The River of Living Waters
A reading for Tuesday, March 10, 2015: John 7:37-52.
The Feast of Booths is a seven day festival, held in the middle of the month of either September or October. It is an agricultural festival commemorating all that God has done for the Israelites in delivering them from 40 days in the desert after escaping Egypt. In the ancient world, it was a time for pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Over the course of the seven days, each family moves from their house to a sukkoth, a booth, surrounded by palm branches. Meals are eaten in the booth, and some even sleep there. Each day they wave some of the branches to celebrate the abundance of God's blessings. The spartan surroundings of the booth are intended to remind the people of God that it is only God that provides for their needs...
On the last day of this festival, Jesus stood to remind the people from where their blessings come. The scriptural reference is "Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water." There is no specific translation for this from the Old Testament, and most scholars think Jesus is referring to a series of scriptures from the Exodus period that identify God as the source of blessings. Moses and the striking of the rock, from which water poured forward. Psalm 23, in which David claims his cup overflows. Isaiah 58, an image of blessings flowing forth like a spring.
The point Jesus makes is that he is the rock from which flowing springs of the Spirit will come. Jesus is the believer, from whose heart flows rivers of living water. We are given a great blessing by God in Jesus Christ, who is always the source of all our blessings. It is Jesus that provides for our needs.
We do not still celebrate the Festival of Booths, but thanks be to God we can still wave our hands, celebrate with our family good food, and give God the glory for all the blessings we enjoy!