshippers sang, "With joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation," little did they realize that the fulfilment of that prophecy stood among them! And now, with the vivid contrast of the water-pouring ceremony before Him, the Lord Jesus did a most unusual thing, He stood and cried aloud to the throngs around Him. "He stood and cried" —very rarely is that phrase used of our Lord. "He shall not strive, nor cry; neither shall any man hear his voice in the streets" (Matthew 12:19), but here He went out of the ordinary, did the exceptional thing of standing, probably in some elevated position, and crying aloud to the multitude. Why did He do it? Because He had something exceptional and extraordinary to say! His soul had been moved within Him by the vain ceremony of the feast day and now He sets Himself against the hollow observance of the empty pitcher and cries, "If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink! He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, from within him shall flow rivers of living water!"
It is as though He cried: "Ah, you thirst for something, you know not what. These hollow ceremonies, these ecstasies of the flesh, these empty pitchers from Siloam, these waters of earth can never satisfy. Come unto me and drink and I will give you living waters which shall become in you fountains of water springing up into everlasting life (John 4:14), and rivers of water forever overflowing. 'Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters' (Isaiah 55:1). 'Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely'" (Revelation 22:17).
Nineteen centuries have gone their way, and today a thirsting world still hews its broken cisterns and seeks in poured-out waters of Siloam living waters that fail not. Ponce de Leon still looks for the fountain of youth. Modern fads and isms, psychologic tricks and philosophic cure-alls—these are golden pitchers from Siloam which are soon poured out. And what shall we say of thousands who go through all the motions of religion, even grow ecstatic like these Jews at the feast, yet go away unsatisfied as ever? Amidst it all stands One Who is the Bread of Life, Who invites the labouring and the laden to come unto Him and rest (John 6:35; Matthew 11:28). Whosoever lives and believes in Him shall never die (John 11:26). In Him, though the outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day (II Corinthians 4:16). He is the soul's fountain of youth. If any man thirst, let him come unto Him and drink and he shall have within himself a fountain of living waters overflowing in torrents of blessing.
That, of course, is the first application of this precious passage—Christ's invitation to a lost world. But I am thinking now of another situation painfully evident today: thousands of Christians, believers, saved people, whose actual, daily experience is more like the emptied pitcher from Siloam than it is like the living fountain with its rivers of water. As I go about over the land, I am continually meeting preachers grieved over a defective experience, who are convinced that they have missed something and that surely there must be more in the filling of the Spirit than they have ever understood. They are good men, able men, devout men, but many of them seem to have stopped short of that utter abandon in which men lose themselves to become blazing firebrands for God, flaming torches by which He sets on fire a smug and sanctimonious church and awakens to burning conviction a sleeping world. Some are willing to miss a blessing rather than give up a prejudice, but others are worried and deeply conscious that their fire is not Pentecostal fire but painted fire which does not burn!
I am continually meeting Christians whose experience is like getting all of a story except the point. Like the Jews at the feast, they have a happy day once in a while when they "scale the utmost height and catch a gleam of glory bright," but these are few and far between and soon "a sense of things real comes doubly strong." After one of his sermons, Andrew Murray asked a very pious woman, "How are you going on?" Her answer was, "Oh, just the way it always is, sometimes light and sometimes dark." "My dear sister," he asked, "where is that in the Bible?" She said, "We have day and night in nature, and just so it is in our souls." "No, no," he replied, "in the Bible we read, 'Thy sun shall no more go down.'" But most believers today live in an eclipse.
Naturally, all this shows up in the fellowship of believers. Our churches go forth often, like Samson, to shake themselves, as at other times before, and know not that the power of the Lord in fulness of blessing has departed. There is no listening for the sound of a going in the mulberry trees. Having begun in the Spirit, they would perfect themselves in the flesh. Instead of more power, more wheels are added to the machine. There is no ministering to the Lord and fasting, so the Spirit has nothing to say. There being no devotion, there is no Dynamic and no direction. There is nothing about the average Christian or church to remind one of rivers of living water issuing from a well of water springing up into everlasting life. Indeed, one is reminded more of the occasional pouring out of water from the golden pitcher filled at Siloam.
It is plainly stated here that our Lord spoke of the Holy Spirit, so the whole difficulty today lies in a failure rightly to appreciate and appropriate the fulness of the Spirit. It is interesting to note that many of these thirsty Christians today have been much taught if not well taught; they have studied the Word carefully, have prayed earnestly, have sought deeper blessing, have gone from Bible conference to Bible conference, returning home in the fall laden with notebooks crammed with epigrams from teachers galore. I fear that altogether too many have "eagerly frequented doctor and saint, and heard great argument about it and about, but evermore have come out the same door wherein they went." Some have "surrendered" dozens of times; have followed Andrew Murray's "steps" for the blessing; have "claimed the blessing," and then tried to believe they had it, meanwhile driving off the fowls from the offering, like Abraham, until God should send the witness of the burning lamp. They have tried not to confuse the filling with the feeling, but after months or years they still do not wear the garments of praise instead of the spirit of heaviness, and many break down in defeatism or else move into extremist circles. (And right here remember the words of a mighty man of God of the last generation: "It were almost better for one to overstate the possibilities of sanctification in his eager grasp after holiness, than to understate them in his complacent satisfaction with a traditional unholiness. Certainly it is not an edifying spectacle to see a Christian worlding throwing stones at a Christian perfectionist.")
Now, it is evident that if our Lord meant for us to be living fountains sending forth torrents of living water then we have no business standing along Jordan's stormy banks casting wishful eyes toward Canaan's fair and happy land, where our possessions lie. We ought to be dwelling over there in that blessed experience which the saints have called, "the rest of faith," "perfect love," "the Spirit-filled life," "the victorious life," or "Christian perfection." On this feast day the Lord invited us to the fulness of the Spirit as well as to salvation, and it behooves us rightly to appreciate and appropriate what is here set forth.
We recognize, of course, that when we come to the Lord Jesus Christ at conversion and receive Him, the Holy Spirit indwells our hearts from regeneration. We know also that the Holy Spirit was given at Pentecost once for all. But here we believe with A. J. Gordon, that "it does not follow that every believer has by faith received that baptism. God's gift is one thing; our appropriation of that gift is quite another thing. As Christ, the second Person of the Godhead, came to earth to make atonement for sin and to give eternal life, and as sinners we must receive Him by faith in order to forgiveness and sonship, so the Holy Spirit, the third Person of the Godhead, came to earth to communicate the 'power from on high'; and we must as believers in like manner receive Him by faith in order to be qualified for service. Both gifts have been bestowed, but it is not what we have but what we know we have by a conscious, appropriating faith which determines our spiritual wealth."
The baptism of the Spirit is ours positionally, but, alas, what is ours positionally is not always our actual condition. It is one thing to have the blessing as our right and privilege, but quite another to be blessed experimentally. The average Christian is so ignorant of, or indifferent to, the filling of the Spirit that when he does realize and receive fulness of power, it truly is a second blessing to him, second only to regeneration. Said McConkey: "There is a fulness of the Holy Ghost which does not come to most Christians at conversion and, therefore, is, in point of time, a second blessing." And Dr. James M. Gray makes it clear: "I believe that the second work of grace.. is a later crisis in the history of the believer, when he comes to realize the need of a holier life and a deeper experience of Christ. He then surrenders himself as a Christian to Christ more fully than he has yet done and comes into the Spirit to which he has been a stranger theretofore. It is the privilege of every believer to have this experience at the moment of his acceptance of Christ as Saviour and some do enter into its enjoyment then. Many do not, however, and when it comes to them, if it does, they regard it as a second work of grace and a baptism of the Holy Spirit."
In our zeal to escape false doctrines of a "second blessing" most Christians, we fear, have gone too far and denied any need of crisis or deeper experience in the life of the believer, except a gradual growth in grace. Now, for believers who recognized and appropriated the filling of the Spirit at conversion and who are being filled continually that is sufficient. But very few have done that, and, besides, it has been asked with real insight: "If we conceive of the Christian life as only a gradual growth in grace, is there not a danger that we come to regard this growth as both invisible and inevitable and so take little responsibility for its accomplishment?"
Many arguments have been employed against this experience, even by established Christians. The subjective aspect of just yielding and receiving has taken the place of the old emphasis our fathers placed on being overwhelmed with power coming down. The mighty old-fashioned down-crashing floods of power that inundated and submerged waiting saints have been ignored in favour of a rather tame and pale "receiving" that fails somehow to receive. Some say we are not to pray for power. If that is true, then the mighty men of God through the ages have been mistaken. Others contend that we do violence to the personality of the Holy Spirit in speaking of being filled as though He were like electricity. We can say only that "filled" is the New Testament word.
And what shall we say of the testimony of history? Think of George Fox, lying for days in a trance, and coming through to a new experience; Wesley and Whitefield praying until three in the morning, when the Spirit fell in great power; Christmas Evans convicted of a cold heart while on his way to preach and led to pray until his heart thawed out like the breaking up of a hard winter, and going on to preach with power, so that a gracious revival began and swept the country roundabout. Think of Burns of Kilsyth saying to his mother after a night of prayer, "God has given me Kilsyth today," and going forth to reap souls not only in Kilsyth but in all Scotland and in Inland China. And what shall we say of Finney who saw the Lord and then, set burning with the heavenly flame, moved out into a ministry of evangelism so marvelous that I am astounded that few Christians today seem to know anything of this giant of the Gospel. One thinks of the Moravians at Herrnhut, of A. J. Gordon in his midnight prayer meeting with George Needham, of Moody receiving such a blessing that he had to ask God to stay His hand, and testifying of it later: "I would not be back where I was before that blessed experience if you should give me all the world—it would be as the small dust of the balance." Say what you will, these men knew a day of crisis and, although salvation dated from an earlier day, mighty power for service dated from this day. When one reads the story of these powerful fountains of living water, he is more than ever impressed with the thought that most of us today are strangely like pitchers from Siloam! It ill becomes us dwarfs to differ with such giants of yesterday.
Well does F. B. Meyer ask us: "Are we experimentally possessed of the Pentecostal enduement? Are we willing to pay the price of it?" Pentecost is on the church calendar but it is not the churches' condition. Moody declared in Boston: "See how He came on the day of Pentecost! It is not carnal to pray that He may come again and that the place may be shaken. I believe that Pentecost was but a specimen day. I think the Church made this woeful mistake that Pentecost was a miracle never to be repeated. I have thought, too, that Pentecost was a miracle never to be repeated. I believe now, if we looked on Pentecost as a specimen day and began to pray, we should have the old Pentecostal fire here in Boston." Now some of us may find fault with Moody's viewpoint, but remember he lived in Pentecost!
It was to this fulness of the Spirit that our Lord invited us on the great feast day: "If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, from within him shall flow rivers of living water." You will observe that our Lord sets forth here a simple process, a fivefold experience of thirsting, coming, drinking, believing and overflowing. If we are suffering from a defective experience of the Spirit it is because somewhere along that fivefold experience we have failed to appreciate or appropriate His Word.
Indeed, it is easy to see that most of us have failed at the very outset of this matter,—"IF ANY MAN THIRST." God has promised, "I will pour out water upon him that is thirsty" (Isaiah 44:3), but who is thirsty? I talk with Christians who say they want more power and joy and peace and victory. But within a few minutes they have changed to some other subject, and soon some other topic is being discussed, and one feels that the fulness of the Spirit is, with them, just one of a variety of themes for polite after-dinner conversation. We poor Americans have become so shallow and superficial along all lines that we never really go deeply into any matter; we flit like butterflies from subject to subject, and never even in dreams have seen the things which are more excellent.
"IF ANY MAN THIRST------" Just wanting a drink of water is not thirsting. We know nothing about thirst here in a land with water on tap at our elbows. Dr. Torrey tells us that he knew nothing of thirst until he was with soldiers of the Spanish-American war in camp, where dust filled the air day and night and where, as he put it, they ate dust, drank dust, slept dust and dreamed dust, and there was no water anywhere fit to drink. Again, he was in China when cholera was raging and he could drink no water on the boat, but drank soft drinks as long as he dared, then lay all night suffering with thirst and thinking of his well at Northfield, far away. Ask some missionary to tell you what thirst is, when every pore of the body cries, "Water, water, water;" when the desert seems to be inside of you, and the lips swell, and every desire, hope and thought is just concentrated in one burning fever for a cooling drink. That is thirst, not just a casual, ordinary, normal inclination to drink water.
Do we know anything about that sort of spiritual thirst? Has your soul ever panted after the fulness of His Spirit as the hart pants after the water brooks? We are inclined nowadays to discount the agonies of the John Bunyans of another day who were so consumed with a vehement thirst for deeper blessing that food lost its taste and sleep could not be had. A more comfortable route to Beulah land has been discovered, but it is doubtful that men fully appreciate the blessedness of living in the eighth chapter of Romans who have not fully realized the bitterness of living in the seventh. It is true that some of these godly men of old unduly neglected the flesh, but we have unduly pampered the flesh, and it is clearly evident on all sides that a shallow thirst has brought a shallow satisfaction. It is quite true that God puts no special value on tears and all-night prayers and fastings, but He does reward a thirst so intense that time and food are forgotten and tears are not repressed. Very few Christians rejoice today with the deep joy of salvation, because they a have never been deeply conscious of sin and, consequently, have no profound sense of deliverance. And it is just as true that few rejoice in fulness of the Spirit because, feeling self-sufficient, they have never known desperate thirst,—and one must thirst deeply to drink deeply. "I will pour water upon HIM THAT IS THIRSTY." Deep desire is followed by deep delight.
We live in a soft generation that lives on the surface and feeds at ethical soda fountains and spiritual delicatessen shops. If we are ever to know the profound, mountain-moving, soul-stirring torrents of living water surging upward into everlasting life, we must go deeper than pink-tea conversation and academic hair-splitting over theories of the baptism and filling of the Holy Ghost. We must join the company of men dreadfully, even though sometimes dismally, in earnest; who wrestled at Jabbok and came away with shrunken sinews but also as princes of God having power with God and men. The way to a personal and experimental Pentecost is not by a shallow and superficial prayer-meeting request for more power, easily uttered and soon forgotten; it is the road of a burning and blistering thirst that will not be denied; that importunes in spite of the mockery of feelings and the misunderstanding of friends and the misery of doubt and deadness and dulness until loaves have been granted from heaven and we have been set on fire to burn up for God. This road is not easy nor popular, and shorter cuts have been devised for those who will not pay the price; but, just as he who has forgiven most loved most, he who has thirsted most has been most deeply filled, and the fuller the fountain the mightier the rivers of living water that issue forth in torrents of blessing.
Pray, therefore, first of all, for a genuine thirst and a holy heartburn such as struck the Emmaus disciples of old; and look diligently into the mirror of the Word and wait patiently before the Lord that the Spirit may show you yourself in your awful need, your heart in its exceeding sinfulness, your life in its emptiness—that you may burn in raging fever and thirst for Him in His fulness.
Only then are you ready for the next move: "If any man thirst, LET HIM COME UNTO ME." There must be a drawing near unto the Lord, not only in prayer, but in utter and absolute surrender. Everything that offends must be renounced, and we must lay all we are and have at His disposal. Not only must all be surrendered but abandoned—for surrender is not abandon, we do not always leave with Him what we commit to Him. We must be sure that we seek His blessing not for personal enjoyment, not just to boast about it, but for power in service. Just as wives often pray for the conversion of husbands not to the glory of God but only that they may have better husbands, so believers pray for fulness of the Spirit and have not because they ask amiss, that they may consume it on their lusts.
Now this matter of consecration, or surrender, or yielding, is one of those favourite topics of Christian conversation, part of that coinage of our speech which has grown familiar with much exchange, and yet, for all the handling, few of us examine it closely or know what image and superscription it bears. Christians march glibly to the front in our churches to "lay all on the altar" just as sinners file forward nowadays to "accept Christ," and then complain for the rest of their lives that they cannot see that it made any difference. It is no wonder! The depths have never been stirred, and so the depths have not been filled! We recognize that consecration as well as conversion outwardly may be manifested as quietly as an autumn sunset, but when one follows up the results of hundreds of public confessions and consecrations nowadays, he wishes there had been more noise. For all the sermons about the still, small voice, it is also well to remember that the Acts of the Apostles who turned the world upside down is not exactly what one would call a quiet book!
Coming to the Lord Jesus Christ in utter surrender and abandon for fulness of the Spirit is a profound experience that is second only to conversion, and it is amazing how men can profess it with far less concern than they go forward to receive a college diploma or marry a wife. Many who claim to follow Him are of the mixed multitude and soon turn back (Exodus 12:38; Numbers 11:4). Some are soon drawn away because of the uncounted cost, the unburied corpse and the unforsaken circle (Luke 9:57-62). Our Lord does not commit Himself to such, for He knows what is in man (John 2:23-25). Others "rededicate their lives," but the "high places" are not removed (I Kings 15:14). Among others, the bushel of business and the bed of pleasure have not been taken from the candle of testimony (Mark 4:21). In one way or another, superficial. Christians come in shallow consecration, but they cannot drink deeply because, being still partly full of self, they cannot be completely filled with Him!
The whole matter goes back again to "IF ANY MAN THIRST." There is no way around that "if." Let a man thirst for water deeply enough and he will gladly renounce anything else for a drink. LET A MAN CRAVE THE FULNESS OF THE SPIRIT DEEPLY ENOUGH AND HE WILL GLADLY MAKE FULL SURRENDER. But this he must do, he must be emptied of all else to drink deeply of the Spirit.
And now the thirsting and the coming are followed by the drinking: "If any man thirst, let him come unto me AND DRINK." Right here many earnest seekers grow sadly confused. We are so confirmed in the "seeing-is-believing" viewpoint that it is not easy for faith to receive what sight does not first perceive. Anyone who has experienced conversion, receiving Christ by faith for salvation, ought have no difficulty with this further step. Just as we receive the Saviour for forgiveness and sonship, just so do we receive the Holy Spirit for power in service. Of course, the Spirit came at Pentecost in a special sense at the beginning of the dispensation. Also, He regenerates the believer and indwells Him (John 3:5, 6; I Corinthians 6:19), and by the Spirit we are baptized into the body of Christ (I Corinthians 12:13). The filling of the Spirit has been provided and should be ours from the very outset, but what is ours by provision is not always ours in conscious possession. Therefore, the Christian who, although saved, is conscious of lack of power and peace and joy must definitely appropriate the Spirit, receive the power, drink of the living water, just as he received Christ for salvation.
The Scriptures speak of being "baptized" with the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:5), "filled" with the Spirit (Acts 2:4; 4:31), of the Holy Ghost "falling" upon believers (Acts 10:44) and "coming" upon them (Acts 19:6), and of believers "receiving" the Spirit (Acts 8:17). Good men have differed greatly about the meaning of these terms. It has been pointed out that baptism is the act and the filling the result, just as a cup is filled when it is immersed. As usual, Christians have argued over the expressions more than they have enjoyed the experience. Just as we speak of regeneration as the work of God, and believing as the "under side"—our side of regeneration—so the experience of the Spirit's fulness is spoken of as a falling upon or coming upon believers from above, while the believer's part is, of course, the receiving. We cannot afford to minimize either side. There is much teaching today about "claiming promises" that would have us easily take what we want and go lightly along imagining we have it, only to realize down the road that we are acting a sort of glorified auto-suggestion and self-hypnosis. The emphasis is upon the subjective and not enough attention is paid God's side, the tremendous overwhelming from above. Many teachers discredit long prayers and waitings before the Lord, failing to see that, although sometimes they are false exercises, they are necessary to humble and quiet the believer before God and do indicate a real thirst. It is natural that this generation, not disposed to "wait" for anything, should prefer a quicker way to get the blessing with the least amount of trouble. But such short cuts tend to magnify the human side and obscure the stupendous truth that this blessing is God overwhelming men and submerging them in His flood tides of power, by which we become not mere pitchers to be filled but fountains sending forth torrents of living water. And the results of this teaching are evident today in rather tame experiences which, for all their receiving, seem poor products of Pentecost.
But it is also possible so to think of this blessing as a coming-down from above that men expect God to do it all, and so they wait and pray for what they should receive. When one genuinely thirsts, and has come to the Lord in utter surrender and abandon, and has waited until the depths have been sounded and the soul quieted, then we must drink, faith must appropriate the Spirit's filling. "Drink" is not passive, it is something we are to do. The thirsting man might contemplate and appreciate water set before him, might wait before it for "something to happen," but the next thing to happen is for him to drink. Here earnest seekers have lost sleep and fasted and beaten their heads on the floor, even as Whitefield lived for some time on sage tea without sugar, and coarse bread, and prayed one night under a tree in the coldest weather, and practiced severe austerities in vain until he learned to look unto Christ. Others have fancied that they must have rare experiences like Finney, with waves of feeling like electricity sweeping hungry nerves, and so have dictated terms to the Lord. All this is beside the point. There must come that definite moment of contact when faith takes what the eye cannot see. It takes both giving and receiving to complete the gift. All God's giving without our receiving would be an incomplete transaction. To come to Christ and drink, therefore, is to receive, after the antecedent conditions have been met—the filling of the Spirit as provided and promised in the Word. It should be a fixed and definite step at a certain hour and moment, a clear-cut act of faith regardless of feeling.
Dr. Torrey waited for days in his study until the Lord spoke to his heart, "The blessing is yours. Now go and preach." Dr. Len G. Broughton tells of attending a convention after he entered the ministry and was convicted of powerlessness. Invited to come forward to kneel and surrender wholly to Christ and by faith accept the blessing, he went and received. A friend asked how he felt. "I didn't ask for feeling," he replied, "I was asking for the Holy Spirit." "How do you know you have anything more than you have had?" "I know it," he said, "just as I know I have Christ; I know it by faith." He had gone for filling, not feeling, and he received.
On this feast day our Lord not only invited us to drink, but said further: "He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, from within him shall flow rivers of living water." "He that believeth on me" applies first of all, of course, to the initial faith in Christ for salvation, but it is also the secret of the Spirit-filled life. We are not only to drink of Christ in one initial filling of the Spirit but we are to drink and keep on drinking—"being filled with the Spirit"—and that is done by faith that continuously believes on Him and looks unto Him. Christ lives in the believer, and this life is lived "by the faith of the Son of God" (Galatians 2:20).
Here is the supreme difficulty with earnest seekers after the fulness of the Spirit. Many have thirsted, have come to the Lord, have surrendered, have received the Spirit's filling, yet they dolefully lament that they see no difference; it did not last, the peace and power have departed. The reason is evident: they drank but they have not kept on drinking. "He that believeth on me" means more than believing on Him for the first filling; it means a continuous believing, an off-looking unto Jesus day by day. The rivers of living water are not flowing because the fountain of the heart is clogged and choked with doubt. "YET BELIEVING, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory" (I Peter 1:8). "Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?" (John 11:40).
Right at this point we fail to walk by faith and try to walk by sight. For a few days after receiving the blessing it is easy usually to walk in the light of the new experience. But soon one is struck with a dull mood; he may withdraw something that has been committed, or fail to obey on some point; he may look away from Jesus to his own feelings, circumstances, problems; he may have expected one filling to carry him through; he may become self-centered and seek merely to enjoy the blessing instead of overflowing in blessing to others. At any rate, crisis is not followed by continuance, and we forget that the same faith which appropriates the blessing at the outset keeps on drinking, so that the fountain keeps on springing up and overflowing in torrents of living water.
Our Lord said to the woman at Jacob's well: "Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst: but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life" (John 4:14). We are accustomed to speak of ourselves as empty vessels, to be filled each day with the Spirit, but that is not Scriptural. We are not empty pitchers to be refilled each morning: we are fountains that should evermore be springing up and overflowing, and our part is not to come empty each morning to be filled, but so to abide in Him by faith that we shall continually, night and day, be active channels of His Spirit. We are empty only as we allow the heart to be choked with sin, so that the stream cannot flow. It is not service that exhausts our power so that we need replenishing; sin clogs the inflow and needs to be removed. We are never emptied because of the outflow of blessing but because of trouble with the inflow of power.
So, as we drink and keep on drinking by believing on Him, there is the blessed experience of overflowing: "From within him shall flow rivers of living water." This, our Lord said, is according to what the Scriptures had said. There is no such statement given verbatim in the Old Testament, but the blessed figure of the well-watered life runs throughout. "I will pour out my spirit upon you" (Proverbs 1:23). "A fountain of gardens, a well of living waters" (Song of Solomon 4:15). "I will open rivers in high places, and fountains in the midst of the valleys: I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water" (Isaiah 41:18). "I will even make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert" (Isaiah 43:19). "I will pour water upon him that is thirsty and floods upon the dry ground: I will pour my spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring" (Isaiah 44:3). "And the Lord shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not" (Isaiah 58:11). "I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh" (Joel 2:28).
Certainly the Scriptures describe for us a life continually-well watered and abundant, a fountain springing up and overflowing. But when one looks around at most Christian lives, he sees not gardens with waters that fail not, but dried-up and unproductive hearts living in a spiritual drought, with only occasional showers of blessing, perhaps at the annual revival. In the Acts it was surprising to meet believers who were NOT filled with the Spirit (19:1-7); now it is a surprise to meet a believer who IS filled with the Spirit!
And where is that exuberant joy of those who draw water from the wells of salvation? If these Jews at the feast could so rejoice over a hollow ceremony of pouring out water from Siloam that it was said "whoever has not witnessed it has never seen rejoicing at all," how hilarious should we be who drink of His living water! Leaving our figure of water for a moment, it is interesting to note that three times in the New Testament wine and the Holy Spirit are spoken of in the same connection. John the Baptist was not to drink wine but to be filled with the Spirit (Luke 1:15); the Spirit-filled believers at Pentecost were accused of being full of new wine (Acts 2:13); we are exhorted, "Be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit" (Ephesians 5:18). Wine changes the face, the walk, the talk, creates a commotion, and stimulates to hilarity, though it be a false joy; but the Holy Spirit fires the soul with heavenly wine and produces a holy hilarity. Immediately after reading in Ephesians, "Be filled with the Spirit" we read, "Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord" (5:19). There is the fountain overflowing with melodious joy!
It must ever be remembered that these rivers of living water must overflow in testimony and service. There is no reference to the blessing of the Spirit in the Bible that is not connected with its practical outflowing for the good of others. So long as this blessing is sought as an end in itself, it never can be obtained, because the purpose of it is to give power for service. It is not a true fountain that keeps its waters within itself and does not overflow. The primary purpose of His infilling is neither to make us holy nor happy, although it does both, but to empower us to testify and serve. If it does not issue in love for souls and testimony and faithful labour for the Lord, it is a false blessing. "Ye shall receive power, when the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be my witnesses" (Acts 1:8, R.V.).
Some think the gift of an evangelist is the mark of every Spirit-filled believer. Some think every one who has received must have a spectacular experience like Finney's, and fall into a trance or see visions. Others expect a certain rush of feeling or ecstasy of joy, and are disappointed when they must go on "dry faith," trusting the plain promise in the Word. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal, the Spirit dividing gifts to every man severally, as He will. We are not to dictate to Him the manner of His manifestation. It may take the form of a wonderful joy or a vision. It may issue in a quiet peace. We may see the evidence in new freedom in preaching or testimony, in greater results in soul-winning. There will be a manifestation, you may be sure of that. But ours is to drink and then believe the work is done because of the statement of the Word, leaving God to give the witness when and as He will.
The dissatisfaction so evident among Christians today arises, therefore, from many causes. Some have never really thirsted, so the satisfaction is shallow. Others have thirsted but have not come in utter surrender to the Lord or, if they have, they have not abandoned what has been committed, or else they have withdrawn something that was committed. Others have never taken the definite step of drinking, by faith receiving the filling. With some the fountain has become clogged by disobedience at some point, by failure to read the Word and pray, and by looking away from Christ to self. Others have sought the blessing for personal enjoyment, or have wanted some peculiar manifestation which the Spirit was not pleased to give. And perhaps by far the most have thought that one experience would automatically take care of everything from then on, instead of daily believing on Christ, yielding to Him, abiding in Him, keeping the channel clear so that Spirit may ever well up and out in rivers of living water. There is no experience which will, as if by magic, relieve us of the need of moment-by-moment looking unto Jesus, for then we would not need faith.
If the experience is defective, it is always because somewhere along this road of thirsting, coming, drinking, daily believing and overflowing, there has been neglect or disobedience. The doctrine is true: the defect lies somewhere in the lapse of duty.
Observe, finally, that the Spirit within the believer is "a well of water springing up into everlasting life." Just as Christ in us is but the hope of glory, greater glory to come (Colossians 1:27), and as the Spirit is the earnest of our inheritance, foretaste of more to follow (Ephesians 1:14), so the Spirit-filled life ever increases from joy to joy, from power to more power, until it comes to perfection in heaven. "Spiritual life springs up toward its own perfection in eternal life." The Spirit-filled believer abounds more and more, day by day, in holiness and love and testimony and service, ever rising toward the glorious consummation in glory. "The path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day" (Proverbs 4:18).
There is all the difference between this life of conscious power and peace and victory and the cheap "believism" current today,—as much difference as between the pouring out of the water from Siloam and the living waters of the Lord. This is no vague experience of trying to imagine that one has what it is more and more evident that he does not have. Whoever has known vividly this consuming thirst, who has come and received by true faith, not an easy assent to a fact, will find that the Spirit will soon bear witness with his spirit to the reality of the transaction. The confirmation will come: it may not come immediately; it may not come in blinding, dazzling fashion; it may not come in the manner expected or desired; but come it will if we drink and keep on drinking by simple faith in Him. Mind you, we are distinctly promised that we shall not thirst again (John 4:14). If we have received and are still drinking, and the channels are clear, we shall never thirst again. That part of the experience need never be repeated. Meet His simple conditions, and you will be conscious day by day of His Spirit welling up into everlasting life and flowing out in rivers of living water. "Up" and "out," those are the two directions of His power, upward ever toward perfection, outward ever in streams of blessing.
Hear Him Who still stands among the hollow ceremonies of earth, the futile outpourings of water from Siloam, calling, "Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters." "Let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely." (The Secret of Christian Joy)
Context is always critical for accurate interpretation in Bible study, but is especially important to set the stage for Jesus' dramatic invitation in John 7:37-39. Therefore it is important to be familiar with the historical and cultural context of the Feast of Booths (Feast of Tabernacles, Feast of Ingathering, Festival of Shelters, Festival of Tabernacles, Sukkoth, Sukkot). We will begin with the Biblical command to Israel to celebrate this feast and then look at the extra-Biblical descriptions.
In Leviticus 23 Moses records God's commandment to celebrate the Feast of Booths which was to began on the 15th day of Tishri (the 7th month), which was five days after the Day of Atonement. ...
The Feast of Booths was a memorial ordained by God to help Israel remember how He had graciously and tenderly cared for them during their 40 years of wilderness wandering. In Exodus 16 Israel grumbled against the Lord and He provided them with meat and manna (Ex 16:12-13) to satiate their hunger and water to quench their thirst. In Exodus 17 we read of the Jehovah's provision of water in a no water environment which created a deep physical thirst in the people of Israel...
The dedication of Solomon's Temple took place at the Feast of Tabernacles at which time the Shekinah glory of Jehovah also dramatically appeared. One cannot help but see in these events a foreshadowing of the time when Jesus (Who displayed "glory as of the only begotten from the Father" = Jn 1:14-note) appearing in the Temple area at the Feast of Tabernacles some 900 years later in John 7:37-39!.
Even before the destruction of Solomon's Temple by the Babylonians, the glory of the Jehovah departed from the house of the LORD (Read about this progressive departure in Ezekiel 8-11 - see especially Ezek 8:4, Ezek 9:3, 10:4, Ezek 10:18-19, Ezek 11:22 and the last description of God's glory in Ezek 11:23 = "The glory of the LORD went up from the midst of the city and stood over the mountain which is east of the city." - Click for pictorial description of the departure of the Shekinah Glory). As an aside Ezekiel envisioned not only the departure but also the return of God's glory returning to the Millennial Temple (Ezekiel 43:2-5). However before this will be fulfilled in the future, we note that the glory did return for a brief time in the presence of Jesus (Jn 1:14-note), but Israel "did not recognize the time of their visitation." (Luke 19:44) Jesus' statement in Luke clearly indicates that the nation of Israel (especially the religious leaders) should have been able to discern the time when the Messiah was coming the first time!
After the 70 years of exile in Babylon, a portion of the Jews returned to Jerusalem. At this time Ezra read from the Book of the Law about the celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles (Neh 8:1-11). Read this great section of Scripture, which records the returning exile's great reverence for the Word of God and the impact the Word had on their hearts! O Father, might this to be the Spirit wrought effect in every church, every time the Word of Christ is read and explained! Amen. Indeed, the Word of God is living and active and cutting! Heb 4:12-13.
In Nehemiah 9 after reading "the book of the law of the LORD their God for a fourth of the day" (Neh 9:3), the Levites offered up a long, profound prayer (Neh 9:5-38) of praise to God, including praise for His provision during their wilderness wanderings...
In the NT, Paul explains God's physical provisions in Exodus 16 and Exodus 17 were a foreshadowing of God's spiritual provision in Christ (cp Col 2:16-17) writing
Thus Paul explains that the SMITTEN ROCK in Exodus 17 was in fact a type of Christ, “a SPIRITUAL ROCK which followed Israel; and the ROCK WAS CHRIST.” (1Cor 10:4) Fanny Crosby pictured this NT fulfillment writing "Though my weary steps may falter, And my soul a-thirst may be, Gushing from the ROCK before me, Lo! A Spring of joy I see." Amen! Just as life giving waters flowed from the rock smitten by Moses to quench the thirst of a multitude, the smiting of the rock prefigured the life giving waters that flowed from Christ's pierced side (Jn 19:34-note), providing "LIVING WATER" to many, the Rock Himself declaring that "whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life." (Jn 4:10, 14-note). All who drink of this water may joyfully sing "I've got a river of life flowin' out of me. Makes the lame to walk and the blind to see. Opens prison doors, sets the captives free. I've got a river of life flowin' out of me. Spring up Oh Well. Within my soul. Spring up Oh Well And make me whole. Spring up Oh Well And give to me That life abundantly." (P. Wickham)
The Jews were required to attend 3 festivals each year, Moses recording that...
Jewish Encyclopedia on etrog - Etrog is the Hebrew name of the citron fruit of a tree of the orange and lemon family....The etrog is used with the "lulab" at the Feast of Booths or Sukkot. Of the four species of plants enumerated in Leviticus 23:40, on which the carrying of the lulab is based, tradition takes "the fruit of splendid trees" (ESV)...to designate the citron....It is evident from Josephus and the Talmud that the custom of carrying the lulab and the etrog was well established in the time of the Maccabees.
Jewish Encyclopedia on lulab - Name given to the festive palm-branch which with the Etrog is carried and waved on the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot). The three constituents of the lulab are: (1) a shoot of the palm-tree in its folded state before the leaves are spread out this must be at least three handbreadths long, so that it may be waved, and must be bound round with a twig or tendril of its own kind (2) three twigs of myrtle of the species which has its leaves in whorls of three and (3) two willow-branches of the kind of which the wood is reddish and the leaves are long and entire (Suk. 29b, 32b, 34a). In the Temple...The use of the lulab is closely connected with the reciting of the Hallel (Ps 113-118). In the Second Temple it was waved during the recitation of the passages expressive of thanksgiving or prayer...After the additional sacrifices of the day had been offered the lulab and etrog were carried in procession around the altar in the court while Ps 118:25 ("O LORD, do save, we beseech You; O LORD, we beseech You, do send prosperity!") or the refrain, was chanted....The ordinance of the lulab is derived from Leviticus 23:40 : "And ye shall take you on the first day the fruit of goodly trees, branches of palm-trees, and the boughs of thick trees, and willows of the brook: and ye shall rejoice before the Lord your God seven days." Aside from the palm-branch and the willows the passage does not specify what shall be used and the interpretation of the "fruit of goodly trees" and the "boughs of thick trees" to mean the etrog and myrtle respectively, as also the precise manner of using the four species, rests on tradition
Sukkot (Festival of Booths ["tabernacles" Leviticus 23:34 Deuteronomy 16:13 ]), lasting seven days, from the fifteenth to the twenty-second of the tenth month (Tishri), the first day being a holy convocation. For seven days offerings had to be brought (Numbers 29:13 ), the eighth day being also a holy convocation ("' Aẓ eret" Numbers 29:35 ). Labor ceased on the first and eighth days. This feast was also known as "Ḥ ag ha-Asif" ("the festival of ingathering" Exodus 23:16 ). The celebration was marked by the erection of booths, in which to dwell during seven days, and by the waving of palm-leaves with the fruit of the "' eẓ hadar" ("goodly tree" Leviticus 23:40 ). See Tabernacles, Feast of .
Kent Hughes on the celebration associated with the Feast of Booths - Rabbinical literature tells us that each morning great multitudes would gather at the Temple of Herod. They would come with a citrus fruit in their left hands, known in Hebrew as an etrog. The etrog was a reminder of the land to which God had brought them and of their bountiful blessings. In their right hands the people would carry a lulab, which was a combination of three trees—a palm tree, a willow, and a myrtle, emblematic of the stages of their ancestors’ journey through the wilderness. Each morning the people gathered together, and after the priest was sure everything was in order, he would hold out a golden pitcher. The crowds would then follow the priest to the Pool of Siloam, chanting some of the great Psalms and waving their lulabs in rhythm. As they approached the Pool of Siloam, the priest would dip his pitcher into the water,] and the people would recite some beautiful words from Isaiah 12:3-note: “With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.” (Editorial Comment: The Hebrew word for salvation is yeshuah derived from yasha which means to deliver gives us the Greek name "Jesus" = transliteration of Hebrew Yeshua - 03091. And so this sentence could be read: "You will joyously draw water from the springs of Jesus!") Then the crowd would march back to the temple, entering through the Water Gate to the blast of the priests’ trumpets. The priest would then circle the altar once, ascend with accompanying priests to the platform, and pour the water out. This was a daily event.
Isaiah recalls God's kindness and His gracious gift to ungrateful grumblers...
The historian Josephus referred to the Feast of Booths as the holiest and greatest of all the Jewish feasts.
The Jewish writings in the Mishnah help us understand something of the prevalent joyful mood and celebratory atmosphere of the Jews in Jerusalem at the time of this great festival...
“The pipes [were played sometimes on] five [days], and [sometimes on] six days. This means, the pipes [music] played on during the water-drawing, which does not supersede either the Sabbath or the festival. They [the sages] said, "He who has not witnessed the rejoicings at the water-drawing, has, throughout the whole of his life, witnessed no [real] rejoicing." (Mishnah Sukkah 5.1)
So clearly the Feast of Booths was a time of great joy for the Jews in Jerusalem.
How was the pouring out of the water? A golden pitcher, that held three lugs was filled with water from the [brook] Siloah. When they came [with it] to the water-gate, they blew a blast, a long note, and again a blast. The priest then ascended the stair [of the altar], and turned to the left; two silver basins stood there. R. Jehudah saith, "they were of gypsum [stucco], but had a dark appearance from the wine." Each was perforated with a small hole, like a nostril [at the bottom]. The one [for the wine] somewhat wider, the other [for the water] narrower, that both might get empty at once. The one, to the west, [was used] for the water; the other, to the east, for the wine: but if the water was poured into the wine basin, or the wine into the water basin, it was legal. R. Jehudah saith, "They poured out one lug on each of the eight days. To him who poured out the water the people called, 'Raise thy hand;' for once it happened that one [priest charged with this duty] poured the water over his feet, and all the people pelted him to death with their citrons." (Mishnah Sukkah 5.1)
Lev 23:36 ‘For seven days you shall present an offering by fire to the LORD. On the eighth day you shall have a holy convocation and present an offering by fire to the LORD; it is an assembly. You shall do no laborious work.
Andrew Lincoln - In the first century CE (the Feast of Booths) celebrated the completion of the harvest and was associated with God’s guidance of Israel when the people lived in tents during the wilderness experience at the time of the exodus, but it had also become linked with the salvation God would provide at the eschaton (cf. Zech. 14:16-19)....The chief element in the celebration would have been the making of booths, in which the men slept and ate during the first seven days. On these days there was a procession to the Pool of Siloam to gather water and four large menorahs were set up in the court of the women, providing light to enable the celebrants to dance there through the night. Both the water/rain and the light imagery are taken up in the depiction of eschatological salvation in Zech. 14:6–8, 17. Both kinds of imagery would also have been linked with the provision offered by Torah. Here in John the former will be applied to Jesus in chapter 7 and the latter in chapter 8. The manna or bread, also associated with Torah, has just been depicted in chapter 6 as embodied in Jesus and the thematic sequence of the Christological application of bread, water and light imagery makes sense of the present arrangement of chapters, despite the geographical disruption caused by placing the material of chapter 6 between the Jerusalem controversies in chapters 5 and 7. (The Gospel according to Saint John, Black's New Testament Commentary)
The Hebrew word ṣukkāh is rendered in the King James Version as "booth" or "booths."
Booths (05521)(sukkah from sakak = to weave together) meant a shelter, a hut, a booth or a thicket. Sukkah described temporary shelters for animals (Ge 33:17), soldiers (2Sa 11:11), prophets (Jonah 4:5). In Lev 23:42-43 it refers to the booths constructed for the harvest feast, the Feast of Booths (Hebrew transliterated = hag [feast] hassukkot), which was held in the Fall (15th of Tishri - late Sept to Oct - see table for the Seven Great Feasts of Israel)
The Feast of Booths is often referred to as “the feast/festival” (without using the word "Booths" or "Tabernacles") (1Ki 8:2, 65, 12:32, 2Chr 5:3. 7:8, Neh 8:14, 18, Ezek 45:25.) The dedication of Solomon’s temple took place during the time of this festival and so it points to the importance of this feast (1 Kgs 8:2, 65–66). The location of the feast is now “at the place the LORD will choose,” and this probably indicates the centralizing of Israelite worship in the Jerusalem temple (Deut 16:15).
TWOT - Most commonly, (sukkah) is used in connection with the Feast of Tabernacles. Once a year the Israelite left his home to tabernacle in a “booth,” made from tree branches (Lev 23:34ff.). The feast marked not only the joy and thankfulness of a grateful people for God’s provision at the end of the agricultural season (Lev 23:39–41), but was to be a perpetual reminder (Deut 16:13ff.) to the people of God’s care for his own whom he had rescued from Egypt during those long years in the wilderness (Lev 23:42–43). The feast was closed by a day of rest, featured by a holy convocation, marking not only the climax of the religious year but symbolizing the rest of the believer in his God (Lev 23:39). Prophetically, the feast finds final fulfillment in that grand day when God will raise up the fallen booth of David (Amos 9:11) and give shelter to his repentant, redeemed, and re-gathered people (Isa 4:6). (Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament)
TWOT on the derivation of sukkah - The basic meaning of the root (of sukkah) is that of blocking, or stopping up something....This important root is productive in both a physical and figurative sense, particularly with the idea of “covering.” In the former sense, it was frequently used in the building activities relative to the sacred places of worship. The cherubim’s wings were to cover the mercy seat in the tabernacle (Ex 37:9) and the temple (I Chr 28:18). A veil screened off the ark and the mercy seat which were located within the holy of holies (Ex 40:3, 21). The participial form yields the denominative sōkēk, a covering erected to protect besiegers from the defenders’ missiles (Nah 2:5 [H 6]).In a figurative sense, it pictures God’s protection for the one who comes to him for refuge (Ps 5:11; cf. Ps 91:4; 140:7)....
The Septuagint often translates sukkah with the noun skene which described temporary, easily moved lodging places (tents, booths) for nomads. It is fascinating that this same word (skene) describes our "eternal dwellings (skene)." (Lk 16:9). Skene was also used to describe the "portable sanctuary," the Tabernacle (Ex 27:21, 29:4, Lev 1:1, Heb 8:5)
Sukkah - 29v - Ge 33:17; Lev 23:34, 42-43; Deut 16:13, 16; 31:10; 2 Sam 11:11; 22:12; 1Kgs 20:12, 16; 2Chr 8:13; Ezra 3:4; Neh 8:14-17; Job 27:18; 36:29; 38:40; Ps 18:11; 31:20; Isa 1:8; 4:6; Amos 9:11; Jonah 4:5; Zech 14:16, 18-19 and translated in the NAS as - booth(1), Booths(9), booths(8), canopies(1), canopy(1), hut(1), lair(1), pavilion(1), shelter(4), temporary shelters(3).
The following Scriptures use sukkah in the context of the Feast of Booths or Tabernacles - Lev 23:34, 42-43, Kt 16:13, 16, 31:10, Ezra 3:4, Neh 8:14-17 and in the Millennial (see descriptions of this glorious time) reign of Messiah - Zech 14:16, 18-19.
The first use in Genesis 33:17 is interesting as the related proper noun Succoth is used twice - "Jacob journeyed to Succoth (derived from sakak), and built for himself a house and made booths (sukkah derived from sakak) for his livestock; therefore the place is named Succoth."
In Psalm 31:20 we see God's promised protection for the righteous - "You hide them in the secret place of Your presence from the conspiracies of man. You keep them secretly in a shelter (sukkah; Lxx = skene) from the strife of tongues."
Isaiah uses sukkah to describe the time of Messiah's reign on earth (Isa 4:1-5-see discussion of "in that day") when He promises that "There will be a shelter (tabernacle - sukkah) to give shade from the heat by day, and refuge and protection from the storm and the rain." (Isaiah 4:6-see note) In Amos, Jehovah uses sukkah to describe the time in the Millennium when "I will raise up the fallen booth (sukkah) of David, and wall up its breaches; I will also raise up its ruins and rebuild it as in the days of old." (Amos 9:11 - note the abrupt change of emphasis from Amos 9:10 from doom to hope! Prophecy of destruction gives way to prophecy of restoration for Israel [Amos is not speaking of the Church but the nation of Israel!] - cp Acts 15:15-17) John MacArthur writing on Amos 9:11-15 notes that "Millennial blessings await the final faithful remnant, when Messiah personally reigns over all nations in Jerusalem upon the throne of David, and the Jews are never again pulled up from their divinely inherited land." (Study Bible)
Abridged Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew-English Lexicon on sukkah - thicket, booth (prop. of interwoven boughs) — 1. thicket, lurking-place of lions (cf. [סֹךְ] 1). 2. booth, crude or temporary shelter, for cattle (distinct fr. בַּיִת), but also for warriors in the field; for watchers in vineyards (sim.) (sim. of frailty), for man’s shelter from sun; poet. of fallen house (dynasty) of David; of clouds as (temporary) enclosure of ˊי in storm. 3. specif. of booths, made of boughs, in which people lived at harvest-feast, hence called חַג הַסֻּכוֹת.,
Holladay on sukkah - 1. thicket, as lion’s den Job 38:40;—2. hut made of branches & mats: a) in vineyard Isa 1:8, shelter fm. sun Isa4:6; for cattle Gen 33:17, travelers Lev 23:43, military camp 2Sa 11:11; metaphorically for those fearing God Ps 31:20; David’s empire = Am 9:11; b) ag hassukkôt, feast of huts (trad. transl.: of booths, or of tabernacles) Lv 23:34