It is True!
I won't have to cross
By Pastor F. M. Riley
September 23, 2017
"And as they that bare the ark were come unto Jordan, and the feet of the priests that bare the ark were dipped in the brim of the water, (for Jordan overfloweth all his banks all the time of harvest,)
That the waters which came down from above stood and rose up upon an heap very far from the city Adam, that is beside Zaretan: and those that came down toward the sea of the plain, even the salt sea, failed, and were cut off: and the people passed over right against Jericho."
I know that many people have sung the old gospel hymn, "I won't have to cross Jordan alone." In my many years in the Lord's ministry, I have sung the song many times, understanding full well what the writer of the song had in mind when he wrote this beautiful old hymn. But quite a number of years ago I had a dear Christian brother come to me after one of our services, and tell me that he appreciated everything in the service, except the singing of this old hymn. He felt that the hymn is unscriptural, in that the Jordan river does not represent death.
My response to that brother, was to advise him to make a serious study of every passage in the Bible which refers to Jordan. Why?
Because the Brother was Right, and the Brother was Wrong!
The Hebrew word translated as Jordan in our English Bibles is the word, "yarden." This word occurs 187 times in the Old Testament. In the New Testament the Greek word used is, "Jordanes", and it occurs 15 times, making a total of 197 times Jordan is referred to in the entire Bible. The actual meaning of both of these words is "descending," literally meaning "the descending river."
The Jordan River is the river that runs the full length of the land of Palestine. Two springs in the valley between Lebanon and Mt. Hermon are the source of it's original waters. It then flows southward the full length of the land, flowing into and through the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea. The flow then from the Dead Sea, not referred to any longer as the Jordan River, finally empties into the Mediterranean at the Gulf of Aqaba. If the Jordan River ran in a straight line, it would be only 120 miles in length. However, with all of it's crooks and turns, it is some 240 miles in length.
Throughout it's journey, the Jordan River is ordinarily only ankle to knee deep, and can easily be crossed by anyone. Therefore the brother was right in that the Jordan ordinarily does not represent or typify death. However, there is one exception! That exception is found in the Scripture passage used as a text for this study.
In the Spring of the year, when the heavy winter snows on Mt. Hermon are melting, during the Spring harvest season, as stated in the text, the normally placid Jordan River becomes a raging torrent of water, which no man in his right mind would even attempt to cross.
It was at that very time of year that the children of Israel, under the leadership of Joshua, were told to follow their priests carrying the ark, and cross the Jordan River. If our readers will carefully study the whole context in which this passage occurs [chapters 1- 3], they will find a beautiful type of Christ abolishing the fear of "death" for every true believer.
Dying and Death
Even many Christian people have never discerned the distinction between dying and death, set forth in God's Word. There most certainly is such a distinction made in the inspired Word.
Dying is a process that, if one lives long enough, they will usually go through before their death. Dying is usually accompanied by sickness, pain, sorrow, and suffering, sometimes weeks, months, or in some cases, even years, before death finally comes to the body. It has been my misfortune to have seen a number of people for which I have had a deep love go through the dying process, and it is neither pretty nor desirable.
Death, on the other hand, is simply a doorway which the soul steps through in an instant of time, as they leave this present world and enter into the world awaiting them.
If one has refused to believe God's Word, and obstinately rejected Christ as God's "way" of salvation, then stepping through the doorway of death will usher them into such eternal miseries as they have never previously known or even imagined. This is why many today absolutely fear death. Read 1 John 4:18.
On the other hand, every true believer should have no fear of death whatsoever. Why? Because the Lord Jesus Christ has already passed through the doorway of death, taking away the fear thereof, and is waiting just inside the doorway to welcome us "home" to glory.
GRACE makes the difference
I am now 83 years old, and not in really good health. My time then to leave this present evil world of sin and strife is fast approaching. Since I am still living in a human body, my fear then is of the sickness, suffering, sorow, and pain that almost always comes with the process of dying. By the grace of God, I have absolutely no fear of death. By God's wonderful grace, I can truly say with Paul, ".....for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day," 2 Timothy 1:12.
I do not look forward at all to the process of dying, yet I do look forward, almost with eagerness, to stepping through the doorway of death into the eternity the Lord God has prepared for those who love Him. Glory to God! Hallelujah! Praise the Lord!
Now Let's Return to our Text
If our readers will carefully study the context again, in which this text appears, it will become obvious that the Lord God was preparing to take Israel and the Israelite people into the land which He had promised to give them as their "everlasting possession," Joshua 1:1-4; Genesis 17:1-8.
The Israelites were to go into that land after three days, Joshua 1:10-11; 3:2. Compare Hosea 6:1-2, and 2 Peter 3:8.
The Israelite people were explicitly told that they should follow the priests bearing the ark of the covenant, Joshua 3:3, and that there should be a space of some 2,000 cubits between those priests and the people who were to follow them, Joshua 3:4. Is it just "coincidence" that the Dispensation of Grace has been 2,000 years in length, or two days in God's Great Prophetic Week?
Notice that it was the priests who were to bear the ark. Even so, today it is true believers who are to carry the gospel of Christ to the lost world. Now who are true believers? Of course, they are those who have received Christ as their own personal Savior, whom the inspired Word itself declares us to be, "kings and priests unto God," Revelation 1:5-6, 5:8-10.
If our readers have ever seriously studied the ark of the covenant, they should know that the ark itself is a type of Christ. The wood it was made from was a type of the humanity of Christ Jesus, and when it was covered by Gold, it became a type of the Divinity of Christ. The fact that the priests were bearing it on their shoulders, means that the ark was lifted off the earth, a type of the resurrected Christ. Glory to God!
Those priests were to walk right off into the Jordan River, which at that season of the year was a raging torrent of death and destruction, Joshua 3:8; 3:15. For those priests to carry out this command, while looking at that raging river, must have required a tremendous amount of "faith." Read again Ephesians 2:8-10 and rejoice that we believers do not face the perils of this world alone!
When those priests, by the grace of God, obeyed the commands given them, a tremendous miracle took place; one of the "signs and wonders" the Lord God graciously showed to Israel while they were in the wilderness. The raging waters of that river of death, literally stopped running in the bed of the river, and piled up in a heap, Joshua 3:16. The waters in front of the priests ran on off down the river bed, and the bed of the river instantly dried up right in front of them. Then all the children of Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground, Joshua 3:16-17.
Oh, glory to God! Hallelujah! Praise the Lord! Not a single Israelite died in that river of death, and even the fear of dying was removed from them on that occasion. Glory to God!
The Greater Portrayal
For those readers who carefully pay attention to what they are reading in the inspired Word, this account sets forth in type the future and very near redemption of Israel. Right now as I write, Israel is facing death threats from their enemies, and fears that they will be forced into war at any minute. There is no question in my mind, that when the rapture of New Covenant believers occurs, and the Tribulation period begins, Israel's worst fears will become a reality.
But as a dear departed brother in the Lord used to say on every one of his gospel broadcasts, "Almighty God is still on His throne, and prayer changes things." Hallelujah! God has not forsaken His covenanted people!
The river of death against Israel and the Israelite people will be stopped during the coming Tribulation, as they turn to the Lord with their whole heart and soul, and they will enter into the glorious Kingdom of Christ, so to speak, on dry ground. Hallelujah! Glory to God!
But are all who read this study truly saved by the grace of God, Ephesians 2:8-10? Due to my age and health, I am personally facing the river of death. But as the old hymn says, "I won't have to cross Jordan alone!" My beloved Savior has already gone there before me, and has taken all the fear of death out of the equation. By "the grace of God," I am ready, willing, and eager to pass over the river, and into the presence of my beloved Savior. Are you..??? John 3:16 and Ephesians 2:8-10 are stated plainly enough for any reader to understand. Believe these inspired Scriptures and be saved today, 2 Corinthians 6:2.
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All questions, comments, discussion, and other correspondence can be sent to me at: Pastor Francis M. Riley, 14275 County Road 8120, Rolla, Missouri 65401.
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