Thirsting for More of God
by Lonnie Lane
Suppose you were in church on an important holiday when even the non-regulars are there and in the middle of the pastor’s sermon some man stands up and begins to shout, shocking the congregation and taking their attention entirely away from the pastor onto himself. That’s what happened on the last day of the feast when Yeshua stole the show from the high priest. Here’s what happened: “Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, ‘If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, “From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.” But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive…” (John 7:37-39).Some versions say “out of your belly” either way, this place inside of us would seem to be our spirits, the place of communion with God. But what would those people have heard? Can you hear people asking, “What’s He saying? What does He mean if we’re thirsty? He has no water with him that I can see.” He’s not talking about physical thirst, we know that. It’s likely that not everyone within hearing distance of His voice (oh, wouldn’t you love to hear His voice?!) “got” what He was saying to them. I’m not sure even today everyone who calls themselves believers in Yeshua “get” what He was saying.
For a bit of background, the feast here was Sukkot, or the Feast of Tabernacles. On the last day the high priest would draw water from the Pool of Siloam, bring it back into the temple and pour it out before the Lord while most of Israel watched. The ceremony has several meanings. For one, it is connected to the belief that in the pouring out of the water it would be a petition to God to give them rain for their crops. But more importantly, it is linked to the verse in Isaiah that says, “For with joy shall we draw waters out of the wells of salvation” (12:3) as Israel recognized that God alone is the source of their corporate or national salvation. While we think of salvation as being individual, to Israel salvation meant the protection and well-being of the whole nation.
He was linking this ceremony to Himself and declaring the true living water could be theirs through Him.
It was at the point of pouring out the water by the high priest that Yeshua stood up and made a loud declaration that would no doubt have been easily heard throughout the temple as acoustics in the temple would have allowed. Imagine all eyes are on the high priest in this very familiar ceremony when suddenly a man’s voice is heard that drew everyone to look away from the high priest and to try to see who was speaking. Many would recognize Him or His voice, having heard Him speak before, but many more would not as they had come from outside of Israel for the Feast. He was basically saying, “The pouring out of the water will do nothing to satisfy the innermost part of you, but believing in Me will satisfy your deepest thirst. Come, come to Me.” We’re not told what happened next. Did people come to Him? Did they rally around Him to hear more? And what was the high priest’s response when Yeshua drew all attention away from him after he performed the ritual? We’re not told. We read it in a kind of religious way. To us, it’s one of those rather mystical things that Yeshua says without picturing the scene or realizing how those to whom He said them would have heard His words. He was, in fact, linking the Feast and this ceremony to Himself and declaring the true living water could be theirs through Him. They could not have fully understood it at the time, but once the Spirit of God was released upon the believers at Shavuot (Pentecost), those who came to the Lord “experienced” God in such a way that when the Spirit filled their innermost being, their bellies, any longing to be right with God, or to be closer to God, was fully satisfied.
He’s talking about thirsting for God. Like one of the sons of Korah sang when in deep trouble and exile (according to the intro to the psalm), “My soul thirsts for God, for the living God; When shall I come and appear before God?” (Ps. 42:2). Do you know what it is to have your soul thirst for God, for the living God? Have you ever “appeared” before God? That is, you’ve been so in His presence that you knew you were in His presence. Once you’ve been in His presence, even somewhat, from then on you just want more of His presence. I understand this man’s thirst for God. We were created to be in His presence. We are really only ever truly satisfied to the degree we “experience” His presence.
When David was in the wilderness, physically and spiritually, he sang out a cry to God: “O God, You are my God; I shall seek You earnestly; My soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You, in a dry and weary land where there is no water” (Ps. 63:1). Notice in both these cases, each was in a serious situation. They were both in trouble and desperately in need of God. What’s so significant about this is that in their troubles, each knew what he needed was God. They didn’t ask for a change of circumstances, they wanted God. Because if God was there for them, they knew their circumstances would change. In the days of David, and in fact in the entire Old Testament times, the only persons who ever experienced the Holy Spirit’s presence were prophets, priests and kings. This is how Korah’s sons as priests and David as king got to know God’s presence. But Yeshua made a way for all of us to experience God’s presence through His Holy Spirit. I’m so enormously, can’t-say-it-enough, grateful to Him for that. I know you are as well.
We are most blessed to have access to the Spirit of God, His Word and live when He is making Himself known in the earth.
When Yeshua spoke about anyone who thirsted (for God) to come to Him, that was a pretty outlandish statement. We know today He was God when He said those things but they sure didn’t. Can you imagine, you know things about Yeshua, God and prophecy they didn’t know at that time? You might know Him better than those who ‘knew’ Him in the flesh but who never got the full revelation of Him. That is available to us now, thanks to Paul’s writings. Many of them may never have lived long enough to have the full benefit of Paul’s or John’s revelations of Yeshua as Lord of all and King of the Universe. Imagine how we are blessed and privileged. Many centuries passed without access to Bibles for millions of people so consequently they had little and a much distorted understanding of Yeshua. We are most blessed to have access to the Spirit of God and His Word as we do, and that we live in a time when He is making Himself known in the earth. HalleluYah!
Yeshua was essentially saying in the Temple to anyone with ears to hear, “Like when David thirsted for God, if you feel a great separation from Him and long to find Him somehow, I’m how you find Him. Come to Me. If you come to Me, you will appear before God, for I AM God. If you long to know God, I AM the One you long for.” His words still hold true today. That never gets old for me. After thirty-five years I’m still awed that I can say I personally know the Holy One of Israel!!
Now, notice Yeshua didn’t say, “If anyone thirsts, let him go to church.” No, He said, “Come to Me. Come to Me and drink.” How do you drink from God? The Scriptures also tell us to “taste and see that the Lord is good” (Ps. 34:8). How do we taste of the Lord? These are figures of speech, of course. If you read the rest of Psalm 34 you find here again the writer, who is David, is in trouble once more and in need of God. He needs God as much as he needs food and water. To drink of the Lord is to experience Him. Take a bite of a delicious apple and you know you’ve just experienced an apple. Here he’s saying when in deep trouble, or when you find yourself in need, or even when you’re not, it’s God you need. Turn your heart toward Him. Take your eyes off of your circumstances and plunge into the Lord.
I imagine some of you saying, “How do I do that? What do I do?” I understand your dilemma. Been there. For each person it will be different and there are no set rules for seeking God. You just set yourself before Him and tell Him you want more of Him. Tell Him you want Him to reveal Himself to you, and you want to love Him with your whole heart. We can’t do that alone. He must do it in us. Thank Him for all the goodness in your life, for the fact that you can see and smell and hear and walk, assuming you can (not everyone can). Thank Him for caring for you, providing for you, for all the times He’s been there for you and you knew it. Spend a half hour thanking Him. As you continue that practice of thanking Him, you will become more sensitized to how many blessings He has filled your life with. It’ll change you, if you’ve not been in the habit of being thankful to Him. You’ll be more aware of Him in your life. It’s amazing how much there is to thank Him for when we focus on really thanking Him. We “enter His courts with thanksgiving and enter His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him, bless His name” (Psalm 100:4). There’s the key.
It’s a deeper relationship with Him that He is inviting us to.
Let your heart be stirred with worship and appreciation for His majesty, His glory, His love, His gentleness, and His patience toward you. You might want to give thought to these verses we’re talking about and instead of them being just verses to memorize or recite, take yourself into Him. Ask Him to show you what He was feeling, what He wanted to convey, what His experience was. Share His life with Him. Get to know Him more than you ever have. Use your God-given imagination to imagine what He experienced or Who He is now. Can you see yourself seated in heavenly places with Him? Leave your troubles out of it, and focus your loving attention on Him. He says to you and to me, “Come!” It’s a deeper relationship with Him that He is inviting us to. It’s not just about what we will do to get closer to Him. He draws us and enables us to come closer to Him.
This past Sunday as we were worshipping in our church we were singing a song that says, “I will worship You forever”. The Lord gave me a word that amounts to Him saying we will indeed worship Him forever. It is because of His commitment to us, not our commitment to Him that we will be filled with awareness of His goodness, even when around us things aren’t always good. It’s all grace. Grace, grace! Everything we do for and in Him is by grace. Everything is God-fueled. We don’t have to be in trouble like the Psalmists in the verses above to know we need Him. We don’t even have to “feel” thirsty or hungry to know that He alone is our everything. “In Him we live, move and exist” (Acts 17:28). How all encompassing is that? So why would we look elsewhere? There is no real elsewhere. He is our everything. In trouble or not, our dependency is on Him. The sooner we know this the sooner we can fully rest in Him.
Reprint of this article is permitted as long as you use the following; Use by permission by Messianic Vision, www.sidroth.org, 2011.
Scripture quotations are from the New American Standard Bible Copyright ©1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, La Habra, Calif. All rights reserved. Used by permission.