AS A DEER PANTETH FOR THE WATERBROOKS
Preacher: Felix Ngunjiri
Reading: Psalm 42:1-2
“As the deer pants for the water brooks, so pants my soul after you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?” (Ps 42:1-2) [NKJV]
“O God, you are my God; early will I seek you: my soul thirsts for you, my flesh longs for you in a dry and thirsty land, where there is no water” (Ps 63:1) [NKJV]
From the above scriptures, the body longs, the soul thirsts and spirit (speaking as I or my) seeks. The body longs
The body is attracted to God as the flesh longs, lusts and craves for God for fulfillment and satisfaction. We are all aware of our longings the way boyfriends long for their girlfriends when looking for a soulmate or as girlfriends long for their boyfriends. Longing is a strong desire especially for something unattainable. It is a strong persistent yearning or desire, especially one that cannot be fulfilled. Longing is a strong physical feeling of the body or flesh wanting someone or something that promises or is likely to offer some kind of pleasure.
In Psalm 42, the psalmist (who is believed to be David who wrote Psalms 42 and 43 when his son Absalom rebelled against him) uses the metaphor of thirst to describe his longing and his craving for God. ‘As a deer panteth for the waterbrooks’ is a metaphor that expresses the eagerness and urgency of desire, which extreme thirst may be supposed to raise in an animal whose energy is almost spent in its flight from the pursuing predators. Inside the waterbrooks is a place of rest, safety, protection and satisfaction. That is why a deer thirsts for the waterbrooks to run away from its pursuers because it knows that the moment it enters into the water, those following its scent will lose track and it will have saved itself from danger and feel safe so that it resumes enjoying life again.
The soul thirsts
The way physical longing draws us to water because we need it can be likened to spiritual thirst that is meant to draw us to God because we need Him. That is why some people are attracted to church while others are attracted to shrines. The soul of all mankind thirsts to worship someone greater than himself. Once their bodies take them to God, their souls thirst for satisfaction or safety or salvation from danger or sin (“For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom 6:23 [KJV]).
The psychiatrist Gerald C. May observed, “After twenty years of listening to the yearnings of people’s hearts, I am convinced that human beings have an inborn desire for God. Whether we are consciously religious or not, this desire is our deepest longing and most precious treasure.” People naturally thirst and hunger for satisfaction and try all manner of foods and drinks but they never get satisfied. Some drinks are tailor made to hook the one who drinks them into intoxication and dependence on them, leading to addiction. The devil knows that the human soul has a deep hole that seeks to be satisfied by a superior being who is the Almighty God Himself so that the person feels safe and protected but the devil corrupted those configurations of search for God into a search for a false feeling of satisfaction so as to enjoy life to the full. But God calls such people fools because they have taken after worldly things. “And Jesus spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?” (Luke 12:16-20 [KJV])
People can go to any extent in search of satisfaction that is why the people of ages past discovered that some substances like beer, wine, and psychoactive drugs like bhang, opium, cocaine offer some feeling of satisfaction but unfortunately the feeling is momentary and turns into depressive mood that can only be turned into excitement by more of the drink or substance. The more you drink the more you thirst. “He who is satisfied has never stopped craving,” said Abraham Heschel. The world’s richest foods and tastiest wines do not satisfy our longings but rather intensify them. Ultimately, true and lasting satisfaction is a spiritual issue, not a physical one. All men thirst after God. The unrest, the deep yearnings, the cravings, the longings and desires of our natures — what are they all except cries for the living God who can satisfy our soul.
God is the real object of all human desire and He is the only fountain that will quench our soul-thirst, which is why David went on to say, “So I have searched for you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory.” (Psalm 63:2)
“Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy?” (Isaiah 55:1-2)
The spirit seeks
David’s soul-thirst drove him to seek his satisfaction in God. And that’s the purpose of your soul-thirst. When the soul is thirsting for God, it offers sacrifices of prayer, praise and worship, thanksgiving hoping that they will be accepted by God. The idea of creating a man who would be worshipping God was started by God Himself. God decided to create a man who would be in His own image. “And God said; Let us make man in our image, after our likeness” (Genesis 1:26). God then decided to fit the man he had created with a soul for enabling him to worship God. God breathed into man His Spirit and man became a spirit being. “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul” (Genesis 2:7). A living soul, a spirit being did man become, able to connect with the Spirit of God during worship. When your spirit contacts God’s Spirit, you have tapped into all sources of knowledge, wisdom, power, godliness and the glory of God. For “God is a Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in Spirit and in truth” (John 4:24).
God Taught the Israelites How to Worship Him
The Israelites were taught by God in the wilderness to offer a lamb as a burnt offering for their sins to be covered or atoned in the sanctuary that God gave its design to include the outer Court, the Holy place and the Holy of holies. The sinner was required to bring a lamb or goat or bull to the outer court and offer it as a burnt sacrifice to God so as to be forgiven of his sins. The sinner deliberately took his sacrifice to the Outer Court so as to obtain forgiveness for his sins. His body led him there after being convicted of his sins. If his sacrifice was accepted, the priest would intervene for him in the Holy Place of the Sanctuary, and the High priest would present the sins of the people to the Holy of Holies for God to forgive him of his sins. Sin means death. When one sins, he or she earns condemnation and the word of God sentences him to death as his due wage for his sins. When a sinner offers a goat or lamb on the altar of sacrifice, the animal is killed instead of the sinner and the shed blood atones for his sins.
But Jesus Christ brought a New Covenant where He offered Himself to be sacrificed on every sinner who repents of his or her sins and the sinless blood of Jesus provides forgiveness for whoever repents. He brought a better covenant where you do not need to offer dead sacrifices of animals but a living sacrifice of your body praising him with your mouth and your hands and your whole body in worship. You do not need to go through a priest. Christ accomplished all that when He offered His own body on the cross as the only sacrifice needed for our sins to be forgiven. “When Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, He yielded up His spirit. At that moment the veil of the temple (the veil that divided the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies ) was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth quaked and the rocks were split. The tombs broke open, and the bodies of many saints who had fallen asleep were raised” (Matthew 27:50-52). The Jewish Temple was divided into three parts: the Outer Court, open to all; the Holy Place, to which the ministering priests had daily access to burn incense and trim the lamps; and the Holy of Holies, where only the High Priest was permitted to go, and that but once a year, on the great Day of Atonement. For the other three hundred and sixty-four days the shrine lay silent, untrodden, dark. Between it and the less sacred Holy Place hung the veil, whose heavy folds only one man was permitted to lift or to pass. To all others it was death to peer into the mysteries, and even to him, had he gone at another time, and without the blood of the sacrifice, death would have ensued. The tearing into two of the veil or curtain ushered in an epoch of new relations between man and God where the death of Jesus opened access to the Father without having to go through the priest but He became our way to the Father for whoever repents of his sins and is washed clean by the cleansing blood of Jesus that was shed on the cross at Calvary.
His blood was shed for us to receive forgiveness for our sins for “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sin” (Hebrews 9:22) When Jesus died, the veil in the temple that separated the people from the Holy of Holies was torn into two, removing any barrier to accessing God who was supposed to be in the Holy of Holies in the temple. “Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent;” (Matt 27:50-51 [KJV]) The veil or hangings was to be hung before the holy of holies, which was a perfect cube of ten cubits per side. This veil served to separate the holy place from the holy of holies (Exodus 26:33) and shielded the atonement slate1 of the ark (Exodus 26:34). As with the other hangings in the tabernacle, the veil was made of “finely twisted linen” (Exodus 26:31 NIV), a fine grade of linen. The curtains were violet — or, as some suggest, blue-purple or a darker purple compared to the lighter purple. This color was occasionally thought to be the color of the sky,2 which may help account for its association with the heavenly firmament (Genesis 1:6) in later Judaism.
The veil’s primary function was to separate the holy place from the holy of holies (Exodus 26:33). This separation is at the heart of the entire priestly code of the sacrificial system (e.g., Leviticus 11:1–45): to separate between the unclean and the clean.
The veil was a physical, visible barrier indicating that access to God was strictly prohibited because of his holiness. It is imperative to remember that the holiness of God remains unchanged from all eternity — even after the veil is torn. What has changed, then, is that the atoning death of Jesus on the cross has provided the appropriate wrath-bearing sacrifice, one which the bulls and goats of the old covenant could not provide (Hebrews 10:4).
The author of Hebrews expounds on this very clearly: “we have confidence to enter the holy places” (Hebrews 10:19), and this is accomplished by the blood of Jesus. This is the “new and living way” (Hebrews 10:20) that Christ opened for us through the veil, which, the author says, is through his flesh. This means that the breaking of Jesus’s body at the crucifixion is the unprecedented means by which believers have access to the presence of God. Jesus opened direct access to God without going through the priests. That is why Jesus said the No one goes to the Father except through me. “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6 [KJV]) “For through Christ, we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. Therefore you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens of the saints and members of God’s household,” (Eph 2:18-19)
Your soul’s thirst will move you into the Holy Place where you will burst into praise and worship and thanksgiving to God with every part of your being thirsting for His goodness. “And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savour.” (Eph 5:2 [KJV])
In the Holy Place, as you continue to express the fragrance of love and worship and adoration which is most pleasing to God, your spirit will be lifted to seek the Spirit of God, (it is like you have been ushered into the Holy of Holies where you are totally in His Presence, appearing before God) your spirit connecting with the Spirit of God, drinking from the fountain of grace, being anointed with the Holy Spirit and with power and glory. Everything that you shall ask the Father in heaven shall be given unto you because you have been called a son of God, your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit and Christ is dwelling in you with all the fullness of God in you.
“That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name:” (John 1: (John 1:9-12 [KJV])
“Don’t you know that your body is a sanctuary of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought at a price. Therefore glorify God in your body.” (1Cor 6:19-20 [HCSB])
If you can confess that Christ came to the world in the flesh, was crucified on the cross as a sacrifice for your sins which were pinned on His body, that He died as a result of being made sin (because sin means death), that He went down to hell to dump all the sins of the world that He cleansed with the cost of His shed blood, that He was resurrected after conquering the devil, sin and death, and is set down at the right hand of God in heaven, then you are saved and a son of God, and God is dwelling in you in the form of the Holy Spirit. If you have fulfilled those minimums, then Christ is in you, your hope of glory (Colossians 1:27) Christ is in you and is He is your hope of ever seeing the glory of God when He shall take you to the Father in heaven.
“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. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water” (John 7:37-39 [KJV]) and he will never thirst again.
“Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.” (Rev 7:15-17 [KJV])
“And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful. And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely. He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.” (Rev 21:5-7 [KJV])