The scriptures refer to water again and again! Let’s dive into some key Bible verses on water, and what it symbolizes in our relationship with our God.
Water is essential, and it’s fascinating, when you stop to think about it.
It sustains life, refreshes us, makes things new, transforms the world around it. It’s dynamic, constantly changing shape and form and flow. It comes in three different forms, each part of its ongoing cycle.
Water is so big that it reminds us how small we are in the grand scheme of things. We depend on it. It is brilliantly designed by the creator of our world. Bodies of water inspire peace, refreshment and reflection. (Those are places I feel so close to God.)
So it should come as no surprise that water is brought up many times in the Bible.
Scripturally, it symbolizes transformation, sustenance, and revival. And the most incredible things happen involving water.
You could say, miracles are happening in the water.
Let’s look at some of these Bible verses on water to see what it symbolizes for God and us.
Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. – Romans 6:3-4
This right here is the most incredible transformation we will undergo. Our baptism (yes, the physical immersion of the body into and out of water) is our participation in Jesus’s death, burial and resurrection. We go in our sinful old selves, and come out fresh, clean and new.
Nearly all other scriptures on water – whether historical events or analogies – lead back to the concept of water washing away our sins and giving us new life. (An example is in 1 Peter 3:20-22, where Peter connects baptism to Noah’s ark, and to the parting of the Red Sea in 1 Corinthians 10:1-2.)
If you haven’t yet, I so encourage you to study baptism in the scriptures. Baptism is not an outdated tradition or a symbol but actually part of the process of being made new in Christ.
The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom. Like the crocus, it will burst into bloom; it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy. The glory of Lebanon will be given to it, the splendor of Carmel and Sharon; they will see the glory of the Lord, the splendor of our God…Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert. The burning sand will become a pool, the thirsty ground bubbling springs. In the haunts where jackals once lay, grass and reeds and papyrus will grow. – Isaiah 35:1-2, 6b-7
God gives us this analogy in a few different ways in the Bible, but all meaning the same thing – water brings renewal and refreshment to what once was hopeless and bone dry. This is what God does for us in our lives. After being “dead in your transgressions and sins” (Ephesians 2:1), Jesus came as the Living Water (more on that later) to make us new again.
As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. – Isaiah 55:10-11
Here rain and snow are similes for God’s Word. It reminds us that like the rain that makes the ground bloom, God’s Word does the same thing for our hearts. I love that promise, because we can trust that the scriptures will produce fruit for God. It’s not in our words or our presentation, or how they reflect us – it’s all about God.
Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” – John 4:13-14
Read the whole of John 4 for the full picture of this verse. In the story, Jesus tells the woman at the well that he can give her living water – soul water that quenches our thirst and fulfills us completely. The woman he is speaking to has tried many ways to find this fulfillment and keeps coming up short. Jesus relates physical water to spiritual refreshment.
It’s the same for us. This living water Jesus offers is an abundant and fulfilling, soul-nurturing relationship with our Father, culminating in eternal life.
The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. – Psalm 23:1-3
This is a beautiful visual of who God is – gentle, kind and patient provider. He guides us beside water for our refreshment and restoration.
But the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left. That day the Lord saved Israel from the hands of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians lying dead on the shore. And when the Israelites saw the mighty hand of the Lord displayed against the Egyptians, the people feared the Lord and put their trust in him and in Moses his servant. – Exodus 14:29-31
God displays his power here in the most unexpected way to deliver the Israelites from Egypt. Again, 1 Corinthians 10:1-2 connects this moment to baptism – salvation through water. All things in scripture point back to the cross, to Jesus, and to our reconciliation with God.
Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear. But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” – Matthew 14:25-27
He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!” – Mark 4:39-41
Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim. Then he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.” They did so, and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside and said, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.” – John 2:7-10
Through a few different moments, Jesus displays his power and shows who he is through miracles involving water. Why water? As we’ve seen, water is a larger analogy throughout the Bible, representing themes like transformation, sustenance and revival. It’s a visual for us.
As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” – Matthew 3:16-17
Jesus himself is baptized by John the Baptist – not for forgiveness, but “to fulfill all righteousness” (verse 15). I love how this article explains it – Jesus was baptized to show his obedience and submission to his father, and it is the point at which he is anointed by the Spirit as the Son of God.
“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.” – Jeremiah 17:7-8
Another beautiful analogy of water. Just as the tree connects to the source of water, so we connect to God – sustained by him, bearing fruit for him, always refreshed, and without fear for what is to come.
There are many Bible verses on water, because it is a central theme.
Not the water itself, but its representation – it is essential for life, it sustains and refreshes us, it is strong and powerful, and it transforms. Jesus provides the living water that gives us a relationship with God, a relationship that fulfills and sustains and leads to eternal life.
This is not an exhaustive study, and I’m no expert in theology. These are by no means all of the scriptures in the Bible on water, but it’s a great starting place for study, and hopefully inspires some personal reflection and simple faith. What verses on water stand out to you? What does water mean to you in your relationship with God?
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