Have you ever stopped and taken a good look at a map of the Holy Land? If you have your Bible handy, chances are that you have such a map in the back. Take a good look and what you’ll find are two prominent bodies of water connected by a river. These two bodies of water are the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea, and the river, of course, is the Jordan. OK, so aside from learning a bit of geography, what does it benefit us by looking at this map?
God often uses the physical to teach us about the spiritual. We are, after all, physical beings and so we naturally learn by observing what we can see, hear, taste and touch. Jesus used many physical analogies relating to the agricultural society of His time. One of the more well know of these is the analogy of the Vine and the Branches. Jesus likened Himself to a vine and we, Christians, to branches. He spoke of the branches "bearing fruit" or spiritually thriving, only if they remained part of the Vine; in other words, in close contact with Christ.
Water Pictures God's Holy Spirit
Jesus also spoke of the Holy Spirit in physical terms that we could better understand. During one of God's annual festivals, He compared the Spirit to "Living Water". "On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, 'If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He that believes in me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.' But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in him would receive, for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified " (John 7:38-39). What is the lesson of "living" water and how can a map of the Holy Land help us to remember it?
In Jesus time, the Sea of Galilee was known for its fishing. It was here that Jesus found the brothers Peter and Andrew and told them He would make them fishers of men. Today, it is still known for its great fishing, one of the most abundant bodies of water on earth. But the Dead Sea is another matter entirely. Seven time saltier than the ocean, the Dead Sea is just that - DEAD! There is virtually no life to be found in it. Why the difference between these two lakes, both fed by the Jordan River?
The Lesson of the River
Look closely at the map of the Holy Land. Look at both of these lakes and in particular, examine the flow of the Jordan River. You will notice that the Jordan originates in the mountains of Lebanon. It then flows into the Sea of Galilee and then it flows out again, on its way to the Dead Sea. But notice, the Jordan only flows into the Dead Sea. There is no outlet! It's a dead end!
Living water has to flow, it cannot remain stagnant of it will die. Likewise, God's Holy Spirit is given to the Christian not only for his benefit, but that it may flow out to others. If this precious gift from God is not used to express outgoing love and concern for your fellowman, it will die within you. The apostle James had another way of putting this, "Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead" (James 2:17). So the next time you happen to look at a map of the Holy Land, remember that the blessing of God's Holy Spirit does you no good unless you keep it flowing!
January 15, 2001