The waters that flow from under the altar in the Temple go forth to cleanse and heal the land. This is significant in two aspects.
First, cleansing originates from the altar, the place where sins are forgiven. To receive this cleansing, a person has to acknowledge his sin by bringing a sacrifice to the priest, and the sacrifice is now Christ. That is, a person must come to God admitting he is a sinner and in need of Christ’s sacrifice. Therefore, we can only receive healing once our sins are forgiven; or, alternately, receiving forgiveness is the healing the need. Either way, we can rejoice in that God has provided a means for forgiveness and healing.
Second, the waters reversed the damage to the earth. Man ruins the earth. No doubt about it. However, he does not do so in the manner environmentalists state. In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden fruit. Because of their choice, God cursed the earth to bring forth thorns, death, and all manner of inconveniences (Genesis 3:17–19). Furthermore, God created man to be caretakers of the earth but, because of our fallen condition, we continuously abuse it. Just consider how much trash piles on the side of our highways. The result of neglecting our physical and spiritual calling, God will destroy, at a minimum, the surface of the earth (2 Peter 3:10). The waters from the future Temple are the beginning of God’s promise to remake the heavens and earth to restore it again to a sinless state (Isaiah 65:17, 2 Peter 3:13, Revelation 21:1, 27). What a glorious thought to know that no matter how much damage man inflicts, God is able and will restore! A person cannot sin so much that God will not forgive. The earth cannot be destroyed beyond God’s ability to repair it. How marvelous!