Just for fun – and partly because I never like to do things the easy way – this week I want to begin a series of short studies on the the subject of eschatology, or the “end times”, and possibly clear a path to a better understanding of some of the controversies amidst the clutter of seemingly endless views and opinions on the subject. Because this seems to be a subject of a lot of disagreement among Christians, I want to stress here that I am looking at it in a discussionary sense, rather than as being a divisive matter among us. We can all learn from each other as iron sharpens iron. I’ll try to take an objective look at all of the pertaining verses, and by comparison, base any conclusions on what to me seems to be the more definitive, or literal ones. Now let’s compare some Old Testament verses, with some New Testament ones, and see if we can come up with what the correct meaning of them might be.
Zechariah 14: 8 tells us that “living waters will flow out of Jerusalem”.
Zech 14: 6 And it shall come to pass in that day, that the light shall not be clear, nor dark: 7 But it shall be one day which shall be known to the LORD, not day, nor night: but it shall come to pass, that at evening time it shall be light. 8 And it shall be in that day, that living waters shall go out from Jerusalem; half of them toward the former sea, and half of them toward the hinder sea: in summer and in winter shall it be. 9 And the LORD shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one LORD, and his name one.
Mainly because of what it says in Revelation chapter 22, a lot of people understand these previous verses to mean that this “living water” will be coming out of a literal Jerusalem, and that this will happen at a certain time in the future. We will try to solve – at least in part, what I believe to be the very figurative language here in Zechariah, and in Revelation by determining the meaning of some more literal, and easier to understand related verses. In this way we should be able to come closer to a better understanding of their true meaning.
Jesus told the woman at the well – who misunderstood this “living water” to be literal, that if she would ask him, he would give her living water.
John 4: 7 There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink. 8 (For his disciples were gone away unto the city to buy meat.) 9 Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him, How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans. 10 Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water. 11 The woman saith unto him, Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then hast thou that living water? 12 Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle? 13 Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: 14 But 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.
In John 7: 37–39, Jesus clarifies these verses further by saying that the living waters “as the scripture hath said” refers to a flowing out from a believer’s belly. This must be referring to Zech, because as far as I know, this is the only verse in the Old Testament that refers to living waters in the context of being a future fulfillment. So Jesus had explained to us the true meaning of this here in John. God’s Spirit flows out of the believer. This did occur at Pentecost – as we talked about last week, in Acts chapter 2.
John 7: 37 In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. 38 He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. 39 (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)
If you compare Zechariah chapter 14, and John chapter 7 side by side, you can see that the living waters talked about are not a literal flowing of water out of Jerusalem, but a flowing out from the believers. This seems to be telling us that we, as New Testament believers, are synonymous with the Jerusalem of the Old Testament.
John refers to the Holy Spirit being given at Pentecost in Acts chapter one, as the fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy in Joel 2: 28-29, and although Joel doesn’t use the expression ‘living waters”, Joel is giving the same prophecy that is in Zech 14: 8. Consequently, this means that the scripture in Zechariah was fulfilled here at Pentecost with the giving of the Holy Spirit.
Acts 2: 1 And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. 2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. 3 And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. 5 And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. 6 Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. 7 And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans? 8 And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born? 9 Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, 10 Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, 11 Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God. 12 And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, What meaneth this? 13 Others mocking said, These men are full of new wine. 14 But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words: 15 For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day. 16 But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; 17 And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: 18 And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy: 19 And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke: 20 The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come: 21 And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.
Some will say that, although this has been fulfilled at Pentecost, there will be another fulfillment of it when Jesus returns – possibly a more literal one. But why would we need to look for a second fulfillment of it when Jesus revealed to us that it had already been fulfilled. That seems to be interpreting certain parts of the Bible to fit one’s own understanding of other scripture.
Although this is nowhere near to being a complete study on the subject, it should at least help us begin to put together a little piece of this puzzle called eschatology. I hope to eventually do a more in-depth study of Revelation chapter 22, but this short study should begin to shed a little bit more light on it. If you don’t agree with the conclusion that I have found here, I would like to know your views on this. The great thing about all of the information out there today, is that you no longer have to be stuck within the confines of any one denomination, or teaching. Today rather, we have the tools and resources to help us study as far as we want to go. I have studied these verses to the point where I am satisfied that my interpretation of them is the most reasonable. I believe that, although the outcome may not fit with other beliefs that I have, it doesn’t mean that I should change the most clear interpretation of scripture to fit my beliefs, but rather that I should change my beliefs to fit the meaning of scripture.