The River vs. The Deep

Did you know, in the book of Revelation, there is no sea?  A quick observer would object… “Nuh Unh!  The Crystal Sea John!  The Crystal Sea!”  However, if you’ll look in 4:6 you’ll see that John is using metaphor: “ and before the throne there was as it were a sea of glass, like crystal.”  The first statement is using the metaphor to describe the transparent glass floor, then the second is a simile describing the metaphor.  So, I restate my first claim.  There is no “sea” in Revelation. 

Why?  Why is there no sea?  I think the answer can be found in an examination of the river.  In Genesis we are told that a river flowed out ofEdento water the garden and then divided into 4 rivers.  These rivers are examples of God’s intended direction to expand the garden and take God’s life to the world.  (I’d love to explain that more, but that must be four or five posts… maybe sometime.)  These rivers flowed out of the Garden into the great unknown.  Flash forward a bit and you have Balaam’s oracle comparingIsraeland their relationship to God to a garden and its river.  This theme gets carried through in the Psalms when God is the refreshing spring, when He is the river with which we are refreshed, when He is the still water by which we rest.  The river is refreshing, it is comforting, it is a place of resting and restoration.  The river is a place of joy.

In direct contrast to the river is the “deep.”  In the Bible, only God knows the deep.  It is a terrifying place for the Hebrews.  The deep is where the leviathan lives, where Jonah is cast, where sin is condemned, where death is certain, and where nothing is known.   There is an odd juxtaposition: God is the Lord over the deep.  The deep… the very thing that terrifies us.  And at the same time, God is the river. 

In Ezekiel God speaks of how He swallows up the enemies of God in the deep.  Then he leads Ezekiel to a vision of the temple in which the altar has a trickle of water coming from it.  The water grows into a great river with fruitful trees on both sides.  Ezekiel ends up swimming in God’s river.  This great river then flows into the sea (the deep).  Flash forward, Jesus sits by a well with a woman who is not a Jew and His response is that He is the living water.  Then again just 3 chapters later Jesus says whoever believes will have rivers of living water flow from within him.  In light of the consideration between the deep and the river, Jesus is stating that the unknown will be overcome by the life of Christ in our soul. 

Finally, there is no sea in Revelation!  At the end of Revelation we see that the river of life has overcome the deep.  The sea has been defeated and there is no longer anything that is unknown!  The river remains at the end of the book with the tree of life growing on each side!  Its amazing. 

So think about this.  All that is terrifying, all that is unknown, all that is wicked, all that is evil will be overcome by the river of life.  How great it will be when we know as we are fully known.


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