Tuesday, August 12, 2014



Rivers flow all through the Bible. Beginning in the Garden in the second chapter of the first book they end in the Garden City in the last chapter of the last book. I grew up next to a river, the River Leven which flows out of Loch Lomond and into the River Clyde. The Clyde made possible the great commerce of the 18th and 19th centuries and the shipbuilding of the 20th in the City of Glasgow. Many towns and villages sprang up along the banks of the Clyde. Rivers can play an important role in cultural development. They can bring whole cities to life.

Long ago someone wrote a curious jingle about Glasgow’s city crest upon which are a bird, a tree, a bell and a fish, Here is the bird that never flew / Here is the tree that never grew / Here is the bell that never rang / Here is the fish that never swam. Glasgow’s motto is a microcosm of what God had in mind for His creation beginning in the Garden of Eden. It is, Let Glasgow flourish. The full version, (which in 1631 was embossed on the Tron Church’s bell), says, Lord, let Glasgow flourish through the preaching of Thy Word and praising Thy name!

Perhaps it is symbolic of God’s Cultural Mandate to mankind to ‘be fruitful and multiply’ that the river that watered the Garden, (in which was the Tree of Life), flowed out and split into four riverheads. As mankind flowed out of the Garden to the four corners of the earth the whole planet was to flourish through the preaching of God’s Word and the praising of His name. However, the dynamic of the Cultural Mandate changed because Adam rebelled against God and ate of that other tree in the Garden, the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Therefore, God expelled mankind and barred the way back into the Garden. Then came the judgment of God in the form of a global flood. Only Noah and seven others crossed over from the old pre-flood creation into the new (with the animals) aboard the ark. ‘In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water, and this water symbolizes baptism…” 1 Peter 3:20b-21a, NIV. Noah and his family were dry in the boat while those outside of the ark perished in the flood waters (as did the Egyptians at the parting of the Red Sea when the people of Israel crossed over on dry land.) At the time of Moses those babies the Egyptians submerged in the Nile perished. However, Moses was saved in an ark. Pharaoh’s daughter named him Moses, ‘Because I drew him out of the water’ Exodus 2:10b.

Rivers are barriers. At the time of Joshua the flooded Jordan River separated Israel from the Promised Land. Their crossing over on dry ground (after God had stopped the river’s flow) is reminiscent of our entrance into Eden’s Garden. After Christ was baptised with the Spirit and with water from the Jordan River He began to preach God’s Word and praise His name. He then went to the cross where ‘the flaming sword which turned every way’ (Genesis 3:24) was turned upon Him. Thus, He opened the Garden gate, so that ‘he who believes and is baptized will be saved’ Mark 16:16a. Baptism symbolises crossing over, going from the old to the new, from death to life, entering into the City of God where there is ‘a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb, and either side of the river was the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.’ Revelation 22:1-2.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for this, brother. You are ever God's poet.