“There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God,” (Psalm 46:4). Ezekiel and the apostle John recorded visions of clear, pure, life giving water that flowed from the throne of God. Jesus told a Samaritan woman that He could give her water that would forever satisfy the thirsting of her soul. He promised that this living water would flow from believers to bring refreshment to thirsty souls. Why then do so many of God’s children seem to have negative, critical attitudes? Why is their thirst not quenched?
Could it be that they are drinking from the wrong stream? “And the third angel sounded, and there fell a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp, and it fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters; And the name of the star is called Wormwood: and the third part of the waters became wormwood; and many men died of the waters, because they were made bitter” (Revelation 8:10,11).
Wormwood refers to artemisia absinthium, a plant with highly aromatic leaves that is native to Europe and has become an invasive species in other places. It is classed as a noxious weed in pastures here in Saskatchewan. Absinthe, a bitter-tasting alcoholic beverage, is made from this plant. It is often claimed that absinthe produces a clear-headed intoxication. Some call it mind opening, others say it is a feeling of exaltation.
I wonder if this is what the Bible is warning us about. When we drink of the waters that have become wormwood, we believe that now we are seeing things clearly, more clearly than we ever have before, certainly more clearly than our brothers and sisters who do not see as we do. Drinking from the streams containing Wormwood undermines our faith in the Providence of God, poisons relationships and will eventually lead to death.
There is a similar warning in Ezekiel’s vision that should frighten half-hearted Christians who see so clearly the faults of others: “But the miry places thereof and the marishes thereof shall not be healed; they shall be given to salt” (Ezekiel 47:11). Right here, in the shallows and marshes close beside the life-giving stream, there is great danger. The water here cannot quench our thirst or heal our infirmities; yet so many seem to enter only this far into the water and scorn those who go deeper.
If we have a craving for bitter-tasting water because it seems to provide us with an illumination that exalts us above our brethren, we must stop drinking from this source. It is wormwood, it will do no good thing for us or our families. We need to find the source of living water and drink deeply from its refreshing and healing stream. That will restore our faith, our vision, our love for Christian brothers and sisters, and for all mankind.