Have You Been Watching?

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 to the eastern entrance. There I could see the water flowing out through the south side of the east gateway.

Measuring as he went, he took me along the stream for 1,750 feet and then led me across. The water was up to my ankles. He measured off another 1,750 feet and led me across again. This time the water was up to my knees. After another 1,750 feet, it was up to my waist. Then he measured another 1,750 feet, and the river was too deep to walk across. It was deep enough to swim in, but too deep to walk through.

He asked me, “Have you been watching, son of man?” Then he led me back along the riverbank. When I returned, I was surprised by the sight of many trees growing on both sides of the river. Then he said to me, “This river flows east through the desert into the valley of the Dead Sea. The waters of this stream will make the salty waters of the Dead Sea fresh and pure. There will be swarms of living things wherever the water of this river flows. Fish will abound in the Dead Sea, for its waters will become fresh. Life will flourish wherever this water flows.” (Ezekiel 47:1–9 NLT)

This text has been the inspiration of countless personal devotionals, sermons, and songs over the years. In fact, two songs come to mind immediately. The first, a Children’s Church classic. I could not begin to count the number of times I have sung, danced, and motioned along while shouting, “I’ve got a river of life flowing out of me, makes the lame to walk and the blind to see.” There is marching, clapping, and pure joy when sung and acted out with a group of excited children at a Vacation Bible School or a Sunday kids’ church gathering. That beautiful song of praise transports me to wonderful memories.

The second song has a similar impact on me. I remember years ago leading a weekend service project at a Rescue Mission, where we lived among God’s wonderful people. Each morning, they started their day very early in song together as a staff of volunteers and residents. The song they sang each morning stated, “I woke up this morning with my mind stayed on Jesus.” All these years later, I can hear the dear woman weeping as she sang and the man clapping vibrantly nearby. But today as I read Ezekiel and sing these two beautiful choruses of praise, all I can hear is God’s question to Ezekiel then, and to us now, “Have you been watching, son of man?” Oh, that God would find us watching his wonderful deeds and celebrating his impossible acts.