In Genesis 2 the one river becomes four branches to reach all men. This one river pictures the one river of water of life in New Jerusalem (Revelation 22:1-2).
Although the river is unique, John 7:37-39 speaks of rivers (plural). Similarly, Psalm 46:4 says “There is a river whose streams gladden the city of God.” The unique river has multiple streams. There is a spiritual significance to this.
The unique river portrays the unique Spirit of the Triune God. This Spirit is of life (Romans 8:2) and gives life to us (John 6:63 and 2 Cor. 3:6). In our experience the one flow of the Spirit has many aspects. One time we drink the living water we feel peace. Another time we become joyful (as in Psalm 46). Other times we become able to fit in a situation not to our personal preference. At times we are saved from anger.
Galatians 5:22-23 says, “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, self-control.” Here are nine streams from the one river. The river, the Spirit, is of life and also the word fruit in this verse indicates that what the river brings forth is of life. We should not limit the flowing Spirit to these nine streams. The river also has streams of lowliness, compassion, righteousness, and holiness*. This flow also brings forth humility, dignity, calmness, purity, and more in us. How rich is this river!
We can drink now in many ways—asking, praying, calling, singing, rejoicing. The river is for us to experience every day now while awaiting the ultimate flowing in New Jerusalem.
Photo of petrified wood, courtesy of U.S. National Park Service. Just as the flow of natural water transforms wood into stone, so the flow of living water transforms us to have the virtues of Jesus Christ.