The Promise of the Four Rivers

Article by Esther Rowlands

The Promise of the Four Rivers

Since the start of February, I have had a continuous open vision of four rivers in the formation of a cross. The centre point, driven by a strong current, is a whirlpool of life. The waters that I see are fresh, fast-moving and vivacious with a purposeful energy to them, not dissimilar to the rolling waves in Van Gogh’s swirling river paintings.

The centre point from which the four rivers originate is Eden, (the place of ‘delight’). The four rivers within the cross formation are as follows. The first is Pishon (‘free flow’) which flows though the land of Havilah [1] the place of the ‘eternal circle’, ‘dancing’ and ‘swirling’ and producer of ‘gold’, ‘onyx’[2] and ‘Bdellium’[3] . The second is Gihon (‘bursting forth’). The third is Tigris (‘rapid running waters’). The fourth is Euphrates (‘fruitfulness’).

The perfection painted in the early chapters of Genesis is beyond any form of artistic depiction. The infinitesimal majesty of the Creator’s masterpiece simply cannot be approached by vocabulary or image. Throughout the centuries, these dry river beds, most likely to have flowed throughout the Armenian highlands, have been objects of global theological, geographical and geological enquiry and have, more recently, met the curious gaze of modern space photography. More importantly, these four rivers boast God-given titles that together anthem the very promises of Heaven to you, today.

I have often meditated on the true meaning of Psalm 37.4, that foundational promise which we so readily embrace: ‘Delight yourself in Him and He will give you the desires of your heart’. ‘Delight’ is not an act; it is a place, a tangible location. ‘Delight’ is Eden. It is the place of communion, dialogue, intimacy, oneness, harmony, enrichment, abandonment, nakedness, exposure, vulnerability, delicacy, transparency, stillness and tranquillity. ‘Delight’ is His presence within you and you within His presence. It is the Tree of Life before you and the Tree of Life within you. Eden (‘delight’) is thus a ‘place’ and a ‘state.’ Your heart is a garden that He desires to walk through in the cool of the day. The secret place of delight (Eden) is the birthplace of desire. When you abide in His presence, His will ‘becomes’ yours. Moreover, the place of delight is where you see that you, yourself, are an object of His fervent desire.

Can you imagine how the atmospheric balance of paradise altered when glory was de-based in man’s mind? The tragedy lay not simply in the partaking of that which was ultimately the ‘tree of death’, the relinquishment of government, and the violation of the spirit of truth, but it lay also in the devaluing of all the other trees and the discarding, rejection and ill-recognition of the central tree, the Tree of Life. The act of rebellion not only indicated a catastrophic aberration in Adam and Eve’s view of God’s sovereign word but it pointed to a sudden alteration in their perception and appreciation of the Tree of Life.

Within a fraction of time, the Tree of Life was suddenly perceived as being either no different, or inferior to both its counterpart and to the other holy trees throughout the garden. Its uniqueness, sufficiency and desirability were rejected, discarded and displaced. The ‘tree of death’ was now “delightful to the eyes” and “desirable” to the body. In a mere moment, that which was the very essence of life was insulted and its identity as the unique source of divine nourishment was questioned. Following this, Mankind became increasingly displaced from this place of delight in which the Tree had been central. The mutual desirability of God and Man - Heaven and Earth was disrupted. Delight became impossible and desire became perverted.

How that foul serpent must tremble at the global utterance of the Lord’s Prayer by those who pray in spirit and truth; Earth’s united call to Heaven for full restoration of Paradise (the King’s domain), and for the full intent and delight of the Creator to reach it’s totality within her midst: Your name is Holy, your rule be re-established, your desire be accomplished.

I believe that when the garden’s atmosphere altered, the very rivers that watered it and flowed from it lost their purity. No element retained holiness. Seeing the four rivers in a cross formation exhibits that great cosmic shift which took place at Calvary. Not only was accessibility to the Tree of Life restored, but Eden (‘delight’) was free to be re-instated inside the heart of every believer. The tarnished jewels and disrupted dance of Havilah, the amplitude of Pishon’s rivers that flowed around this circular land, the explosive life of Gihon, the swift flow of Tigris and the rich fruitfulness of Euphrates were each restored to their former majesty. As He placed His blood upon the mercy-seat, the renewed majesty of Eden ‘delight’ became mysteriously available to every living person who believed that this great reversal had been orchestrated by no other than the Tree of Life Himself.

So Reader, gaze upon this one tree; stubbornly refuse to move from Eden. Abide in Delight, the whirlpool from which the four rivers flow. Live daily in His presence and do not live apart from it. Adam’s agricultural task was only ever to cultivate and maintain, not to water. It was the four rivers that watered the garden. Cultivate and maintain your secret garden of desire and the rivers of his Spirit will ripen your land.

Equally, remember that in a different garden, Gethsemane, the place of extreme ‘pressing’ and pressure; He prepared to exchange His own delight (oneness with Father) for despair, anguish and separation. Firstly, this exchange would allow Him to restore the garden of delight ‘to you’ and ‘within you’. Secondly, this exchange would allow the Godhead to secure the redemption of its single eternal, delight - the Bride. Thirdly, this exchange would allow Him to see his corporate body restored and re-established across the width and breadth of the earth – a body commissioned to exhale from itself that holy atmosphere that once permeated the planet. When you walk with Him in the cool of the day you can re-set the holy climate and re-establish the atmosphere of glory.

Mourning, dread, despair and ‘apartness’ from Him must no longer be. The individual and corporate bride must not linger in Gethsemane, for it cost Him his own blood to buy back her residency in Eden. Our promises are in the rivers of life that flow forth from this place. Whatever may be tarnishing your sense of delight, a heart-breaking diagnosis, a financial crisis, the loss of a loved one, or the chaos of the modern world, stay in the garden and embrace the Tree of Life. Everything you need is in Eden and flows from Eden.

My prayer is that the four rivers: Pishon (‘free flow’ with Holy Spirit) that surges through  Havilah (land of the ‘eternal dance’, haven of costly jewels - the realm of His manifest glory) Gihon (‘bursting forth’ in divine health, energy and vision), Tigris (‘rapid running waters’ of divine destiny and commissioning) and Euphrates (‘fruitfulness’ of harvest in and through you) will quicken their currents inside of your body, soul and spirit today.

E Rowlands, 2012

[1] Havilah means ‘circle’, ‘dance’ , ‘swirling’. It thus speaks of freedom, divine creativity, and eternity.

[2] Bdelium is similar to Myrhh and in Numbers 11.7, manna is compared to it. It thus speaks of supernatural provision and anointing.

[3] Onyx was a precious jewel formed from the mineral Chalcedony, (present in the garden itself –Ezekiel 28.13) and used in the priesthood and in the temple & Exodus 28.13 / 1 Chronicles 29.2. It thus speaks of holiness, worship and the priestly call. Its re-emergence in Revelation in the depiction of the New Jerusalem speaks of the restoration of Eden’s glory. The onyx thus landmarks a meaningful pathway: Creation – Priestly Ministry – Restoration.