Have you ever noticed the abundance of events involving water
in the Bible that relate miraculous events, dramatically contrary
to nature? Some include monumental occurrences in which God has
moved powerfully to deflect the flow of seas and streams to protect
His chosen people, the Israelites.
What makes the Bible so fascinating is that the themes of these
amazing water stories vary widely, like when Jesus, at Mother Mary's
urging, turned some into the finest quality wine to avoid embarrassment
to the groom at a Cana wedding. Another was when Christ calmly ordered
a vicious storm to cease on the Sea of Galilee and even walked on
its surface without sinking.
One of the most awesome water miracles, according to the Book of
Genesis, is chronicled in the first chapter of Genesis. God calls
for an "expanse" to separate "water from water"
which led to formation of the sky and simultaneously He gathered
water under it and called that "the seas."
It's hard for relatively puny man, whose power and authority are
so inferior to His to even imagine such levels of creation. Moreover,
He continued with other marvelous work during His first week of
God-production. Next were "the great creatures of the sea and
every living and moving thing with which the water teems."
Much of what he ordered to be "fruitful and increase in number"
continues to feed mankind and keep the forces of nature humming
Exodus, the next book of the Bible, relates another display of God's
tremendous "water power." It's one of the plagues he brought
about to force Pharaoh to release the Israelites from four hundred
years of slavery: turning the water of the Nile River into blood,
killing fish and depriving the Egyptians of drinking water. They
were scratching around the banks of the big river for some time
to stay alive.
Finally, Pharaoh had enough of God's plagues and he permitted thousands
of the Israelites to leave Egypt. But he later changed his mind
and sent troops off to re-capture them. At the Red Sea, God ordered
Moses to stretch out his staff and suddenly the sea dramatically
parted. The Israelis escaped across it on dry land, with what Exodus
14 describes as a "wall of water" on both sides.
However, God was intent on further protecting the fleeing Israelites
and when the warrior-laden chariots of Pharaoh tried to cross, God
made the water resume its normal level drowning them all. To celebrate
God's victory over Pharaoh's forces, Moses, his brother Aaron and
their sister Miriam and the other Israelis celebrated and sang how
"The horse and its rider He has hurled into the sea."
Additional events are recorded in the Bible concerning how God wielded
his dominance over water, a good thing for His beloved Israelites.
For instance, when they were staggering around in the desert, thirsty
and grumbling. God instructed Moses to strike a rock at Horeb. He
did so and drinking water gushed forth. At another place called
Marah, the people were thirsty but the water was too bitter to drink.
God had Moses toss in a piece of wood and the water became potable,
"sweet" according to the Bible. Then He led them to Elim,
where there were twelve springs to quench their thirst, one for
each of the tribes of Israelites. Psalm 78 sums it up this way:
"He split the hard rocks in the wilderness and gave them drink as
from the great deep. He brought streams out of the cliff and the
waters gushed out like rivers."
The Bible is replete with other accounts, including an occurrence
at the Jordan River that must have reminded some of the weary travelers
who still survived of the time God split the Red Sea. After forty
years of wandering, Joshua and the Israelites were ready to cross
the Jordan to invade the land west of it that God had promised.
It was harvest time when the river flows heaviest. But the God who
controls the laws of nature and water levels wasn't about to allow
that to deter Joshua and the Israelites, who were traveling with
the Ark of the Covenant.
God ordered the priests and the ark to halt as soon as the priests'
feet touched the water, as scripture relates, and immediately the
flow of the Jordan ceased. The water dammed up and the Israelites
crossed over through the Jordan "on dry ground," the Bible
says. When the ark and the priests finished the crossing, the river
resumed its flow. Consequently, the leaders of the twelve tribes
planted stones to memorialize another display of God's faithfulness,
love and protection to His chosen people as they prepared in force
to wage war against nearby Jericho.
Who has ever read the Bible or attended Christian plays or films
could fail to be impressed at the famous story of Noah and his faithful
family? How God told Noah to build an ark because he planned to
drown all other persons on earth because of sinful lives. And how
incessant rainfall and flooding followed to wipe out virtually all
of mankind, except Noah and his relatives.
Leaping forward a few thousand years, an historical water show staged
by God the Father and Christ, His Son, is traced in the New Testament.
The Book of Matthew describes how John the Baptizer was calling
sinners to repentance and baptizing in the Jordan River, perhaps
not far from where the Israelites invaded what was later called
the Holy Land.
John had noted that he baptized with water but prophesied that the
Messiah would come, who would baptize with "the Holy Spirit
and with fire." Jesus approaches to be baptized, over the objections
of John. He recognized Christ, the Messiah, and insisted that Jesus
should baptize him, but went through with it at the request of Jesus
to fulfill all "righteousness."
Another astounding tableau follows for the passage goes on to say
"as soon as Jesus was baptized, He went up out of the water."
At that moment heaven was opened and the Spirit of God descended
like a dove upon Him. And a voice from heaven said, "This is
my Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased."
It is also noteworthy that Jesus drew some of his most prominent
apostles from people of the sea, fishermen, who gladly surrendered
their professions to follow Christ. Perhaps the most prominent of
the apostles was Peter. He was in a state of shock after Jesus navigated
him to a spot in the Sea of Galilee where his nets were full to
the breaking point after they had come up in empty a short time
before. Once again, it was God performing another miracle at sea.
No wonder several fishermen gave up their boats and nets and fell
in line when Jesus said, "follow me" and they became apostles
and "fishers of men."
Another story worth visiting is that of the Samaritan woman at a
well in Sychar, whom Jesus asked for a drink of water. She was surprised
since Jews from Judea and Samaritans didn't relate well because
of religious and cultural differences.
If she knew His identity, Jesus informed her, she could have requested
and received "living water" that leads to eternal life,
referring to Himself. John reports Jesus later revealed he was the
Messiah and the woman's testimony about Jesus and a two-day stay
with the Samaritans resulted in many conversions. Like them, millions
of sinners down through the ages have believed, repented and indulged
in the "living water" of Jesus Christ to spend eternity
with a mighty God.
Water, in essence, or lack of it, takes on an ironic slant during
Jesus' suffering on the cross, His deathbed to redeem mankind. In
some final words, He moaned, "I thirst." But the "Creator"
of billions and billions of tons of water chronicled in Genesis
was provided none, only vinegar, which He rejected.
Three years earlier, after fasting for forty days in the desert
following His baptism in the Jordan River, angels ministered to
Him with water and food. He could have summoned them again to end
His suffering and save His life. He chose instead an agonizing death
as the sacrificial Lamb of God to save us from eternal damnation.
Taking on human form, Christ "dwelt among us" in human
form and proved that just as He proclaimed in John 15:13, "Greater
love has no one than this, that one lay down his life his friends."