The Mystical Temple!

Ezekiel 47:1
Then he brought me back to the door of the temple; and behold, water was issuing from below the threshold of the temple toward the east (for the temple faced east); and the water was flowing down from below the south end of the threshold of the temple, south of the altar.

In John 7:38, Jesus declares, “He who believes in Me, as the scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water.”  The strange thing about this passage is that there is no direct quote in the Old Testament that declares this.  So why does Jesus say that “the scripture has said” it?  The clue comes in John’s other book, Revelation.  There, John has a vision of a heavenly temple just as, 600 years before, Ezekiel had seen a vision of a new temple.  In that vision, John tells us that he saw “the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city” (Rv 22:1-2).  In short, John is telling us that Ezekiel’s temple vision was not of a big stone building, but of the Heavenly Temple which is the Church, the Body of Christ.  The water of the Spirit which flowed from the threshold of the temple in Ezekiel’s vision is the living water of the Spirit Jesus promised.  And that water is found in none other than the baptismal font of your local parish.  The mysteries of the Apocalypse are a lot closer than you think!

Mark Shea


Mark P. Shea is a popular Catholic writer and speaker. The author of numerous books, his most recent work is The Work of Mercy (Servant) and The Heart of Catholic Prayer (Our Sunday Visitor). Mark contributes numerous articles to many magazines, including his popular column “Connecting the Dots” for the National Catholic Register. Mark is known nationally for his one minute “Words of Encouragement” on Catholic radio. He also maintains the Catholic and Enjoying It blog and regularly blogs for National Catholic Register. He lives in Washington state with his wife, Janet, and their four sons.

Subscribe to CE
(It's free)

Go to Catholic Exchange homepage

  • lkeebler

    Thank you! If only we realized how close Christ is too, so close, so very close and not far away. No wonder He said so many times, “do not be afraid”.

  • Grandpa Tom

    Mark, good article. In the Old Testiment The Lord is the Fountain of Living Water. In Jer: 2-13; It is written: “For my people have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters.” Proverb 21:1: “The Kings heart is in the hand of the Lord as the rivers of water.” Isaiah at 33:21 states: “But the glorious Lord will be unto us a place of broad rivers and streams.” Solomon’s Song at 4:15: “A fountain of gardens, a well of living waters, and streams from Lebanon.” The Prophet Zechariah at 14:8 says: “And it shall be in that day that the living waters shall flow from Jerusalem.” Jerusalem being God’s Instument and Elect. The people to whom our Lord Jesus spoke to (John 7:38) would have been familiar with the concept of the “living waters” to mean God who gives life to all things. The quote you use is “out of his heart.” In the KJV it says out of his belly; in the Catholic Latin Vulgate (Jerome) it also says out of his belly; in the Catholic Study Bible it simply says “rivers of living waters shall flow from within him.” The Catechism of the Catholic Church in Part Two, Article II, shows how water was a prefigure of Baptism in the Old Covenant. Paragraph 1218 says: Since the beginning of the world, water, so humble and wonderful a creature, has been the source of life and fruitfulness. Sacred Scripture sees it as “overshaowed” by the Spirit of God. At the very dawn of creation your Spirit breathed on the waters, making them a wellspring of holiness (Roman Missal, Easter Vigil 42; Blessing of Water.) 1217 says: In Baptism we use your gift of water, which you have made a rich symbol. 1219 says: The Church has seen in Noah’s ark a prefigure of salvation by Baptism, for in it “a few, that is, eight persons, were saved through water.” Paragraph 1221 says: But above all, the crossing of the Red Sea, literally the liberation of Israel from the slavery of Egypt, announces the liberation wrought by baptism. 1227 says: The baptized have “put on Christ.” Through the Holy Spirit, Baptism is a bath that purifies, justifies, and sanctifies. 1228 says: Hence Baptism is a bath of water in which the “imperishable seed” of the word of God produces its life-giving effect. Maybe Jesus says “Scripture says it”, because He, Jesus, in a sense is the Living Scripture from which the River of Living Water flows from.