As the slightly heavier Oxford rowing team pulled away from Cambridge and (again) won the 155th annual boat race in 17 minutes we were walking a little further up the river on the marvellous river Thames.
The stretch of the Thames which passes thorugh Oxford is named the “Isis” – which probably comes from the name given to an Eygptian Fertility goddess. But whether it be the fast flowing very tidal area around Putney where the boat race takes place (and where we would take out our Zodiac dingy at the weekends when living in London) or the more gentile meanderings where we walked today south of Christchurch meadow in Oxford, the Thames always reminds me of the Creator God’s awsome majesty.
The power of water cutting its path through some of England’s most glorious countryside reminds me, not of a fertility god, but of the God of the Bible. Rivers are often mentioned in the bible, particularly Jordan’s superiority even to the great Euphrates or Nile because it feeds God’s chosen city Jerusalem.
But the Bible also speaks of rivers as symbolic of God’s refreshment and never ending supply:
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. (Psalm 46:4), and 1Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb 2down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. 3No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. (Revelation 22).
In the meantime: 37On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. 38Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” 39By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.
Rivers are refreshing places, and on a lovely sunny Spring day they renew the mind and body. But there are rivers of living water designed to refresh the soul through the indwelling Holy Spirit and transport us to the living God.