The view from the river bank
Then he led me back to the bank of the river (Eze 47:6)
Ezekiel 47 is a great picture of getting deeper into the water of life, the waters of the Holy Spirit, which now flow from within us. In verse six of this chapter we see something, which at first sight seems a bit strange. Having led the prophet to the point where he was so deep in the river that he was out of his depth, the Lord leads him back to the bank of the river.
Now we know that God's desire is for us to have a lasting anointing in the Holy Spirit. We are exhorted to keep in step with the Spirit, and thus continually have life in the Spirit. God was not saying to Ezekiel (or to us!) "That's deep enough now, you can come out." It was for another purpose altogether that he was led back to the bank. It was to see the view.
It was only once the prophet had been deep in the river, that he could see the view from the bank. It was a view that showed him all that life in the Spirit achieves. He saw the sea become fresh, the great catch of fish, and the trees that produce fruit and have leaves for healing.
God wants us to lead a life continually immersed in his river of life, but he also wants us to understand the big picture: all that the Spirit-filled life is meant to achieve.
"But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)
The purpose of a Spirit filled life, is not ultimately for our blessing, though we will get blessed! It is so we can be effective witnesses for the Lord.
The river of life flows into the sea, so that to the ends of the earth, every nation may be touched with the gospel, and so the whole earth can be filled with the knowledge of the glory of God.
We are empowered to be witnesses, so that as fishers of men we might have a mighty catch of all kinds of fish.
We are empowered with fruits and gifts of the Spirit, so that we might more closely reflect the character and anointing of our Lord, and witness to him with our lives, that he might draw men to himself revealed through us.
Being deeper in the river is great for us, but the Lord wants us to see the big picture. Life in the Spirit is not ultimately for us, but for others. No matter how blessed we get by being in the river, we must never forget the purpose of life in the Spirit. See the view from the bank again: Spirit-filled men are designed to change the world!