One of the most beautiful illustrations in Scripture appears in the last chapter of Revelation: “And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb” (22:1).
Water is referred to numerous times in the Bible as a symbol for the Word of God (see, for example, Isaiah 55:10, 11), so this “pure river” is evidently pouring forth from the throne (a representation of God’s all-power) to cleanse and heal us, and further still, to teach us knowledge of the living God and His Christ—and of our inseparable relationship to God as His loved sons and daughters.
A little later in the same chapter of Revelation, St. John writes, “And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. . . . And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely” (verse 17). What a contrast this open and inviting river of the Word, of the knowledge of God, is to the common thought that God hides from us, and we just have to accept that we cannot know Him—or even know for sure whether He exists. The illustration of the river portrays God not as closed off from us but as ever revealing Himself to us through the irrepressible flood-tides of the Word, in fulfillment of the Bible’s promise, “All thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children” (Isaiah 54:13). What a comfort to realize this at times when it seems we’ve been plunked down in a maze of problems without a map! In truth, we can know God and see His loving way before us, “clear as crystal.” (Of note, the Greek word translated “clear” in Revelation 22:1 is lampros, and it also means “radiant” [Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible]; our English word lamp is descended from its Greek root—all of which is to say, the river of the Word is brightly glistening, such that all may see it.)