Isaiah has been my summer Bible reading. As I was reading through chapter thirty-three, I paused at these words:
“But there (Zion) the Lord in majesty will be for us a place of broad rivers and streams . . .” (Is. 33:21a, ESV)
This imagery hit my senses . . . what an incredible picture of God.
Here are some other places scripture talks about God, or his presence, being related to this imagery of a river (found via biblegateway.com)
“Then the angle showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month…” (Rev. 22:1-2, ESV)
“He (the person who delights in God’s law) is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither.” (Ps. 1:3, ESV)
“There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God . . . “ (Ps. 46:4a, ESV)
“In my vision, the man brought me back to the entrance of the Temple. There I saw a stream flowing east from beneath the door of the Temple and passing to the right of the altar on its south side. The man brought me outside the wall through the north gateway and led me around the the eastern entrance. There I could see the water flowing out through the south side of the east gateway.” (Ezekiel 47:1-2, NLT) — (BTW, please read on in this beautiful chapter, the imagery of the river coming out of the place where God lives (the Temple) and changing the world, is epic. A river with no source except the presence of God!)
I looked up some commentary on Isaiah 33:21 (biblehub.com) and felt like I understood why this idea of God being a broad river and stream to Jerusalem (often called Zion, and while it is a physical location, holistically also refers to the people of God who live in the presence of God) would have been impactful for the audience reading this thousands of years ago — mainly because Jerusalem has NO river! The other countries around them have some great rivers (think Nile, Euphrates, Tigris, Tiber), but no great river in the city God chose for his people.
Here are some comments that stood out to me about God’s promise to his people to be like a place of broad rivers and streams:
“This remarkable promise suggests to me how in God there is the supply of deficiencies…every defect in our circumstances, everything lacking in our lives . . . everything which seems to hamper us in some aspects, and to sadden us in others . . . if there is in any life a gap, (there) is a prophecy that GOD WILL FILL IT.” (McLaren’s Expositions on Isaiah 33:21, found at biblehub.com/commentaries/isaiah/33-21.htm)
Today, think about the truth that God will always fill the gap if we follow and trust him. That God is to us like a place of broad rivers and streams — refreshing, brilliant, bright, refreshing, deep, full of life, moving, changing, bringing beauty and life to every place he touches.