Thursday, April 11, 2013

Miracle at the Jordan River

One Year Bible
Old Testament passage for Thursday, April 11, 2013:  Joshua 3:1-4:24

Then Joshua rose early in the morning; and they set out from Acacia Grove and came to the Jordan, he and all the children of Israel, and lodged there before they crossed over.  Joshua 3:1 (NKJV)

Rivers and bodies of water are significant in Scripture.  We find a river flowing out of Eden in Genesis 2:10.  Then a river flows from the throne of God in Revelation 22:1.  Israel had to cross two bodies of water on the way to their destiny: the Red Sea and the Jordan River.  Both represent major miracles of God's providence.

Water is primarily symbolic of two things in Scripture:  1) POWER and 2) BOUNDARIES.  The power is the "outflowing" ministry of the HOLY SPIRIT from the throne of God.  We read about this power in Ezekiel 47 as the prophet is called to walk deeper into mighty works of God.  We read about this power when Jesus spoke of the Holy Spirit being like a river of "living water" flowing out of the hearts of those who believe in Him (John 7:37-39). 

Water also represents boundaries.  It speaks to us of BAPTISM and our burial by baptism in Christ (Romans 6:4 and Matt. 3:13-17).  Just as Israel passed through the Red Sea, so followers of Jesus pass through the waters of baptism.  It serves as a boundary between us and the old life.  It represents death to the old ways and life to the new. 

In Joshua 3, Israel faced the Jordan River.  Quite amazingly, God had led them to the Jordan at the absolutely worst time to cross.  It was at FLOOD STAGE (3:15).  After forty years of travel, God chose the two-three week period that it was IMPOSSIBLE to cross this river!  God set them up for a MIRACLE.  He will do that to us, too.  He is not so concerned about timing and convenience.  He wants to show His mighty power in our behalf.

And that day God DID peform a miracle for Israel.  He had parted the Red Sea forty years before to get them started.  Now, He dried up the Jordan to enable them to complete their journey to the Land of Promise.  But this miracle was different from the earlier one.

At the Red Sea, Moses had lifted up his rod and declared to Israel, "Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord which He will accomplish for you today" (Ex. 14:13).  All Israel had to do was stay still and watch.  But, now Joshua calls on Israel to participate in the miracle.  He calls on them to take steps into this work of God.  He told the priests carry the Ark of the Covenant on their shoulders and start walking out into this overflowing river.  The first miracle at the Red Sea required no human cooperation.  This second miracle at the Jordan called for courageous commitment to step out into uncertain territory. 

As the priests began to move, God began to move.  This is a lesson to us.  There are times when God moves sovereignly to meet needs NO MATTER WHAT WE DO.  He can do it without our help!  But then there are times that He calls us to cooperate with Him.  He calls us to take steps of faith.

The end of this story is the beginning of anothe story.  Israel had finally arrived in the land God had promised them so long ago.  They passed over Jordan that day.  You might think they could now sit back and enjoy the fulfillment of a dream.  NO SO.  The battle really was just beginning. 

Let's celebrate where God has brought us.  It is a wonderful thing to realize the distance you have come and the ways God has helped you.  But, remember, the best is yet to come.  God will lead you now into greater victories than any you have seen thus far.  Let's take the land!

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