There the Israelites sang this song:
‘Spring up, O well!
Yes, sing its praises!
Sing of this well,
which princes dug,
which great leaders hollowed out
with their scepters and staffs.’
(Numbers 21:17–18 NLT)
This verse has been living with me all week:
‘Spring up, O well; sing ye unto it.’ (KJV)
The well was one that the Israelites had needed when they were journeying through the wilderness. It is a recurring theme throughout the Old and New Testaments: the well that satisfies. For us, of course, that well is Christ. He is the fountain in the midst of us. He is the only one who can satisfy. I think we are probably all aware at this present time that lots of things that can distract and amuse us, innocent means of recreation, have been withdrawn. The stimulation of companionship and activity have stopped for many, causing us to realize more and more how all our fresh springs are found in God and all our satisfaction is found there. Whether there is pain that has accompanied the circumstances of our lockdown or not, we find there is Someone who is accessible. There is something that satisfies, as does nothing other than the life of God, manifest to us in the Lord Jesus Christ by the power of His Holy Spirit. Christ Himself said, when speaking to the Samaritan woman at the well, in that well-loved chapter in John’s gospel, and asking her for water, that the water He would give would satisfy.
‘Anyone who drinks this water (the water in the well) will soon become thirsty again. But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.’ (John 4:13–14)
Because of circumstances at the moment, not being in church in the way we are used to, we become very dependent on that spring of water that is Christ Himself, and very aware of the necessity of finding it. Christ says that the water He gives will satisfy, and that it is living water. In Palestine most of their water was not living water, because they didn’t have very many rivers and fresh springs. A well had to be dug for the water to seep in from the soil around. But the living water was highly prized. It was used for ceremonial purposes, because living water is running water – it is a fresh spring.
I remember once being out on the hills climbing, when it turned out to be a very hot day. I had not brought any water with me, which is a huge mistake – but you tend to think that up there in the hills you will find some running water. At one point I actually thought: ‘I’m just going to try that stagnant water there.’ One little taste was enough – I thought I’d rather die of thirst than drink that! But living water is prized: if you find a clear stream flowing high in the hills it is wonderful when you are thirsty. When you get physically thirsty you can’t think of much else except your thirst until it is satisfied.
But there is a thirst inside us that can only be met by God and by that living water. C S Lewis says:
If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.
How true that is! And Christ is that fountain. The verse in Numbers says: ‘Spring up, O well … sing its praises!’ Sing praise to our well, to the fountain that is Christ. ‘Sing of this well which princes dug, which great leaders hollowed out with their scepters and staffs.’ I have never seen the verse in this light before, but Christ is the well, and on Calvary’s hill our Prince dug the well out for us with His sceptre. The sceptre was His cross. And what a well He dug out for us! That is why we can drink of Him. That is why in our thirst we can go to Him and find, even as He promised, that out of our innermost being there come rivers of living water. There springs up inside us a life that we sense is eternal, not dependent on our circumstances. But oh, what is the price of that digging! We see Christ there at Calvary’s hill, refusing to turn back, because He wanted to give us water. He shared our lot with us. There came over me in mediting on this such an awareness of the love of God. He gives us fresh glimpses of that, of how He identifies with us in our humanity, in our walk through this world and all that that means. He identified with our needs. He identified with what brings us joy, yet knowing what would give us the true joy. He understands the human lot: He understands you and He understands me. And He would not turn back until He had made the fountain available for you and for me.
Are you thirsty at this moment? Are you strained? Are you in need? Or is there just welling up in you a song of praise to the well that the Prince has dug for you and for me?
That well is there in heaven also. It’s there He speaks to us. In Revelation we have that lovely word:
For the Lamb on the throne will be their Shepherd. He will lead them to springs of life-giving water. And God will wipe every tear from their eyes. (Revelation 7:17)
That fountain that is Christ, dug out on Calvary’s hill, is there in the very midst of heaven – the Lamb Himself. Can you imagine Christ’s pleasure as He leads us, His brethren, to the fountain of living water there in heaven to drink freely, and He wipes every tear from every eye? He says: ‘I know. I lived on earth. I understand. I have the fountain ready for you.’
Also, to change the picture a little, it’s a fountain that is filled with crystal-clear water that makes pure. And it is filled with the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.
There is a fountain filled with blood
Drawn from Immanuel’s veins,
And sinners plunged beneath that flood
Lose all their guilty stains.
You say: ‘Is that really there in heaven?’
Yes. We read of the blood being sprinkled in heaven.
So Christ has now become the High Priest over all the good things that have come. He has entered that greater, more perfect Tabernacle in heaven, which is not made by human hands and is not part of this created world. With his own blood … He entered the Most Holy Place once for all time and secured our redemption forever. (Hebrews 9:11–12)
Christ did not enter into a holy place made with human hands, which was only a copy of the true one in heaven. He entered into heaven itself to appear now before God on our behalf. (Hebrews 9:24)
He took the blood there. It had to be there in heaven, or else we couldn’t be there. We are there on the merits of the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.
That shed blood avails for us now. We need it. No matter how close we try to live to God, still here, clothed in our flesh, we need constantly the cleansing of that blood. And there’s a fountain filled with it. It is the answer to Satan’s cruelty, the answer to every arrow that he sends in our direction. The blood of the Lord Jesus Christ avails. It is there in heaven, and it speaks for me and it shall do. Christ Himself is my life and my satisfaction. He is the fountain. He is the ‘flowing streams from Lebanon’, a ‘fountain of gardens’, to us. Come and drink till you’re brim-full of the life of Christ. Nothing can quench it. Nothing that is past, present or to come can quench the spring that is found in Christ.
In the words of what I suppose is my favourite hymn, which we have not had a chance to sing on a Sunday morning, but we shall do again:
O Christ, He is the fountain,
The deep, sweet well of love!
The streams on earth I’ve tasted,
More deep I’ll drink above.
There to an ocean fullness
His mercy doth expand,
And glory, glory dwelleth
In Emmanuel’s land
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