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These five short verses bring into sharp focus the promise, prophecy and ministry of Messiah, God's covenants with His chosen people, and the importance and role of the Church in God's timeline. Can we clearly articulate the place of Israel in that timeline and do we fully understand our significance as "the temple" and as "living water" in God's story of redemption?
The Light that will Put You on the List: How to be One of the Most Spiritually Powerful People Today
My Favorite Bible Story that's not in the Bible
The Division, the Defense, and the Duty: Breaking the Spiral of Silence
John 7: The Bible Collapses Here
The Decision that Leads to Division: Who is this Jesus?
The Sovereign and All-Satisfying Jesus: Will You Follow Him?
The Most Grumbled About, Argument-Inducing, Difficult, Disciple-Losing Message Jesus Ever Taught
What Must be True in Our Lives if We are Going to Say "Christ is Enough"
The Danger of Loving the Provision More Than the Provider
The Perfect Shepherd. For Green Pastures and Violent Waters.
A number of you guys have commented how fun it's been these last number of weeks with John 6 and John 7. We're just going verse by verse, and we're staying really right there in John and teaching and learning about that and not bouncing a lot of other places. Well, you're going to hate this morning, because we're going to be everywhere. We're going to be all over the place. I want to tell you, John 7 is where your Bible collapses.
There are a number of places in each of the Gospels where you really see the Old Testament. I love the statement, "The New is in the Old, concealed, and the Old is in the New, revealed." In other words, the mystery of what God has been up to is revealed in the New Testament. The mystery of what he's going to do is concealed in the Old Testament.
What you have in John 7 is a moment that if you understand your Bible, you're going to go, "Oh my goodness. Look at the genius of what God is doing. This isn't just him pulling tricks out his pockets the last moment and trying to get something accomplished. This is what he said would happen."
We're going to look again at some verses we touched on last week. I'm going to show you how this is the fulfillment of all the covenant intentions of God throughout the Bible. I'm going to show you the most important text to know in your Bible, how everything from this moment fans out when this original covenant was given, and how Jesus in John 7 is saying, "These things that you've always longed for, Israel, are happening now in me,"
I'm going to show you how it relates to you, a (largely) non-Jewish audience, and I'm going to do it in 30 minutes. It won't be 30 minutes, but I'm going to do it. Here we go. John 7:32. This is what it says. "The Pharisees heard the crowd muttering these things about Him…" What are these things? "Could this be the Christ? Isn't the guy they were looking for? I wonder why they're not killing him. Maybe it's because they think he's the Christ. When the Messiah comes, will he do greater signs than this guy has done?"
So the Pharisees go, "Red Alert. This guy who might be the Messiah [the people think] is telling the people that we are false shepherds." Folks in control don't typically like to be told that they shouldn't be in control, or the way that they are leading is a failed way of leading.
What they did is they called the Roman centurions who were always encamped and intensely supplied and resourced all around Jerusalem during the festival seasons because you would have an invasion of Jewish people from all over the land of Israel. They would come as good faithful Jews would, and the Romans did not want there to be insurrection against the vice-regent of Caesar.
Herod was there. Pilate would come down. All these different individuals were gathered right there in Jerusalem, and the Roman centurions were called in by the religious leaders saying, "We know you guys really are kind to let us worship this way, and we told you there wouldn't be trouble."
"This guy is causing trouble. Go get rid of him." So they went, and they were going to get Jesus and seize him and pull him out, so the folks didn't get all stirred up. Jesus then said this in verse 33. "For a little while longer I am with you, then I go to Him who sent Me. You will seek Me, and will not find Me; and where I am, you cannot come." Jesus often when he's teaching is saying things in a way that both have a physical reality and a deeper spiritual meaning.
"The Jews then said to one another, 'Where does this man intend to go that we will not find Him?'" The only thing they could think of is that he was going to go to what is called the diaspora or the dispersion. All the places the Jews went during the persecution. Out of the holy land to the "unholy land." That they would go where the Gentiles live.
Jews wouldn't even walk through Samaria, which is this little region between the southern part of Israel and the northern part up there where half-breeds were, where Jews had intermingled with some of the conquering nations that had come. They were half-Jew, half-Gentile (mixed race). They were so holy that a good Jew would cross over the Jordan, go up over on the east side of the Jordan, and then would cross back across the Jordan up to the top into Galilee. They wouldn't walk through Samaria.
They said, "Where Jesus is going to go is not just to the Samaritans. He's going to go all out to where the Gentiles are. That's where we're not going to follow him, because we're not unholy like he must be because he's getting run out here by the religious righteous people who are Jewish. And Jesus said this.
They said, "They're not going to go teach the Greeks, is he? He's not going to take his message to non-Jews, is he?" What's the answer to that? Oh, yes. He is. The people who the Messiah was intended for have rejected the Messiah. So what you're going to find out is that the Messiah is now going to go, and he's going to preach it to whoever will listen.
God's going to bless other people the way he intended to bless the Jewish people. Through the blessing of the Jewish people, everyone else was supposed to figure out who God was. But since the Jewish people rejected their provision and Messiah, the one who would reconcile them back to God and bring about in them a spiritual blessing that would have physical realities tied to it, he would take those spiritual blessings to others.
So, in effect, we are dancing with Israel's date, and we're having a good time at the party. We're rejoicing, and we have great hope. What is to happen is the Israelis, the Jewish people, are to go, "Why are they so glad? Why are they so connected to Yahweh? Why do they have the covenants and the promises? That was ours? God says in Romans 11 that there is a partial hardening of the Jews.
In other words, during this season, by and large, you could show this to the Jewish people, and they'll just go, "No. He was not the Messiah. Largely because the rabbinical teachers don't believe that Jesus did the things that the Messiah should do because they were looking for physical blessing, physical deliverance, among other things. That's not the entire story, but by in large, that is the story. They think Yeshuawas a heretic and a blasphemer.
Jesus just said, "Here's the deal. There's going to be a thing, the sign of Jonah, where I'm going to be swallowed up in death for three days and darkness and then come back to life and light, and then I'm going to preach to you and offer you repentance. If you respond, even as I save the Ninevites, I will save you."
Largely, during what's called thetime of the Gentiles, see all the church age, most Jews are not responding to the gospel. This is in Romans 11:25-28. You can go look at it. It says, "When the time of the Gentiles is fulfilled, he will reconvene and reconstitute his work with Israel." I believe it will be through the gathering of the church. It'll be through the time of Jacob's great trouble and distress.
God is going to go back and do what he always said he would do. So we're going to preach the gospel to Jew and Gentile alike. The church today is made up of Jew and Gentile alike. There is no longer enmity between the two groups of people, but they are one in Christ. Largely, we are 95 percent non-Jew, and there will be a day when God's people on earth will be largely Jewish.
Watch this. "I am going to go to the Gentiles." The other place that Jesus was going to go is to be with the Father. "You can't go to the Father because you're rejecting God's provision to get you to the Father." This is Jesus explaining to the Jews why he was going to take the message of salvation to the Gentile.
That's exactly what Paul did when he was here. He went to the Jew first. They typically rejected his message except for a few righteous Jews (Messianic Jews, completed Jews are some of the names that they're called today). Then he said, "Okay. Now, I'm going to go to other children, and I'll go out to the highways and byways, to the lame, the crippled, those who are without God and without hope in the world," This is what Ephesians 2 says.
This is the moment in John where you're about to see the introduction of the importance of who we are today in God's kingdom program. It's also the place that you'll see that God had in mind way back in the original covenant blessing that he gave to Abraham, who is the Father of the Jews. So in John 7, this little moment, he said, "You can't go because you're rejecting God's means of righteousness." He then says this great line right there. "You're going to seek me, and you're not going to find me, and where I am, you cannot come."
Then he comes, and he says, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink." I'm going to show you what that means biblically. He said then in verse 38, "He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, 'From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.'" God says if you believe in Jesus, something is going to materially change inside of you. Not only will your thirst be satisfied, and you won't be walking around like everybody else in the world, looking for fulfillment in body image, relationships, physical pleasure, material comforts.
You might have relationships, you might have material comforts, but those aren't going to be your god, and you're going to use those relationships as a means to declare the way God loves relationships. You're going to use material comforts as a way to serve other people in the same way that God sought you in relationship, the same way God used his abundance of righteousness to provide for you and resource you with what you didn't have.
Because you're going to be conformed to the image of his Son, be informed by that same Spirit, in you will be miraculous works. It says right there in John 7:39, "But this [this well he's talking about] 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." In other words, the Spirit of God was present dwelling in the person of his Son.
Jesus said, "It's better for you that I leave because when I leave, I will send to you the Helper, the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Christ, the Spirit of truth. He will indwell all those who believe. You don't need to be with me to experience the goodness and greatness of God. God will be with each of you and dwell in you.
Then because he will dwell in you, greater works than these, greater works than I have done, you will do. Not necessarily in kind, but in amount or in distribution because it won't be just God working through Jesus. It'll be God working through the believers everywhere. There will be life-giving truth in water, if you will, that quenches the thirst of men flowing in all the people."
Do you see what he's doing right here in John 7? Now let me walk you through very quickly. There is, in Genesis 12:1-3, probably the most important text in your entire Bible, because everything that happens from that moment on starts in Genesis 12:1-3. It is the first time it's expounded on and enlarged a little bit later.
It is the Abrahamic covenant. I can usually tell how well somebody knows their Bible if they can take me to Genesis 12 and explain to me what God what was doing in the Abrahamic covenant. By the way, John 7 doesn't make enough sense unless you know Genesis 12. Here's what Genesis 12:1-3 says.
"Now the LORD said to Abram, 'Go forth from your country…'" By the way, you're going to hear this a little bit later. "Go into all the worlds and make disciples. Bless the world." We are now, during this season, to do what God always intended Israel to do and one day will do through Israel.
"And from your relatives and from your father's house[from everything you hold near and dear and you find your comfort in; you find your comfort in me]to the land which I will show you; and I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great; and so you shall be a blessing…"
God says three things right here. "I'm going to make you a great nation. I'm going to give you land. I'm going to give you a great name. You're going to have favor with all of the people." Do you see that happening right now with all of the Jews? No. They are hated as a nation. There have been more UN resolutions of protests and of rebuke given to Israel than all the other Arab nations combined. They are anything but having favor with all the people.
I'm going to tell you why. They rejected the one who, when they reconciled to him, will give them what God said to Abraham he would give them one day. Watch this. Great nation, great name, and great blessing will come. He goes on to say, "And I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse. and in you all the families of the earth will be blessed."
You might look at this and go, "He doesn't look like he's pulling that off, Todd. I believe in the infallible and inerrant Word of God, but I'm a little confused because it doesn't look like he's doing it." The reason God is not, right now, doing what he unconditionally promised Abraham he would do is because they rejected the means through which God said he will do it. God put conditional promises underneath his unconditional covenant.
He said, "I'm not going to bless just anybody. I'm going to bless a holy people. I will drive you out of the land if you don't live this way. I'm going to let a descendant from David reign forever if you live this way." Two conditional things that were put under an unconditional covenant. But what does God do? He comes and meets the conditions of the unconditional covenant so he could do what he said, unconditionally, he would do.
This is very important. The reason Israel today is not experiencing the blessings that God said they would is because they are not meeting the conditions of the covenant that God said they must meet, which he unconditionally promised them. You go, "Well, how can you put conditions on an unconditional covenant?" Answer. You meet those conditions yourself in your perfect kindness. "It's never been about what you do. It's about what I do for you. It's about my great name, not your great works."
What is Israel? Israel is a nation that was named after Jacob. Who is Jacob? The grandson of Abraham. Jacob's name means to grab up or trip up at the heel. Jacob was always trying to bless God by himself, and God gave him a dream one night. He said, "Jacob, this is not about what you're going to do. It's about what I'm going to do for you."
Do you remember that little Jacob's ladder? Jacob put his head in a rock and befell the house of God, and he had a vision that they were ministering spirits that were coming down to him and providing for him and taking care of him. All he needed to do was trust in God. Not manipulate uncles, not manipulate brothers, not seek the blessing himself. Just receive the blessing by grace through faith, and they would be saved.
But the Jews, just like their daddy, just like most of us, think that God wants us to perform, and when we perform well, then we'll get the blessing. God told us how we must perform. The performance standard is so overwhelming you should just go, "Why even try? I can't do that. He said to be holy and to be perfect. I'm not holy; therefore, I'm not perfect. So I'm already out."
God said, "Guess what. How about if I come, the eternally perfect one, and live perfectly for you? How about if I take the wages of the sin that you commit on me, so I can perfectly fulfill the covenant, perfectly fulfill my justice, and perfectly love you?" You go, "Well, if you did that, you would be a great God, I would love forever, and I would be blessed beyond speaking." It's going to be a win/win/win for God, and a win/win/win for us.
He's going to get the glory, and we're going to get the benefit of him being a great God. That's exactly what the Bible teaches. This is not a system of rules for you to work your way to heaven. This is a systematic revealing of the great and glorious God that you could never appease on your own. To the Jews, it is foolishness, and to the Gentiles, it's a myth and a mockery. But to those who believe, it is the power of God for salvation.
Do the Jews belong in the land that they live in today? I could give a whole message on this, but I'm going to give you 10 seconds. Are you ready? Jerusalem is the Jews' forever. It is unconditionally promised to them. However, ownership of Israel is the nation of Israel's. It's a much bigger land.
We're not going to argue over the Golan Heights and the Gaza Strip. It's bigger than that. It's going to pipe itself all the way over to the Euphrates, all the way over to the Babylon, all the way over to Iraq, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon. All of those…Israel in the future state. That won't get you very far at the United Nations. That land is eternally theirs by the decree of God. They own it.
Now, watch. Careful. Ownership unconditional; occupation conditional. Jerusalem and Jews were never told, "You can act however you want and do whatever you want to do, and I'll leave you in that land forever." God said, "No way. I'm not going to bless an unholy people." How can people be holy? Answer. Only through God's provision.
Jews right now don't believe that God's provision is what will keep them in that land. They think it's treaties with America, they think it's science, technology, and advancement. They have not yet turned to their Messiah. This won't get me very far with my Jewish friends, but there is another displacement coming. Why do I say that? Because I read my Bible, and God's batting 1.000 so far.
It won't be good. It won't be glorious. We're going to love the Jews in that land. We're going to love the Palestinians in that land. We're going to preach to both of them about Jesus, just like Jesus preached to both of them of himself. But ownership unconditional; occupation conditional. When you don't meet those conditions, God says, "I'm going to raise up Godless nations around you who will drive you out until you learn to trust in me. It's all coming."
Genesis 12 talks about how he's going to bring a blessing. Then in Galatians 3, you find Paul explaining how Jesus was the means through which he was always going to bless people. "The Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, 'ALL THE NATIONS WILL BE BLESSED IN YOU.'" What Paul is saying is the gospel is right there in Genesis 12.
I did a whole 16-week series on Galatians. Go get you some. I taught on this. In Galatians 3:16, watch this. "Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed." The Greek word, see if you've heard this before, is sperma. Let me just say this. This is a bit of a funny argument because you'll watch if you go back and look at Genesis 12, if you go back and you look at Genesis 13 and Genesis 24 where it talks about how Abraham and to his descendants, that the Hebrew word is zera`, which is a word that is always translated as seed.
When you talk about seed, and you want to talk about one seed, what do you call it? That is a seed. When you talk about a bunch of seeds that you're going to plow and put all over a field, what do you to call it? Go get the seeds? No. It's still what? Seed. It's one of those words that singular and plural, and context determines everything.
What Paul is doing with the benefit of the Holy Spirit, is he's saying when he told you that he was going to give you a sperma (a seed), he was talking singularly there. It's really interesting. You go back and look. In most of your Bibles, it's going to say, "Descendants." Here's the truth. All the seed (plural) are going to be blessed through all the seed (singular).
The reason he used that word is he was talking about a singular seed. By the way, Jews, we all know, rabbis (this is Paul's argument in Galatians 3), we've always been looking for a singular sperm that would come forward, that would be the Deliverer and the Messiah. So from the very beginning, God told you there would be a singular male.
Go even further than Genesis 12. Go back to Genesis 3, right when there was a fall. That there's going to be enmity between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent. The people of the world, and the people of God. It says that he will strike you on the heel.
It says, "But he [now talking about a singular male pronoun] will crush the head of the serpent." One sperm that will implant one egg, and the sperma will come from God himself and will be placed inside a virgin. That child will be born, and he will deliver a nation, and all the nations of the earth will be blessed by him."
Do you see the genius of what's going on right here? That's Galatians. Now, watch this. In Galatians 3:16, "Scripture does not say, 'and to seeds,' meaning many, but 'and to your seed,' meaning One, who is Christ." Here's what you have to know about your Bible. There is the unconditional promise of God in Genesis 12. "I will bless you, I will give you a great name, I will make you a great nation. Those who curse you, I will curse, and those who bless you, I will bless."
By the way, I was in a bookstore in downtown Jerusalem, and I came across this t-shirt. It's pretty good. I think I have a picture of it. Israel, still knowing the goodness of God, says this. Civilizations, nations, empires that have tried to destroy the Jewish people. Ancient Egypt. Where are they? Gone. Philistines. Anybody here gone on vacation to Philistia? They're not around. Assyrian Empire. Gone. Babylonian Empire. Gone. Persian Empire. Gone. Greek Empire. Gone. Roman Empire. Gone. Byzantine Empire. Gone. Crusaders. Gone. Spanish Empire. Gone. Nazi Germany. Where is it? Gone. Soviet Union. Gone.
It sounds a lot like Genesis 12 to me. "Those who bless you, I will bless. Those who curse you, I will curse." America, by the way, has been at the forefront of laboring with Israel. Where we get ourselves ourself in trouble is when we say, "Israel can do whatever it wants, [we don't say this, by the way], and we're going to protect them."
I don't want to protect somebody God says doesn't deserve protecting, but I will be always pro-Jew, pro-Israel, and because I'm pro-Israel, I will call them to account to be a holy people and to recognize their Messiah. Make sure you separate ownership of the land from occupation of the land.
I will tell you, by and large, when you look at the way that Israel is treating their neighbors and the neighbors are treating Israel, they're doing much, much better, by and large. But better is not the standard. Perfection is. God is going to let them know that even though there are people in nations more wicked in number than them, God's going to use them to chastise, rebuke and refine Israel until they recognize their Messiah. It's just like what happened in the book of Habakkuk. It's going to happen again.
Here we go. After the Abrahamic covenant, you have what is called the Palestinian covenant. Go read Deuteronomy 28-30. Know Deuteronomy 28-30. It's when God says, "You're about to go occupy this land. This is what you have to do to keep it.
Go read 2 Samuel 7, where you have the Davidic covenant where there will be always a descendant of David sitting on the throne forever. That's why Jesus is traced back to the tribe of Judah through David. He will be the one who will reign forever. He is the fulfillment of the David covenant, but David was told, "Your boys have to roll this way."
The conditions of Deuteronomy 28-30 are not being met. The conditions of 2 Samuel 7 are not being met, so what do you do? You raise up one who will meet those conditions and make it possible for those conditions to be met so God can be just and a justifier of those he loves. That will be done through what is called the new covenant which God unconditionally promises will come to Israel.
You have to know Jeremiah 31:31 and following. This is what makes John so rich. Jeremiah 31:31. Watch this. "'Behold, days are coming,' declares the LORD, 'when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt…'" What covenant was that? The Palestinian covenant.
"'…my covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them,' declares the LORD. 'But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,' declares the LORD, 'I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.'"
"I will give them a new operating system. I will give them a new central programming unit. I will teach them to think with a holy spirit and not an unholy spirit. I'm going to give them relationship with me." So he goes and says, "'They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,' declares the LORD, 'for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.'"
What people today does God forgive their sin and remember their sin no more and separate it as far as the east is from the west? Answer. Folks who have found their satisfaction in the Messiah. What did Jesus say on the night on which he was betrayed? "Hey, boys. Every time there's a new covenant cut, there would be an animal, there would be blood that would shed. It was a blood covenant.
He said, "This whole Passover thing that points to a hope that is to come… It's me. I'm the perfect Lamb. I'm about to have my body broken and my blood shed. It's going to institute the new covenant that you, reconciled to me, would experience what you've been looking for in Jeremiah 31, which takes care of the need they created in 1 Samuel 7, Deuteronomy 28-30, just like Paul said back there in Genesis 12." Do you see how it's collapsing here? Pretty amazing stuff.
It makes you want to read your Bible and go, "Who wrote this book? Who is working his plan through history? Whose story is this?" It is his story. The story of the greatness of God and the redemption of man. All through God's glorifying work which praises his justice and his kindness. If you have a God, shouldn't he be those things? That's the God you've dreamt of. That's Jesus.
Ezekiel 36. Watch this. The other place you have to know about the new covenant. This is the covenant that Jesus was referring to in John 3 when Nicodemus was told that you have to be born again. He goes, "How can I crawl back into Mom's womb?" He goes, "No. You were born once by water, but you have to be born by Spirit."
Watch what he's going to say. Ezekiel 36:22: "Therefore say to the house of Israel, 'Thus says the Lord GOD, 'It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for My holy name…''" Why did God choose Abraham? Because Abraham was a good dude? Because of God's holy name. He was going to reveal himself through a people. " … which you have profaned among the nations where you went. I will vindicate the holiness of My great name which has been profaned among the nations…"
Then God is going to give you seven "I will" statements. He's going to say, "I will. I will. I will. I will. I will." He doesn't say you're going to do anything. God is going to. Watch. Verse 24: "For I will take you from the nations, gather you [back] ." The dispersion will be gone. Verse 25: "Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness…"
Verse 26: "I will give you a new heart… I will remove the heart of stone…" Verse 27:"I will put My Spirit within you…" The blessing of the new covenant was that God would not reveal his greatness through acts of deliverance and power through the presentation of his Spirit through miracles. "The miracle will be that I will dwell in you, and you will be a new people. The world will look at you and go, 'Who are you, people?'"
Do you want to see a great biblical theme? There are in the Bible seven tabernacles. There are seven fountains of living water. Let me just walk you through the tabernacles. Places where God dwells and reveals his glory. I wrote them all down. Same thing as I always do. Watermarkradio.com or get the Watermark app on your iPhone or Android or other smartphone device.
Seven temples. Count them. The tabernacle in the wilderness. That's where God dwelled. Temple (Solomon's before the exile). The temple that was rebuilt after the exile. Zerubbabel started it. Herod finished it. Then you had the Spirit of God dwelling and living in Christ. He said, "You tear down this temple, and three days later, I will rebuild it."
Remember, in Ezekiel, there was this moment where the Spirit of God left the temple? He was gone. After the exile, they came back, and they didn't follow him again. The Spirit of God was not there. The temple was there, but God didn't dwell amongst his people. Then all of sudden, the Spirit of God showed back up in the person of Jesus. He walked into the temple, and he said, "This is my house. The Spirit of God now dwells here again in me. You can destroy me, and three days later, I'll build this temple again."
They missed it. "How are you going to rebuild this thing? It took Herod 40 years?" He said, "Watch. Read the entire book of John, and I'll show you." Then there's a blank there. I'll come back to that one. Then there's the millennial temple that is talked about in the book of Ezekiel and other post-exilic prophets.
Then there's the eternal state where it says God himself will dwell. It says that the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are there. That is its temple. The entire universe will be the holy land. There's one missing. What's missing right there? By the way, you could well say it's like a menorah. A menorah has how many candles? Seven perfect rays of light, and Christ is the center. He is the brightest and superior light where the Spirit of God dwells.
Seven living springs of water. Let me show you these. You have one. You have the river of life that came in Eden that went out and blessed all the lakes and rivers of the world. You have the rock in the wilderness that, it says in 1 Corinthians 10:4, was Christ. He was there at the beginning of the exodus, at the end of the exodus. Christ was with them throughout that entire journey, and life-giving water flowed in the desert.
In Jerusalem, the Pool of Siloam. You have this aqueduct in the middle of the city that provides life all throughout the valley and that runs down and should fertilize all the plains. You have Christ in John 4:10, who says, "Woman, if you knew who it was who asked you for a drink of water, you'd ask him for water. He would give you the kind of spiritual water that when you drank it, you would never thirst again." John 7. We're looking at it right here. "If anyone is thirsty, come to me and drink."
Then there's a blank right there. I'm missing number five. But then we have the millennium. It says, "Water's going to go out from Jerusalem." During the millennial reign in Ezekiel 47, it says, "So much freshwater will come as a trickle that goes from the temple. It goes down through where the Pool of Siloam is, down through the Kidron Valley, all the way down through En Gedi, and it will go. There will be so much freshwater coming out of Jerusalem [the sign of life] that the Dead Sea will become a freshwater lake." Go read your Bible.
Isn't that just like God? You take the most lifeless sea in the world and lowest point on earth, so much salt content it is dead… You can go in the Dead Sea. There's a picture of me floating in the Dead Sea on my back reading a paper (just like every tourist that goes there). The buoyancy of the water is so great, you will not sink. You cannot go underwater in the Dead Sea. You can't drown if you wanted to. You float it has so much salt content.
God says, "I'm going to put so much freshwater in this land, this desert region, that the Dead Sea will be the freshest-water lake in the world." Who can do that? God. And the Jews can't wait for it. It's interesting. Science, technology, and irrigation. If you started to go down that way, that desert region now is starting to be fertilized, and they go, "Look what science is doing. It's providing for us what God said in the Bible would be done." I'm going, "Oh, bro. You have no idea what God intended to provide for you."
In Revelation 22, "Water flowing down from the very throne of God will be dispersed to the nations as a constant physical reminder of the greatness and glory of who he was." But I gave you seven temples, seven rivers of life-giving water, but I left out the fifth in both of them. Do you know why? What's the fifth?
It's what happened in Acts 2 when the Jews, who had rejected Jesus, Peter then began to preach the gospel and some Jews, but people from the dispersion who were all there, who had come back, began to believe. When they believed in Jesus, whom Peter preached about, he sent what he said he would send when he left, which is the Spirit of God, which dwells in the hearts of those who believe.
So you have a partial fulfillment of Jeremiah 31, Ezekiel 36, and Joel 2. I didn't have a chance to go to Joel 2, but that's the other place. It says, "This is what's going to happen." You go through, and you read Joel 2, and you go read Ezekiel 36 and Jeremiah 31, and you look at what we, the church, has claimed has happened to us. We have a relationship with God, and his Spirit dwells in those of us who believe, and from us, our life-giving water that goes out. It is a partial fulfillment.
One day God will do it completely for Israel the way he said, but right now, the question is…Does our Messiah look like a messiah? Is our thirst quenched, or are we still running around looking for somebody to give us a drink through porn, through material success and popularity and fame, through comfort, through ease, through manipulation, through dominance?
Or are we people who others come to us and say, "You refresh me. The way you love me, forgive me, lead me, help me… You are life-giving water." That is, if we throw up the seven temples, 1 Corinthians 6:19, 1 Corinthians 3:16. "Do you not know that your body is the temple of God, and the Spirit of God dwells in you?" You are John 7:38-39. "If anyone believes in me, there will be a well of life-giving water that will come out of him."
How are you doing? John 7 and who Jesus is pivots on whether or not people who believe in Jesus have what Jesus says they should have. What he says is the Jews rejected him. The church made up of Jew and Gentile, but largely Gentile until the fulfillment of the time of the Gentiles is complete, and the partial hardening of the Jews is done…
He said, the church ought to be the place where there is abundant blessing, who in times of great trouble, our lives do not wither. We have hope beyond our circumstances. We are people who sing at funerals. We are people who have a life coming out of us that doesn't require law. He says, "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control. Against these things, there is no law."
God doesn't need to legislate against those things. What defines your life, church? If there's immorality and impurity and divination and selfishness and greed, the world is going to look at you and say, "You don't look like you're a very life-giving people. You look just like us. So your Jesus must not be the Messiah."
John would tell you that Jesus thought the same thing. "By this, men will know you're my disciples. If you love one another. Even as if I have loved you, so you should often love one another by your unity, by your care for each other. That we would be one; even as the Father is one with the Son, the Son is one with the Father. That they would be one that the world might know that I am sent by you."
This week, I just sat with some folks, and I said, "Let's just talk about it. Is there life-giving water coming around here?" We went through, and after about 30 minutes, we shut it off. It was overwhelming to hear the stories of what God has done. I will tell you that this Jesus Messiah is actively working through his church through a number of you people who are faithfully responding to him, abiding with him, and walking with him. Those who are giving generously, leading selfless lives.
It is happening. There is a kingdom of priests here who are a blessing to the world. The new covenant and the dwelling of the Spirit in us is creating a miraculous hope to many, many people. We went through story after story. We talked about how folks have come to Christ here.
Those who used to be heroin addicts who are now working back down in the same city where they used to be a menace, disciplining men, tearing down crack houses through Second Saturday, rebuilding and discipling men who had been in prison. Guys who themselves were down there causing trouble to the city are now bringing life to it because of Jesus. Those same men are with other men here taking them… A guy who's had a lifelong addiction to crystal meth is now here, life being changed, being discipled by this ex-black tar heroin addict.
We talked about how foster kids are being brought into our family here and loved. Folks who aren't foster parents have been trained to be okay to babysit for foster parents to give them a break. One of my friends said she took him to the Arboretum. Kids who come to Watermark now with their foster family.
I'm at the Arboretum with these kids who have come through unspeakable horrors, and these kids are talking about God, quoting Scripture and singing songs like this. "I've got the river of life coming out of me. Make the lame to walk and the blind to see. Opens prison doors, sets the captives free. I've got the river of life flowing out of me." Kids who are finding hope and peace and joy and celebrating who God is because of the redemption that's come to them. How? Through his people. Life-giving water.
Story after story. I don't have time because of where it is. I was going to list about 30 of them. But I want to close just with this one. This last Monday, I went to Wichita Falls, where I buried a friend of mine, Dana Finch. Her sister goes to our church (sweet Perri and her husband). Dana's life was amazing.
We all talk about being a Proverbs 31 woman. Dana was. She didn't have a gutter-to-glory conversion story. When she was 19, she trusted Christ until she was 49. She lived faithfully for 30 years. She loved her husband. She said, "I want to be a godly woman who marries a godly man who raises godly kids and leaves a godly footprint on my society." She did it.
She is a woman who had three boys. She was raised in a house of all girls. She said, "If I'm going to have boys, I'm going to get involved in their life." One after one, her three kids stood up there and talked about her. They talked about the way she got involved in their lives and engaged with them. She gave herself to them, loved them, loved their friends.
There was an open door policy at their house. If that doorbell rang, Dana would stop what she was doing. She would run and say, "Don't you ever ring my door again. This is a house that is always open, and when you come here, you're going to be loved. This is your home." The boys talked about how all their friends would love to come over to their house because Dana was there.
Dana so loved her community and so loved her family and friends. Scott and she had such a unique relationship. I'll tell you it was unique. It brought a great deal of conviction to me in the way I'm loving my bride, in the way I'm modeling for the world this river of life in me. When Dana died on November 3, her boys and her husband and close family just stood there and clapped. Literally, they didn't say anything. They just applauded over her as she went to glory.
Then the boys at that funeral said, "Proverbs 31:28 says, 'Her sons will call her blessed, and her husband will praise her also.'" At that funeral, we just stood and gave her a standing ovation. The pastor, who did it, said, "How many women in this church have been disciplined by Dana Finch?" Pop. Pop. Pop. Pop. Pop. Pop. Pop. Pop. Pop. Over 100,000 folks would read her journey about how she said this cancer is God's cancer, and I will glorify him in it.
She lived such a holy life that in the middle of Friday Night Lights in Wichita Falls, Texas, a public high school didn't just have a moment of silence; they stopped because Dana invested in that community, and they gave glory to her God, and they prayed in her God's name at this public school because of the gift of life that had come through Dana Finch.
I thought to myself, "Isn't that how it's supposed to be?" That's John 7. How are you doing? Is the river of life coming out of you? Is he taking this life, which was formerly a life of terror and menace, and are you rebuilding and tearing down strongholds in this city? Just like the Gerasene demoniac who was naked and roaming among the dead and crazy, all of sudden clothed, in his right mind, and sitting at the feet of Jesus.
That's you. When you do it, the Jews are supposed to look at you and go, "Who are you people who love us and who love the God of Abraham?" We say, "We are the fulfillment of what your father said would happen to your father, Abraham. Come and get it. You can find it in Jesus.
Father, I pray this church would be that place. We don't want to just come here and look at the Bible. We want to come here and meet Jesus. We want to come here and be reminded of who he is. He is the good one. He is the one who crushed the head of the serpent, so the wages and curse of sin would not be on us.
He would take away the spirit of death and put in us a new spirit, a spirit of life, which would be a source of glory to the world, against which there is no law, because we love. We are gentle. We are filled with self-control. Immorality, impurity, and greed are not named among us because we have taken on the character of our Father. We are being conformed to the image of his Son.
O Father, thank you that even though we don't do this perfectly, you have forgiven us, but may we repent every time we don't do this as we should. May we live lives that when we die, the world goes, "We just lost another messenger from God, another well has been put out." But Father, thank you that if we do our job while we are here, through us, other wells will be drilled, other life-giving vessels would be created.
People would come to know Jesus. We would disciple them and teach them to walk with our Messiah, the Promised One, so that life would spring forth from them. Lord, we thank you for this day that we can be reminded of who we are. That we have been called out of darkness into your marvelous light, that we might proclaim his excellencies to a watching world.
So we now run with you with a marvelous light, the living well, inside of us. Us, people who are the temple of God, wells of living water, through the pinnacle of the menorah, Jesus Christ. May we give glory to him in all we do. If there are any here who have never received that gift, would they come before they leave that they might know this life themselves? In Christ's name, amen.
Who was Jesus Christ? A mythical man created to give a false sense of comfort after we die? Some sort of character that enables us to justify our own choices while simultaneously giving us the power to judge others? Or was He something much bigger? God, in the flesh, walking and living among His creation. A sinless man who became the sacrifice for our sins. The Gospel of John is more than Christology 101. It is an invitation to a living and active faith in Jesus Christ. Come join us on this life-changing journey through the book of John: the story of Jesus Christ.