Sunday, September 25, 2011

Crossing the River

Spirit & Truth # 242
“Crossing the River”

By Rev. Greg Smith

            All of us have pivotal moments in life, where things have changed and nothing will ever be the same again.  You’ve crossed over from one stage to another, and there’s no going back.  These watershed events are often symbolized by water crossings.  In the book of Genesis, Eden was surrounded by rivers.  When Adam and Eve were evicted from Eden, they had to cross the river from a life of blessing to a life of toil and curse.  In Exodus, God miraculously parted the Red Sea so that the Israelites could cross on solid ground.  They left behind their slavery, entering lives of freedom and new national identity—and life would be changed forever.

            Israel wandered in the wilderness for forty years because of disobedience and faithlessness.  Finally Moses died, Joshua took the lead, and God was ready to send the people in to possess the Promised Land.  As they stood on the banks of the Jordan River, they realized that once they crossed, life would be different than they had ever known before.

            In pivotal moments like this, we need to take our cue from the ancient Israelites.  Joshua told the people to follow the Ark as it went before them, since they had never been this way before.[i]  When life presents you with situations that you have never before encountered, make sure that you put God first.  Rather than following your own plans, follow God’s word, and let Him lead you.  

            “Joshua told the people, ‘Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you.’”[ii]  In Joshua’s day, consecrating yourself involved washing, making sacrifices, and anointing yourself.  Today believers should face pivotal moments in life by living in God’s holiness, receiving the sacrifice of Jesus, and letting the Holy Spirit anoint them with His presence.  Why did Israel consecrate themselves?  Not for the river crossing, but because there were enemies ahead.  Believers today also need to realize that there are spiritual enemies ahead.  God wants you to be “more than conquerors,”[iii] and a holy life is the only way you can win.  

            When the priests’ feet touched the water’s edge, “the water from upstream stopped flowing. It piled up in a heap a great distance away...So the people crossed over opposite Jericho. The priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord stood firm on dry ground in the middle of the Jordan, while all Israel passed by until the whole nation had completed the crossing on dry ground.”[iv]

            At the Red Sea a generation ago, God had first parted the waters and then Israel had crossed on dry ground.  Now at the Jordan, God expected them to have learned about God’s faithfulness.  He expected them to have grown in their own faith.  So God waited for them to take the first step into the water before He worked the miracle.  Too often we sit around waiting for God to act on our behalf without taking any kind of action ourselves.  But God delights in seeing believers step out in faith.  When all your waiting accomplishes nothing—why not step out?

            Life is going to bring troublesome times.  You may find yourself saying, “Save me, O God, for the waters have come up to my neck.”[v]  When you come to those difficult times and you know life is about to change forever, don’t fear.  Trust in God, and “Consecrate yourselves, for the Lord will do amazing things among you.”

[i] Joshua 3:3-4
[ii] Joshua 3:5
[iii] Romans 8:37
[iv] Joshua 3:16-17
[v] Psalm 69:1

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