A Christian woman is baptized in the Jordan River at a site belived to be where Jesus was baptized.

A Christian woman is baptized in the Jordan River at a site belived to be where Jesus was baptized.

The Tigris River snakes its way through Baghdad, Iraq.

The Tigris River snakes its way through Baghdad, Iraq.

River To Think: What Is a Metaphor?

Posted: November 3, 2014

Creation, Day 3: God separated land from water. He also made a great river. The river watered the garden of Eden. It brought life to plants, animals, and people. It also gave them a way to travel.

Since then, people have followed rivers. Do you see a river? A town or city has probably sprung up nearby. Rivers are a big part of life. That’s why there are so many metaphors about them.

A metaphor is a comparison. Authors, poets, hymn writers, and philosophers compare rivers to big ideas like time, life, and death. Some see rivers as symbols of peace. Others see threat and danger.

Do you know any river metaphors? In Mark Twain’s book, Huckleberry Finn, the Mississippi River is a metaphor for life. It is sometimes peaceful. It is sometimes hard. It moves the characters forward. Sometimes it sets them back. Life can be like that.

Here’s another river metaphor. The Jordan River was a real barrier. The Israelites had to cross it to reach the Promised Land. That river is a metaphor for death. “Crossing the Jordan” means dying and entering God’s presence. There, another river flows from God’s throne. This “river of life” never dries up. It represents God’s gift of eternal life to those who believe in Jesus.