“If Any Man Thirst…”
By Dave Hunt
If any man thirst. What “thirst” is this? Blaise Pascal said, “I count only two men rational: the man who loves God with all his heart because he has found Him, and the man who seeks God with all his heart because he has as yet found Him not.” By those criteria, most of mankind are not rational. The average person who claims to believe in God (as does the vast majority in America) is too preoccupied with himself to give God much time or serious thought.
Pascal was only agreeing with Scripture, which declares that thirst for God should be man’s normal experience: “As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God…” (Ps:42:1,2); “O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is; To see thy power and thy glory, so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary” (Ps:63:1).
How many of us who call ourselves Christians have this passion for God? How is it possible that we can fail to love with all our hearts the One who is our Creator and Redeemer, who loves us “with an everlasting love” and has drawn us to Himself “with lovingkindness” (Jer:31:3)? Does our loving, heavenly Father really have our hearts’ full affection? Is it possible that He grieves over some of us as He did over Israel: “my people have forgotten me days without number” (Jer:2:32)?
A man made in the image of God and cut off from Him by sin should be conscious of great spiritual thirst. Though many try to ignore or to slake it with that which can never satisfy, there is an acute sense in every man’s innermost being that something is seriously wrong, that something vital is missing. Because God made us for Himself, there is in all men an emptiness that nothing in this temporary physical world can fill. Only God himself can satisfy that otherwise insatiable longing. And those who have experienced the wonder and satisfaction of that thirst-quenching drink of first acquaintance, thereafter drink of Him ever more deeply.
Offering to satisfy this thirst, God cries out to all mankind: “Ho, everyone that thirsteth, come ye to the waters….come, buy wine and milk without…price. Wherefore do ye spend money…and your labour for that which satisfieth not?…Hear, and your soul shall live…” (Isa:55:1-3). Obviously the reference is not to physical water, wine, or milk—much less to so-called “holy water” supposedly blessed by a priest. This water must be drunk by the soul and spirit, and its source can only be that “pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb” (Rev:22:1).
Thus Isaiah the prophet goes on to say, “Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon” (Isa:55:6,7). God promises, “ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart” (Jer:29:13). Who would seek with all his heart but the person who thirsts for God with the passion of a hart seeking a drink after being pursued by a lion?
Tragically, man’s natural tendency is not to seek the true God to whose will we must submit, but a false god that will magically fulfill selfish ambitions. There is a vast difference between praying for God to grant one’s fleshly desires, and submissively praying for that which God in His wisdom and love knows that one needs.
Hear the sadness in God’s heart: “Be astonished, O ye heavens…and be horribly afraid….For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out…broken cisterns, that can hold no water” (Jer:2:12,13). The poet wrote: “I tried the broken cisterns, Lord, But O the waters failed. E’en as I stooped to drink they fled, And mocked me as I wailed.”
Christ promised to quench this thirst in the hearts of all men. By that very promise He declares that He is the “fountain of living waters” whom Israel forsook and as a people still rejects today—as does almost the entire world. To the woman at the well Jesus said, “Whosoever drinketh of this [physical] water shall thirst again: But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life” (Jn:4:13,14). Is that lifegiving flow springing up within us to give life to those all around us who desperately need Him?
On the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles, “Jesus stood and cried…If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive…)” (Jn:7:37,38). Again Jesus is declaring that He is the very God of Israel who in the Old Testament called all mankind unto Himself to quench their spiritual thirst. Christ can only be referring to the thirst for God which the psalmists expressed so poignantly—and He is calling all mankind to come and drink of Him.
The quenching of this thirst is the major topic of the last two chapters of the Bible: “I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely” (Rev:21:6). He “that sat upon the throne” (21:5) is the One making this promise, who also calls Himself the “Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end” (v. 6). This expression is found three more times. In Revelation:1:8, the Alpha and the Omega calls Himself “the Almighty.” That phrase is found 43 other times in the Bible, all in the Old Testament, always in reference to the God of Israel, Creator of the universe. In this 44th and last time, it is very clear that “the Almighty” is Jesus Christ, yet also the God of Israel, exactly as He said: “I and my Father are one” (Jn:10:30).
When John turns “to see the voice” of the Alpha and Omega, he sees Christ in His glory: “…one like unto the Son of man,…out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword….And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he [said], Fear not; I am the first and the last: I am he that…was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore…” (Rev:1:12-18).
In 21:6 the “Alpha and Omega” is “he that sat upon the throne” (Rev:21:5) “of God and of the Lamb” (22:1) and who makes each overcomer His “son” (Rev:21:7)—clearly a reference to God the Father. The fourth time we have this expression is in 22:13, and there again, the Alpha and Omega is very clearly “Jesus…the root and the offspring of David” (22:16), reminding us again of His oneness with the Father (Jn:17:21-23). Significantly, this is God’s final appeal to all mankind: “And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely” (22:17).
This is a promise of everlasting life and of never thirsting in hell’s unquenchable fire, that fire which caused the rich man to cry out in pain for even a drop of water. Though he asks that it be put on his tongue, his physical body is in the grave. Is he still deceived by the materialism that deluded him all of his life and caused him to selfishly pursue riches? Or is he expressing at last a longing for that living water which he rejected and can never taste?
Those who take their first drink of God, through faith in Christ and His sacrifice for sin, drink unto eternal life, and in that sense never thirst again. But there is a continual drinking to maintain spiritual life and health and strength. Just as the physical body needs water ceaselessly, so the redeemed soul and spirit need to drink of Christ continually—ever more deeply and with ever-increasing joy and satisfaction. And that drinking of Christ will continue throughout eternity:
Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more;…For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes (Rev:7:14-17).
How do the soul and spirit drink? How can we experience greater fullness of Christ who also said, “Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you” (Jn:6:53)? Surely we no more ingest His physical body and blood than the spiritual water he offers is H2O! This eating and drinking is by faith: “He that believeth on me shall never thirst” (Jn:6:35). Truth is spiritual and the words which communicate it “are spirit, and they are life” (6:63), the very “word of life” which Paul said it is the duty of Christians to keep “holding forth” (Philippians:2:16). In the past we have seen that all words are spiritual. Thus the understanding is by the soul and spirit, not the body.
Language in its very nature is non-physical. Concepts such as justice and truth are beyond the reach of the five senses. Yet conceptual ideas, though not physical, can describe the physical universe as well as the universe of spirit. And because man lives in a physical body in a physical universe (both of which are temporary) and understands physical things, God presents spiritual truth in physical metaphor, analogy, symbolism and parable.
Einstein declared that matter and energy could not possibly give meaning to symbolic language. Thus linguists refer to the unbridgeable chasm between matter and meaning as the “Einstein gulf”—a gulf impossible for evolution to bridge. Though imprinted upon matter (such as the ink and paper you are reading), information exists independently of matter and energy, and can only originate from a nonmaterial intelligent source, i.e., from a mind.
We have previously reminded readers that the construction blueprints and operating instructions for the complicated chemical mechanisms and sophisticated feedback controls responsible for operating even the tiniest microscopic living organism are written in a coded language on the amazing substance called DNA. That the DNA itself could not be the source of this information is indisputable. Furthermore, the linguistic fact that random change in coded language does not result in improvement, but in rapid and chaotic deterioration, is the final spike driven through the coffin and the very heart of the satanic theory of evolution.
Man is a nonphysical and eternal being inhabiting a temporary physical body. Even the most primitive peoples are aware of this, and it is a fact easily proven, as we have seen in the past. Yet professing Christians who, of all people, ought to recognize and live by this truth, often deny it in practical daily living and even in their religious beliefs and practices. Man’s attachment to this temporary life and its deceitful pleasures and empty possessions blinds him to the spiritual and eternal dimension of reality.
This is most easily seen in the Roman Catholic reliance upon the supposed holiness and power of physical things such as scapulars, medals, relics, robes and vestments, while rejecting spiritual truth. There is great trust in alleged “holy water” while neglecting the “water of life” (Rev:21:6; 22:1, 17) which Christ offers freely to all. Millions of pilgrims journeyed from around the world to obtain supposed forgiveness of sins by walking through the four physical “holy doors” opened by the Pope for the Jubilee Year 2000, while failing to believe Christ’s spiritual promise: “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved…” (Jn:10:9).
Many Protestants are equally guilty of relying upon the physical act of baptism for salvation (even infant baptism) and the physical elements of bread and wine for spiritual food, as both Calvin and Luther taught. Even evangelicals often fail to understand the spiritual truth presented in Scripture. What does it mean in practical, daily terms to drink continually of Christ? What does He mean that those who drink of the water which He gives will have within them “a well of water springing up unto everlasting life”? Is there something that we Christians are missing in Christ’s promises concerning this living water which is Himself?
The communion bread and wine are to be taken “in remembrance” of Christ (Lk 22:19). Otherwise there is no value in eating and drinking the physical elements. A worthy “remembrance” requires deep meditation and communion with the Lord. Yet there is seldom time allowed for that spiritual essential in the concern to complete passing the physical elements from hand to hand—and keeping up with the “worship team.”
Of course we need not be “at church” to meditate upon our Lord in all that He is and has done for us. How often do we ask Him for a deeper understanding and appreciation of Himself? How often do we tell Him that we love Him with all our hearts? Is it Christ for whom we thirst, or something else that will pass away and which we certainly can’t take with us into eternity? David said his one desire was “…to behold the beauty of the LORD…” (Ps:27:4). We each need to ask ourselves, “What do I know of the beauty of the Lord and of enjoying His presence in my life?”
Jesus promised, “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness:for they shall be filled” (Mat:5:6). He who is our righteousness (1 Cor:1:30) should be the moment-by-moment object of our thirst and its continual satisfaction. And as a result, may that “well of living water” within overflow from us to satisfy the thirst of many others. TBC