Rivers in high places
Isaiah foretold a time when there would be rivers on every high mountain; he wrote:
And there shall be upon every high mountain, and upon every high hill, rivers and streams of waters in the day of the great slaughter, when the towers fall.
These rivers and streams of water are metaphors of the knowledge of God springing forth, and watering places previously barren, meaning obscure passages of Scripture. Prophecies will begin to make sense, as if a desert were springing to life, when it is irrigated by a stream where there was none before.
I will open rivers in high places, and fountains in the midst of the valleys: I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water.
Mountains are associated with blessings, and promises, in Scripture. When Jacob blessed Joseph, he said that his blessings extend “unto the utmost bound of the everlasting hills.” [Genesis 49:26] This implies his blessings were spiritual, and eternal. Therefore, in Jacob’s lifetime, the land already had a spiritual significance. The land was to become the subject of revelations of God, and the place where many revelations were to be given to man. Jacob’s not possessing the land in his lifetime was confirmation of his future resurrection.
A list of prophecies that refer to mountains, and a suggested spiritual interpretation, is provided in the table below.
|mountains not found||Revelation 16:20||the promises of God are revealed in prophetic language; their meaning is hidden from most, and is obscured by flawed interpretations|
|mountains are moved out of position||Revelation 6:14||the prophecies and promises to the saints, represented by mountains, have been misinterpreted, and applied to the wrong people, at the wrong time|
|men hide in the dens and caves of the mountains||Revelation 6:15||mountains represent the promises of God to his people; many who fear future judgment seek to escape it (for example, by church association) hoping to share in those promises|
|a noisy army leaps upon the tops of mountains||Joel 2:5||may apply to various attempts to interpret prophecy|
|the mount of Olives is cleaved in the midst and the two halves move in opposite directions||Zechariah 14:4||the two halves of the mount of Olives may represent the two opposite interpretations of the Olivet Discourse of Jesus, preterism and futurism|
|the mountain of the Lord’s house is exalted to the tops of the mountains||Isaiah 2:2||when Jesus ascended to heaven, Jerusalem was raised up, and is now the heavenly city|
|every mountain made low||Isaiah 40:4||the literal view of the promises and prophecies is eclipsed by the spiritual view, that applies the promises to the church, and the true Israel|
|mountains skip like rams||Psalm 114:4||God’s promises, represented by mountains, have a spiritual meaning|
|mountains threshed||Isaiah 41:15||biblical prophecies are analyzed by the church, and the spiritual truth that they contain is separated from the chaff|
|mountains melted||Amos 9:13||melting is a change in state; the promises and prophecies need to be understood in a spiritual sense, rather than a literal one|
|streams on mountains||Isaiah 30:25; 41:18||the rivers represent the Spirit, which guides the saints to understand the truth, and the meaning of prophecies and promises represented by mountains|
|mountains drop wine||Joel 3:18; Amos 9:13
||the wine represents a spiritual understanding of God’s promises|
|Jesus said, ‘flee to the mountains’||Mark 13:14||Jesus meant seek the promises of God that mountains represent|
|mountains sing||Isaiah 49:13; 55:12||mountains represent the promises of God in scripture that are mentioned in many hymns and songs|
The prophetic rivers are metaphors, that represent various themes of the gospel. These themes are continuous throughout the Bible. Jesus spoke of rivers of living water, referring to the Spirit, which waters a spiritual land, consisting of the revelations in the Bible, which apart from the spiritual water, seem barren and lifeless, like a desert; they are unedifying, and meaningless, to most people. When watered spiritually, the land flourishes and brings forth its fruit.
Water from the rock
In the wilderness, when the Israelites asked for water, God told Moses to speak to the rock, and water would come forth for them to drink. Instead, Moses smote the rock with his rod. The water came forth, but Moses and Arron were not permitted to enter the promised land, because they did not believe God. [Numbers 20:8]
The following is the account given in Psalm 78.
He clave the rocks in the wilderness, and gave them drink as out of the great depths.
He brought streams also out of the rock, and caused waters to run down like rivers.
And they sinned yet more against him by provoking the most High in the wilderness.
And they tempted God in their heart by asking meat for their lust.
Yea, they spake against God; they said, Can God furnish a table in the wilderness?
Behold, he smote the rock, that the waters gushed out, and the streams overflowed; can he give bread also? can he provide flesh for his people?
Therefore the LORD heard this, and was wroth: so a fire was kindled against Jacob, and anger also came up against Israel;
Because they believed not in God, and trusted not in his salvation:
The miracle is also mentioned in Psalm 114.
Tremble, thou earth, at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the God of Jacob;
Which turned the rock into a standing water, the flint into a fountain of waters.
In the New Testament, Paul identified Christ as the spiritual rock who was with the Israelites, which explains the significance of waters coming forth from the rock.
1 Corinthians 10:1-4
Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea;
And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea;
And did all eat the same spiritual meat;
And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.
Rivers and sheep
In Scripture, the saints are identified with sheep who are led by Christ to waters where they may drink. David wrote:
The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Jeremiah employed the metaphor of a shepherd leading his sheep to drink from the waters of a river, in his prophecy about the gathering of the saints to their spiritual inheritance. This is not referring to the phenomenon of Jews returning to Palestine, but a spiritual renewal, and reconciliation to God. They come with weeping.
Behold, I will bring them from the north country, and gather them from the coasts of the earth, and with them the blind and the lame, the woman with child and her that travaileth with child together: a great company shall return thither.
They shall come with weeping, and with supplications will I lead them: I will cause them to walk by the rivers of waters in a straight way, wherein they shall not stumble: for I am a father to Israel, and Ephraim is my firstborn.
Hear the word of the LORD, O ye nations, and declare it in the isles afar off, and say, He that scattered Israel will gather him, and keep him, as a shepherd doth his flock.
In Ezekiel 34, the saints are described under the metaphor of scattered sheep who are brought back to their land, where they feed on the pasture on the mountains of Israel, by the rivers.
And I will bring them out from the people, and gather them from the countries, and will bring them to their own land, and feed them upon the mountains of Israel by the rivers, and in all the inhabited places of the country.
Ezekiel further showed that some of the animals trod down the pasture with their feet, and polluted the waters, to which God has led his sheep.
And as for you, O my flock, thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I judge between cattle and cattle, between the rams and the he goats.
Seemeth it a small thing unto you to have eaten up the good pasture, but ye must tread down with your feet the residue of your pastures? and to have drunk of the deep waters, but ye must foul the residue with your feet?
And as for my flock, they eat that which ye have trodden with your feet; and they drink that which ye have fouled with your feet.
An example of this pollution is John N. Darby’s theory of dispensationalism, which construes the revelations of God in Scripture as a series of discontinuous administrations, or dispensations. But Scripture portrays the revelations of God by metaphors such as rivers, which are continuous, and mountains, which are called “everlasting.” These metaphors discredit the basic premises of dispensationalism.
Rivers and Jerusalem
The Scripture describes rivers at Jerusalem that are spiritual in nature, in contrast to the rivers of many of the other cities of the ancient world. David wrote:
There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High.
Isaiah described rivers and streams at Jerusalem which no galley with oars or gallant ship would sail upon. They are spiritual.
Look upon Zion, the city of our solemnities: thine eyes shall see Jerusalem a quiet habitation, a tabernacle that shall not be taken down; not one of the stakes thereof shall ever be removed, neither shall any of the cords thereof be broken.
But there the glorious LORD will be unto us a place of broad rivers and streams; wherein shall go no galley with oars, neither shall gallant ship pass thereby.
Joel described all the ravines of Judah flowing with water. He said the mountains will drop wine, and hills will flow with milk. In the New Testament, new wine and milk are symbolic of God’s word. [Matthew 9:17; Hebrews 5:13; 1 Peter 2:2]
And it shall come to pass in that day, that the mountains shall drop down new wine, and the hills shall flow with milk, and all the rivers of Judah shall flow with waters, and a fountain shall come forth out of the house of the LORD, and shall water the valley of Shittim.
Zechariah said “living waters” will flow from Jerusalem, towards both east and west, in summer and in winter.
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.
These are also metaphorical, as Jesus showed in John 7:37-39. The Jerusalem meant here is the heavenly city.
Rivers in deserts
Several prophecies describe rivers and streams appearing in desert country, causing it to blossom. Isaiah wrote:
Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing: for in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert.
Isaiah said that the saints will benefit from the waters provided for them in the wilderness.
Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.
The beast of the field shall honour me, the dragons and the owls: because I give waters in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert, to give drink to my people, my chosen.
In Revelation 12:14 the woman, who represents the church, flies to the wilderness, borne by the wings of eagles. The wilderness in the prophecy is not a literal desert; it pictures the spiritual environment of saints who are called out from the world, to follow Christ. The apostle Peter described Christians as having “escaped the corruption that is in the world.”
2 Peter 1:3-4
According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:
Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
The wilderness sojourn of the Israelites is a metaphor or a type of the present condition of Christians, who seek “a better country.” [Hebrews 11:16] Christians are compared with the Israelites dwelling in tents, in a wilderness. Their promised inheritance in the spiritual promised land is “a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” [2 Corinthians 5:1]
In Ezekiel’s prophecy of the river flowing from the temple of God, which represents the knowledge of God, and the gospel going forth from the church, the desert is watered, and healing occurs wherever the waters come.
Then said he unto me, These waters issue out toward the east country, and go down into the desert, and go into the sea: which being brought forth into the sea, the waters shall be healed.
And it shall come to pass, that every thing that liveth, which moveth, whithersoever the rivers shall come, shall live: and there shall be a very great multitude of fish, because these waters shall come thither: for they shall be healed; and every thing shall live whither the river cometh.
In verse 11, there are miry places in the course of the river, which are not healed. “But the miry places thereof and the marshes thereof shall not be healed; they shall be given to salt.” This seems to apply to people whose spiritual development is impaired because they are mired in the dogmas of dispensationalism.
Rivers and healing
In the story of Naaman the Syrian, who was a leper, who came to the prophet Elisha to be cured, Elisha sent a messenger, to tell him to wash himself seven times in the Jordan river, and then he would be cured of his disease. When Naaman heard this, he was wroth, and said: “Are not Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel?” [2 Kings 5:11]
The rivers of Israel were inferior, in Naaman’s opinion. But eventually he went and washed himself in the Jordan as the prophet said, and he was cleansed. Afterwards there was a curious incident, where Naaman wanted to take “two mules’ burden of earth” back to Syria, to place in the temple there, to show his reverence and gratitude to the God of Israel. [2 Kings 5:16-19] Naaman evidently believed that God was associated with the land.
Jesus referred to the healing of Naaman. He said to the Jews: “And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Eliseus the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, saving Naaman the Syrian.” [Luke 4:27]
The river described by Ezekiel was also a healing river. They turn salt waters to fresh.
Ezekiel 47:8, 12
Then said he unto me, These waters issue out toward the east country, and go down into the desert, and go into the sea: which being brought forth into the sea, the waters shall be healed.
And by the river upon the bank thereof, on this side and on that side, shall grow all trees for meat, whose leaf shall not fade, neither shall the fruit thereof be consumed: it shall bring forth new fruit according to his months, because their waters they issued out of the sanctuary: and the fruit thereof shall be for meat, and the leaf thereof for medicine.
Rivers and the gospel
Isaiah said God wanted to bless his people with peace like a river.
Thus saith the LORD, thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel; I am the LORD thy God which teacheth thee to profit, which leadeth thee by the way that thou shouldest go.
O that thou hadst hearkened to my commandments! then had thy peace been as a river, and thy righteousness as the waves of the sea:
The promise of peace is to be fulfilled to the church.
For thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river, and the glory of the Gentiles like a flowing stream: then shall ye suck, ye shall be borne upon her sides, and be dandled upon her knees.
Rivers are associated with visions in Ezekiel 43:3, and Daniel 10:4; 12:5.
A righteous man is compared with a tree planted by a river, in Psalm 1:3. Isaiah compares the knowledge of God to water, in Isaiah 11:9. He describes the saints being led by springs of water. [Isaiah 49:10]
Amos spoke of judgment, and righteousness, flowing as rivers.
But let judgment run down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream.
Rivers made bitter
In Revelation, one of the trumpet plagues affects the rivers and fountains, which are made bitter.
And the third angel sounded, and there fell a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp, and it fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters;
And the name of the star is called Wormwood: and the third part of the waters became wormwood; and many men died of the waters, because they were made bitter.
These are not literal rivers, but the fountains of the Spirit of God; they are corrupted by false teachings such as Darby’s doctrine of dispensationalism. Darby was blind to the continuity of the promises of the gospel in the Scriptures. Paul identified the promise made to Abraham, that in his seed all nations will be blessed, with the gospel in Galatians 3:8. This is an example of the continuity of God’s covenants and promises in all ages.
One of the vials also is poured out upon the rivers.
And the third angel poured out his vial upon the rivers and fountains of waters; and they became blood.
Waters turning to blood represents truths of the gospel becoming unpalatable, like blood, because of flawed interpretations and doctrines such as dispensationalism. For example, to them, it is utterly detestable to imagine that a Christian becomes a part of Israel. Yet Paul wrote, “For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.” [Philippians 3:3]
God is called “the fountain of living waters” by Jeremiah.
For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.
Zechariah spoke of living waters flowing from Jerusalem, as mentioned already, in Zechariah 14:8. Jesus identified these living waters.
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.
He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.
(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.)
In Revelation there is a promise that a vast multitude of people will be led to the “living fountains of waters.”
For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.
Rivers and God’s throne
The waters of the river in Ezekiel 47 flow from the temple of God towards the east.
Afterward he brought me again unto the door of the house; and, behold, waters issued out from under the threshold of the house eastward: for the forefront of the house stood toward the east, and the waters came down from under from the right side of the house, at the south side of the altar.
Daniel’s vision in chapter 7 includes a vision of Christ, and a fiery stream that flowed from before him, representing the word of God.
A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him: thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened.
The river of the water of life in the last chapter of Revelation alludes to Eden, as the tree of life is present there. The theme of the promise of the gospel flows like a river from the earliest chapters of Genesis, to the last chapter in the Bible, which discredits the dispensational interpretation of biblical history as a series of disconnected administrations.
And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb.
In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.