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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 highly symbolic.
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 life.
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 and
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
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