Posted by: tscottmorton | December 5, 2020

Tale of Two Rivers (And The Swampy Bog)

Isa 55:1&6  “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost…  Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near.  

My dear mother and her husband live in a wonderful and remote area of America, a small town in Oregon named Medford. Though a rapidly growing city, Medford remains fairly remote in terms of visitation. It’s kind of like Vermont. It’s just hard to get there and not normally a place one would visit.

My family and I do our best to visit mom at least once per year. During one visit in 2005, we decided to drive to the Pacific Coast of Oregon. From Medford, that drive is about two and a half hours.

It’s a magnificent nature filled drive. Winding curvy country roads that follow rapid mountain rivers, giving way to vistas of gorgeous small farms, rolling hills, horses, crops, vineyards and mountain scenes that would take your breath away. We turn and wind our way across the Oregon state boarder into the northwest corner of California where Highway 199 meets the coastal Highway 101.

Very soon the drive came to a California State Park named The Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park. Just before the 199 meets the 101 is this unique state park that is filled with ancient redwood trees by a river which empties to the Pacific Ocean.

We planned to stop here for a few hours to visit these magnificent trees. As it was, we were right on the edge of heat and chill, between crystal clear sun and cold low-level fog. It was gorgeous. Just a few miles from the Pacific coastline, the contrast was very visible. 

The park consisted of the Smith River, a winding mountain to ocean flow that emanates from the western California/Oregon hills. There is a lengthy walkway bridge spanning across this slow flowing segment of the river. And of course, the huge redwood trees on the south side of the river.

As I walked across the bridge, looking down into the crystal clear flowing waters I saw millions of rocks visible on the bottom. All were perfectly smooth and uniformly rounded, tumbled by the millennia of flowing and sometimes furious motion. Here, in the slow shallow flow of this river’s end, the rocks were resting motionless. These rocks were perfect and individually unique. I imagined myself as one of these unique rocks. Tumbled and molded smooth by the very Word of God.

As I looked from my stand on the bridge at the middle of the Smith River, I then looked up at these magnificent Redwood trees. These trees had been there for hundreds and some for thousands of years. I read on the park placard that there were some trees there and still alive for well over 2000 years. These trees had been drinking from the waters of this unchanging unshifting river for hundreds, even thousands of years. Some of these trees predate Christ’s work on the Cross!

That afternoon, my dear (now late) stepfather spoke to me a personal story, an event that happened to him one day at this very same park many years ago. I had his permission to share his testimony. Dave was a great man of God and a dear beloved friend and father.

Many years ago as he stood within this very same grove of redwoods, suddenly he felt the unmistakable Presence of the Lord come upon him. For but a short few minutes, he was overwhelmed with love. He had never felt this before. He said it was very intimate. He never again felt such a Presence of joy in this same way. But it greatly impacted his life. 

Having experienced the manifest Presence of the Lord in my life, I know what he was feeling, though his experience was very personal and uniquely profound to him. I do not presume to know what he specifically personally felt. All I know is this, he was made known, by manifest revelation, to the Father heart of God for him that day. And he was changed for a lifetime in that single experience. He knew that he knew, he was loved by God.

As I thought of his experience later, it is no wonder to me that this happened in this park.

It was time to leave this Holy place. Now I was standing on the north bank of the Smith River. I looked one last time at these magnificent trees before departing for the ocean. Then Lord spoke something deep into my heart. “There are some rivers that never change.”

As I thought about that day in the weeks ahead, the Lord began to reveal many things to me about rivers.

The Unchanging River

In Oregon, as it is in much of the Pacific Northwest, geographically there are mountains and hills that press up against the Pacific Ocean. Historically and for thousands of years, these mountains would fill with winter snows and then empty through a series of rivers into the Pacific Ocean.

The Rogue River is the classic example. The Rogue runs through Medford and eventually winds its way to the Pacific. This river is mighty and which is where American athletes train in whitewater activities to prepare for the Olympics. It rushes through mountain valleys in paths that have not changed for thousands of years. It channels the flow year-round of fresh winter melt waters to the sea.

The key point is, these rivers have not changed their course in thousands of years. Some rivers are unchanging. They never geographically shift position. They represent the River of God that does not change. They represent the very Word of God which when spoken does not change and which cannot change.

Heb 6:16-20 People swear by someone greater than themselves, and the oath confirms what is said and puts an end to all argument. Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath. God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be greatly encouraged. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf.

Nu 23:19 God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mindDoes he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?

1Sa 15:29 He who is the Glory of Israel does not lie or change his mind; for he is not a man, that he should change his mind.”

Mal 3:6 “I the LORD do not change. So you, O descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed.

Jas 1:17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

When the Lord speaks a thing, it cannot change lest the Lord be a liar. We who drink of these unchanging Rivers are shaped by these Rivers, we are nourished by them. They produce the substance of life by which everything of the Kingdom of God is formed. The Word. Jesus! Love!

It’s no wonder that my stepfather felt the presence of God in that very place of the redwoods! For the very Word of God is the very dwelling place of God. The Father wills the word, Jesus speaks the word, and the Holy Spirit manifests the word. These words emanate from the throne room of the Kingdom of God. What a Holy place, that place of the unchanging River of God, from where spires have been drinking for thousands of years, and where the rocks within were molded!

But the word only defines God. It establishes the principles of God. It establishes the laws of God. It tells of who He is. It tells of what is true and what is false. It defines The Way. It makes a way. He is The Way.

However, the word alone is incomplete as to the whole of God’s plan. The word does not define what God is actually doing in the now. It defines who God is.

As I read the Bible, I find words that define who and what God is. I also find prophetic words that speak to the future of what God is doing and will do in the days ahead.

The River that never changes speaks to the unchanging nature of God, of who and what he is. But there is a River that is forever shifting and changing! These shifting rivers prophetically speak to what God is doing and will do in the days ahead.

The Ever-Changing River and The Swampy Bog

I am an airline pilot. My work has me flying over these United States regularly. I see rivers from the air as I fly. One obvious river I see from time to time is the Mississippi River. This river is unlike the Rogue River. From the air, one can clearly see, the Mississippi River is constantly changing, constantly shifting geographic position. It winds and turns through soft and pliable lands that willingly give way to its power. Though slowly and sometimes unnoticeable, this river always shifts position. Those who live by this river understand what I am talking about!

When the river has made a change, and you can see this from the air very well, many times an area of swamp remains where the waters used to flow. This area where the river used to be has become a swamp of stagnant mostly lifeless waters. Though life is there, it is devoid of the fresh waters of the edge of the river. The water’s edge has moved to a new place. The old place of where the river used to be is where you will find these stagnant waters. They are cut off from the fresh waters flow.

This ever-changing River represents the manifesting presence of God that defines and establishes what God is doing right now and in the days to come. This is “The River of God.” This is the Holy Spirit. He winds and turns through lands, and is always shifting. One day the edge of the River is here, next it is there. Where this River changes to is the new thing of God. Where the River changes from is the old thing of God that is no more!

Where the River is today is what the Lord is doing today. Where the River used to be is what the Lord did yesterday. Where it will be tomorrow is what the Lord is doing tomorrow, and which is always a greater thing, an ever increasing thing!

Though God does not change when he verbalizes a thing, he is always increasing and doing a new thing that has never been done before. This is a critical understanding for we who are doing God’s business in this world!

The River that is ever changing is God moving from glory to glory. The people who move in these new things are moving from faith to faith! 

Those who live on the edge of this ever-changing River are a people filled with the Holy Spirit constantly shifting from the old thing into the new; a people who have uprooted themselves from old places, repositioned their rootsupon the edge of the River’s new places to drink afresh the Waters of the Spirit! Those unwilling to change from their yesterdays do not reposition, and thus miss what God is doing in the here and now. 

This River represents the increase of God’s government, the new thing, and change. It is the River that forms in the wasteland and which wells up in the desert. It is very supernatural.

Comparing Two Rivers

In the River that never changes I am like the rock tumbled and perfected in the word of God until I am formed into the likeness of Christ, God’s desire for my life. I go from rushing waters to sudden still waters. And the waters of this River are full of life-giving truth.

As the waters become still like the Smith River that morning, like the motionless rock in the unchanging River, I wait quietly and patiently for the next word that deepens my knowledge of Father God, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit.

Under the weight of the knowledge of who my God is, I find myself hungry and thirsty for the knowledge of what God is doing. I want to be a part of it. As I am willing to be molded by the unchanging rivers flow, I want also to be on the edge of God’s ever changing river. I want to be like the tree planted by the edge of the shifting River drinking the fresh renewing waters of what God is doing now and tomorrow.

I have drunk deep of the waters of the River that never changes. Now I want to drink of the waters of the River that brings supernatural life to my members! When I drink of the waters of the ever-changing River, my tree is made able to produce fruit that brings healing to the nations.

We must be drinkers of both Rivers! The River that never changes speaks to my Salvation and my home in Heaven. But the River that always changes speaks to my life here on earth. These shifting waters make me able to do great exploits for my Father and my King in the here and now. You cannot have one without the other. Both are necessary to be effective in the fullest measure here on earth.

The waters of the unchanging River set my foundation. The waters of the ever-changing River set my feet in motion to reap a harvest. Unchanging waters reveal and establish my base. Ever-changing waters reveal and then activate my call!

What we have experienced of God yesterday is never meant to be the basis for how we do things today. We build upon our yesterdays! We do not try to copy our yesterdays, nor do we make our yesterdays our limit.

We cling to the unchanging word of God that defines Him. Then we add to it the good of what God did yesterday as a basis to add upon for our tomorrows. We always seek the new thing of God in faith and with a willingness to be once again surprised with something that has never happened before. We couple our new experiences to the unchanging word and the inheritance of past revivals and build upon them. Only in this way will we succeed in the fullness of God’s call for his church.

There is a time to wait on the Lord in the unchanging River. But that is not to be mistaken for our call to forever be uprooting our tree roots and moving to the edge of where the ever-changing River has moved to. There is a vast and total difference between stagnant waters and still waters; one brings life, the other is lifeless. How many dead trees do we see in a swampy bog?

I sense the clear direction of the Lord from time to time to uproot my tree and move from where the edge used to be to the new place of the new edge of this River. I know that if I stay where the banks used to be, I have lost the fresh waters of the new thing of God. I have become comfortable in the old thing. I have lost faith for the new thing. Religion has set in.

But the shift of this River is subtle and which is discernable only over time and by the revelation of the Holy Spirit. It doesn’t look like it until you suddenly notice that the banks of the River have moved.

Isa 43:19 See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.

Isa 9:7 Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end.

How valuable is the knowledge of the Kingdom of God! Only by the Holy Spirit are we made known of the new things of God. The Holy Spirit is “the Helper who leads us into all truth.” The NIV Bible calls him the “Counselor” who leads us into all truth. 

A Vision

One night, I had a vision. This is what I saw:

I saw a large grove of oak trees. They were all dying. These trees were all standing in an area of swampy bog. They were drinking stagnant waters. The River had changed position but these trees did not perceive it. They stayed put. They would not move.

Now there were young trees and old trees. They were all dying. The Lord told me, “These trees are drinking from the waters of their yesterdays.”

Next thing I knew, there was a man standing tall on the top of a hill. He was yelling. “The River is not there anymore! The River has changed! It’s over here! Come over here so that you may live!”

Sadly only a few trees uprooted and moved. End vision.

I will not be like the oak tree that is dying in the stagnant still swampy waters of where the ever-changing River used to be. Such a way is the basis for religious theological man made thinking. Whenever we define God by what he did yesterday we limit God to yesterdays ways which no longer exist. It causes us to disbelieve for the new thing. The result is the coming on of religious shackles that limit our walk.

After contemplating this vision, the Lord brought to my mind this scripture:

Mark 8:22-25 They came to Bethsaida, and some people brought a blind man and begged Jesus to touch him. He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village. When he had spit on the man’s eyes and put his hands on him, Jesus asked, “Do you see anything?” He looked up and said, “I see people; they look like trees walking around.”Once more Jesus put his hands on the man’s eyes. Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly.

Jesus knew that it was more important to first heal this man of spiritual blindness before healing him of his natural blindness. So, he was given this vision of walking trees. How great was this vision! Are we not like these trees that must uproot ourselves from time to time and move to the new place of the ever-changing River of God? Would that not look like people who are trees walking around?

We are all like trees who need the nourishment of these fresh waters to live. We need the fresh waters of the Holy Spirit to know and to do what the Father wants of us, within the context of what He is doing now and tomorrow. Therefore we must be living on the edge of this ever-changing River of God. This is an ongoing act we must make. We must uproot and move to the new place of the ever-changing River that we might drink the fresh new waters of revelation and supernatural power.

Ezek 47:1-12 The man brought me back to the entrance of the temple, and I saw water coming out from under the threshold of the temple toward the east (for the temple faced east). The water was coming down from under the south side of the temple, south of the altar. He then brought me out through the north gate and led me around the outside to the outer gate facing east, and the water was flowing from the south side. As the man went eastward with a measuring line in his hand, he measured off a thousand cubits and then led me through water that was ankle-deep. He measured off another thousand cubits and led me through water that was knee-deep. He measured off another thousand and led me through water that was up to the waist. He measured off another thousand, but now it was a river that I could not cross, because the water had risen and was deep enough to swim in– a river that no one could cross. He asked me, “Son of man, do you see this?” Then he led me back to the bank of the river. When I arrived there, I saw a great number of trees on each side of the river. He said to me, “This water flows toward the eastern region and goes down into the Arabah, where it enters the Sea. When it empties into the Sea, the water there becomes fresh. Swarms of living creatures will live wherever the river flows. There will be large numbers of fish, because this water flows there and makes the salt water fresh; so where the river flows everything will live. Fishermen will stand along the shore; from En Gedi to En Eglaim there will be places for spreading nets. The fish will be of many kinds– like the fish of the Great Sea. But the swamps and marshes will not become fresh; they will be left for salt. Fruit trees of all kinds will grow on both banks of the river. Their leaves will not wither, nor will their fruit fail. Every month they will bear, because the water from the sanctuary flows to them. Their fruit will serve for food and their leaves for healing.

Unmistakably there is reference to both spiritual Rivers of which I speak in this Ezekiel passage. We are the trees, we are the Body of Christ! We must be living on the edge of these fresh waters lest we die of spiritual thirst!

Matt 13:52 He said to them, “Therefore every teacher of the law who has been instructed about the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old.”

Simply said, the old treasures are found in the River that never changes, and which are invaluable. The new treasures are found in the ever-changing River and which are also invaluable. We need both!

To drink of the ever-changing River requires a new and fresh leap of faith. For it is true that whatever is new has never happened before. It requires revelation. It requires intimacy and humility. Brothers and sisters, we need both Rivers to succeed in our Kingdom call.

Lastly, consider these applicable scriptures:

Zech 9:10 I will take away the chariots from Ephraim and the war-horses from Jerusalem, and the battle bow will be broken. He will proclaim peace to the nations. His rule will extend from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth.

Ps 72:8 He will rule from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth.

(Notice that the word “River” is capitalized in the above two scriptures in the New King James and NIV versions…)

Gen 2:9-10 And the LORD God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground– trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. A river watering the garden flowed from Eden

Rev 22:1-2 Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.

Even in Heaven we will be living by the River of God! How important is the understanding of it for us today, here on earth! From the beginning of creation to the end of time and beyond, there will always be the River of God bringing life to wherever it flows.

Even in this life, a few days without water bring death. How much more then should we who are born of the Spirit be filled with the spiritual waters of God that bring life to places of death on this earth? All around the world, people who do not know the love of God are dying of thirst! Shouldn’t we be the ones who bring them the waters of life that change? Were we not commissioned from Jesus Christ before he returned to Heaven to do this very thing?

Acts 1:8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

May we all be heavy drinkers of the waters of life from both Rivers so that we might reap a great harvest, a reward to Jesus for his sufferings. And, by an act of our will, forever be repositioning our roots by the ever shifting River of God.

Rev 22:17 The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life.


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