Crossing the Jordan River

It happens every year – we say “where did the year go?” Time flies. We will never have enough time. Sometimes we think “if only I have 5 more minutes” or “if only I have one more hour”. Everyone is given the same number of hours – 24 hours a day and 365 days and if it is leap year, 366 days. New Year brings new dreams, new hopes and new struggles. We always wish the New Year to be a better year. We want to do better in every way and have better health.

Entering New Year is transition – we make transition from the old to New Year. The Israelites were in bondage in Egypt for 400 years. They came out of Egypt under Moses’ leadership. Moses was not allowed to enter into the Promised Land. He died on Mt. Nebo and God Himself buried Moses. Then Joshua succeeded Moses and led the Israelites into the Promised Land.

In Joshua 3, we see that Joshua and Israelites started their journey and came to Jordan River. They had to cross the river and it is at flood stage. Jordan is a mile wide and the ground drops 9 to 40 feet at the place where they were about to cross. They were standing in front of nearly impossible rushing flood waters.

In our lives, we face nearly impossible, hopeless situations, painful struggles and difficulties. God brings us to those situations so that we will give up all our human efforts and totally depend on Him.

For Joshua and the Israelites, there is no other way, but to trust God to take them across Jordan.

We learn few lessons from Joshua and the Israelites.

Centrality of God’s presence: Joshua told them when they see the Ark of the Covenant, they should follow it. Ark of the Covenant is a symbol for God’s presence. Ark of the Covenant will show them the way because they don’t know which way to go. For the Israelite community, Ark of the Covenant is the most important thing. We need to have God as the center of our lives. We need to orient our lives around His presence. He should occupy the central place in our lives. Every aspect of our lives should be directed by the Lord.

Consecration: Joshua said “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do amazing things among you.”  God’s presence is holy and people cannot approach the Ark of the Covenant in a casual manner. When we approach our Lord, we need to be aware of our sinfulness and consecrate ourselves.

James 4:8-9 says, “Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom.”

There is a call for repentance, grieving for our sins, not just confession. We need to take holiness seriously. We need to repent of our sins before approaching the Lord. Then we can see amazing things, just like Joshua and the Israelites have seen. Let us purify ourselves and be in His presence with clear conscience and let us expect God to do amazing things among us.

Faith: Waters of Jordan stopped when the feet of the priests touched the water. Imagine the emotions of those priests carrying the Ark of the Covenant. The waters did not stop until their feet touched the edge of the water. It was risky. If the water would not stop, they will drown and probably washed away in the flood waters. It takes faith on part of the priests to put their feet in the flooding river. Priests took God at His word. They simply trusted Him and took the step of faith. Faith is risky. But we are called to live a life of faith. We live by faith, not by sight. When you want to see God’s miracles, you need to walk by faith.

When they took the step of faith, they have seen the miracle. Even though God already promised them that they will cross the Jordan River, they had to walk by faith. We can appropriate God’s promises when we walk by faith. Only then we can see miracles in our lives.

Passing on our faith: God told Joshua “Choose twelve men from among the people, one from each tribe, and tell them to take up twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan, from right where the priests are standing, and carry them over with you and put them down at the place where you stay tonight.”

God told them to setup these 12 stones from the middle of Jordan as a memorial for generations. They are to be a testimony to what God has done in their lives. When their children from later generations ask them what those stones mean, they should explain the children how God cut the flow of Jordan and made them walk on a dry ground.

Our faith is a generational faith. We need to pass on our faith to the next generation. God specifically told the Israelites to teach their children when they sit, stand or lie down. We need to pass on what God has done in our lives, to the next generation.

It is important to train up our children in the way they should go and pass on our faith to them so that they will follow the Lord in their lives. We pass on our properties, wealth, skills, etc. to our children, but when it comes to faith, we say, “I don’t want to impose anything. I’ll let them decide which faith to follow”. When you don’t teach your children the way of the Lord, you are leaving them to their natural destiny, which is eternal separation from God. We need to care about their spirit and their eternal destination.

May the Lord help us to have Him as the center of our lives and follow Him with clear conscience and walk by faith and pass on our faith to the next generation!