Rivers bring the water from places where the rain falls, or from high snowy mountains, to places that normally receive very little rain. The prophetic rivers are metaphors. Rain represents God’s word, and the prophetic rivers are streams of God’s revelations, themes of knowledge that extend throughout the Bible. Isaiah said,
For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.
The rivers depict themes of the gospel, and they are parables, that illustrate how God’s promises work out through the ages.
The Temple-River of Ezekiel 47:1-12 implies that there is a land through which it flows, and which is healed because of it. What land is it? Not the literal territory of Canaan. It may be the better land mentioned in Hebrews 11:16.
The story of Moses striking the rock in the wilderness which brought forth water has a profound significance, and the theme of water and rivers as symbols of the Spirit flows like a river throughout both the Old and New Testaments. The Jerusalem temple was built above the site of a spring, called Gihon, which was also the name of one of the rivers in Eden. Solomon was crowned king there. [1 Kings 1:32-35]
Isaiah said in the last days, referring to Judah and Jerusalem, that the mountain of the Lord’s house would be raised up, to the top of the mountains, and exulted above the hills.
The word that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem.
And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it.
When we compare this with Ezekiel’s prophecy about the river flowing from the house of the Lord, a paradox appears. Any tectonic event that would elevate Jerusalem in a literal sense, would increase the slope in the surrounding area. But in Ezekiel’s description, the river in the vicinity of Jerusalem is shown to have a very gentle gradient, comparable to that of a football field, where a minimal slope is needed for drainage. In about half a mile, the depth of the river increases by only about three feet. [Ezek. 47:1-7]
An article on the website of The Middletown Bible Church, When and Where Does Christ Sit Upon the Throne of David? discusses 15 prophecies referring to the throne of David, and the author attempts to show that none of them apply to the present reign of Christ in his church. George Zeller is the assistant pastor at the church, and the author of most of the articles at the site.
The metaphor of a chain, made of a series of links connected together, is similar to the metaphor of a river, when applied to the revelations of God in scripture. There are links in the later scriptures, to earlier ones, and the themes found in Genesis are developed throughout the Bible. This concept of a chain as a metaphor that applies to prophecy was expressed in a 1842 book on the prophet Obadiah, by Carl Paul Caspari. The following is a translation:  Read more…
The scriptures say that God is around his people like the mountains around Jerusalem, and like broad rivers and streams.
As the mountains are round about Jerusalem, so the Lord is round about his people from henceforth even for ever
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.
In many other scriptures, like the above example, mountains and rivers of a spiritual nature are related. Read more…
The New Testament describes God’s covenant with the church as an everlasting covenant. The covenant is like an agreement to enter into a marriage, where Christ is the groom, and the church is the bride. This everlasting covenant is mentioned in Hebrews.
Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant,
Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Read more…
Proverbs 18:4 says, “The words of a man’s mouth are as deep waters, and the wellspring of wisdom as a flowing brook.”
When God was about to deliver the Israelites from the Midianites, a select group was chosen from the people, and the manner in which they were selected was based upon how they drank water at a well. Read more…
For some prophecies and visions, the prophet’s location is specified, and there are patterns, that associate some subjects with mountains, and others with rivers.
In the book of Numbers, when Balak the king of Moab hired Balaam to curse Israel, the two men went up on the tops of the mountains and hills around the plains of Moab, where the tents of the tribes of Israel were pitched. Balaam uttered his parables, or prophecies, on the high places of Baal, on the top of Pisgah, and on the top of Peor. [Numbers 22:41; 23:14; 23:28] Read more…
Daniel 12:5-6 describes two angels, one on each side of a river, and another one, clothed in linen, who stood upon the waters of the river. In the New Testament, Jesus is described walking upon the water of the sea of Galilee. Linen clothing is connected with the righteousness of the saints, given to them by Christ, in Revelation 19:8. Perhaps, Christ is the one who Daniel saw standing on the water, clothed in linen.
The message given in Daniel 12:7 is connected with the river mentioned in the previous two verses. Perhaps there is a connection between this river and other rivers that are mentioned in other prophecies. The river in Ezekiel 47 is spiritual in nature, and represents the message of the gospel, and the Spirit, that flows from the temple of God into the desert towards the sea throughout the present age. Daniel’s prophecy is about the duration of the present age. Read more…
In Acts, Luke mentions a river near the city of Philippi, “where prayer was wont to be made.” [Acts 16:13] In the course of any river, there are likely to be places which are scenic, and peaceful. Rivers in any country may picture the spiritual ideas depicted in the prophetic rivers mentioned in Psalm 46:4, Isaiah 33:21, Ezekiel 47, Joel 3:18, the rivers of living waters in Zechariah 14:8, and the river in Revelation 22:1-2. The mountains of prophecy are similar; the ideas of majestic heights, and landmarks, and durability, are characteristic of mountains anywhere, and are not limited to the mountains and hills of Palestine.
Some commentators, however, suppose that the rivers described in Ezekiel 47 and Zechariah 14 are literal rivers that will exist in Palestine in the future. They miss the spiritual reality that those rivers represent. The spiritual rivers flowing from God’s throne exist in the present age, and their benefits are available now. The claim that literal rivers will flow from the earthly Jerusalem, or another temple yet to be built there, IMO, is nonsense. And, such claims lead to contradictions when the various prophecies about those rivers are compared.
The spiritual rivers of the Bible bring healing and life, and cause the desert to bloom, the desert being the spiritual environment of the saints who are represented by the woman in the wilderness, in Revelation 12:6 and 14. These spiritual rivers contrast with the mythical rivers of Homer’s epics, or in the works of Plato, which are associated with theories about the afterlife, and the concept of the immortality of the soul, and the tales about them couched in gloomy superstition, that cultivate and promote the fear of death. According to various articles at Wikipedia: Read more…
In his commentary on Isaiah 30:20, where the English translation reads “yet shall not thy teachers be removed into a corner any more,” John Calvin translated: “Thy rain shall no longer be restrained.” Calvin viewed ‘rain’ as better suited to the immediate context in the verse itself, (‘the water of affliction’) than the word ‘teachers.’ Read more…
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. Read more…
In John W. Gregson’s interpretation of Revelation 12:15, 144,000 Jews flee across the desert pursued by a turbulent flood of water that threatens to drown them. Apparently Gregson believes that literal water is meant. The water is absorbed in the desert sand. Gregson wrote: 
Ford C. Ottman (1859-1929) was a Presbyterian pastor in Stamford Conn. In his commentary on Revelation 12:7-17, he interpreted the woman in this chapter as the Jews, and the flood from the mouth of the serpent in Revelation 12:15 as armies which attack Jerusalem. He said the Jews will flee to a literal desert in order to escape their enemies.
Clearly, the flood from the mouth of the serpent is not an army of men, as the serpent is a symbol of Satan. I suggest that Ottman’s flawed interpretation, presented below, is part of the flood from the mouth of the serpent foretold in the prophecy. His book contributed to a flood of books and preaching promoting dispensationalism during the late 19th and 20th centuries, that carried away the churches, especially in America.
The prophecy in Revelation 12:15-16 is one of the most fascinating prophecies in the Bible. But it is also one of the most puzzling, and commentators have struggled to find the meaning of it.
“And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood. And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth.”
What is meant by the river of water, that goes forth from the mouth of the serpent in Revelation 12:15? Consider what land it is, where the river flows; it must be the same land, the wilderness, where the woman sojourns for the time, times and a half.