It is profitable to look at the increase of spiritual power from this passage. The river of these verses speaks primarily of the fullness of blessing for Israels land and people in the glorious days yet to come, in the millennial Kingdom of the Messiah. However, we would like to lift principles from the passage and apply them in a practical way to believers today.
In considering the passage this way we divide it into two parts which are closely linked together. If we know practically what it means to have personal experience of the waters flowing from the Sanctuary, then these influences will be felt by those with whom we come in contact. "The waters came down from under from the right side of the house, at the south side of the altar" (v.1). The Lord Jesus Christ has been to the altar, and from the altar has passed to His place at the right hand of God. There He has been eternally glorified, as a result of which the stream of spiritual life and power began to flow in the coming of the gracious Spirit of God (Jn 7.37-39).
Personal Experience of the Waters (vv.1-7)
A thousand cubits were measured indicating advancement (v.3), then Ezekiel was brought through the waters, indicating practical experience. Every thousand cubits measured became the practical possession of Ezekiel who was led forward, ever advancing, making constant progress, his experience deepening all the time. Such is the mind of God for our spiritual experience today. It is not His mind that we become stationary and our experience becomes static and stagnant. God desires that we advance, make progress, and know more and still more of the spiritual power of our life eternal. He desires that we have a richer and fuller practical experience and appreciation of His ways and a deepening enjoyment of communion with Himself.
"The waters were to the ancles" (v.3) - the ministry of the Spirit of God affecting the believers walk or manner of life before God and men. "If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit" (Gal 5.25) - the idea is that of walking according to the dictates of the Spirit of God - step by step guided by, and gladly submitting to, the teaching of the Holy Spirit through the holy Scriptures. The gracious Spirit of God always and only guides by means of the Word of God of which He is Himself the author. The leading of the Spirit has to do with our whole manner of life (Rom 8.14; Gal 5.18).
"The waters were to the knees" (v.4) - the power and ministry of the Spirit influencing the believer in a life of prayer and sweet communion with God - "Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit" (Eph 6.18). Prayer engaged in, through the power of the Holy Spirit and guided by the intelligence of the Spirit - "The Spirit also helpeth our infirmities" (Rom 8.26-28). Prayer in the Spirit will be effective, for the Holy Spirit is thus bringing our desires into harmony with the will of God that we might will what He wills. "But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost" (Jude v.20) - thus in our prayer life, as motivated by the Spirit, we seek the working out of the ways of God in blessing, to the development of our spiritual lives and thus the fulfilment of His purposes.
"The waters were to the loins" (v.4) - the power of the Spirit imparting strength to be and to do what God desires of us. "Strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ might dwell in your hearts by faith" (Eph 3.16-17) - strengthened by the gracious Spirit of God to enthrone Christ as absolute Lord of ones life that He might hold the reigns of government and thus rule in every sphere. Only when Christ is enthroned in the heart are we able, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to press on with patience (under pressure), without succumbing to the circumstances of life, and to do it joyfully (Col 1.11). How good to know that His grace is sufficient for us in every circumstance of life (2 Cor 12.9).
"The waters were risen, waters to swim in, a river that could not be passed over" (v.5) the depth and richness of spiritual life that is eternal. "That ye might be filled with all the fulness of God" (Eph 3.19) - the quality and character of the life imparted to us (eternal life), gives us the capacity to know more and more of God, to have a deepening appreciation of Christ for ever and ever, as well as greater desires now to enjoy communion with God in the Sanctuary (Jn 17.3). "Increasing in the knowledge (full knowledge) of God" (Col 1.10) - the idea is of spiritual growth through the enjoyment of fellowship with God, resulting in Christ-likeness in our lives. "O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!" (Rom 11.33-36).
The Influence of the Waters (vv.7-12)
Wherever the waters flow, they carry with them life that produces food, fruit, fragrance, and beauty. It is the gracious Spirit of God who provides food for every believer, producing fruit in the life that is fragrant to God and thus beautifying that believer with Christ-likeness. The food is the Word of God, being the product of the Spirit (1 Cor 2.13; 2 Tim 3.16; 1 Pet 1.11; 2 Pet 1.21) which produces the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5.22-23) in the believer, developing the moral features of Christ for the pleasure and glory of God. The willing submission of the believer to the workings of the Spirit will result, not only in spiritual enrichment, but, in spiritual power and holiness which will have its influence upon all who are brought into touch with that believer.
Verse 11 shows that there are places that will not be healed or influenced for good, which remind us of the flesh which will never change but will be eradicated at the coming of Christ. Thus we make no provision for the flesh (Rom 13.14), having no confidence in the flesh (Phil 3.3), but we yield ourselves to the Spirits influence (Eph 5.18), walking in the Spirit and not, therefore, fulfilling the lust of the flesh (Gal 5.16).