The Water of Life

“He shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb.”
—Revelation 22:1

WHEN GOD DESIGNED the earth to be man’s eternal home, he provided an abundance of water. He also provided a means of cleaning it when it is discarded or contaminated. The sun provides energy to vaporize such water from all exposed bodies—the oceans, lakes, ponds, and rivers. This vapor gets blown inland where it meets colder air in the atmosphere. The lower temperature air causes it to condense into small droplets of liquid that form clouds. When enough cooling and vapor combine, rain comes down upon the earth which flows off the land into brooks, creeks, and rivers. Or it soaks into the ground and encounters a rock strata that makes it flow as an underground river.


This distillation of water separates it from all associated contaminants. Pure water falls as rain and rivers would be pure except that air pollutants can be dissolved by the rain as it falls through the atmosphere. Mankind dumps pollutants into the river, so that it can carry these away into the ocean. God also made it possible for such polluted waters to be cleansed in other ways than by distillation. When waste material is dumped into the river it may contain anaerobic bacteria, which can cause illnesses. As the river flows it dissolves oxygen from the air, and the oxygen fosters the growth of aerobic bacteria that feed upon the harmful anaerobic bacteria and after awhile the river is cleansed. The river would stay cleansed if no one else dumped pollutants into it, but with today’s population levels increasing, this is not possible. Hence man has to treat and purify the water used for drinking if it is taken from surface waters. This treating method usually consists of aeration in huge vats, adding coagulants and absorbents, filtration, and treating with a bactericide to destroy harmful organisms. Small amounts of chlorine are usually used for this purpose. All the developed nations have such treating facilities to insure that their inhabitants have purified drinking water.


This is not true, however, in all of the world. A United Nations survey was reported and published in the New York Times on November 22, 2000. It said:

“Forty percent of the world’s six billion people still lack sanitation though it could easily be provided, according to a United Nations report issued today.

“More than a billion people lack the most basic water supply, said the study, backed by World Health Organization and the United Nations Children’s Fund.

“‘It is not a question of cost, but of priority,’ said Richard Jolly, chairman of the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council, sponsored by the W.H.O.

“‘Bringing water and sanitation to all would cost $10 billion a year,’ Mr. Jolly said. ‘That,’ he added, ‘is one-tenth of what Europe spends on alcoholic drinks each year, about the same as Europe spends on ice cream, and half of what the United States spends each year on pet food.’

“Governments have made some improvements over the past decade, but they have scarcely kept up with population growth in the developing world, the Global Water Supply and Sanitation assessment said.

“Moving faster would pay big dividends in lives saved, the study said. Safe water and sanitation could cut one-third of the number of diarrhea cases every year—currently 4 billion worldwide, resulting in 2.2 million deaths.

“The report follows the start in March of the council’s campaign, Vision 21, that urges a move away from high-tech, high-cost projects. It holds that responsibility should be given to individual householders and local community organizations.

“Some 500 public health, water, and sanitation experts will meet on Friday in Foz do Iguacu, Brazil, for a conference on the program, which aims to halve the number of people without access to hygienic sanitation and safe water by 2015.

“That is ‘within the world’s grasp and the grasp of any country that chooses to make the modest resources required available,’ Mr. Jolly said.

“In all, 2.4 billion people worldwide lack access to basic sanitation, the report said. They account for 40 percent of the world’s population.

“Asia had the worst sanitation, with 1.77 billion people short of adequate facilities. The figures came from nationally representative household surveys rather than from governments, the study said.

“Africa performed by far the worst in terms of drinking water, the report said. It estimated that 300 million people on the continent, more than a third of the population, have no fixed supply.

“Even for those who do, ‘we are not talking about safe water supply because we have no means to actually measure the safety of the water,’ said an official of the World Health Organization, Jose Hueb.

“Only 35 percent of waste water is treated in Asia, a figure that dwindles to 14 percent in Latin America and a “negligible” proportion in Africa, the report said.”


It is indeed a shameful matter that so many people in the world have no sanitary facilities or methods of treating and providing safe drinking water. Water is essential to life, being next in importance to the oxygen in the air we breathe. Everyone should have healthful drinking water. We can be assured that this will be so in God’s kingdom. In God’s kingdom the world of mankind will not only receive pure water to drink, but also ‘living water’ that will give them eternal life.


Water is used in the Scriptures to show how eternal life will be provided for all mankind. It is an illustration of God’s Word, which provides eternal life to those who believe it. This thought was in Jesus’ mind as he spoke with the woman of Samaria at the well when he said, “If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.” (John 4:10) It has been our blessed privilege to receive from our Lord these blessed living waters to drink.

Faith in the ransom has given us life, and Jesus has brought us to the Father, the Giver of every good and perfect gift. We have found that he is the source of all life, and from him flow all truth and living waters. God, in speaking to Jeremiah, described himself as “the fountain of living waters.” (Jer. 2:13) Jeremiah used this same description to praise God, when he wrote, “O Lord, the hope of Israel, all that forsake thee shall be ashamed, and they that depart from me shall be written in the earth, because they have forsaken the Lord, the fountain of living waters.” (Jer. 17:13) Likewise, David says of God, “With thee is the fountain of life: in thy light shall we see light.”—Ps. 36:9

In his Holy Word, we have been given a picture of God’s kingdom. This ‘water’ is a full flowing river, with water as clear as crystal. It is called the “water of life” which proceeds out “of the throne of God and of the Lamb.” (Rev. 22:1) The Psalms also mention this river. David, speaking to God, says, “Thou visitest the earth, and waterest it: thou greatly enrichest it with the river of God, which is full of water: thou preparest them corn, when thou hast so provided for it.”—Ps. 65:9


The world has been a wilderness and a desert place, and mankind is properly pictured in the Scriptures as lost, dying of thirst, without God and hope. Such is the picture given in Psalm 107, verses 33,34, “He turneth rivers into a wilderness, and the watersprings into dry ground; A fruitful land into barrenness, for the wickedness of them that dwell therein.” But then the process is reversed, “He turneth the wilderness into a standing water, and dry ground into watersprings. And there he maketh the hungry to dwell, that they may prepare a city for habitation.”—vss. 35,36

These latter passages refer to the Millennial Age work, when mankind is brought out of the condition of sin up to perfection, and all are privileged to know God. The Prophet Isaiah speaks in a similar fashion of God’s favor and blessing returning to natural Israel and extending to all mankind, saying, “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.”—Isa. 43:19,20

Other scriptures give illustrations of the earth being covered by the knowledge of God. “The earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.”—Hab. 2:14


The wonderful ‘river of life’ that flows out of the ‘throne of God and of the Lamb’ in the kingdom is intended for those who become permanent residents of the city of God. It is a blessing that is available to those who truly hunger and thirst for righteousness. The invitation to such is described in Revelation 22:17, “The Spirit and the bride say, Come. … And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” This river represents eternal life, available to all who drink ‘of’ it, or ‘from’ it. It is described as a pure river, clear as crystal, and an excellent symbol for truth, as well as for the wisdom of God, of which James says, “The wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.”—James 3:17

As water has always been essential for the growth of vegetation, so also the ‘river of life’ is related to the ‘tree of life.’ In a desert land, where there is limited rainfall, the flow of a river through the land can easily be discerned by the green vegetation growing along its banks. In lands where the rainfall is normal, the vegetation is far more copious along the banks of the river. So also in this city: where the river of life flows, the tree of life grows on both sides of the river. This life-giving vegetation represents the sustenance of eternal life available for all the willing and obedient of his kingdom. “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.”—Rev. 22:2

Father Adam had access to such a tree; and when he disobeyed God, he was expelled from the Garden of Eden lest he partake of the fruit of this tree and continue to live. It is said that the fruits of this tree are ‘for the nations.’ These are akin to the fruits of the Spirit, such as “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance.” (Gal. 5:22,23) The natural minds of the people of earth will develop along these lines in the kingdom.

The first Psalm uses this same figure of a tree, planted by a river, in describing a godly man, “He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.” (Ps. 1:3) Although this scripture refers to the church class, called out of this ‘present evil world,’ it applies in principle to all the willing and obedient of mankind in Christ’s kingdom. The river of life will cause them to grow and prosper. Isaiah, in speaking of Christ’s kingdom, uses the same figure of speech, “A king shall reign in righteousness, and princes shall rule in judgment. And a man shall be as an hiding place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest; as rivers of water in a dry place, as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land.”—Isa. 32:1,2


The sixty-fifth Psalm in speaking of this kingdom, tells how all flesh shall come unto God, “O thou that hearest prayer, unto thee shall all flesh come.” (vs. 2) The “river of God,” mentioned in the ninth verse of this psalm, flows to enrich the land (all mankind) and is this same river of life. “Thou visitest the earth, and waterest it: thou greatly enrichest it with the river of God, which is full of water: thou preparest them corn, when thou hast so provided for it. Thou waterest the ridges thereof abundantly: thou settlest the furrows thereof: thou makest it soft with showers: thou blessest the springing thereof. Thou crownest the year with thy goodness; and thy paths drop fatness. They drop upon the pastures of the wilderness: and the little hills rejoice on every side. The pastures are clothed with flocks; the valleys also are covered over with corn; they shout for joy, they also sing.”—vss. 9-13

All the elements of a prosperous and beautiful earth are animated and shown to give honor and glory to God, the Father, as this river of God flows through the earth.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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