Two weeks ago, we talked about the Joyous Water Pouring Celebration on the last night of Sukkot. I want to complete our discussion on the blessing of water. I do not think we as contemporary, Western Christians fully understand the joy of drawing the water from the spring, pouring water it upon the alter, the excitement and revelry of the crowd. Maybe it's because we have faucets that are a constant source of water. Perhaps we have never been so thirsty, or feared that there would not be anything to drink the next day.
My best illustration of the joy over water comes at the end of our long hot summer. For those living in an area where water can be in short supply, the heat and drought of a long summer can be simply miserable. Plants wither and turn brown, streams and creeks dry up, and no sooner do we fill our dog's water bowls, but they are empty again. When we have almost lost hope of anything but 108 degree days, it begins to rain. Our aquifers fill, the plants turn to green, and there seems to be a renewed source of life. Rain is a demonstration of the Holy Creator's promises to sustain us.
So if you faithfully obey the commands I am giving you today—to love the LORD your God and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul— then I will send rain on your land in its season, both autumn and spring rains, so that you may gather in your grain, new wine and olive oil. I will provide grass in the fields for your cattle, and you will eat and be satisfied. Deuteronomy 11:13-15 NIV
Another thing I pondered about the water ceremony is... what was so important about this particular spring? The priests went down to the Siloach or Gihon Spring then with much fanfare they paraded the water up the hill to the Temple Mount. To find the answer, I located the first Biblical account of the Shiloach Spring and found a few interesting facts:
You [King Hezekiah] built a reservoir between the two walls for the water of the Old Pool, but you did not look to the One who made it, or have regard for the One who planned it long ago. Isaiah 22:11 NIV
King Hezekiah built the Pool of Siloam during his reign to bring water from the perennial Shiloach spring outside Jerusalem's wall, just below the temple. In the event of an invasion, the enemy would try to cut off the city's water supply. A 1750 foot long tunnel was dug beneath the city to channel water from the spring to the Siloam Pool. While the tunnel was a major building accomplishment, King Hezekiah was rebuked for building it because he was placing his security in the work of his hands and not in the LORD God Almighty. Jerusalem was ultimately saved from the ruthless Assyrians, not because they were sustained by their water source, but because Elohim defeated Judah's enemy. You can read the full account in 2 Chronicles 32:1-23.
Fast forward seven hundred years...
As [Jesus] went along, He saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”
“Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him. As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” After saying this, He spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes.
“Go,” he told him, “wash in the Pool of Siloam." So the man went and washed, and came home seeing. John 9:1-7 NIV
Christ healed the blind man. While the Savior could have restored the man's sight with a command, but He chose to have the man participate by washing his face at the Pool of Siloam. The healing was not in the water, but in the Son. Hezekiah's pool did not save the city from the Assyrians, but the angel sent by Elohim who destroyed the enemy.
Our dependence on water provides a reminder of dependence on the Creator. Nothing can live without it. As intelligent as man is, we can conserve it and recycle it, but we cannot create enough water to sustain ourselves. We must trust the Maker of every good gift to replenish, refresh and restore everything we need. King of the Universe promises to send rain in season, to guide us when we cannot see two inches in front of our face, and to protect us when evil surrounds us. He saves not because we deserve it, but because He is good and wishes to bless those who earnestly seek Him.
Surely God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart. Psalm 73:1 NIV
Also, side note: the water still runs from the Shiloach Spring to the Pool of Siloam allowing visitors to wade in its waters.
Mighty Maker, Sustainer and Protector, I will praise you, LORD. Surely God, You are my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The LORD, the LORD Himself, is my strength and my defense; He has become my salvation.” With joy I will draw water from the wells of salvation. In that day I will say: “Give praise to the Adonai, proclaim His name; make known among the nations what He has done, and proclaim that Hashem, the Name, is exalted. Sing to the LORD, for He has done glorious things; let this be known to all the world. Shout aloud and sing for joy, people of Zion, for great is the Holy One of Israel." (Isaiah 12)