The Pool of Bethesda and the River of Ezekiel 47

A conference speaker had compared John 5:1-4 and Ezekiel 47:1-12 to the change in seasons with the government of the church from pastoral to apostolic.  I also threw in Revelations 22:1-2 to further enhance Ezekiel 47’s meaning.

This parallel between the two intrigued me. After praying and chewing on the truth, this is my interpretation of the two passages and their significance for today.

Ezekiel 47:1-12 1. Then he brought me back to the door of the house; and behold, water was flowing from under the threshold of the house toward the east, for the house faced east. And the water was flowing down from under, from the right side of the house, from south of the altar. 2 He brought me out by way of the north gate and led me around on the outside to the outer gate by way of the gate that faces east. And behold, water was trickling from the south side. 3 When the man went out toward the east with a line in his hand, he measured a thousand cubits, and he led me through the water, water reaching the ankles. 4 Again he measured a thousand and led me through the water, water reaching the knees. Again he measured a thousand and led me through the water, water reaching the loins. 5 Again he measured a thousand; and it was a river that I could not ford, for the water had risen, enough water to swim in, a river that could not be forded. 6 He said to me, “Son of man, have you seen this?” Then he brought me back to the bank of the river. 7 Now when I had returned, behold, on the bank of the river there were very many trees on the one side and on the other. 8 Then he said to me, “These waters go out toward the eastern region and go down into the Arabah; then they go toward the sea, being made to flow into the sea, and the waters of the sea become fresh. 9 “It will come about that every living creature which swarms in every place where the river goes, will live. And there will be very many fish, for these waters go there and the others become fresh; so everything will live where the river goes. 10 “And it will come about that fishermen will stand beside it; from Engedi to Eneglaim there will be a place for the spreading of nets. Their fish will be according to their kinds, like the fish of the Great Sea, very many. 11 “But its swamps and marshes will not become fresh; they will be left for salt. 12 “By the river on its bank, on one side and on the other, will grow all kinds of trees for food. Their leaves will not wither and their fruit will not fail. They will bear every month because their water flows from the sanctuary, and their fruit will be for food and their leaves for healing.”  

Revelations 22:1 Then he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb, 2 in the middle of its street. On either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.

John 5:1 After these things there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 2 Now there is in Jerusalem by the sheep gate a pool, which is called in Hebrew Bethesda, having five porticoes. 3 In these lay a multitude of those who were sick, blind, lame, and withered, [waiting for the moving of the waters; 4 for an angel of the Lord went down at certain seasons into the pool and stirred up the water; whoever then first, after the stirring up of the water, stepped in was made well from whatever disease with which he was afflicted.]

The blueprint of heaven is to bring healing to the nations, not to just stir the waters of past season’s stagnancy. The pool of Bethesda represented the static model of bringing people to a building to receive a touch from God rather than flowing out into the world to bring God’s blessing to all.

To some extent, what we do on earth mirrors the structure and initiatives found in heaven. Many traditional churches and services mirror the throne room of God. The temple in Jerusalem serves as another example. There was the sacrifice of worship and then the release of God’s word or blessings on the land. Most followed this format.

The river flowing from the throne of God in Revelations 22 will bring healing to the nations during the earthly rule and reign of Jesus, but the work begins in earnest now. Just as the angels of the Lord will gather in the harvest of souls at the end of time, we are called as vanguard troops to bring in the harvest now. The healing of the nations flows out from the presence of God now. We start the process of evangelism and the angels of God will finish the job (Matt 24:31). We, however, mirror heavens intent.

As we venture further out from the safe confines of our church buildings and structures, the water of God’s river rises on our lives and on those we touch (Ezek 47). It starts from the ankles and increases to the point where we cannot ford this river. It’s a step of faith to jump into the river. It’s safer to stay in the pool of Bethesda, but the presence of God for healing and miracles is sporadic and scanty there. The river of God (Ezek 47) brings definite miracles and results; it brings increased levels of anointing the further one goes out into the world. It defies logic. It supports faith. It brings life. It’s apostolic!

These are the characteristics of the old model of church or the Pool of Bethesda:

1. Fixed to one geographical location.

2. Only a few get touched

3. It breeds competition

4. It breeds unbelief

5. It cultivates weird, in-grown theology

6. Limits the power and presence of God

7. It weakens our dependence on God

8. It’s boring

9. The presence and touch of God are seasonal

10. Man can control this.

11. It produces spiritual stagnancy

12. It’s stressful and produces grumpiness


These are the characteristics of an Ezekiel 47 church:

1. Many are touched by the presence of God

2. Fluid and expansive in its sphere of influence

3. The presence of God grows stronger and more concentrated as one ventures out from home base.

4. It nurtures and strengthens faith.

5. It inspires new and innovative theology (not heresy)

6. It strengthens our dependence on God

7. It breeds teamwork

8. It’s fun.   

9. The presence and touch of God are 24/7

10. Man cannot control this.

11. It produces life

12. It’s restful and happy


The ones who do not make this break from static to fluid will become like the marshes and swamps in Ezek 47:11. Gone are the days when we bring people to a building as the sole way of reaching out. It’s time to jump into the river of God.

As we ride this river of God out into the world, healing, cleansing, and spiritual life start to overwhelm wherever our feet tread. Many will profit.  Other fishermen (churches) will be able to spread their nets too. Teamwork and cooperation will proliferate. Competition cannot take root because the work and presence of God are boundless in the vast expanse of the Arabahs of this world. If we stick to our church buildings then spiritual death ensues. Our focus becomes inward. We start to fight and compete. We get jealous.

Right now, churches are solidifying and strengthening themselves for future release and expansion.  It’s not a one-denomination expansion, nor a one-man show expansion, neither a one-church expansion, but a bona fide Kingdom of God  expansion. It will be bigger than one fellowship. It will spill over the banks and effect many. God will lead this, not man. Spiritual elitism will find no place in this move. Our only responsibility is to jump into the river of God. He will take us where he wants us to go.

How do we practically implement this new move? I honestly do not know how. I just know it will happen. It will be bigger than any Christian movement up to this day. I have a sneaky feeling that it has something to do with a deep personal relationship with God. Actually, it’s more than a sneaky feeling, but a definite conviction. From this friendship covenant, God will reveal his secrets  to us(Ps 25:14). If we continually focus on programs over relationship, then we will miss this new initiative by God.  Jumping into the river of God requires relationship with God. It’s that simple.    

The dead, stagnant waters of this world are crying out for refreshment and cleansing.  The old church model is failing and being eclipsed by the new. God will hasten this move.

“The afflicted and needy are seeking water, but there is none, And their tongue is parched with thirst; I, the Lord will answer them Myself, As the God of Israel I will not forsake them. I will open up rivers on the bare heights And springs in the midst of the valleys; I will make the wilderness a pool of water And the dry land fountains of water. I will put the cedar in the wilderness, the acacia and the myrtle and the olive tree; I will place the juniper in the desert Together with the box tree and the cypress, That they may see and recognize, And consider and gain insight as well, That the hand of the Lord has done this, And the Holy One of Israel has created it.”

Isaiah 41:17-20

1 Comment

  1. Leona Lin

    Awesome! We want this to be part of our daily life. We saw the third Narnia movie and feel that this passage spoke elements of what is to come. We are excited for 2011. We still need a mind set transformation to see family crisis as opportunities to see God’s hand in action and not get caught up with the emotions of crisis. Thank you for having this on the website and for allowing us to have access to the insights of the time.

    Aloha, Leona & Peili Lin