We have a choice to make. We can follow a man-made system. Or, we can follow Jesus.
How do we know whether we are following a man-made system or Jesus?
Simply consider how you are being watered.
Consider Deuteronomy 11.10-12.
“For the land that you are entering to take possession of it is not like the land of Egypt, from which you have come, where you sowed your seed and irrigated it, like a garden of vegetables. But the land that you are going over to possess is a land of hills and valleys, which drinks water by the rain from heaven, a land that the Lord your God cares for. The eyes of the Lord your God are always upon it, from the beginning of the year to the end of the year.”
In these verses, we can see Egypt as a symbol of life following a man-made system and Canaan as a symbol of life following Jesus.
In many ways, the land of Egypt was like the land of Canaan. In both places, dirt, water, seed, and sun combined to produce fruit. Similarly, following a man-made system can look very much like following Jesus.
But, there is one critical difference between Egypt and Canaan – how they are watered.
The fields of Egypt were in very flat land. Therefore, they were watered in one of two ways. The first was the annual flooding of the Nile River. Once a year, the Nile would overflow its banks and water the fields of Egypt. But, for the remainder of the year, the fields were watered by a system of canals. The Egyptians had to dig out and maintain these canals. Further, the water was “pumped” through the canals by foot pedals. The Hebrew of Deuteronomy 11.10 literally says, “where you sowed your seed and water it with your feet.”
The fruit of the fields of Egypt was dependent on a man-made system to get water. But, this was not the case with the land of Canaan.
In Canaan, “the eyes of the Lord your God are always upon it, from the beginning of the year to the end of the year.” The produce of Canaan was not reliant upon a single annual flood from a great river. Instead, God watched over the land throughout the year and provided rain as necessary. Instead of being flat like Egypt, Canaan was full of hills and valleys to direct the water where it needed to go. Further, Deuteronomy 8.7 says, “For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, flowing out in the valleys and hills.”
Unlike Egypt’s fields that were dependent on a man-made system of canals, Israel’s fields on “the rain from heaven,” or the Spirit who is given by Jesus.
In John 4.10, 13-14, Jesus said, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water…Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
Notice the similarities in Jesus’ language to the passages in Deuteronomy. Jesus’ words from his conversation with the woman at the well are the reality of how we are to be watered just as the fields of Canaan were to be watered.
We learn more about this living water in John 7.37-39, which says, “On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, ‘If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, “Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.”‘ Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.”
What is the living water that flows out of our hearts?
Where does the Spirit come from?
Jesus gives the spirit as rain from heaven to water our life.
Notice that in order to receive this water you must go to Jesus. Jesus says, “Let him come to me and drink.” But, those following a man-made system do not go to Jesus.
Where do those following a man-made system go?
“You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.” (John 5.39-40)
Those following a man-made system depend on scripture only. They don’t actually go to Jesus to receive the Spirit, living water, the rain from heaven. This scripture-only dependence treats scripture like the land of Egypt – flat. Everything in the scripture becomes equally important. But, this flat reading of scripture requires a man-made system of canals and foot-powered pumps to force water, or life, through them.
However, those following Jesus understand that scripture is full of mountains and valleys. Some portions of scripture are closer to God than others. Some portions of scripture more fully reveal God than others. Therefore, some portions of scripture are more important than others.
So, while Egypt and Canaan have many similar features, their source of water, and therefore life, are completely different. One is man-made. The other comes from heaven. Only the Spirit can show us the difference.