I studied in Israel a few summers ago. It was a life-changing experience, in more ways than I can tell! Studying in Israel was one of the best things I have ever done but going in the summer was insane! Our small group was always drinking water just to stay alive!
Traveling around Israel in July is not for the weak of heart!
It was desperately hot like an oven! Oppressive, and the sun scorched everything it shone on! We would travel and tour and hike in the heat of the day! Crazy tourists! Only tourists would do something like that!
As I traveled with my group through Israel we all became aware that water was life to us and everything else! It also taught me a wonderful spiritual truth!
Can you picture us? A rag-tag group of very weary students dressed in holy garb (knees covered, shoulders covered, head covered) crisscrossing all of hot, dry Israel with water bottles in hand and wet wash clothes tied around our necks for comfort.
Our clothes were soaked with perspiration, that traveled in rivulets of uncomfortable sweat down our backs. Wearing baseball hats, and sunbonnets, and straw beach hats and sometimes wet rags, anything to keep the sun off of our heads. We were tired and always thirsty! What a sight we must have been!
We were a mish mosh traveling band getting first-hand experiences in the land we came to study!
We would always know how long and how arduous our daily treks would be without anyone telling us. The ease or difficulty of these hikes across the Israel countryside would correlate with the number of water bottles we were required to carry and drink.
A four-bottle hike would not be the “wee little stroll” our teacher told us, but a hilly, boulder climbing excursion with the top of a mountain as our goal.
One thing became quite apparent as we covered Israel, everything needed water!
Water is a precious commodity in Israel. I noticed something so interesting when I would look out over the dry parched land as we traveled by bus.
Once in a while, I would see a beautiful patch of green or a long green silver thread running through the color-of-a-dry-bone country.
When I would see green I would know that there was living water there. A stream or a river or a spring or even once, a waterfall!
Water would bring life and lushness back to even the dustiest, dead-looking land! It was an amazing sight!
The living water, water that gives life, would come tumbling over rocks in a dry bed, running along and splashing life to the dry ground around it!
And that ground was thirsty!!!! Who would have known that there was life in the bleached ground just waiting to be awakened by living water?
I also learned that not all water is living water.
Some water, which pools and is still, is not living water. Living water has a source and runs out from the source. It is active!
The closer to the source, like a spring or a mountain crevice, the purer the water.
Water that is not living water, like cisterns, can get stagnant and polluted.
The best visual example of living water was at the TEL DAN NATURE PRESERVE. This was the most lush place we visited in all of Israel! We walked along a dense tree covered 5 mile path skirting the mouth of the Jordan river far to the north of the Sea Of Galilee. It looked so different than the rest of Israel we traveled!
As we got near the water source, Mount Hermon, we filled our empty water bottles with it’s Living Water. Some of our group even splashed around in it.
It was cold and delicious and life-giving to our group of parched, hot visitors! This wonderful water would run and bubble and make its way to the Sea of Galilee, the Jordan River and eventually the Dead Sea where it pools and can not sustain any life at all!
But near its source, it was full of life and I got to partake of it!
I love how God uses everyday things around us to teach us poignant spiritual lessons!
To the ancient Jews, water was even more important than it was to our group of students. We had hotels with running water, well-equipped rest areas dotted all over Israel, water stations, and hundreds and hundreds of water bottles in ice chests at our disposal!
The Jews of Jesus’ time relied on wells and natural water sources. They clung to water for their very life. After my trip to Israel, I can understand what a thirsty life many ancient’s lived!
Living water was just that… water that gave life!
It was precious and protected! Jesus used this everyday concept of living water to teach a very important spiritual truth.
Can you see Jesus and his disciples traveling in Samaria, a land unfriendly to the Jews? They were taking a shortcut from Judea to Galilee.
No Jews traveled through Samaria because they were a mixed breed of pagans and deemed unclean people! But Jesus and his disciples did!
Samaria was hot and dusty and dry and so were Jesus and His group.
Jesus was tired and thirsty and rested by “Jacob’s well” near the city at high noon. The sun was scorching and Jesus was feeling the effects of his travels.
His disciples had gone “into the city to buy food”. It was there Jesus met a Samaratin woman. Remember, the Jews hated the Samaritans!
But being hated by the Jews was the least of this woman’s problems! She was also an outcast from her own people. She was thirsty in a way that no water from Jacob’s well could quench!
So there she was drawing water from the well at noon and didn’t know that she was about to meet the lover of her thirsty soul!
Jesus asked her for a drink. What a great way to start up a conversation by a well, and so it did!
“If you knew the gift of God and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him and He would have given you LIVING WATER.” John 4:10
I am amazed by the love Jesus had for the very least of society, like this poor woman! She had a deep thirst and Jesus told her that He had Living Water to quench her longing soul!
She knew what living water meant. Water, like the water I drank from the source of the Jordan. Fresh, cold, pure and life-giving!
“but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst: but the water that I shall give him shall become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life”. John 4:14
The woman took the bait, so to speak! Who would not want this water!
“Sir, give me this water, so I will not be thirsty, nor come all the way here to draw”. John 4:15
She was parched and dry and dead. The water Jesus would give her was life! Eternal life!
The Holy Spirit is Living Water to our thirsty souls! Yes, the Samaritan woman received Jesus’ Living Water! And not only did she receive it but she offered it to the dry and dead people of the town in Samaria.
They drank it too and new life sprang up inside them! Just like it did around the dry and thirsty ground I saw as I made my way around Israel!
As I go through my day, I see a lot of dry and thirsty and dead people around me. They may not even know it.
But like the Samaritan woman, I have a spring of Living Water bubbling up inside me too. It’s active and life-giving!!!!
And like the living water, that runs along in streams or rivers or springs, in the parched land of Israel, I can splash it all over my spheres of influence and bring life to all who it touches!
If Jesus is your LORD and Savior, you too have the Living Water of the Holy Spirit. It is an unending, fresh source! Dive in this Living Water, paddle around, jump in its puddles and make big splashes so the people around you spiritual thirsty, dusty, tired people can be drenched with Living Water!
Walk through your day dripping wet with it! You might be surprised by the life that springs up all around you!