The River Jordan features prominently in the early chapters of Joshua.
Jordan is symbolic of leaving the past behind …death to the old, farewell to disappointments, imprisonments, meaninglessness, hurts and such. It’s also symbolic of entering into new things and claiming the promises of God. Of crossing over.
The direction of God came to Joshua and, as Israel’s leader, through him to God’s people to leave the wilderness – the dry years, the times of non-accomplishment, aimless wandering, and unfilled lives – and enter into the Promised Land and an exciting new period of their existence. Joshua chapters one to three tell that time had arrived and God’s support was assured – if everyone would be courageous to cross Jordan!
A number of church leaders and everyday Christians have been aware for some months now that something – that mysterious ‘something’ that we just can’t put a finger on – has been happening or is about to happen in the church today.
The word ‘transition’ – ‘change from one state to another’ – comes to mind as it’s easier to grasp. For Christians with minds and hearts open to being true disciples and thereby willing to follow Jesus wherever he leads, we can understand the meaning of this simple word.
When Jesus challenged his first disciples, ‘Follow me…’ he didn’t explain everything or the ‘where to’ of it all. In fact, many times, Jesus left things hanging in the air as it were and those who were really prepared to follow him into unknown territory had to trust as they did so.
Every Christian, and particularly church leaders, should be aware of the times and what we should be doing, be involved in – as were David’s ‘men of Issachar, who understood the times and knew what Israel should do’ (1 Chr. 12:32).
An exciting, rewarding time
‘Issachar’ has the meaning of producing a reward. As Christians, and church leaders, hear from and obey the Lord, we will encounter amazing Promised Land rewards of various kinds not only for ourselves, but for others and for our local churches.
This is an exciting time to be alive – being aware that even though the world is in massive trouble all round, our God has incredible plans for every one of his children (Jer.29:11).
Why are we particularly emphasising leaders when we’re challenging all Christians in this month’s encouragement? Simple…churchgoers look to their ministers for Bible instruction and God’s direction, especially in times of personal challenge – times when they need to cross some kind of personal Jordan, to reach security, tranquillity and new life on the other side.
Full flood not a problem
Joshua 3 relates how Israel’s ministers – its priests – were instrumental in leading the whole nation across the Jordan when it was in full flood. Boldly they showed the way! We like how the Message Bible describes this crucial transition time when Israel crossed the Jordan en route to the other side, to the Promised Land – not one foot got wet!
‘When the priests got to the Jordan and their feet touched the water at the edge (the Jordan overflows its banks throughout the harvest), the flow of water stopped. It piled up in a heap–a long way off – at Adam, which is near Zarethan. The river went dry all the way down to the Arabah Sea (the Salt Sea). And the people crossed, facing Jericho. And there they stood; those priests carrying the Chest of the Covenant stood firmly planted on dry ground in the middle of the Jordan while all Israel crossed on dry ground. Finally the whole nation was across the Jordan, and not one wet foot’ (Jos. 3:15/17).
May crossing Jordan be symbolic to all of us. Let’s now be afraid of getting our feet wet as we transition. Let’s take courage as we leave the first of 2012 behind and dare to embrace all that the next six months holds for all Christians with open hearts and a willingness to move ahead.
But… a question arises. Is there anything, any ‘wrong, distracting Jordan’ that we have to first cross…say goodbye to? Any hindrance that needs to be dealt with, anything that would hold us back from being an active part of all Promised Land involvements that God wants us into, as well as moving into living life to the full?
Maybe in our worship (not able to enter straight into it or stand in the anointing of Jesus’ presence), impotent prayer and Bible mediation life, marriage, relationship, witnessing, job satisfaction, dreaming in God…whatever?
If so, let’s deal with it! We all need to be aware of the times and ready to embrace this transition period, see the bigger picture and cross over!