The Healing of the Waters
In Patriarchal times the Jordan Valley was "well watered
everywhere, . . . even as the garden of the Lord." It was in this
fair valley that Lot chose to make his home when he "pitched his
tent toward Sodom." Genesis 13:10, 12. At the time that the cities
of the plain were destroyed, the region round about became a desolate
waste, and it has since formed a part of the wilderness of Judea.
A portion of the beautiful valley remained, with its life-giving
springs and streams, to gladden the heart of man. In this valley, rich
with fields of grain and forests of date palms and other fruit-bearing
trees, the hosts of Israel had encamped after crossing the Jordan and
had first partaken of the fruits of the Promised Land. Before them had
stood the walls of Jericho, a heathen stronghold, the center of the
worship of Ashtoreth, vilest and most degrading of all Canaanitish forms
of idolatry. Soon its walls were thrown down and its inhabitants slain,
and at the time of its fall the solemn declaration was made, in the
presence of all Israel: "Cursed be the man before the Lord, that
riseth up and buildeth this city Jericho: he shall lay the foundation
thereof in his first-born, and in his youngest son shall he set up the
gates of it." Joshua 6:26.
Five centuries passed. The spot lay desolate, accursed of God. Even
the springs that had made residence in this portion of the valley so
desirable suffered the blighting effects of the curse. But in the days
of Ahab's apostasy, when through Jezebel's influence the worship of
Ashtoreth was revived, Jericho, the ancient seat of this worship, was
rebuilt, though at a fearful cost to the builder. Hiel the Bethelite
"laid the foundation thereof in Abiram his first-born, and set up
the gates thereof in his youngest son Segub, according to the world of
the Lord." 1 Kings 16:34.
Not far from Jericho, in the midst of fruitful groves, was one of the
schools of the prophets, and thither, after the ascension of Elijah,
Elisha went. During his sojourn among them the men of the city came to
the prophet and said, "Behold, I pray thee, the situation of this
city is pleasant, as my lord seeth: but the water is nought, and the
ground barren." The spring that in former years had been pure and
life-giving, and had contributed largely to the water supply of the city
and the surrounding district, was now unfit for use.
In response to the plea of the men of Jericho, Elisha said,
"Bring me a new cruse, and put salt therein." Having received
this, "he went forth unto the spring of the waters, and cast the
salt in there, and said, Thus saith the Lord, I have healed these
waters; there shall not be from thence any more death or barren
land." 2 Kings 2:19-21.
The healing of the waters of Jericho was accomplished, not by any
wisdom of man, but by the miraculous interposition of God. Those who had
rebuilt the city were undeserving of the favor of Heaven; yet He who
"maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth
rain on the just and on the unjust," saw fit in this instance to
reveal, through this token of compassion, His willingness to heal Israel
of their spiritual maladies. Matthew 5:45.
The restoration was permanent; "the waters were healed unto this
day, according to the saying of Elisha which he spake." 2 Kings
2:22. From age to age the waters have flowed on, making that portion of
the valley an oasis of beauty.
Many are the spiritual lessons to be gathered from the story of the
healing of the waters. The new cruse, the salt, the spring--all are
In casting salt into the bitter spring, Elisha taught the same
spiritual lesson imparted centuries later by the Saviour to His
disciples when He declared, "Ye are the salt of the earth."
Matthew 5:13. The salt mingling with the polluted spring purified its
waters and brought life and blessing where before had been blighting and
death. When God compares His children to salt, He would teach them that
His purpose in making them the subjects of His grace is that they may
become agents in saving others. The object of God in choosing a people
before all the world was not only that He might adopt them as His sons
and daughters, but that through them the world might receive the grace
that bringeth salvation. When the Lord chose Abraham, it was not simply
to be the special friend of God, but to be a medium of the peculiar
privileges the Lord desired to bestow upon the nations.
The world needs evidences of sincere Christianity. The poison of sin
is at work at the heart of society. Cities and towns are steeped in sin
and moral corruption. The world is full of sickness, suffering, and
iniquity. Nigh and afar off are souls in poverty and distress, weighed
down with a sense of guilt and perishing for want of a saving influence.
The gospel of truth is kept ever before them, yet they perish because
the example of those who should be a savor of life to them is a savor of
death. Their souls drink in bitterness because the springs are poisoned,
when they should be like a well of water springing up unto everlasting
Salt must be mingled with the substance to which it is added; it must
penetrate, infuse it, that it may be preserved. So it is through
personal contact and association that men are reached by the saving
power of the gospel. They are not saved as masses, but as individuals.
Personal influence is a power. It is to work with the influence of
Christ, to lift where Christ lifts, to impart correct principles, and to
stay the progress of the world's corruption. It is to diffuse that grace
which Christ alone can impart. It is to uplift, to sweeten the lives and
characters of others by the power of a pure example united with earnest
faith and love.
Of the hitherto polluted spring at Jericho, the Lord declared,
"I have healed these waters; there shall not be from thence any
more death or barren land." The polluted stream represents the soul
that is separate from God. Sin not only shuts away from God, but
destroys in the human soul both the desire and the capacity for knowing
Him. Through sin, the whole human organism is deranged, the mind is
perverted, the imagination corrupted; the faculties of the soul are
degraded. There is an absence of pure religion, of heart holiness. The
converting power of God has not wrought in transforming the character.
The soul is weak, and for want of moral force to overcome, is polluted
To the heart that has become purified, all is changed. Transformation
of character is the testimony to the world of an indwelling Christ. The
Spirit of God produces a new life in the soul, bringing the thoughts and
desires into obedience to the will of Christ; and the inward man is
renewed in the image of God. Weak and erring men and women show to the
world that the redeeming power of grace can cause the faulty character
to develop into symmetry and abundant fruitfulness.
The heart that receives the word of God is not as a pool that
evaporates, not like a broken cistern that loses its treasure. It is
like the mountain stream, fed by unfailing springs, whose cool,
sparkling waters leap from rock to rock, refreshing the weary, the
thirsty, the heavy-laden. It is like a river constantly flowing and, as
it advances, becoming deeper and wider, until its life-giving waters are
spread over all the earth. The stream that goes singing on its way
leaves behind its gift of verdure and fruitfulness. The grass on its
banks is a fresher green, the trees have a richer verdure, the flowers
are more abundant. When the earth lies bare and brown under the summer's
scorching heat, a line of verdure marks the river's course.
So it is with the true child of God. The religion of Christ reveals
itself as a vitalizing, pervading principle, a living, working,
spiritual energy. When the heart is opened to the heavenly influence of
truth and love, these principles will flow forth again like streams in
the desert, causing fruitfulness to appear where now are barrenness and
As those who have been cleansed and sanctified through a knowledge of
Bible truth engage heartily in the work of soulsaving, they will become
indeed a savor of life unto life. And as daily they drink of the
inexhaustible fountain of grace and knowledge, they will find that their
own hearts are filled to overflowing with the Spirit of their Master,
and that through their unselfish ministry many are benefited physically,
mentally, and spiritually. The weary are refreshed, the sick restored to
health, and the sin-burdened relieved. In far-off countries thanksgiving
is heard from the lips of those whose hearts are turned from the service
of sin unto righteousness.
"Give, and it shall be given unto you;" for the word of God
is "a fountain of gardens, a well of living waters, and streams
from Lebanon." Luke 6:38; Song of Solomon 4:15.
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