The Sound of Many Waters (Ros' Blog)
I took my daughter swimming after work yesterday (Basingstoke Aquadrome if anyone’s interested – fantastic place: height-adjustable changing bed, ceiling track and hoist, and a chair that wheels down a slope into the water for ease of getting in and out of the pool). Because there are so many different pools, flumes, tipping buckets and waterspouts there was a constant deafening roar of the sound of water – not something that all autistic people would cope with, but it suits my daughter, whose motto in life is the noisier the better.
This started me thinking about the places in the Bible (there are quite a lot of them) where the sound of many waters is mentioned. Here are just a few of them...
Sometimes the sound is a symbol of power, as in Psalm 93.4 which says,
“More than the sounds of many waters,
Than the mighty breakers of the sea,
The Lord on high is mighty.”
In this passage, the sound of many waters symbolises the things and (in this specific context) the nations that oppose God’s people, and affirms that no matter how loudly they roar, God is mightier. To someone grappling with disability and all the challenges life presents, it’s good to know that however loud the roar from the things that come against us, God is mightier and can overcome them.
There is a similar thought in Isaiah 17.13:
“The nations rumble on like the rumbling of many waters,
But He will rebuke them and they will flee far away.”
Some friends recently asked us to pray as they went to tribunal to contest a clearly unjust PIP ruling. I haven’t yet heard the outcome, but I do know that the anxiety caused by having your disability dismissed and all your benefits stopped must be liked the thundering of a torrent of water. How good to know that God isn’t intimidated by the roar of opposition – His roar is louder, and He promises to provide for our needs.
But the sound of many waters in the Bible isn’t always the noise of the enemy roaring at us. Listen to Ezekiel 43.2:
“And behold, the glory of the God of Israel was coming from the way of the east. And His voice was like the sound of many waters; and the earth shone with His glory.”
I’ve been fortunate enough in my life to visit two of the world’s beautiful waterfalls – Swallow Falls at Betws-y-Coed, which breaks in scores of seething white rivulets over the rocks as the river makes its way down the Conwy Valley; and Staubbach Falls in Lauterbrünnen, Switzerland, where the river simply drops off a cliff face and dashes onto the rocks below. I have scrambled up the rocks there and stood on a ledge behind the falls, with a curtain of water crashing down in front of me, its sound the voice of nature praising its Creator.
I love the way the Bible uses this imagery to represent the glory of God. Here again the sound is deafening, but it’s not a threatening or intimidating sound, but a glorious one – the voice of God Himself.
The first time Ezekiel had a vision of God, he was beside the river Chebar, and if he had heard the sound of many waters, he could have dismissed it as the noise of the river thundering along in its bed. But the time he is describing here, he was not by the river but by the temple, and the sound of water which he heard was the sound of the glory and the voice of God. Maybe next time you run a bath or shower or water your garden, close your eyes, imagine the sound multiplied thousands of times and let it remind you of the glory of the God who loves you.
This same imagery is used in Revelation 1.15, where John encounters the risen, glorified Lord Jesus:
“His feet were like burnished bronze, when it has been made to glow in a furnace, and His voice was like the sound of many waters.”
John was Jesus’ closest earthly friend; he took care of Jesus’ mother for the rest of her life after Jesus’ death. How often he must have closed his eyes and recalled the voice of his dear Friend and Lord. And yet when he encountered Him in all His risen, ascended glory, His voice was not that familiar, homely Aramaic with the Nazareth burr; it was the sound of many waters. This is a symbol of the greatness and glory of the God who has taken us under His wing.
And finally there are two more passages in Revelation (Revelation 14.2 and 19.6) which refer to the sound of many waters – and this time it isn’t the voice of God, but of the great congregation of worshippers in heaven:
“And I heard a voice from heaven, like the sound of many waters and like the sound of loud thunder, and the voice which I heard was like the sound of harpists playing on their harps.”
“Then I heard something like the voice of a great multitude and like the sound of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, saying, ‘Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns.’”
Matthew Henry writes of this passage, “The concert of heavenly music. The chorus was large and loud, as the voice of many waters and of mighty thunderings. God is fearful in praises. There is no discord in heaven; the morning stars sing together; no jarring string, nor key untuned, but pure and perfect melody.”
And for all of us, whether life is full of joy and laughter and the love of family and friends; or whether it’s marked by pain and impairment and loneliness; or, as is more likely, a mixture of both, this is the glorious truth: something far, far better awaits us – an eternity that centres around Jesus, His greatness and His kingship over all. As we add our little drops of praise and worship to the thundering torrent that is roaring in heaven, we are giving a prophetic sign of the day that we will be part of that mighty chorus of praise to the One who has loved us and redeemed us from our sins by His blood. On a day like today when the sound of heavy rain drifts in through the office window, that hope transforms a drab, grey day into a foretaste of the sounds that await us for all eternity.