There’s a song that says: “I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean.” If you’ve ever stood by a large body of water, you can relate to that lyric. That means you can also relate to one of the greatest metaphors to describe the World Tomorrow—when God’s knowledge will fill Earth as the ocean beds are filled with water. Both Habakkuk and Isaiah recorded that word picture.
There are other prophecies that use rain to depict Jesus Christ’s rule during this time—and the growth that comes from it (see Psalm 72:6). Of Jerusalem at this time, God also says, “I will extend peace to her like a river, and the glory of the Gentiles like a flowing stream …” (Isaiah 66:12).
Abundant rain and water serve as more than just nice metaphors for this time period. The World Tomorrow will be characterized by plenty of literal water. Numerous prophecies make that clear. Isaiah 30:23 contains one: “Then shall he give the rain of thy seed, that thou shalt sow the ground withal; and bread of the increase of the earth, and it shall be fat and plenteous: in that day shall thy cattle feed in large pastures.” Rain will be timely and plenteous for the house of Israel (Ezekiel 34:26), but God will cut off that ample rain for nations that refuse to observe the Feast of Tabernacles (Zechariah 14:17-18).
God says He will give “waters in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert, to give drink to my people, my chosen” (Isaiah 43:20).
Additionally, “all the rivers of Judah shall flow with waters, and a fountain shall come forth of the house of the Lord, and shall water the valley of Shittim” (Joel 3:18). The phrase “valley of Shittim” refers to arid regions far from Jerusalem. Fruitful rain in due season, plus living spring water that comes from the temple grounds in Jerusalem, will change arid land into fertile ground and make rivers full throughout Judah.
This physical reality symbolizes great spiritual truth. Isaiah 12:3 discusses the “well [or springs] of salvation.” It’s all about bringing mankind into the God Family.
The Feast of Tabernacles celebrates the 1,000-year reign of Christ (Revelation 20:4-6). The final holy day of the sacred year, the Last Great Day, celebrates the time just after the Millennium—separated only by a gap of time where Satan the devil has been temporarily loosed from the bottomless pit (verses 7-10).
After this, nearly all who have ever lived will be resurrected and given the opportunity to attain salvation in God’s Family. This is the second resurrection. (The first is for the small handful who knew God in this world and qualified to be born into His Family; the third is reserved for those who were given the same opportunity but rejected it.)
We often refer to this period as the “Great White Throne Judgment” (verses 11-13). The world people inhabit during this period will be similar to that of the Millennium. In fact, the plentiful supply of living waters during the Millennium points the world to what the Last Great Day pictures—the time when all who ever lived will have access to the water source spiritually.
This is the world into which an estimated 100 billion people will be resurrected. So grab your Bible and be ready to explore in-depth the meaning of the Last Great Day as it relates to an abundance of life-giving waters, both physically and spiritually.
Jesus spoke of this time during His earthly ministry.
1. On what day did He speak about this topic? John 7:37.
This is where we derive the name “Last Great Day.”
2. What was the message of that day? Verse 38.
“This,” Herbert W. Armstrong wrote, “was Jesus’s sermon giving the meaning of the Last Great Day!” (Pagan Holidays—or God’s Holy Days—Which?). This was the fall of a.d. 30—1,991 years ago. Notice the verb in verse 37 that showed how passionate Christ was about this day: He “stood and cried.”
And what was the metaphor He used? People never thirsting—and living water. Read John 7:38 again to note exactly what Christ said. He doesn’t say that the thirsty will simply have water or just that their thirst is quenched (which is the impression you’d get if you only read verse 37—“let him come unto me and drink”). He says, “[O]ut of his belly [or, innermost being] shall flow rivers of living water.” Someone once thirsty is now a source of living water—and rivers of them at that!
Consider how profound this is. The Last Great Day is not about simply quenching the thirsty, but turning them into a water source!
3. What does the water represent? Verse 39. The same analogy is made in Joel 2:28 and 1 Corinthians 12:12-13: that this spiritual element can be poured out and someone can drink of it.
John 9 contains another related account during Christ’s earthly ministry where He healed a man who had been blind since birth. Read the entire astounding, easy-to-read chapter to understand the story flow.
4. Now consider two specific points from this passage. First—this man was born blind. Is this the case spiritually for those in the world? Compare John 9:2-3 with verses 32, 39-41. Second, where did Christ tell this man to go for the healing to occur? Verses 6-7, 11.
Not only was this man healed of physical blindness, when he became a disciple of Christ, the spiritual blindness was removed as well. And this all revolved around a famous water feature in Jerusalem.
As our Jerusalem’s Temples booklet points out, this was the approximately 20-by-30-foot reservoir that King Hezekiah had engineered at the end of his tunnel about seven centuries earlier: “This is clearly a symbol of how this world can remove its blindness with God’s Holy Spirit. Satan has deceived the whole world. People are blinded and cannot see spiritually. Only God’s Holy Spirit—typed by water in the Bible—can empower mankind to enter into God’s Kingdom. Christ was giving the people of His day insight into what will shortly happen to the whole world. Christ told them what was going to happen ‘in the last day’—the holy day that follows immediately after the Feast of Tabernacles. That last day pictures the Great White Throne Judgment, when God will resurrect and call all human beings who have ever lived but have never known God.”
1. What detailed analogy does Isaiah give about what physical water (and the growth that comes from it) symbolizes in the spirit realm? Isaiah 44:3-4.
During the time period pictured by the Last Great Day, people will have free access to the Holy Spirit, allowing God’s truth to flood into people’s lives.
Though these are verses explicitly about the Millennium, keep in mind that this is the world that will be fully operational by the time of the Great White Throne Judgment. This is the environment in which the second resurrection will happen.
2. Another passage in Isaiah directly references this period. How long will it be? Isaiah 65:18-20. What are the similarities between the Millennium and the Great White Throne Judgment period? Verses 24-25. Is an abundance of water implied by the physical health and prosperity? Verses 21-23.
3. What history does Isaiah reference to show God’s pattern of bringing forth ample water? Isaiah 48:21.
Did you notice out of which object water flowed? Our book The Key of David quotes this passage from a July 1953 Plain Truth: “This same rock—the coronation stone—accompanied the Israelites during their 40 years wandering in the wilderness. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 10:4 that just as the Israelites had manna as a type of Christ, so they had, as a type of Christ, a rock which gave them water and which followed or went with them in their wanderings!” That stone was how God gave them water.
And with the new “coronation stone” of our time, consider the spiritual parallels that can be drawn. Christ is the ultimate fulfillment of these coronation stones, and our spiritual waters flow from Him.
What God did for ancient Israel was just a type of what is coming spiritually. And consider: It’s these people who witnessed those physical types that will be resurrected in the Great White Throne Judgment!
4. Isaiah’s thought continues into the next chapter. What is the unique usage of water in this passage? Isaiah 49:8-10.
In addition to quenching physical and spiritual thirst, God will use streams of living water as a literal guide to its source in the World Tomorrow and the Great White Throne Judgment. Since the spring water source is at the temple in Jerusalem (as we already read in Joel 3), if you were anywhere near Jerusalem, you would only need to walk against the current of any flowing stream to eventually find your way to headquarters. The rivers are there to mark the way.
Prophecies in the Psalms and Zechariah also discuss this fountain source at the temple (see Psalm 68:24-26; Zechariah 14:8). Mr. Armstrong wrote: “It is the time when ‘living waters’—salvation, the Holy Spirit—’shall go out from Jerusalem’ (verse 8). The ‘waters’ are literal as well as figurative. God often pictures His spiritual plan by material events” (Pagan Holidays—or God’s Holy Days—Which?).
These waters are thoroughly described by Ezekiel, a prophet who was given a detailed vision of the temple to be built in the World Tomorrow. We call this the millennial temple or, since it is outlined in Ezekiel 40-48, the “Ezekiel temple.” Keep in mind, though: This structure is not just for the Millennium. It will be for the Last Great Day as well.
Again, this will be where the main water source of the region originates—from just under the altar.
1. How deep does the water get as Ezekiel leaves the temple grounds in this vision? Ezekiel 47:1-9. And what specific quality do these waters have? Verse 12.
Ezekiel was also given a detailed vision of the second resurrection—the coming event celebrated by the Last Great Day. He saw bones of an “exceeding great army” that would come back to life (Ezekiel 37:1, 3, 5-6, 10).
2. What was their defining feature? Verses 2, 4. What does this quality have to do with their spiritual state? Verse 11.
“Our bones are dried” is connected to “our hope is lost.”
3. Bringing water to these dry bones is the spiritual equivalent of bringing God’s Holy Spirit to those who otherwise have not yet had access to it. Does this passage make that very connection? Verse 14.
What’s more, these now-Spirit-led children of God will experience the world as it has been for 1,000 years: the abundance of rain, the living water flowing out of Jerusalem from the temple, plus the growth and health that comes from it physically. And we will teach them what this represents spiritually.
Come to the Waters
1. Back in Isaiah, there is a chapter that reads much like a Last Great Day sermon given to those who have been resurrected in the Great White Throne Judgment. What is the thrust of that message? Isaiah 55:1. And what financial status does one need to accept such an invitation? Verse 2.
Their bank balance or station in life is irrelevant! If you are thirsty, God tells them, come to the waters.
Since about 33 percent of the world’s land area is desert, a large portion of the people resurrected at this time will have lived in a desert region. If you’ve spent any time in an arid region, you know how mesmerizing the subject of water can be.
2. What we will preach to these new converts? Verses 3-4.
We will admonish them to pay attention, and we will introduce them to King David, a spirit-born “leader and commander to the people” who was once a human being just like them.
3. How will these new converts treat those from the nation of Israel? Verse 5.
Here, God fulfills His plan to make Israel the model nation—the nation to which others are eager to look. Even in Ezekiel’s vision of this great resurrection, you read that he saw the bones of the “house of Israel.”
Imagine someone being resurrected who never knew God and meeting someone who walked through the Red Sea—many of whom saw the water gushing out of Jacob’s pillar stone: Surely people would run to someone who had that kind of experience in their “first life.”
4. Will we also encourage an urgency in their process of conversion? Isaiah 55:6-7.
You already read in Isaiah 65 that God says there will be a 100-year time limit on this period of judgment. And in the verses you just read, we will teach how God “will abundantly pardon.” They will go to God for salvation and forgiveness for what they did in this life before they knew any better.
Become the Well
1. Related to this subject is another famous account from Christ’s ministry, found in John 4. Here, Christ is in Shechem, where Joseph is buried, near a well-known well known as Jacob’s well (pun intended, and editors thanked for leaving in). What contrast does Christ draw from this physical well and the spiritual water source? Verses 10-14.
Yes, the well was deep, but it only quenched thirst temporarily. The deep spiritual well from which Christ was telling this woman to drink was full of “living water” spiritually.
Much like His Last Great Day message 1,991 years ago, Christ says here that the spiritually thirsty will not just have their thirst quenched, but that God will give them the water source! There “shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.”
2. Is there a similar phrase in the Old Testament? Isaiah 58:11.
When God quenches our thirst, it’s not just to satisfy us. It has long-term, far-reaching effects!
Holy City Riverfront
Because you have access to God now, He is training you to teach in this important time period. Think of how we will be teaching for these 100 years—how we’ll discuss the meaning of this holy day as this century unfolds, how we’ll be pointing people to the physical and spiritual water source at the temple, and how we’ll tell them that they can be a water source. We will also show how God the Father will finally bring His throne to Earth—a throne that also has a river associated with it.
1. God revealed this in vivid imagery to the Apostle John. What reference to water does God give early in this vision of new Jerusalem? Revelation 21:6.
Associated with the Holy City is a promise of free access to the fountain of the water of life.
2. What further detail is given about the main water feature in this eternal city? Revelation 22:1-2.
All the abundance of water in the World Tomorrow points to this. As Gerald Flurry writes in Jerusalem’s Temples: “In all of these verses, those waters are associated with the throne of God! That is because the river of life exists in God’s heavenly throne room! These physical scenarios ‘precisely duplicate the pattern … of God’s temple in heaven.’”
Consider the water that flowed out of Jacob’s pillar stone—a stone that represented the throne of God. Consider the spiritual water now flowing out of the new stone of destiny, and it all points to the waters pouring out of the throne of God—either from its spot in the Ezekiel temple or from the throne in the heavenly Jerusalem coming to this Earth!
Revelation 22 says the water that nourishes the fruitful tree of life is “clear as crystal.” We only think of water as blue because it reflects the sky. But there are “new heavens” coming that will change this. Think of the Swarovski crystals in Armstrong Auditorium, and imagine a “Swarovski”-sparkling river flowing through the Holy City!
3. Psalm 46 contains details about the Holy City as well.One verse is about the river there. What does this river specifically do for the city? Verse 4.
In Revelation, we read how it quenches a thirst everyone has. In Ezekiel, we saw how these waters brought hope. And here in the Psalms, this river brings joy.
4. What did Isaiah record in a vision of this river in the Holy City? Isaiah 33:20-21.
A Special Calling
Though the world will have free access to spiritual water soon, we have to work to get to this water today. The Jerusalem’s Temples booklet expounds on this: “The Bible records what King Hezekiah did to ensure that Jerusalem’s water supply remained safe from an Assyrian invasion. 2 Kings 20:20 mentions ‘how he made a pool, and a conduit, and brought water into the city.’ He dug a 1,750-foot tunnel through solid rock to get water! The full story can be found in 2 Chronicles 32.
“The Bible records that history because of the vital symbolism for us today. We desperately need spiritual spring water! Without it there is no real life! No abundance of joy—no understanding. Spiritually, we have to dig tunnels through solid rock or do whatever is necessary to make sure we get this spiritual water. It takes real effort, but we must keep those living waters flowing in our lives!”
We especially look forward to that city with “broad rivers and streams,” as Isaiah 33 worded it. Those who qualify in this present evil world will constitute the Bride of Christ—the top level of spirit beings under Jesus Christ.
1. Revelation 22 says that the Bride has a special job as relates to the meaning of the Last Great Day. What is that? Verse 17.
It’s tremendous that, even after 1,100 years of God offering salvation to everyone who has ever lived, the Bride of Christ is singled out in this prophecy. When it comes to leading people to the water of life, those of us in this calling will have a special job. We will be the first group turned into a “water source” spiritually. The salvation of all those after us is possible in part because God uses the Bride to point everyone to the water source—to the point that they will also become a water source! And yet, God still exalts Christ’s Bride as the segment of the Family that essentially says, Come to the waters.
We will be using passages like we studied here—Isaiah 55 especially, which says: come to the waters, even if you have no money (verse 1); don’t labor for things that don’t truly satisfy (verse 2); listen to what we have to teach (verse 3); and look to what God did with King David (verse 4). To Israel we’ll say, Nations will seek you out because of your history with God (verse 5); to all nations we’ll say, Seek God before time runs out, because He is ready to abundantly pardon you for what you did when you were blind, and He’s going to teach you to think like Him (verses 6-9).
Let’s conclude this study by reading two more verses from Isaiah 55—another beautiful description of how water works in the ecosystem, and yet another symbol for something spiritual.
2. What does Isaiah compare rain to? Verses 10-11.
This involves you—yes, you who have been given access to God’s truth now, no matter how young you are. You will help when this day is fulfilled, as part of the Bride-segment of God’s Family, to ensure that God’s Word doesn’t just bounce right back to Him, but that it truly waters those we’re teaching. We will help God produce growth and fruits in their lives, and bring them ultimate prosperity to the point that they have rivers of living, healing waters flowing out of their innermost being.