How many times have you and I gone to the back of our bibles and stared at the maps trying to imagine the bible stories playing out on them and getting an idea of just how far it was when a story speaks of someone going from here to there? Perhaps the most outstanding feature of the familiar map of the Land of Palestine shown here that we’ve all no doubt looked at time and time again are the two prominent bodies of water connected by a river. We’ve all heard numerous stories containing “the Sea of Galilee”, “The Dead Sea” and “the Jordan River”.
Let’s look at these landmarks for a moment and review some factual information about them;
The top, smaller, body of water is the Sea of Galilee. The Sea of Galilee is actually a fresh water lake that is fed from rain runoff from the mountains of Galilee and the Golan Heights. It is 695 feet below sea level and is five miles wide and thirteen miles long. The lake is only 150 feet deep at the deepest point. The Sea of Galilee serves as the main water source for all of Israel. It is filled at its northern border by the Jordan River, which has it’s beginnings on Mt. Hermon, an often snow capped peak at the north end of the land of Israel. The landscape bordering the Sea of Galilee is a very fertile land, rich in vegetation and very beautiful. It’s waters are also filled with many species of fish and water life.
In the lower part of the map, we see a much larger body of water which is called the Dead Sea. It is forty eight miles long and eleven miles wide and reaches a depth of over 1000 feet. It is the lowest place on the face of the earth at 1300 feet below sea level. The Dead Sea is dead because of it’s extreme salt content. As much as twenty five to thirty five percent of the water’s contents are salts and other minerals. The water is clean and beautiful looking, yet is completely uninhabitable to anything living. The salts in the Dead Sea however are worth billions of dollars and are as valuable as any oil field. The landscape bordering the Dead Sea is a very barren land with no sustainable life in the water or on the bordering landscape.
The two are connected by the very famous Jordan river of which we have heard so many stories including the baptism of our Lord and Savior.
Why is the Sea of Galilee so beautiful and full of wealth and life and the Dead Sea so, well, un-beautiful and completely devoid of life at all? The reason is that the Sea of Galilee has both an inflow and outflow, it receives and it gives. The Dead Sea is, from a monetary stand point, even richer than the Sea of Galilee considering the worth of the rich salt deposits of which it is so well known. However, the Dead Sea only receives and never gives and therefore continues to build up it’s riches, yet is completely dead and devoid of life because it cannot give those riches away.
I’ll bet you’re way ahead of me and have already figured out that “WOW”, there is a beautiful spiritual lesson in the above information. There is, isn’t there!
God often uses the physical to teach us about the spiritual. We are both spiritual and physical beings, existing in two realms simultaneously but we are most familiar with the physical aspect of our bodies and surroundings and naturally learn best by what we are able to observe by seeing, hearing, tasting and touching. Knowing this, Jesus used many physical analogies including the agricultural society of His time. Other examples include the analogy of the Vine and the Branches likening Himself to the Vine and us to the Branches. Back to “The Tale of the Two Seas”, there is a beautiful analogy for us even in the geographical layout of that very special place we call the Holy Land.
There is a very special verse of scripture that comes to mind.
John 7:37-39 (King James Version) 37 – In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. 38 – He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. 39 – (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified)
The Sea of Galilee receives very nutrient rich waters, blessings from on-high (literally, from the mountains to its north) which it utilizes to feed a wealth of marine life and vegetation that attracts many people to its waters and shores. Its border real-estate properties are some of the most sought after in the region. The Sea of Galilee then passes on this abundance of wealth (including a degree of salt minerals) to the Jordan river who continues to feed the water and shore life along its miles of flowing between the Sea of Galilee and the end of it’s journey at the Dead Sea.
The Dead Sea on the other hand is so far below sea level that it has no possible outlet streams. The same life giving nutrients that make the Sea of Galilee and the banks of the Jordan river so beautiful deposit themselves into the Dead Sea. But, there they stay! Because the Dead Sea cannot “flow”, it is estimated that over 7 million tons of water evaporate each and every day, leaving behind the heavy mineral deposits that cause it to be some 25-35% saltier than our oceans, too salty to support any known type of life.
To a certain extent, many of us are like the Dead Sea not understanding that a truly successful life is not just about what we receive but about what we do with what we receive in passing along those blessings to others. You and I are so fortunate every day with the monetary income, knowledge that is passed to us, the love we experience from others close to us and the respect of our peers. But, if we do not do all we can to pass those blessings along to any that we see could benefit, like the Dead Sea, those very blessings evaporate from our life as well.
It’s so difficult to understand sometimes that we really cannot out give God! With every gallon of water that the Sea of Galilee passes along to the river of Jordan and ultimately the Dead Sea, it makes room for another gallon of water from its sources to the north. Does it ever concern itself about the possibility of giving more water to the river of Jordan than what it’s sources to its north are capable of giving it, thus restricting it’s flow out? No, of course not and its supply of water (God) has never in thousands of years let the Sea of Galilee down! God will never let you and I down as we share our money, our talents, our knowledge, our empathy, love, respect etc. etc.! Like the Sea of Galilee, our borders will become more and more valuable as we move more and more blessing through us to others.
As stated earlier, the Dead Sea is actually full of riches, yet there is no life in it. You and I can very easily be the same if we hoard the blessings that life brings our way on a daily basis. Let’s you and I strive every day to be those “rivers of living water” that Christ spoke of in John 7!
The apostle James wrote a verse of today’s scripture that also speaks to this truth in James 2:17 – “Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.”
So the next time you happen to look at a map of the Land of Palestine, remember that the blessing of God’s Holy Spirit does you no good unless you keep Him flowing!