Walking on Water


or The New Jerusalem is Temporary

He will set up a banner for the nations, And will assemble the outcasts of Israel, And gather together the dispersed of Judah From the four corners of the Land. Also the envy of Ephraim shall depart, And the adversaries of Judah shall be cut off; Ephraim shall not envy Judah, And Judah shall not harass Ephraim. But they shall fly down upon the shoulder of the Philistines toward the west; Together they shall plunder the people of the East; They shall lay their hand on Edom and Moab; And the people of Ammon shall obey them. The LORD will utterly destroy the tongue of the Sea of Egypt; With His mighty wind He will shake His fist over the River, And strike it in the seven streams, And make men cross over dry-shod. There will be a highway for the remnant of His people Who will be left from Assyria, As it was for Israel In the day that he came up from the land of Egypt. (Isaiah 11:12-16)

Everyone knows what “walking on water” means. You can do the impossible. Often it has a negative spin, as when it is applied to politicians with a Messiah-complex.

But what does it actually mean in the Bible? And why did Jesus do it?

The answer is a subtle thread that runs throughout the Bible, beginning in Genesis 1. God divided the waters and raised the Land to make a new “Holy Place” from which His mediator-Man would govern. As the Holy Place in heaven is the space between the throne and the crystal sea, so the Holy Place on earth is the space between the crystal sea and the waters below (the Abyss).

When God’s governors failed, the Holy Place below closed in on itself. The waters above and below were “un-divided,” just as they were at the flood, and again at the Red Sea when it closed in upon the Egyptian army. Later on in Biblical history, when Israel was the mediator-nation, it was the Gentile armies from a symbolic Abyss that flooded up over the Land, and the firmament above symbolically fell as hailstones. The Holy Place was submerged, washed clean, and resurfaced as a New Jerusalem.

The act of walking on water has less to do with “floating” than it does with “passing through.” Only those with “clean feet,” washed in the Laver, could minister in the Tabernacle. The priests carrying the Ark of the Covenant across the Jordan actually had to step into the overflowing water before it parted. Once they did this, and stood in the gap, the tribes crossing into the Land could “walk on water” as though it were dry land. We see this same symbol used in Isaiah 11, concerning a chastised Israel’s return to Canaan.

All this goes back to Genesis, where the dominion of Land beasts and Man is “filled” on Day 6, which corresponds to the Laver, where mediators, animal and human, were washed. The Garden was watered by a spring which came up from below and watered the Land (not a “mist,” as it is incorrectly translated). Like the ark of Noah, the Tabernacle (and the baskets on the baker’s head in Genesis 40!), God’s house has three levels [1] In the centre, as “sacrament,” Adam was quite literally “walking on water” (government) as if it were dry Land. He had clean feet until he sinned. He broke the link between Word and Government. He could no longer walk on the waters. This imagery is used in Revelation, where the Temple is pictured as “springs of waters” that have become bitter through the sin of the Herodian High Priesthood.

The list of clean animals includes those which are careful about where they put their feet. The phrase “hinds’ feet on high places” also symbolises this. Israel’s history from Abraham to AD70 follows the pattern of the Creation Week, and her “Day 6″ was the time of the Gentiles, the four empires pictured in Daniel 7 as Land beasts walking on the waters of the other nations. They are four guardians, cherubim followed by the enthroned Ancient of Days, the Man who took dominion over this animal kingdom in AD70, when the final kingdom, Rome, was decommissioned as a protective minister of God. (Peter’s step from the protection of the boat pictured this. [2]).

Jesus washed His disciples feet. He removed His robe — opening the veil. Like those priests in the Jordan, He stood in the gap while the disciples passed through. Then He replaced His robe again, all of which pictured His work as High Priest.

In the big Bible picture, this entire “1000 year” church age is the Day of Atonement, the Day of Covering. It is the Totus Christus, head and body, as High Priest, standing in the gap with clean feet (and one foot on the neck of the beast) while the whole world passes through the waters of baptism. It is Day 6. [3]

The transformation of this world into a Tabernacle is being completed, slowly but surely. Just as the first resurrection put the Old Covenant saints and the New Covenant martyrs into heavenly government, the second will see Man’s complete government over the earth. The knowledge of the Lord will cover it as the waters cover the Sea. Mankind will once again perfectly bridge the gap as Sacrament between Word (knowledge) and Government (Sea); holy bread upon the waters.

What’s really interesting is that the Laver, picturing the crystal sea, was round. Most everything else in God’s Temple is square or rectangular. But the New Jerusalem is a crystal city that is square. The Laver in heaven was made square in AD70. [4] As this pattern comes down from heaven — just as the pattern for the Tabernacle came down from the mountain — the saints are to make this “round” world symbolically “square,” like the Holy Place. Nature must be cut down and rebuilt, slain and resurrected as culture. The kingdoms of this world become glorious as the saints pass through and inherit them. [5]

Which means that the New Jerusalem is not future at all. In one sense, it is merely a temporary construct through which the nations must pass. Its walls of water will one day, finally, close on those who reject Christ. The saints walk on water but the rebels and their armies are always drowned. [6]

[1] See Trinitarian Judgments.
[2] See James B. Jordan, Exile or Ark?
[3] See Under Your Feet.
[4] See Crystal Walls 1 and 2.
[5] See Pass-over and Pass-through.
[6] Their maggot-eaten leaven is cut off. See Is Jesus Leavened or Unleavened?

Image: Isac Goulart, 2002.

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6 Responses to “Walking on Water”

  • Kelby Carlson Says:

    Now this was cool. Excellent post; brings together a lot of stuff I never quite thought about before.

  • Mike Bull Says:

    Thanks – just posted some more thoughts on it.

  • Travis Matthew Finley Says:

    This just baked my noodle:
    They are four guardians, cherubim followed by the enthroned Ancient of Days, the Man who took dominion over this animal kingdom in AD70, when the final kingdom, Rome, was decommissioned as a protective minister of God. (Peter’s step from the protection of the boat pictured this. [2]).
    Mike, obviously I have NEVER heard this interpretation b4 and I would venture to say, neither have any of the teachers under whom I have sat. And yet, if this (above) is true, no one has even known the meaning of “walking on the water” until you. Is this anywhere else besides BM?

  • Mike Bull Says:

    Yep – there’s an article on the BH blog by Jim called Exile or Ark? Although he talks about Paul’s shipwreck prefiguring the end of the Roman guardian. The animals to man kingdom transition is covered in his Handwriting on the Wall. Noah wasn’t the only mediator who stepped out of a boat onto a new Land.

  • Mike Bull Says:

    Puts a fun spin on the meaning of baptism, too. You need to be upright.

  • Travis Matthew Finley Says:

    Duh. Footnote. Sorry. The podcast was recast, fyi.