GETTING IN OVER YOUR HEAD
Ezekiel 47:1-12 (NKJV)
The Healing Waters and Trees
1 Then he brought me back to the door of the temple; and there was water, flowing from under the threshold of the temple toward the east, for the front of the temple faced east; the water was flowing from under the right side of the temple, south of the altar.
2 He brought me out by way of the north gate, and led me around on the outside to the outer gateway that faces east; and there was water, running out on the right side.
3 And when the man went out to the east with the line in his hand, he measured one thousand cubits, and he brought me through the waters; the water came up to my ankles.
4 Again he measured one thousand and brought me through the waters; the water came up to my knees. Again he measured one thousand and brought me through; the water came up to my waist.
5 Again he measured one thousand, and it was a river that I could not cross; for the water was too deep, water in which one must swim, a river that could not be crossed.
6 He said to me, “Son of man, have you seen this?” Then he brought me and returned me to the bank of the river.
7 When I returned, there, along the bank of the river, were very many trees on one side and the other.
8 Then he said to me: “This water flows toward the eastern region, goes down into the valley, and enters the sea. When it reaches the sea, its waters are healed.
9 And it shall be that every living thing that moves, wherever the rivers go, will live. There will be a very great multitude of fish, because these waters go there; for they will be healed, and everything will live wherever the river goes.
10 It shall be that fishermen will stand by it from En Gedi to En Eglaim; they will be places for spreading their nets. Their fish will be of the same kinds as the fish of the Great Sea, exceedingly many.
11 But its swamps and marshes will not be healed; they will be given over to salt.
12 Along the bank of the river, on this side and that, will grow all kinds of trees used for food; their leaves will not wither, and their fruit will not fail. They will bear fruit every month, because their water flows from the sanctuary. Their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for medicine.”
Ill. This is a millennial vision ( see The Book of Revelation). Prophet Ezekiel is envisioning a time when the Lord will bring about absolute healing in the nation of Israel. A time when the river of God’s grace and blessing will flow from His throne and will refresh the promised land. While this prophecy is for the nation of Israel and will be literally fulfilled one day, there is application here for us tonight.
By way of introduction, allow me to share the following personal illustration with you. Many years ago, when I was just a small child, I went with my family to a certain place to swim. I was about 6 or 7 at the time and had taken 2 or 3 years of swimming lessons and I was pretty confident that I could swim in the deeper water. So, if my memory serves me correctly, I ran to the area where the deeper water was and plunged in. Things went well for a time, but after a few minutes, I was tired from swimming. Too tired, in fact, to get myself back to shore. I remember struggling in the water and I remember going under. I also remember the distinct feeling that I was going to die. However, a much older and far more experienced swimmer came to my rescue and pulled me out. What I learned as a young child was that one should be careful about getting in over one’s head.
I would like to ask you a question. How many of you can honestly raise you hands this evening and tell me that beyond any shadow of a doubt, you know that you are exactly in the center of God’s will and that you are right where God wants you to be in your spiritual growth? Any takers? I didn’t think so!
The truth of the matter is, we all have plenty of room for improvement! That’s what this sermon is all about this evening. It’s about becoming more of what the Lord God wants each of us to be. It’s about leaving the shore of stagnant, disappointed Christianity and wading out into the deep spiritual waters of the born again life.
You see, what has happened in the modern church is that many have become far too cautious about giving their all to Jesus Christ. I really believe that there are many in the church tonight who are afraid of getting in over their heads.
Let’s take a few minutes this evening to look at Ezekiel’s prophecy. I want you to notice three aspects of this prophecy that apply to you and me this evening. What I would like to do tonight is to help you learn to wade out a little bit deeper for Jesus.I would like to see you get in over your head tonight!
I. V. 1-2, 6-12 EZEKIEL’S VISION
A. He Saw A River – this river is type of the Holy Spirit, John 14:16-18. There are three ways in which this river represents the Spirit and His work in the life of the believer.
1. In Its Source – The throne of God. The Holy Spirit, like this river, came directly from the Father’s throne.
2. In Its Course – From the altar. Notice that this river came from the altar, or the place where sacrifice was made. The Water of Life, the precious Holy Spirit comes directly from the altar of Christ’s sacrifice, the cross – Matt. 20:28. The Holy Spirit came only after the death of Christ on the cross, John 16:7.
3. In Its Force – Notice four great things about this river that made it very special. These four things make the Holy Spirit special as well.
A. It had no Feeder Streams – There was no need for any thing to flow into this river to give it force, size and power. When at left the throne, it possessed all that it needed.
(Ill. The Mississippi in the United States is less that 3 feet wide where it begins, but after all the feed streams flow into it, it becomes a mighty river. God’s river needs no feeder streams).
(Ill. What I mean is this, God doesn’t need the world, anything that is in it, and He certainly doesn’t need me and you to get His work done here in this world. God supercedes us! He supercedes this world and He will get the job done in spite of you and me. His Mighty River needs no feeder streams!)
B. V. 8 It could Heal – This river made the sea water pure when it flowed into it.
(Ill. The deadly effect of drinking sea water. It will kill you!)
(Ill. I am talking about a river that has the power to heal this evening. I am talking about the power of the Holy Spirit in your life and mine. He can heal broken hearts. He can heal broken lives. He can heal broken dreams. He is a Spirit who flows with healing power tonight. I challenge you to bring that which is broken to the Lord Jesus and watch Him heal it by His DIVINE POWER! (Ill. Matt. 11:28; Luke 4:18 Jesus can take a life broken by sin and through the working of His Spirit, bring healing to that soul and glory into the heart of that life that was the slave of sin!).
C. V. 9 It could Revive – Everything this river touched was transform with its life giving power. Notice that verse 9 tells us twice that everything the river touches will live (LIVE)!
(Ill. When the Spirit of God moves into a life, there will be a renewal. When God moves in, He will change things! He can take that which was dead and make it live, Eph. 2:1-4. He can and will give a drink of the water of life that will produce everlasting life and eternal satisfaction in the life of the believer.)
(Ill. By the way, the Holy Spirit is what our modern churches need if we are going to see revival and the power of God in our midst. We need to learn to welcome Him and not be afraid of His power in our midst.)
D. V. 12 It could bring forth Fruit and Freshness – Everywhere this great river flowed, fruit sprang up.
(Ill. So it is with the presence of the Holy Spirit. When He moves is, His presence will be manifested by fruit and freshness in the life of the believer, John 7:38-39; Gal. 5:22-23.
(Ill. Contrast this fruit with that of the flesh (human self)!)
(Ill. All of these things picture the work of the Holy Spirit in saving and using the believer for the glory of the Lord. When our eyes are open, it is easy to see where the HOLY Spirit is moving and working.)
E. He Saw – Sadly, many hear the Gospel call, John 1:29, and they see what the Spirit can and is doing in the lives of others, yet that is as far as they get! However, that isn’t far enough to save them. Many, many see the river flowing by, but they never get wet! For this river to do you any good, you have to get into it, John 3:7. (Ill. The Ethiopian Eunuch – Acts 8:36-37).
I. Ezekiel’s Vision
II. V. 3-4 EZEKIEL’S VENTURE
(Ill. As the man in Ezekiel’s vision measured the river, he carried Ezekiel along with him. As a result, the prophet was led into every deepening waters. God wants to do this same thing in your life tonight! Notice how Ezekiel’s venture speaks to us as believers this evening.)
A. Ankle Deep – This represents the step of faith that saves the soul, Acts 16:31, Psa. 34:8. It is truly great to be saved, but it isn’t the end! Yes, He brought us out, but He also wants to lead us on much deeper. Many stop right here and never go one step farther with God. There is much more to being saved than just getting saved!
(Ill. This is where the waders stay! Those who get saved and refuse to grow in the Lord are just dabblers. They spend all of their time in the shallow end of the pool afraid to wade out deeper in the waters. They miss the blessings of the deeper life. These people are in total, absolute control of their loves.)
(Ill. Have you ever watched the children in the kiddie pool? They remind me of a lot of church members this evening. Always yelling and screaming, wanting somebody else’s pool toy. Doing their best to splash someone and push someone else under. Sounds just like many of the folks in our churches today, doesn’t it?)
B. Knee Deep – The knees speak of prayer. This represents a life that is learning dependence upon the Lord. This is the person who prays and trying to live their life in faith before the Lord, Heb. 10:38. Many never reach even this shallow level of maturity in the Lord. You need to remember, however, that no person will ever stand taller than he does on his knees!
(Ill. Those who are at this level know something of the power of the river. They can feel its power as it rushes past, but they aren’t really affected by it. They are still standing on their own 2 feet. They are in control of their lives and aren’t being supported by the river.)
C. Loin Deep – The loins are emblematic of strength. This speaks of spiritual power in our lives. When one has waded out waist deep into the river, more of the river and less of the man is seen, Ill. John 3:30. When we have waded out this far, we can feel the power of the river, and others can see its effect on us, Eph. 6:10. This level of maturity is rarely reached, but when it is, you can’t hide its effects in your life! It will tell on you! As deep as this level of spiritual growth is, it is still not as deep as we can go!
(Ill. The few who are at this level of spiritual maturity, have lost some control over themselves. They are often picked up by the river and moved a few feet at a time, but still, they are close enough to the shore to be able to stand if they need to. They are still in control.)
I. Ezekiel’s Vision
II. Ezekiel’s Venture
III. V. 5 EZEKIEL’S VICTORY
(Ill. At this point, Ezekiel has reached a place where the river is in control. It takes him where it will. He has no power over his destination. He is at the mercy of the river!)
A. This represents the highest spiritual level that any believer can reach in this life. (Ill. Couldn’t pass over! It just doesn’t get any deeper than this!)
B. There are three reasons why I can say that this is the deepest you can ever get as a Christian.
1. When you are this deep, you have gone beyond your own ability – Ill. Ezekiel was at the total mercy of the river. (Ill. Far too many like the safety of the shore.) The person who has reached this level of spiritual maturity has moved beyond himself and has placed himself under that control and command of God.
(Ill. This is what true spiritual maturity is all about! It is about coming to the end of ourselves and realizing just how big this thing really is, and that there is no way that we could ever do it on our own. We must come to the place where we realize who is in control! Phil. 4:13.)
2. When you are this deep, you have ceased to support yourself – (Ill. Ezekiel was no longer wading, he was just resting. He wasn’t in charge, he gave himself over to the power of the river!) Ill. This is where God wants to bring you and me to. He wants us to reach the place where we learn to rest in Him and allow Him to support us and carry us through this life. It will no longer be you trying to run around and get things done, it will be you resting in the power of the Holy Spirit watching the Lord conduct His business as He caries you along with Him.
3. When you are this deep, you have given yourself up to the will of the river – (Ill. Ezekiel was going to go where the river took him) This is how the Lord wants us to be. He wants us to loose sight of ourselves, our goals, our ambitions, our dreams and He wants us to be totally, 100% surrendered to Him and His will for our lives. God is looking for total and absolute surrender from you and me, Rom. 12:1-2.
4. When you are this deep, you are just happy to be carried by the river – The Will of the river becomes your will also. This is where we are all commanded to be – Eph. 5:18; Gal. 5:25; 1 John 2:6. (Ill. Basically, Ezekiel was all wet! He was into something that was way over his head. That, my friends is where God wants to get you!)
Do you know what the secret to real revival is? It is nothing more than for God’s people to get to the place where they are as deep in Him as they can get! That’s what it is!
It isn’t for that ankle deep crowd! Those knee deep folks will get a ripple every now and then. Even those who are out there to the loins won’t feel the force of God’s power like they should.
It is only when we throw ourselves on the mercy of the river and allow the Spirit of God to have the absolute right of way in our lives that we can experience true and genuine revival.
Now, I want you to notice 2 things that are so deep and profound that you may have missed them during this message.
1. Notice this statement in verses 3 – 4, “He brought me through the waters.” Some of you are holding back on total commitment to the Lord this evening because you are afraid that if you fully sell out to Him that you will drown. God will never let you down! Some of these saints in the Bible have walked through some mighty deep waters over the centuries and God brought them all out! Amen!
A. Job, Job 1-2
B. 3 Hebrews, Dan. 3
C. Daniel, Dan. 6
D. The Disciples – John 6 (Feeding the 5,000 and the storm!)
My friends, what the Lord did for them, He will also do for you! (Ill. Isa. 43:2; Isa. 45:7)
2. The deeper you go, the harder it is to jump out – When you are in the kiddie pool, you can jump in and out whenever you feel like it. Even when you are knee deep and loin deep, it is just a short hike back to the safety of the bank. However, when you have placed yourself at the mercy of the river, it’s a whole lot harder to get back out again. What I am saying is that an ever deepening spiritual life is a hedge against failure. Get in as deep as you can with the Lord Jesus Christ!
Just how deep are you this evening? Are you still in the shallows? If so, wade on out, because the water is fine! Besides, you can’t do the backstroke in the kiddie pool! You’ve got to get out there pretty deep to get where your feet no longer touch the bottom. What are you going to do? Some of you have never even gotten into the water. Make tonight your night to give it all up to Jesus. Will you do it?
Hallelujah! Praise the Lord!