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Bible studies

Bible study: Water for life

Which is the first verse that comes to your mind when you think about water?

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Woman fills up large, blue and red plastic buckets with water at a communal water source

A woman collects water from a communal tan in Province of Cabo Delgado, Mozambique. Photo: Ricardo Franco/Tearfund

Footsteps magazine issues on a wooden desk.

From: Water, sanitation and hygiene – Footsteps 30

Water, sanitation and hygiene must go hand in hand to achieve improvements in health

Water for life.

The Bible has a surprisingly large number of references to water – over 300 in my concordance, not to mention another 80 on rain. Which is the first verse that comes to your mind when you think about water?

The Bible looks at water in many different ways – as a symbol of destruction (Genesis 6-9), a symbol of cleansing (eg: Exodus 30:18), a symbol of blessing (Jeremiah 17:8) and as a symbol of spiritual need (Psalm 42). In this Bible study we want to focus on water and sanitation as a symbol of physical life and spiritual life.

Water for life!

Please read Deuteronomy 28:12: ‘May the Lord open the heavens for you, his rich treasure house, to give rain upon your land at the proper time,’ and Psalm 65:9.

  • What is the Bible saying about our need for water? What does it say about God’s provision for our spiritual needs?

Sanitation for life!

Looking at the spiritual and physical again, in this issue of Footsteps we have tried to emphasise that to receive the benefits of a clean water supply we also need sanitation and good hygiene behaviour. The Bible also understands this point as we discover when we read Deuteronomy chapter 23:12-13.

  • If the Israelites were given this instruction hundreds of years ago, what responsibility do we have to ensure that everyone has adequate sanitation today?

Just as the body needs drinking water for physical life as well as ‘living water’ for spiritual life, so our physical body only survives by getting rid of waste – the importance of this is shown in the Deuteronomy quote. And spiritually, the soul can only survive if it gets rid of spiritual waste – that is, sin.

  • How can we be rid of our spiritual waste? Look at Ephesians 1:7 and 1 John 1:7-9.

Hygiene for life!

In the early chapters of Leviticus we learn of many rituals that were used to bring cleansing. Read Psalm 24:3-4 and reflect on our need for spiritual cleansing. Jesus’ sacrifice provides us with the means for spiritual cleansing. Are we as careful to keep our physical bodies clean?

God’s gifts

We will end with a verse that shows God’s continuing love and care for us. Read Isaiah 41:7 and reflect on God’s promises to us.

  • What can we do in our community to ensure that the poor and needy can receive God’s gifts of water?

by Richard Franceys

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