“Yet there shall be a distance between you and it, about 2,000 cubits 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.””Joshua 3:4-5 ESV
They knew they were headed to the Promised Land. They knew that the land the Lord had given them was currently someone else’s land. They knew they were headed toward promise and confrontation. They knew they were a part of a story that was miraculous and significant.
But all these people had experienced up until this point was wandering in the desert. They had not experienced the miracle of the exodus. That entire generation had passed away.
There had been miracles along the way for sure. Manna from heaven every morning, water bursting out of rocks, but not a miracle the size of a city. Yet this is what they were now told to expect. That the Lord would do it. They were on their way to Jericho.
But first there was the Jordan.
Throughout the Bible, the Jordan river is mentioned about 75 times. It’s the river that Naman washed himself in 7 times to be healed of leprosy. It’s the river where John the Baptist baptized and the river where Jesus himself was baptized. The Jordan is consistently shown to be a place of crossing, of passing through.
But the first time it is spoken as such is here in the beginning of Joshua. A river too high and too wide to cross over and yet would have to be crossed in order to go further with Gods plan for His people. Following God had led them to this impossible situation. What will happen now?
Remember, you and I have the advantage of perspective. For us, we know that just a few pages earlier, the Lord dried up the Red Sea during Israel’s escape from Egypt. But that was a generation ago for these people. They had only heard the stories, just like you. And now they were standing in front of this great river with their husbands, with their wives, with their children, their animals, with their friends, their countrymen and all their possessions. This great river wasn’t the Promised Land but they had to pass through it to get there.
As a community we are walking towards a miracle as big as a city, the renewal of Bergen, but we will most likely come up against a Jordan first.
How do we cross the Jordan when we get there? We’re going to follow the Presence, staying far enough back so that He is always in sight, so that the Presence goes first and we can clearly walk behind. So that it is clear beyond all doubt, the Lord has done this.