Sunday Morning Bible Study
December 17, 1995
It's been starting to get dangerous for Jesus and His ministry.
At the time of the Feast of the Tabernacles, He didn't go up to Jerusalem with the rest of the people, but went up later in secret.
When the time was right, He began to teach in the temple.
Jesus was meeting with two reactions -
Some wanted to arrest Him and have Him killed.
»John 7:31 And many of the people believed on him, and said, When Christ cometh, will he do more miracles than these which this man hath done?
:32-36 The arresting officers arrive
:32 The Pharisees heard that the people murmured such things concerning him
The Pharisees were concerned about those who were believing in Jesus.
:32 sent officers to take him
The Pharisees and chief priests send their police out to arrest Jesus.
"The Pharisees and the chief priests" is another way of describing the Sanhedrin, the governing body among the Jews.
This is the first official act that the Sanhedrin has taken against Jesus.
There's been some grumblings and talk behind the scenes, but this is the first time they actually take action.
:33 Then said Jesus unto them
Jesus is now addressing this group of officers who have come to arrest Jesus.
:33 Yet a little while am I with you
Jesus is kind of saying, "Hey, I'm only going to be around for a little while."
Specifically, He would only be around on planet earth in His earthly ministry for another six months.
You can take Jesus' words two ways:
1. He might be saying to the officers, "Hey, look, I'm only going to be around a short while, don't waste your time on me ..."
2. He's more likely saying, "Hey guys, I'm not going to be around forever, you better start paying attention to what's going on here!"
:33 then I go unto him that sent me
Notice who's in control here?
Is it the officers that were sent to pick up Jesus?
When Jesus was good and ready, He would go.
And not a moment earlier.
:34 Ye shall seek me, and shall not find me
Jesus could be talking about several things here:
1. He could be talking about after His resurrection, that the Jews will be looking for the body of Jesus, but won't find it.
Instead, they will cook up a story about the disciples stealing the body.
2. He could even be talking about the near future when the Jews will long for a Messiah to deliver them from the Roman oppression, but won't find Him.
»Hosea 5:6 They shall go with their flocks and with their herds to seek the LORD; but they shall not find him; he hath withdrawn himself from them.
:34 where I am, thither ye cannot come
He'll be in heaven.
And as unbelievers, they won't be allowed in.
:35-36 unto the dispersed among the Gentiles, and teach the Gentiles?
dispersed - diaspora - a scattering, dispersion; of Israelites dispersed among foreign nations
The Jews that had been scattered throughout the world, by the various invasions of Assyria and Babylon, were known as the "diaspora", the "dispersion".
The Jews were wondering if Jesus was going to leave the nation of Israel, and travel around the world, and to start teaching those horrible, filthy, pagan Gentiles.
That would certainly be a place where they would not find Jesus, because they wouldn't want to go there.
It's ironic that there's actually an element of prophesy in what they are saying.
Eventually, through His apostles, Jesus would go to the dispersion, and the Gentiles (us!) would come to know the Lord.
What's all this mean?
Now is the time to believe!
For Jesus' day, these people would only have six months left of being able to see and hear Him in person.
There would be a time when Jesus would be gone.
There would be a time when they would no longer be able to find Him.
In fact, God's hand has been partially withdrawn from the Jews because of their rejection of Jesus, and because of that, we Gentiles were able to receive salvation.
For us, we need to realize that the door to salvation isn't open forever.
You might have heard about God's free offer of salvation for years.
But you won't have forever to think about it.
There will be a time when it's too late.
When God flooded the earth during Noah's day, there came a time when all that were going aboard went aboard .
And the door of the ark was closed.
Today is the day to share your faith
When God puts a burden on your heart to share the love of Jesus with a person, we need to respond!
Who knows if they'll have a tomorrow?
There is an ancient story about three demons who were arguing over the best way to destroy the Christian mission in the world. The first demon says, "Let's tell all the Christians there is no heaven. Take away the reward incentive and the mission will collapse." The second demon says, "Let's tell all the Christians there is no hell. Take away the fear of punishment and the mission will collapse." The third demon says, "There is one better way. Let's tell all the Christians that there is no hurry" and all three immediately say, "That's it! All we have to do is tell them there's no hurry and the whole Christian enterprise will collapse."
Today is the day to respond to Jesus
»Isa 55:6 Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near:
The story is told of a family that moved into a new community. They were promptly visited by two elders and the pastor of a nearby church who cordially invited them to attend the services on the Lord's Day. The man assured them that he would come just as soon as he got straightened out. Several months passed, and he still hadn't put in an appearance, so the minister called again and repeated his invitation. But he received the same reply. The fellow hadn't yet gotten everything straightened out, but he'd be there just as soon as he did. A few weeks later he died, and his widow asked to have the funeral services in the church. The preacher graciously agreed. It was indeed a sad affair. Later when a member of the congregation asked the pastor if the man was a Christian, he answered, "He never attended services here, and no one can recall ever hearing him give a testimony of his faith in Christ, so I can't say. I only know he was a man of his word. He promised to come to church just as soon as he got straightened out -- and he did!"
Don't wait until you get "straightened out" to give your heart to Jesus.
He wants you just the way you are.
He'll handle the "straightening".
:37-39 The Holy Spirit
:37 In the last day, that great day of the feast ...
Remember, this is the time of the Feast of Tabernacles.
I said a few weeks ago that we'd look at the significance of this Feast, and here we go!
The Feast of Tabernacles was a time to accomplish two things:
It was a time to celebrate the harvest being fully brought in, and was alternately called the "Feast of Ingathering".
It was a time to reflect on how God had taken care of them while they wandered for 40 years, living in tents ("tabernacles") in the wilderness.
There were certain rituals that accompanied this great Feast.
»Leviticus 23:36 Seven days ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD: on the eighth day shall be an holy convocation unto you; and ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD: it is a solemn assembly; and ye shall do no servile work therein.
The way the offerings were made, 13 bulls would be sacrificed on the first day, along with various miscellaneous sacrifices, then 12 bulls would be sacrificed on the second day (along with the same sacrfices), 11 bulls the next, until they sacrificed 7 bulls on the seventh day, bringing a total of 70 bulls being sacrificed.
But on the eighth day, only one bull was sacrificed.
According to Jewish tradition, the seventy bulls were sacrificed for the nations of the world (Gen.10, seventy families of the world, from the sons of Noah), but on the eighth day, the one single bull was sacrificed for the nation of Israel.
That made this eighth day a great day.
It was also a great day because it would be another day of a "solemn assembly", they would come together and have church.
The idea is that here is Jesus in the temple, and on the last day of the feast, when everybody is gathered together, He stands up to speak.
Pouring Out Water - a time for joy
There were also other rituals that were during the feast of Tabernacles.
There were special benedictions, special songs were sung, and there were a special blessings.
Most of all, there was a ritual of "pouring out of water".
Every day of the feast, the priests would go just outside the city wall to the spring of of Gihon, and draw out water with a golden pitcher.
Then they would form a procession and walk back into the city through the "Water Gate", and then the 1/3 mile through the city to the temple, while a choir would sing a text from Isaiah,
»Isaiah 12:3 Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation.
When the priests got to the temple, they would pour out the water on the altar, as a way of remembering how God had provided water for them in the wilderness from the Rock (Num.20:8-11).
John Gill writes of this time that,
At which time there were great rejoicing, piping, and dancing, by the most religious and sober people among the Jews; insomuch that it is said, that
``he that never saw the rejoicing of the place of drawing of water, never saw any rejoicing in his life.''
What's stranger still, from one of the Jewish commentators:
Says R. Joshua ben Levi, why is its name called the place of drawing water? because, from thence "they draw the Holy Ghost", as it is said, "and ye shall draw water with joy out of the wells of salvation"
Praying for rain
There was one more thing done during this day of feast of Tabernacles.
It was on this day that they prayed for the rains for the coming year.
They lived in a land where their whole life depended on the rains coming to water the fields.
The Jews even have a tradition that at this feast, the rains become "fixed" for the coming year, saying,
``at the feast of tabernacles judgment is made concerning the waters;''
It's at this crucial point, with this as background, that Jesus stands up and cries out.
The people are gathered
There is joy as the water is poured out
The people are praying for rain
:38 as the scripture hath said
Jesus isn't here quoting a specific Scripture that talks about believing and waters flowing out of a person's belly.
He's saying that the Scriptures as a whole testify to this fact, that God would bless His people, and pour out His Holy Spirit on them.
»Isa 41:17-18 When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue faileth for thirst, I the LORD will hear them, I the God of Israel will not forsake them. 18 I will open rivers in high places, and fountains in the midst of the valleys: I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water.
»Isaiah 44:3 For I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground: I will pour my spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring:
»Isa 58:11 And the LORD shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not.
:38 out of his belly
belly - koilia - the whole belly; the innermost part of a man, the soul, heart as the seat of thought, feeling, choice
:38 rivers of living water
rivers - potamos - a stream, a river; a torrent; floods
There were two kinds of water you could get from the ground in those days.
There was water from cisterns.
They were large reservoirs carved into the rock, and when it rained, the water would be stored in the cisterns.
There were underground springs.
Where the water came bubbling out of the ground.
It was fresh running water, not the stale stuff found in cisterns.
It was called "living water".
Jesus is saying that if a person believes like this in Him, that rather than being a dry, thirsty desert, they become a full pressure fire hydrant!
And a fire hydrant of Arrowhead Spring water! The stuff that tastes good!
Not only is your own thirst taken care of, but you start soaking others around you.
It may be from the things you do for them.
It may be by the things you say to them (out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks ...)
It may be just the Holy Spirit's presence flowing from you to touch them.
:39 this spake he of the Spirit ...
Jesus is talking about the experience that we saw first manifested on the day of Pentecost.
We'll see this clarified a little more in a moment.
:39 Jesus was not yet glorified
Before the Holy Spirit would come upon the believers, Jesus would first have to pay for their sins by dying on the cross and rising from the dead.
Once He would ascend into heaven, proving once and for all that He had won the victory over sin, then the Holy Spirit could be given freely to all who trust in Jesus for their salvation.
»John 16:7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.
After He rose from the dead, just before He ascended into heaven, He told the disciples to wait for the promised Holy Spirit.
When the Holy Spirit fell on the disciples at Pentecost, there was quite a lot of commotion among the people, wondering what was going on.
In explaining to the people what had happened, Peter preached, and said,
»Acts 2:33 (NAS) "Therefore having been exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured forth this which you both see and hear.
Again, the connection between being glorified and pouring out the Spirit.
Clearly, Jesus is talking here in John about the filling of the Holy Spirit, first experienced at Pentecost.
That's all fine and dandy for those guys, but is something like that available for us today?
Jesus is glorified, isn't He?
How to be filled with the Holy Spirit
Jesus lays it out pretty simply in verse 37. Four things...
1. Be thirsty
dipsao - to suffer thirst, suffer from thirst; figuratively, those who are said to thirst who painfully feel their want of, and eagerly long for, those things by which the soul is refreshed, supported, strengthened
There must be a strong sense of need in our life.
We need to come to the point where we realize just how much we need God's help.
If we're complacent about it, and don't really care one way or another, then don't expect anything!
I think of when I'm doing yardwork on a hot summer day, how I'll come into the house about every fifteen minutes and drink another huge glass of ice tea.
When you get too dehydrated, you get to feeling that if you were to fall into a swimming pool, that your body would just soak it all up!
You hear from time to time of people who have been stranded at sea, living on a small life raft for a week or two, and how they have to drink their own bodily fluids to survive.
I think of that and say, "I'd never get that thirsty!"
But if I was in their situation, and there was nothing else, wouldn't I do the same?
Just how thirsty are you?
I think this may be why sometimes it takes hard times for people to finally come to Jesus.
It's in the hard times that we realize just how badly we need Jesus.
2. Come to Jesus
John the Baptist said,
»Matthew 3:11 I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire:
You have to realize that to be filled with the Holy Spirit, you're going to have to come to Jesus.
Going to Mohammed just won't do. Nor Buddha.
Going to "another Jesus" won't do, whether it's the Mormon one who is the half-brother of Lucifer, or whether it's the Jehovah Witness one who is supposedly the angel Michael.
It's got to be Jesus.
Only He has paid the price for your sins, enabling you to come into a personal relationship with God.
It's only through Jesus that you'll have your deepest inner needs met:
»John 6:35 And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.
To drink a glass of water, you first have to open up your mouth.
Imagine drinking a glass of water with your mouth closed.
You would certainly have a "drinking problem"!
To receive the Holy Spirit, you have to open up your heart.
Just open up and receive!
You might feel something.
You might not.
Wait a second here, is the Holy Spirit going to make me weird?
There have been so many abuses of the Holy Spirit over the years, that it's easy for us to think that being filled with the Holy Spirit must be a weird or strange thing.
We're afraid He might make us roll around on the floor or bark like a dog.
I'm afraid that this isn't the Holy Spirit.
One of the fruits of the Spirit is self-control. (Gal.5:23)
And Paul's admonition to the Corinthians was that all things be done decently and in order.(1Cor.14:40)
Open up and receive it!
Jesus didn't say, "He who feels this tingle down his back will have rivers of living water ...".
He said, "He that believeth ..."
Being filled with the Holy Spirit is based on trust, on faith, not on feelings.
We have a very strong promise to trust in:
»1John 5:14-15 And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: 15 And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.
Is it God's will for you to be filled with the Holy Spirit?
Eph. 5:18 says it is.
Then does God hear you when you ask Him to fill you?
John says yes.
Then does God give us what you've asked for?
Remember now the historical backdrop, the Feast of Tabernacles.
The people are gathered
Just like us today!
The joy of the feast
Remember the level of "rejoicing" going on this last day!
The Holy Spirit gives us joy like nothing else.
Paul gives an interesting contrast:
»Ephesians 5:18 And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;
In a way, getting drunk with wine is like a cheap counterfeit with being filled with the Holy Spirit.
The prayer for rain
This was the time of the year when they looked to God to supply for their thirsty land.
The Holy Spirit has come to fill those empty places in our lives, those areas of "thirst".
We try to quench our thirst with so many things that never truly satisfy.
Who needs rain when you've got a river?
Rather than looking to stuff something into the emptiness in your heart, why not ask the Lord to give you something that will come flowing out of your heart?
All we need to remember is