Sunday February 21 2021

RIVERS AND THE COLOUR PURPLE

PART ONE – RIVERS

We have all watched, either in video or in  person, the flow of a river as it cascades down a mountain slope. And the greater the height the more vigorously the water descends.

The Khone Falls in Laos – 2.5 million gallons of water – spew from the Mekong River every second! These falls are some 35,375 feet wide – the Chutes de Khone – is considered by many to be the largest waterfall in the world. There are others that vie for that honour such as the Jog Falls of India which has an 830 foot drop; the Victoria Falls of Zambia/Zimbabwe of Africa; and our own Niagara Falls. Each of these falls, and countless others, are spectacular in beauty and in their enormity. Their music carries for miles in all directions – often deafening in their roar and rumble. Their power and might is breathtaking. We are naturally drawn to their presence to feel their thunder and recline amidst their spray, as they sweep over us with refreshing cascades of life-renewing waters. There is just something about our nearness to these magnificent spectacles that lifts our spirits and removes the cares we shoulder. The descent of these majestic waters is truly refreshing to both mind and spirit.

Most rivers descend from their source much less dramatically than those referenced above but nonetheless, the one characteristic shared by all rivers is that they do descend. There is a river that divides the Promised Land – The Jordan River. The Jordan River flows from one end of Zion to the other end and, as it flows it gives life to the land. It begins its course in the north at Mount Hermon and flows down to Galilee, then through the Jordan Valley to the wilderness of Judea, and finally into the Dead Sea where it come to its end. In Hebrew, the Jordan is the Yarden which comes from the word yarad. Yarad means to go down, to descend. So the Jordan means the descender. All rivers descend but no river descends as much as does the Jordan. It descends so far that it ends its journey in the lowest place on earth, the Dead Sea. And it is the Jordan’s descent that gives life to the Promised Land. There is a revelation here in this thought. It is through a descent that life is given. And who is The Descender? It is God – God is The Descender. God is the Yarden. It is the Most High who is the Descender. Only He can fully descend. And so, the Descender humbled Himself, descending from the heights to come into the world, and taking the form of man. And as the Jordan descends to Galilee, so the Descender came to the land of Galilee, and there gave life to those in need. And in the same way that Jordan descends from Galilee to the Dead Sea, the lowest point on earth, so from Galilee The Descender went down to the lowest of depths, to death and judgment. For God is love. And the nature of love is to descend that it might give of itself, and that we, in its descent, might find life. And those who have received the life of this Yarden must likewise descend to give of that life to others. For God is the Yarden – and the Yarden is love. 1  

The Bible has much to say about water, especially running water. Psalm 94:3 states,

“The LORD on high is mightier than the noise of many waters, yea than the mighty waves of the sea.”

The LORD GOD is often compared to mighty waters. He, who resides in the highest of heavens, whose throne is on high; He who inhabits eternity, the LORD of Lords and King of Kings, who comes from on high – higher than any can imagine – chose to descend. And not only descend but chose to descend to the lowest of lows – far lower than any can imagine. A mighty river flowing from the most high source and cascading down, down, down to the lowest point – a ‘Dead Sea’ if you like – for the purpose of bringing life to that which was dead. In my opening paragraph I used such phrases as: spectacular in beauty, breathtaking, refreshing cascades of life-renewing waters, refreshing to both mind and spirit, and, the greater the height the more vigorously the water descends. These are truly characteristics of our LORD. And as mighty waterfalls draw us to their presence so too must we be drawn to our GOD. And as the music of waterfalls echo throughout the region, the voice of our GOD echoes throughout the land. “A voice of mighty waters” as John spoke in Revelation 19:6.

You can find rivers descending in practically every nation or neighbouring nation of the earth. Most descending over spectacular falls, echoing their journey to every ear in the land. So too, the voice of the Most High GOD cascades and echoes in every ear and resonates within each heart throughout the land. “I have descended from on high. Come unto me all who are thirsty.”

And, as water quenches the thirst of the body so our Most High Descender quenches the thirst of our inner man.

Very early on the “great day of the feast” – the feast of Tabernacles – worshipers converged on the Temple mount to join in the climatic celebration of the “Great Hosanna.” Each carried a lulav and ethrog to be used in the service. A lulav was made of a palm branch that had sprigs of myrtle and willow tied to it by a golden thread. These branches were symbolic of Israel’s wilderness booths (Leviticus 23:40). Left hands carried ethrog, a citrus fruit, which symbolized the fruit of the good land God had given them. A priestly procession moved slowly through the crowds of pilgrims toward the Water Gate. The golden pitcher, filled with water from Siloam, gleamed in the hands of its priest-bearer. Eager worshipers had watched the morning sacrifice being arranged on the great altar, which had been bedecked with willow branches. Silver funnels waited to receive the libations carried solemnly toward the base of the altar. In response to calls from the congregants, the priest raised a hand heavenward to signify that the outpouring was taking place. 2  This is the moment of the water oblation during the feast of Tabernacles. Water was taken from the pool of Siloam which is a spring of fresh water coming from the river Gihon (one of the original four rivers that flowed through Eden). This water was then transferred to the silver funnels that the priests held by the great altar. These silver funnels were designed as pointed funnel-shaped so that they could not be set down while full of water. The reason being, the water they contained was never to be allowed to stagnate. The water they contained was only for pouring. At the prearranged moment the water from these silver funnels was poured out over the sacrifice upon the altar as a water oblation. It was at this exact moment that Jesus cried out, “If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink.” (John 7:37) The flowing waters from river to funnel to sacrifice. The cry of Messiah’s voice, like the sound of many waters, offering live giving water to whosoever. As the silver funnels were held high over the prepared sacrifice to allow the waters to descend upon the offering, Jesus identified himself with both the sacrifice and the waters. Jesus, who descended from the heights of heaven to this very spot, cried out heaven’s offer of salvation as the water descended in a torrent upon the bound sacrifice. And here at this midpoint of Christ’s journey from the heights of heavens to the depths of hell, Jesus paused to offer up GOD’s amazing gift of grace. A cry as vigorous as any descending river could utter. Like an overflowing rushing river, his words would echo throughout the land and throughout the world, and throughout time, “He that believes on me as the Scripture has said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.” (John 7:38)

“For I will pour water upon him who is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground: I will pour my spirit upon your seed, and a blessing upon your offspring: and they will spring up as among the grass, as willows by the water courses.” (Isaiah 44:3)

“But whosoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never thirst: but the water that I will give him will be in him a well of living water springing up into everlasting life.” (John 4:14)

“For by one Spirit are we all baptised into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink in one Spirit.” (1 Corinthians 12:13)

This One, this Great Descender, has come to overflow our lives as the mighty rushing of a great waterfall – an  outpouring both over and within each person who acknowledges their thirst. Are you thirsty, come drink.

  PART TWO – PURPLE

“And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened and she attended unto things spoken of by Paul.”

Purple was woven throughout the Tabernacle, on the veils and curtains, even in the garments of the priests. One would suppose that purple cloth is made from purple threads but upon close investigation Biblical purple cloth is actually made up of tiny blue and red threads finely woven together. Purple is the joining of blue and red. And if you looked at the veils of the Tabernacle, you would find the colours blue, purple, and red. The colours appear in the instructions for building the Tabernacle over and over, the same three colours and in the same order, ‘blue, purple, and scarlet.’ (Ex.25:4; 26:1,3,31,36; 27:16; 28:5,6,8,15; 35:6,23,25,35; 36:8,35,37; 38:18,23; 39:1,2,3,5,8,24,29.)

Why do you suppose this order? The Tent of Meeting was the place of the joining, the reconciliation, the meeting of two realities, God and man. And so the colours represent God and man. Blue is the colour of the sky, the heavens – representing the heavenly, God. So, the blue is first. And the colour red – scarlet? In Hebrew, the word for man is adam. Adam comes from the Hebrew word for red. Red is the colour of Middle Eastern earth from which man came. And scarlet red is the symbol of sin and guilt. Red is the colour of man, so what is the purple? Purple is the joining of blue and red. And so it speaks of the joining of God to man, heaven joined to earth. But for there to be purple, it must be a total joining – the joining of all that is holy to all that is not – all of God to all that is us – to all that is you – so totally joined that God will appear as sin. And as that total joining drew near, the Heavenly One was beaten and mocked and made to wear a crown of thorns, and then He was covered with a robe. And do you know what kind of robe it was? It was a purple robe – a purple robe to cover the One in whom heaven and earth, God and man, blue and red, became completely one – purple.3 “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” (John 1)

So, our Great Descender rushed down to our aid, bringing with Him new life. Listen to Philippians 2: 5-8.

“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: [there, is the one weaving of the blue with the red] Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in the fashion of a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” [The Great Descending] How unsearchable are your ways Oh God; how great is your love! That One so high should stoop so low!

And most assuredly there is more; there is always more with God. If we reflect upon the following few verses of Philippians 2: 9-11 we hear the following:

“Wherefore also God has highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” The Great Descender became also the Great Ascender as the First-fruit of the resurrection, so that we too can and will be part of the Great Ascension. As He leads captivity captive and brings us from the depths of the grave to the heights of heaven. The way up indeed is the way down. Let me conclude with the words of a song I penned years ago. It is titled

 Such a One

My mind cannot contain such mystery, of a God who would kneel so humbly.

To think that God would come in the likeness of such flesh;

That such a One would give His life to spare one such as I such death.

 

My feet want to run away in shame, from such a One, the Holy One,

The Lamb of God slain.

To think that God would care enough to stand where I never could;

That such a One would care enough to bear His back to the whip and the wood.

 

My heart is filled to overflow, for such a One, so high above should bow down so low.

To think that God would come, with healing in His wings;

To offer such holiness and to take upon Himself such sin.

 

My eyes long to see Him face to face; to bask in the radiance of His undying grace.

To think that God would pour on such a one such grace;

To think that the hands of God would hold such nails in place.

 

My voice longs to fill the Heavens with songs, of praise to such a One whose love is so strong.

To think that the heart of God would touch this heart of clay;

To think that such a one as I could ever love you this way.

 

In closing hear Amos 5:24

“But let judgment run down like waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream.”

Be blessed dear friends, as we contemplate The Great Descender who donned the purple on our behalf. Amen

1  Jonathan Cahn The Book of Mysteries day 202

2  Elwood McQuaid The Outpouring page 101

3  Jonathan Cahn The Book of Mysteries day 289

Let us pray.

Father God we praise you this day with thankful hearts as we reflect upon Your goodness. We are overwhelmed with amazement that You, being so high, should choose to descend upon our world and upon our lives with such grace and mercy. As the rushing of many waters You overflow us with Your forgiveness, sweeping away all that is stagnant and soiled. You invigorate us with the cleanness of Your holiness, washing away every stain and sin, securing us as “trees of righteous the plantings of the Lord.” We grow and mature as we cling to the bank of Your river of life. O thou Great Descender, who reached out and down to us to lift us from the mire of our lost way, continue to descend upon each of us this day. May Your still small voice remain focused within our hearing amid the clamour of this world. May the roar of Your mighty rushing overwhelm the rebellious voices all about. Continue to descend upon us as the dove descended upon Jesus as He stood in the midst of Your river Jordan. Anoint us afresh with new vigour, with renewed determination to step out – get our feet wet – in new callings. As You descend upon us let us descend upon others who find themselves in a dry and thirsty land. May the rivers of life flow out from each of us as You promised, to the quenching of the thirst of others. May parched lips be moistened and primed to sing praises to You. As You continue to descend upon us may we lift our offerings of praise and worship and prayers to You on high. O fount of Living Waters flow!

We offer our thanks and also lift to You our thoughts and prayers for our brothers and sisters. Touch especially Robert, Bev’s brother, this day. Continue to draw near to both him and her this week and for the days forward and be their comfort. We call upon You to flow into every lonely recess within our community, to fill the vacant spaces with Your presence. Let You light so shine that all the darkness and dryness vanish. Renew our fellowships, our marriages with fresh anointing this week. And as You bound the blue with the red, so bind us closer to You and each other. We thank You for Your word – for the watering of the word – that fills us each day with promises that are new every morning. Let the rivers flow! Send Your Waters of Life to invigorate and irrigate our dehydrated spirits. Allow us to bubble with new levels of love and enthusiasm for Your name’s sake. May You forever receive all the glory and honour, for You alone are worthy. Amen   

 

 

 

 

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