The Sinai Desert                              

Sinai Desert      



I well remember at school in September looking out at the glorious sunshine we never had in August and wishing I was still on holiday. In Dorset we are rarely short of water, we take it for granted and during the summer often have too much of it!

Water is of course vital to life and we very quickly feel ill if we can't get it and know we won't live long without it. It is absolutely essential to our lives. The ancient Jewish people were also acutely aware of this and they also knew all about the torment caused by being derived of it in the desert. To die of thirst in the blazing sun of an arid desert is one of the most unpleasant deaths imaginable.

It is not surprising then that this very unpleasant imagery began to colour the Jewish ideas of Hell. In fact, the Old Testament imagery of Hell is often more of thirst without relief in a hot arid environment rather than the later mediaeval description of a fiery

furnace. Even the parables of Jesus in the New Testament sometimes build on the idea of unquenchable thirst.

I find the idea of a raging thirst without relief a much better description of Hell than the one we have today because, far from Hell being a place where bad people are put, it becomes a state of being where the unquenchable thirst is the need for God which is forever unsatisfied because our own desires and wants get in the way. Indeed, as a counterpoint to the unquenchable thirst, the descriptions in the Bible of God's interaction with us is often characterised by terms like 'living streams' of water. You can almost feel the relief this represents.

It seems to me that all too many people today recognise that they have a thirst and need for God but for some reason they continually forbid themselves the opportunity to quench it and far too many of them suffer a tormented thirst as a consequence.


Living Water


Tony Gilbert

 Team Rector




Three Valleys Team Ministry


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Keep us, good Lord,

under the shadow of your mercy.

Sustain and support the anxious,

be with those who care for the sick,

and lift up all who are brought low;

that we may find comfort

knowing that nothing can separate us from your love

in Christ Jesus our Lord.



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please click here











The Reverend Tony Gilbert and his wife Nicola