Isaiah 51–55: Water & Life

Read the Bible in 2011 ◊ Week 10: Friday

Ho! Every one who thirsts, come to the waters;
And you who have no money come, buy and eat
Come, buy wine and milk
Without money and without cost.

Isaiah 55:1

As I read Friday’s Bible reading of Isaiah 51–55, I noticed I knew several songs based on verses in these chapters. There are many familiar passages here, and there are verses here that are quoted in the New Testament.

In his gospel, John twice records Jesus referring to living water. First, when He is talking with the Samaritan woman.

Jesus answered and said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.”
John 4:13–14

On the last day of the Feast of Booths (Tabernacles, Jesus gives the invitation of Isaiah 55:1 (see also Isaiah 48:3, 58:11) .

Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’”

But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.”
John 7:37–39

John MacArthur explains why Jesus’ timing of these words was significant:

“He stands in Jerusalem and at the top of His voice He yells, “If any man thirst, let him come unto Me and drink.”…

“Now there was one particular ceremony connected with the feast that is really a very fascinating and it was the major ceremony. It had been taken from original scriptural injunction and then had been added to by the Pharisees and the rabbis. By the time of Jesus, this is the ceremony that went on. The worshipers, that is all the people who came for the ceremony, and it happened every day…they all marched to the temple with all these branches, they did it every day during the Feast of Tabernacles….they held them out like this and formed a great round roof over the altar….And at the same time that this was going on, the priest had in his hand a golden pitcher which held about two pints of water. It was empty. And he would go down to the pool of Siloam and he would scoop out two pints of water, fill his pitcher, walk back through what is called the water gate back to the temple and he would carry this water toward all these people who had their branches over the altar. And in the time when he came through the water gate, the people all recited Isaiah 12:3 which says, “With joy shall he draw water from the wells of salvation.” And here he came symbolically with the water.

“The water was then carried into the temple. He moved underneath the roof and poured the water out near the altar. Now while this was being done, the whole congregation of Israel was gathered around they were singing the Hallel, Psalm 113 to 118. They were singing it praising God. In fact, it was sung…they were led in singing by the Levite choir accompanied by people playing flutes. It was a big deal. All these people with all their trees and this ceremony of the pitcher and singing and flutes and the whole deal. This was the key big ceremony in the Feast of Tabernacles.

“…The whole dramatic ceremony became even more dramatic on the last day because the last day the whole group with all their boughs and branches was marching around the altar and they marched around it seven times…coming to a climax and then the water was poured. Why do you think they marched seven times? That’s how many times Israel marched around the walls of Jericho. And so they were symbolically remembering Jericho, all a part of the wilderness wanderings. And then the water was poured out.”1

Are you thirsty? Are you parched and dry in your mind and heart and soul? In Revelation, Jesus gives this promise:

Then He said to me, “It is done I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost.”
Revelation 21:6

Isaiah 42 Photograph: – Free High Resolution Photos for Christian Publications
1John MacArthur, Grace to You: Reactions to the Claims of Jesus.

Original content: Copyright ©2011 Iwana Carpenter

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