Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Crossing Your Jordan

After being liberated from Pharaoh's slavery in Egypt in a miraculous display of God's power, Moses leads the Israelites in pursuit of the Promised Land.  But this journey was neither swift nor direct and the Israelites, like most of us, began to grumble against the Lord their God saying to Moses "Now we are ready to go into the land we were promised!" (Num 14:39).  God's response to this loss of faith was:
 21 Nevertheless, as surely as I live and as surely as the glory of the Lord fills the whole earth, 22 not one of those who saw my glory and the signs I performed in Egypt and in the wilderness but who disobeyed me and tested me ten times 23 not one of them will ever see the land I promised on oath to their ancestors. No one who has treated me with contempt will ever see it. (Num 14:21-23)
No, you didn't misread the ordering of this verse. God already knew that the Israelites would fail their testing in the wilderness. Moses warned them they did not have God's favor (Num 14:41-42), but sometimes we want to rush into our Promise Land thinking that God has abandoned us in the wilderness. The Israelites were destroyed--excepting Joshua--who by his faith did not complain (Num 14:38; Josh 5:6-7).  He is the one who leads their youth to the door of the Promise Land on the bank of the Jordan River, forty years later as men and women of a new Israel (Josh 3:7-8). 

But the Jordan River was overflowing with high tide and vegetation (Josh 3:15). In a journey too dangerous for even their strongest men, Joshua instructs the priest holding the ark (or God's literal written promise to the people as given to Moses) to step into the water first. In doing so the waters immediately parted so that a highway of dry ground was made. 

Now we've been told that God keeps his promises. But what do we do when we get to the door of our Promise Land only to find it locked, flooded, and impossible to cross? When God bought the Israelites through the Red Sea and away from Pharoah's chasing army he parted 1,400 mi width and 8,200 mi at its deepest. Jordan, by comparison, is only 15 mi across about 150 ft at its deepest. If my God is faithful to part an entire Sea, why do I doubt him when I get to the River? 

What I love about this image is that is reveals to us the necessity of holding on to God's promises.  In verse 17, the priest holding the ark doesn't continue leading ahead but instead he;
 "stopped in the middle of the Jordan and stood on dry ground, while all Israel passed by until the whole nation had completed the crossing on dry ground." (Josh 3:17)
This was so that every single Israelite witnessed that it was not by Moses, or Joshua, the priest, or their own strength, but only by the will of the Lord that a way had been made.

As we stand right on the edge of all we have been hoping for, yet unable to cross, we must trust that our crossing depends solely on our God who is able to fulfill his promises and bring us into our glory. May we be encouraged by our strengthening in the wilderness and steadfast to the promises from the Lord!