Is Our Christianity Filled With Tradition Or Reality?
"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 believes on me, as the scripture has said, out of his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water." (John 7:37-38)
Jesus cried out these words in the midst of a solemn ritual in which the Jewish priests would recite the words of Isaiah in chapter 12. (See also Isaiah 55)
"And in that day your will say: 'O LORD, I will praise you; though you were angry with me, your anger is turned away, and you comfort me. Behold, God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid; for YAH, the LORD, is my strength and song; He also has become my salvation.'"
Leviticus 23:34-36 tells us:
"Speak to the children of Israel, saying: 'The fifteenth day of this seventh month shall be the feast of Tabernacles for seven days to the LORD. On the first day there shall be a holy convocation. You shall do no customary work on it. For seven days you shall offer an offering made by fire to the LORD. On the eight day you shall have a holy convocation, and you shall offer an offering made by fire to the LORD. It is a sacred assembly, and you shall do NO CUSTOMARY work on it.'"
"Therefore with joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. And in that day you will say: 'Praise the Lord, call upon His name; declare His deeds among the peoples, make mention that His name is exalted.
Sing to the LORD, for He has done excellent things; that is known in all the earth. Cry out and shout, O inhabitant of Zion, For great is the Holy One of Israel in your midst!'" (Psalm 12)
Ezekiel, the Jewish prophet had a vision waters flowed from the House of God into the desert. The waters got deeper and deeper from ankle deep all the way to waters in which one could swim. This water brought life and healed the sea (multitude of people). (Ezekiel 47)
The Scriptures declare Jesus' body is the temple of God. That's us folks. Out of this temple which WE are should flow these healing waters that bring life to the desert places of this world. Obviously these "desert places" are not sand, He is speaking of thirsty people…those hungry for spiritual waters which should flow from His people.
Jesus, the Chief Cornerstone of the Temple of God literally fulfilled these Scriptures while He was here on earth. He went through the parched desert places of Israel (both throughout the land named Israel and a people named Israel) and He literally became a living river which healed the peoples of Israel. Everywhere He went He taught them to restore their minds which were without understanding. He cast out demons, and He healed the physically sick. He truly brought life to the dry barren souls of Israel who were filled with traditions of men which brought no life.
As Jesus cried out those living words "Come unto Me," the priests continued on with their ritual (tradition), took a gold pitcher of water from the pool of Siloam (which means "sent" in Hebrew.), made a long procession to the Temple and poured out its contents on the altar of sacrifice. This ritual was to commemorate when Israel received water in the desert from the Rock which Moses smote. (So much could be said here, but it would take to much space. The church has become filled with thousands of empty rituals of all kinds.)
In Jesus' day, few Jews could read and if they could they certainly did NOT have a copy of the Scriptures to read anyway. They learned much of what they knew of their religion from the "traditional" rites which the priests performed. Of course, there is no life in any ritual. The purpose of those traditions was to REMEMBER the REALITY of what God truly performed when God chose Israel. Every "ritual" pointed to LIFE!! But when that LIFE (Jesus) manifested among them, they could not see that LIFE because they were so caught up in their rituals. They had become idolaters without even being aware of it. They were in unbelief. They watched the rituals, heard the Scriptures being read as the rituals were performed, sang a few songs… and went home…empty.
How much of our "Christian" tradition is no more than the rituals the Jews performed? And how many Scriptures do we read or have heard never having received the reality, the LIFE behind those words? "Out of YOUR bellies shall flow RIVERS OF LIVING WATER!! What did the waters that flowed from Jesus do to those to whom He came? They brought healing, spirit, soul, and body. Jesus came but to the lost sheep of the House of Israel (which means "Princes with God"). He has created a BODY, which we are. And we are to do the same things He did AND greater things than these shall we do because He went to the Father. (John 14:12) Do we believe this? Or are we, too, merely going to the pool of Siloam with our gold pitcher making great tradition, but void of power.
Is our Christian life nothing more than Easter, Christmas, weekly Sunday Service, mid-week Bible study, reading the Scriptures but never receiving the life behind them? Is our hope in "flying away?"
"If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. 'He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.'
But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified." (John 7:37-39)
I'm afraid, we, Christians have turned the Scriptures concerning the Holy Spirit and His power into the same thing the Jews did 1900 years ago. Oh, we can quote the Scriptures concerning the Holy Spirit; we can even sing great songs about the Holy Spirit. But can we manifest the power of the Holy Spirit which flowed from Jesus and early Christians? Or do we offer up excuses?
"And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God." (1 Cor. 2:1-4)
Shall we offer unto our God, rituals, remembrances, memorized Scriptures, traditions, etc.? Or shall we offer Him this day…repentance…turning away from our idolatries which we have called realities but in which has not been life, neither for ourselves nor to those to whom He has "sent" us? Will we go to the pool of Siloam with our gold pitcher or will we go to the Captain of our Salvation and drink of Him…allowing Him to prime the pump in us so that those Rivers of Living Water truly flow out of us to bring comfort to those dry souls all around us?
Brothers and sisters in the Lord, it is just as easy for us to enter into idolatry as it was the first "chosen people" of God. Shall we walk away from our idolatries and traditions and enter the waters Ezekiel prophesied about? Step by step, ankle deep, then knee deep and finally be free enough from the traditions of men and doctrines of demons to freely swim in the waters of Life?
"I have come that you might have life….AND MORE ABUNDANTLY!! (John 10:10) Christians, this life is on THIS side of the grave, NOT the other side. Let us go to Him, even if it means being ridiculed by those who have made their graves in empty words and traditions and let us be filled with the Holy Spirit. Let us go to the Rock of our Salvation, freely drink of Him and turn our earth (us and those to whom God has sent us) into paradise again.
"Those who come He shall cause to take root in Jacob; Israel shall blossom and bud, and fill the face of the world with fruit." Isaiah 27:6
"The wilderness and wasteland shall be glad for them, and the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose; it shall blossom abundantly and rejoice." Isaiah 35:1-2