Derek Smith, Lead Pastor LHBC

Joshua 3
Then Joshua rose early in the morning and they set out from Shittim. And they came to the Jordan, he and all the people of Israel, and lodged there before they passed over. At the end of three days the officers went through the camp and commanded the people, “As soon as you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God being carried by the Levitical priests, then you shall set out from your place and follow it. Yet there shall be a distance between you and it, about 2,000 cubits[a] in length. Do not come near it, in order that you may know the way you shall go, for you have not passed this way before.” Then Joshua said to the people, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you.” And Joshua said to the priests, “Take up the ark of the covenant and pass on before the people.” So they took up the ark of the covenant and went before the people. The Lord said to Joshua, “Today I will begin to exalt you in the sight of all Israel, that they may know that, as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. And as for you, command the priests who bear the ark of the covenant, ‘When you come to the brink of the waters of the Jordan, you shall stand still in the Jordan.’” And Joshua said to the people of Israel, “Come here and listen to the words of the Lord your God.” And Joshua said, “Here is how you shall know that the living God is among you and that he will without fail drive out from before you the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Hivites, the Perizzites, the Girgashites, the Amorites, and the Jebusites. Behold, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth is passing over before you into the Jordan. Now therefore take twelve men from the tribes of Israel, from each tribe a man. And when the soles of the feet of the priests bearing the ark of the Lord, the Lord of all the earth, shall rest in the waters of the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan shall be cut off from flowing, and the waters coming down from above shall stand in one heap.” So when the people set out from their tents to pass over the Jordan with the priests bearing the ark of the covenant before the people, and as soon as those bearing the ark had come as far as the Jordan, and the feet of the priests bearing the ark were dipped in the brink of the water (now the Jordan overflows all its banks throughout the time of harvest), the waters coming down from above stood and rose up in a heap very far away, at Adam, the city that is beside Zarethan, and those flowing down toward the Sea of the Arabah, the Salt Sea, were completely cut off. And the people passed over opposite Jericho. Now the priests bearing the ark of the covenant of the Lord stood firmly on dry ground in the midst of the Jordan, and all Israel was passing over on dry ground until all the nation finished passing over the Jordan.

The Jordan River is a commonly used symbol in gospel, spiritual, and folk music, as well as poetic and literary works. For some it carries the idea of freedom because it was the last stop of a delivered people before they conquered a new land. Because of the baptism of Jesus, water from the Jordan is employed for the christening of heirs and princes in several Christian royal houses, such as the cases of Prince George of Cambridge or Simeon of Bulgaria. Tens of thousands have been baptized in the Jordan River because of its connection to the baptism of Christ.  

Crossing the Jordan River is a rite of passage. It’s the line of demarcation for the children and grandchildren of Israel. It’s trusting God to do what He said He would do. The Jordan River is the final geographic barrier they had to cross to enter the Promised Land and go to war with the people there. The Children of Israel were tired of wandering. They were tired of living the same old story of defeat and despair. They wanted all that God had for them.

The Jordan River represents change. It’s conquering those obstacles which keep us from changing and becoming all that God wants us to be. Crossing the Jordan is crossing the river of sanctification. It’s discipline. It’s perseverance. The Jordan River is a place of knowledge. We don’t know God’s faithful until we test Him. Some sing of a faithfulness they know not of. The wandering generation was content with a God whom they’d not tested and tried. The conquering generation wanted more. They wanted true experiential knowledge of Him and His faithfulness.

We must never forget that we are in a battle daily. We have a choice, either be an overcomer or be overcome. There is a real enemy who wants us to wander in selfishness and defeat, but through Christ we are more than conquerors. God doesn’t want us to play the victim card; He saved us to be victors! He wants to take our tests and give us a testimony. He can take our trials and turn them to triumphs, but the point is we must step into the water. We must trust and obey.

So today, Child of God, step into the water! Leave the wilderness of complacency and apathy behind! Trust and obey! Believe God’s promises and obey His commands! Just like the Hebrews, when you step into that water the Lord will work miracles on your behalf!

Father God, forgive me for my complacency and apathy. Forgive me for putting off until tomorrow what I should be doing today. Lord, I want more of your grace, peace, power, and wisdom in my life. I want to glorify You and live the conquering Christian life. In Jesus name I pray, amen.

Joshua 1:9
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.