A Detailed Look at Ezekiel 47 – The Life-Giving Waters From the Temple

The prophetic book of Ezekiel contains some incredibly vivid and startling visions that God gave to the prophet Ezekiel. In Ezekiel 47, we read about Ezekiel’s vision of a river flowing from the threshold of the temple, bringing life and restoration wherever it flows. This prophetic vision points to the life-giving waters of the Holy Spirit that flow from the presence of God.


In Ezekiel 47, the prophet sees a vision of the glory of God returning to a restored temple in Jerusalem. An angel takes Ezekiel on a tour of this temple, showing him that the life-giving presence of God once again dwells in the midst of His people. The pinnacle of this vision comes when Ezekiel sees a river flowing from underneath the threshold of the temple. This river starts as a trickle but rapidly increases into a great torrent that brings life and restoration wherever it flows.

This vision ultimately points to Jesus Christ and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit that began at Pentecost after His death and resurrection. Just as this river flowed from the temple threshold, bringing life and healing, so too the Holy Spirit flows from the presence of God to bring new life and restoration to all who receive Christ.

In this blog post, we will walk through Ezekiel 47 verse-by-verse to understand the meaning behind this vision and its fulfillment in Jesus Christ and the life-giving Holy Spirit. Here are some key truths we will explore:

  • The river flows from the altar, pointing to how the Holy Spirit flows from the atoning sacrifice of Jesus on the cross.
  • The river starts small but rapidly increases, picturing the explosive growth of the church empowered by the Spirit.
  • The river brings life and restoration wherever it flows, depicting how the Spirit transforms hearts and communities.
  • The river flows into the Dead Sea and makes its waters fresh, portraying how the Spirit brings new life to even the most desolate places.
  • The river makes the land abundantly fruitful, showing how the Spirit produces spiritual fruit in believers’ lives.
  • The leaves of the trees by the river bring healing, illustrating how the Spirit empowers believers to minister healing to others.
  • Wherever the river flows, there is an abundant catch of fish, indicating how the Spirit enables fruitful evangelism.

By grasping these truths, we can gain a richer understanding of the life-giving ministry of the Holy Spirit and also be envisioned with the supernatural power available to every believer through the Spirit. Let’s now explore the text verse-by-verse!

b A Detailed Look at Ezekiel 47 - The Life-Giving Waters From the Temple

Verse-by-Verse Commentary

Ezekiel 47:1-2 – The River Flows from the Temple’s Right Side

Then he brought me back to the door of the temple; and there was water, flowing from under the threshold of the temple toward the east, for the front of the temple faced east; the water was flowing from under the right side of the temple, south of the altar. He brought me out by way of the north gate, and led me around on the outside to the outer gateway that faces east; and there was water, running out on the right side. (Ezekiel 47:1-2 NKJV)

The vision opens with Ezekiel being brought to the entrance of the restored temple. Flowing out from under the threshold is a trickle of water coming from the south side of the temple, where the altar of sacrifice is located. This river flowing from the temple signified the life-giving presence of God among His people again. It also points ultimately to Jesus, the Lamb of God sacrificed on the cross, from whom flows the life-giving Spirit (John 19:34). Just as this river flowed from the place of sacrifice, so too the Holy Spirit flows from Christ’s atoning work on our behalf.

Ezekiel 47:3-5 – The River Deepens Rapidly

And when the man went out to the east with the line in his hand, he measured one thousand cubits, and he brought me through the waters; the water came up to my ankles. Again he measured one thousand and brought me through the waters; the water came up to my knees. Again he measured one thousand and brought me through; the water came up to my waist. Again he measured one thousand, and it was a river that I could not cross; for the water was too deep, water in which one must swim, a river that could not be crossed. (Ezekiel 47:3-5 NKJV)

As Ezekiel is led further down the river, he notices the water rapidly increases from ankle-deep to knee-deep to waist-deep until it becomes a vast river too deep to cross. This depicts the exponential growth of the church once the Holy Spirit was poured out at Pentecost. Within decades, the church exploded from a small group of disciples to spreading throughout the Roman Empire. The apostle Paul spoke of how the gospel was “bearing fruit and growing” everywhere like an unstoppable tide (Colossians 1:6). This river prophesies the Spirit-empowered advancement of the church across the earth.

Ezekiel 47:6-7 – The River Brings Life Wherever It Flows

He said to me, “Son of man, have you seen this?” Then he brought me and returned me to the bank of the river. When I returned, there, along the bank of the river, were very many trees on one side and the other. Then he said to me: “This water flows toward the eastern region, goes down into the valley, and enters the sea. When it reaches the sea, its waters are healed. (Ezekiel 47:6-8 NKJV)

As Ezekiel is walked along the riverbank, he notices an abundant growth of trees flourishing on both sides of the river. Where the river flows, it brings life and healing even to the Dead Sea, known for its saltiness and inability to sustain life. This signifies how the life-giving Spirit transforms hearts and communities, bringing spiritual life, health, and renewal wherever He flows. Jesus promised rivers of living water would flow from within all who believe in Him (John 7:38). The Spirit restores and renews all who open their hearts to Him.

Ezekiel 47:8-9 – The River Transforms the Dead Sea

And it shall be that every living thing that moves, wherever the rivers go, will live. There will be a very great multitude of fish, because these waters go there; for they will be healed, and everything will live wherever the river goes. (Ezekiel 47:9 NKJV)

The Dead Sea represents one of the most desolate places on earth, yet this vision depicts how even the Dead Sea teems with fish and vegetation when the river flows into it. This signifies the supernatural life-giving power of the Spirit to revive even the most broken of people and places. The early church saw this happen as the Spirit transformed tax collectors, prostitutes, sorcerers, and all manner of desperate people. No person or community is beyond the renewing reach of the Spirit.

Ezekiel 47:10 – Fishermen Spread from the River

It shall be that fishermen will stand by it from En Gedi to En Eglaim; they will be places for spreading their nets. Their fish will be of the same kinds as the fish of the Great Sea, exceedingly many. (Ezekiel 47:10 NKJV)

Along the banks of the river, Ezekiel sees fishermen spreading their nets and catching abundant fish. Jesus told his disciples he would make them “fishers of men” (Mark 1:17). As the Spirit was poured out, the disciples spread far and wide, fishing for lost souls and pulling them into the kingdom of God. Wherever the life-giving presence of the Spirit flows, evangelism and disciple-making follows.

Ezekiel 47:11-12 – The River Makes the Land Abundantly Fruitful

But its swamps and marshes will not be healed; they will be given over to salt. Along the bank of the river, on this side and that, will grow all kinds of trees used for food; their leaves will not wither, and their fruit will not fail. They will bear fruit every month, because their water flows from the sanctuary. Their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for medicine.” (Ezekiel 47:11-12 NKJV)

The river makes the land remarkably lush and fertile, covered with an abundance of fruit trees. This depicts how the Spirit produces spiritual fruit and maturity in the lives of believers. As we walk in the Spirit, He causes us to flourish and bear the fruit of “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23 NKJV). The leaves being for healing point to how the Spirit empowers believers to extend God’s healing to the broken world around them.

Ezekiel 47:13-14 – The Land is Divided Among the Tribes of Israel

Thus says the Lord God: “These are the borders by which you shall divide the land as an inheritance among the twelve tribes of Israel. Joseph shall have two portions. You shall inherit it equally with one another; for I raised My hand in an oath to give it to your fathers, and this land shall fall to you as your inheritance. (Ezekiel 47:13-14 NKJV)

The final portion of Ezekiel’s vision reveals the land being divided among the 12 tribes of Israel as their inheritance. This looks ahead to the Messianic Kingdom when the Spirit restores Israel spiritually and enables them to dwell securely in the Promised Land. Through the gospel of Christ, believing Jews and Gentiles are being grafted together as one people of God, revealing His heart to redeem people from every tribe and tongue.


Ezekiel’s vision of the life-giving river flowing from the temple powerfully prefigures the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost and the supernatural life that He brings. Wherever the Spirit flows, He brings renewal, revival, and restoration. As believers, we have the immense privilege of not only drinking of this river of life ourselves but also channeling it to others that they too may find eternal life in Christ. May we remain filled to overflowing with the Spirit so this river can continue flowing through us to bring life and healing to many!

The themes and imagery of Ezekiel 47 reveal our gracious heavenly Father’s desire for the life-giving presence of His Spirit to flow freely across the earth. He longs for the Spirit’s renewing waters to seep into every desert place, transform every dead sea of humanity, and produce abundant fruit in every heart willing to receive Him. Let us rejoice in the privilege of participating in the Spirit’s life-giving work until the day when He makes all things new!

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