Crossing Over

Joshua 3 and 4.  According to Webster’s Dictionary “crossing over” is the name for receiving genetic material from mother and father in the forming baby at conception.  We often speak of death as crossing over the River Jordan.  For Christians, we would believe we are still the same being but somehow through the death experience receive our spiritual, eternal bodies to live in the Promised Land, heaven.  A bit heady but the reading today talks about the crossing over the River Jordan experience for the people of Israel and Joshua.

         We first note that this experience is very similar to Moses leading the people through the Red Sea.  The water parts and the people walk across on dry ground and then the water returns.  The text today has some differences, though. 

  • Joshua does not extend a rod like Moses did but rather orders the priests to carry the Ark of the Covenant into the middle of the river.  Our epic story with an epic hero is beginning to show the start of a young nation.  There is now a clan of priests to lead worship.  There is now an Ark of the Covenant symbolizing the presence of God in the midst of his people. A mass of people is taking on structure.
  • The Israelites are not fleeing an army but embracing a promise.
  • The priests stand in the middle of the now dry river as the people pass and representatives from every clan brings back a rock to stand as a memorial to God’s deliverance.

In spirituals, Jordan is thought of as the reality of receiving liberty either from slavery or from the burdens of this life.  If Jordan represents death then the priests in the middle holding the Ark represent the presence of God in the midst of our journey through death when waves do not touch us.  Isaiah 43:2 promises,

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;

when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,

and the flame shall not consume you.”

         The river parts, the Ark is in the middle to remind us of God’s presence with us, but thirdly, the people of Israel built a memorial to tell future generations.  “When your children ask…”  Memorials are important.  We keep scrapbooks, picture albums, mementos and memories of important life events.  What are the important symbols that help you remember God’s presence in the midst of hard times and his promise to be there with you when you cross over?  Perhaps that is why the cross is such a strong symbol for Christians because it reminds us that Christ conquered death and will go with us and receive us as we cross over, so we do not need to fear.  Having symbols in your home to remind you of God’s presence is good.  Also when children ask, “What’s that for?” you can tell them about the value of God’s presence in your life.  Thank you Lord!

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