(Our Pastor was away one weekend and I was requested to speak. This is an excerpt of that sermon.)
They were encamped at the eastern banks of the rushing and swelled up river. They were looking across the river, to a land that was promised to their parents to inherit. A land that was described to be flowing with milk and honey. A land so different from the desert they have been traveling on for so long.
Behind them was the land of Egypt where their parents came from, as slaves. But they cannot remember Egypt that much, as they were all children when they left Egypt. All that were clear in their memory was their aimless wandering in the desert for many years. They practically grew up in the desert. Some of them were even born in the desert.
But their elders and their parents were all gone now. The older generation had all died and had become carcasses in the desert. Also now dead was the spirit of murmuring and unbelief. Gone away was the complaining attitude towards their leader. This was a new generation. A generation with a more trusting spirit.
This was the new nation of Israel.
They were not a great nation. At least not yet. They were not mighty warriors. They were children of slaves! Their generation was inexperienced and young, that none of them was older than 60 years old (anybody older than 20 when they left Egypt, were not allowed to see the Promised Land). Except for their new leader, Joshua, and another older man named Caleb.
The distance from Egypt to Canaan if you travel by the most direct route, is about 250 miles. This is a trip that the Israelites could have completed in about a month. Even if they only walk 1 mile a day…..1 mile a day! Do you know how slow that is? A giant tortoise can walk a mile in 4 hours. So if they walk slower than a tortoise and even resting on Sabbaths, it would take them less than a year to reach the Promise Land. But how long did it take them to reach their destination? 40 long years!
I know sometimes in this life we are made to wander in the desert. Sometimes we experienced long delay, and I am not talking about airport terminals, but in achieving our goals in this life. Many times we are like little kids asking God, are we there yet? How long O Lord would we wait? The answer my dear brethren is, in His time. Yes, in God’s time.
Back to the Israelites, finally their wandering was almost over. Finally they were in the boundary of entering the Promised land. Finally they were overlooking the land that had been promised for them, many years ago.
Only one more obstacle laid in their path: the mighty Jordan river.
Jordan. In Hebrew, Yarden. It is derived from the word meaning to “descend or flow down.” If we study the geography of Jordan from the part that flows out from the Sea of Galilee, down to where it ends up to the Dead Sea, it is about 60 miles. In this relatively short course, it has a rather steep descent, from 682 feet below sea level from Galilee, to 1300 feet below sea level at the Dead Sea (the lowest point on Earth). That’s a fall of 10 feet per mile, explaining the rapid currents.
The Jordan river near Gilgal, the location where the Israelites cross, was said to be only about 100 feet wide at times. But we were told that it was the harvest season and it was flooded in its banks, as the snow from the mountains flows to it. Those who visited this river during the spring season, claims that Jordan river can swell up to 1 mile. 1 mile wide!
(*photo from LifeintheHolyLand.com)
God made sure that if the people of Israel will cross Jordan it will not be through their own strength. They have to fully trust on the power of God.
My friends, we all have our Jordan. Something that we need to cross to get to the other side. Something that is blocking our path to reach our goals and destination. For some of us it is our poor health condition and illness. For some of us it is our financial predicament and difficulties. For some of us it is our strained or broken relationship. For some of us, they are some other problems that I have no idea, but you alone know what they are.
Brethren, our God is more mightier than our Jordan. He is bigger than the biggest problem we can encounter. He is more powerful than any obstacle laying in our path. And He will help us cross it, if we will fully trust in Him.
(sermon adapted from the Book of Joshua)