THE TALE OF THE WATERS
By ED SPURLIN
(Hebrew Names Restored)
Ever since that anticlimax of Y2K, we seem to have lost our perspective of where we are in Yahweh's scheme of things. Prior to January 1, we had a clear vision of coming disaster, albeit concealed behind the false facade of the collapse of our technological house of cards. But now it's gone, and we suddenly have entered a time of uncertainty. Was it all merely a modern day case of "Chicken Little," fleeing the imminent collapse of heaven itself? Or is there something more we need to beware, that we've lost sight of?.
Yahweh can use even our seemingly mundane circumstances to give us insight and perspective-if we're patient enough to listen. A few evenings ago, He did just that as I walked by the river at dusk. There wasn't a trace of a breeze blowing, so the surface of the water was like glass, without the slightest hint of movement. As I approached the dam in the river, the water flow appeared to be totally unmoving and inert, without the slightest ripple.
Only as the water reached the back edge of the dam itself was there any perceivable change. As the flow encountered the edge of the dam, it increased in speed, and its level dropped by perhaps half an inch, in a very noticeable line. Other than that, it was still reasonably smooth, with only a few slight ripples, as it sped up to plunge over the edge.
When it reached the edge, it was as though the bottom dropped out beneath the otherwise smooth surface, and it cascaded downward to the churning foam below. From that point onward, the river was a long series of swift, churning rapids.
The dam is composed of two sections, divided in the middle by a large rock. On the near side, there is a sluice gate that exits the river flow at its closest extreme, plunging through a series of lesser steps, and over a rocky ledge, to the river surface below. Positioned upstream of the rock was a long narrow wedge of ice chunks that had collected between the divided flows leading to the two sections of the dam. They remained peaceably wedged behind this rock, even though everything else in the water eventually passed on by, to either side.
It all seems pretty ordinary, what's the big deal? As I watched, Yahweh began to explain the meaning of what I was seeing, in relation to what's happening around us. The peaceful, but imperceptibly incessant, flow of the river represents our present state in the passage of Yahweh's time. Sooner or later, whether we're aware of it or not, we are all being swept towards this place of tumultuous collapse. All of the water eventually was swept over the brink into the turmoil of the rapids beyond.
The dividing of the river also has significance. One section swept unhindered over the edge, with no perceivable means of escape. This section represents the fate of the unsaved, who are blissfully sailing down life's stream, approaching imminent and unavoidable destruction. Whereas on the nearer section, the flow divided: part went over the dam, just as on the other side, while another stream departed at almost right angles, appearing' to by- pass the damage that lay ahead completely, into the seemingly security of the pen stock housing - which merely concealed its tumultuous destiny from view. By this latter path, the initial collapse was much less drastic; but the flow over the rocky ledges, only to drop still further, promised a long, torturous alternative to what would have been a sudden, dramatic initiation into strife.
This represents two of the alternatives offered to the believer. Most of the flow proceeded over the edge, unhindered. This represents the state of most of the nominal church, who are blissfully Unaware of the impending time of judgment, as they sail along, lulled by the lies of the dominion, pre-trib raptures, and of continued prosperity. Their collapse will be sudden and totally without warning.
The diversionary channel represents the course of those who have perceived the coming danger, and have chosen to seek some form of escape, by their own devices. They are steering towards the apparent shelter offered by the pen stock, without realizing that it merely conceals the tumultuous collapse, while offering no protection from it. They will ultimately end up going through the same rapids as everyone else; but meanwhile, their collapse will come in stages, intermingled with a long series of rocky lulls in between.
When I asked Yahweh where we were in time, He pointed out the slight drop in the surface level, which lay above the inward edge of the dam. Here the level dropped, almost imperceptibly, as it picked up speed to rush headlong over the edge. This is what we've just been through with Y2K. People have perceived the approaching collapse, but were unable to pinpoint when it would happen, and what it represented. In actuality, it was almost a "nonevent," as it really didn't bring about the expected collapse at all. We're still moving along fairly smoothly, as though nothing has happened.
What we don't understand is that we are now passing over the very barrier that has, until now, restrained the flow, allowing for our peaceful and leisurely journey that we've enjoyed up until now. Our rate of travel has suddenly' accelerated; although, because it's still smooth, most are unaware of what's happened. But the dam is only about a foot wide, compared to the miles of flow on either side of it. Everything appears unchanged now, but we are being swept at an ever increasing rate, to the precipice that lies just ahead.
What do we do about it? As we've already seen, the escape route that so many are striving for conceals a rocky path that still leads to the same place of turmoil downstream. As long as we remain within the flow, which almost doesn't appear to be moving, we will eventually be swept over the edge. We could swim against the current; but eventually we will tire of that, and we'll be caught up once again. What can we do?
The answer lies in the rock that separates the two sections of the dam, and their equally incessant flow. Here, caught up in the current, directly upstream of it, was a long narrow wedge of ice chunks and debris, which were being held firmly against the rock by the pressure of the flow. As long as the material remained centered on the rock, it remained unmoved. Any portion that ventured too far to either side would be caught up again by the flow, along with some of the adjoining material; and it, too, would be lost.
Those which remained centered on the rock were unmoved, and the very current that swept everything else away, only served to press them ever tighter to the rock's protective cover. They weren't isolated from the current; rather instead the pressure served to increase their abiding safety.
The symbolism is unmistakable. The rock is the Messiah, who is dwelling in the very midst of the flood, positioned at the very brink of destruction. His presence divides the flow, just as in the world. He is a stumbling stone of offense that divides Yahweh's people from those of the world But merely being separated from the worldly flow isn't enough. Unless our lives are centered on Him, we, too, will be swept to the same trials and possible destruction as the world. In fact, as illustrated by the river's flow, the believers will reach the brink of destruction first before the unbelievers. Even those who sought the false shelter of fleshly escape will fall before the unbelievers.
However, those who will seek the shelter of the "cleft of the rock" will remain unmoved. The pressure of approaching destruction will only cause them to draw closer to Him, and to press ever tighter to His sheltering embrace. Those who have rejected the call to repentance, who still have areas of fleshly desire dominating their lives, will not be content to remain stationary in Him. Instead they will be tempted to venture out into the flow again, because it appears smooth and tranquil But once exposed, outside of the shelter of His presence they will be quickly swept away, just like those who had never known Him or sought Him.
Many today are turned towards a nominal expression of faith, but as seen by the river's example, most of them will never encounter Him, and will be swept to destruction, just the same as those who rejected all hope. Only a tiny remnant will align themselves carefully by His word, so as to avail themselves of His sheltering, unmoving embrace. As long as they maintain their stance, steadfast in His truth, they will be unmoved and will endure to the end-- no matter what floods sweep past them.
They will know the pressure of the flood, and they will sense the imminency of the danger; but their hearts will be held steadfastly, as they are pressed ever tighter into His embrace. This way to life is incredibly narrow; but its security is unbroachable. Those who set their minds and hearts upon Him, crucifying every distracting impulse to return to the ways of the world, will endure and triumph in Him. Those who reject Him, or who ignore His presence, seeking only the nominal comfort of the mass experience, or who seek to create their own path of escape, will all perish.
Who has ears to hear the messages that the Spirit presents all around us? May his faith remain steadfast.
(Reprinted from 'VOICE IN THE WILDERNESS," February, 2000, Vol. 7, Issue 2, VIW Ministries, Milford, NH by 'The Herald Of Truth')