ARE YOU THIRSTY? adapted from Brad Jersak’s “Her Gates Will Never Be Shut”
In night visions, the prophet saw a house on top of a mountain. A spring of water bubbles up from the floorboards and trickles across the floor. By the time it exits the door and crosses the deck, it is two feet deep. Running off the deck and toward the cliff, the stream becomes a powerful river. Then it plummets as a deafening waterfall, increasing in volume as it descends to the lush valley below.
I believe such dreams come from the same Spirit who enlivened John’s dreams, recounting spiritual truths in familiar ancient symbols, a foretaste of what is to come.
More than a foretaste—an inviting question: Are you thirsty? (cf. Isaiah 55:1–5) It’s the question that opens the door of the city and leads the way into it as far as the river’s source. It’s the invitation-question of the Spirit and the Bride to the nations outside. It’s the question that Rev 21–22 asks both then and now. Are you thirsty? As I’ve marinated in those chapters for the past two years, this vision has emerged for me…
Lost souls languish outside the gates of the great city, their thirst deepening as they fester in the smoking valley of Gehenna. Time has lost all meaning in this non-life of non-being. Lips and hearts are cracked with hopelessness like baked clay. Their time to choose has passed, their judgment just and certain, death eternal their lot. They cannot even make themselves care.
And then an intrusive question forms in their hearts. Are you thirsty?
Beyond ludicrous—the question reawakens the exiles to their torment and intensifies their thirst. Are you thirsty? They recall the pointless supplication, “Have pity on me and send someone to dip a fingertip in water to cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.” Hopeless.
But the question has begun its work. Hearts gaze longingly at the city walls. The question has energized a plea. What if we trudged out a pilgrimage to Zion’s gates to seek an audience with the King? What if—hope against hope—someone opened the gates? Even without hope or courage, the thirst itself drives them. Are you thirsty? There is no choice now. They must try.
Even as the damned set their hearts upon the journey, while still a good distance away, the heart of God is already turned toward them, for the question originated from his throne, amplified beyond the city walls by the voice of the Bride and the Spirit. The question and its answer gush out with life-giving rivers of liquid love. Christ, the river of living water, pours out of the open gates and into the valley of death. Streams flow into Gehenna, where green shoots spring up on widening banks and moisture feeds the valley.
Parched for life and love, the outcasts rush to the river, falling on their faces to lap up the sparkling water. Tasting the goodness gives them a thirst for even more. They are drawn, freely yet irresistibly, to follow the river upstream. Its path welcomes them in through the gates, beckons them up the streets, a clear path to its mountain source—to God himself.
As the rapids of Christ’s love flow out of the city, so the nations stream into the city, joining the Bride, exalting the Bride, becoming the Bride, ready for the love of her King.
My vision. Isaiah’s vision. John’s vision. God’s vision.
To what degree does this vision represent pure possibility—a choice we can pursue or reject? To what degree is it the eternally planned choice of God? How do our choices and God’s plan intersect? And for how long will God pursue the dream?
There is a deed that the blessed Trinity shall do on the last day, and when that deed shall be done, and how it shall be done, is unknown to all creatures under Christ, and shall be until it has been done…. This is the great deed ordained by our Lord God from eternity, treasured and hidden in his blessed breast, known only to himself, and by this deed he shall make all things well; for just as the Holy Trinity made all things from nothing, so the Holy Trinity shall make all well that is not well.
Bradley Jersak, Her Gates Will Never Be Shut (Wipf & Stock, 2009), 178-9.