November 30, 2016
(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)
Forty years after leaving Egypt, the Israelites were ready to cross the Jordan and enter the Promised Land of Canaan! God had done many miracles over those forty years under the leadership of Moses and Aaron. He would perform many more with Joshua now in command, as they drove the heathen tribes out of Canaan and were established as the new nation of Israel in Palestine. In Joshua 3:15 through 17 we see a mighty work of God:
…as…the feet of the priests who bore the ark were dipped in the edge of
the…[Jordan River], (for the Jordan overflows all its banks during the
whole time of harvest), that the waters which came down from upstream
stood still, and rose up in a heap very far away….So the waters that went
down toward…the salt sea…were cut off; and the people crossed over op-
posite Jericho. And the priests that bore the ark of the covenant of the
LORD stood firm on dry ground in the midst of the Jordan; and all the
Israelites passed over on dry ground….
Much like the crossing of the Red Sea forty years before (see Exodus 14:16-22), there are two great miracles involved in this current crossing:
• One – The river divided where the Israelites needed to cross, right across from Jericho! I have heard it said that the Jordan stopped flowing because an earthquake shifted the land enough to block the flow of the river. But it does not say that – or even hint that an earthquake was the cause! It does say that “…the waters which came down from upstream stood still, and rose up in a heap very far away…” (verse 16). How far? I left out of the featured Scripture above for the sake of space: “…far away at Adam, the city that is beside Zaretan.” (verse 16). Adam is almost 20 miles north of Jericho!
And to make the miracle more spectacular, God did it “…during the…time of harvest… [when] the Jordan overflows all its banks…” (verse 15). But it is simply as Jesus tells us in Matthew 19:26, “…with God all things are possible.” (see Jeremiah 32:17, 27; Matthew 19:26; Mark 9:23; 10:27; 14:36; Luke 18:27).
• Two (and this is a miracle that is often overlooked) – “…all the Israelites passed over on dry ground…” (verse 17). If you have ever stepped into a river bed, a lake bed, or someplace where water has covered the ground for a long time, there is usually mud and muck covering the bottom! But here, once the water had retreated, it was dry ground! There were some rocks strewn about the river bottom for (according to Joshua 4:3 and 8) Joshua “…commanded them, saying, ‘Take for yourselves twelve stones from…the midst of the Jordan…and [they] laid them down…” on the western side of the river as a memorial to their crossing. Also “…Joshua set up twelve stones in the midst of the Jordan, in the place where the feet of the priests who bore the ark…stood…” (Joshua 4:9). But the river bed was dry and free enough of stones and rocks that about two to three million Israelites crossed with no problem!
Since Paul has reminds us in I Corinthians 10:11, “…all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, on whom the ends of the ages have come…”; and since God has said in Malachi 3:6, “…I am the LORD, I do not change…” – not even a “…variation or shadow of turning…,” according to James 1:17; and of Jesus, who wrought so many miracles, it is written: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever…” – why do we not expect our Lord to perform miracles on our behalf today?!! Did not Jesus tell His followers in John 14:12:
Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he
will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My
Many Christians do expect – and receive – His miracles! But far too many believe the age of miracles is over. I do not! I have seen God work in my life too many times over the years to doubt His miraculous intervention when I need Him! And I rejoice to hear of His great intervention in the lives of others.
In Mark 16:15 through 18, the second gospel closes with these words of Jesus:
Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who
believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be
condemned. And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name
they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take
up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt
them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.
Scholars say this passage was not in the original manuscript of Mark, but was added much later. The compelling evidence, they say, is that this passage is not found in the two most ancient and most complete manuscripts – the Codex Vaticanus from the years between AD 325 and 350; and the Codex Sinaiticus, penned circa AD 375-400. But by that time in history, Christianity had become the religion of state of the Roman Empire. And it had been so watered down, that much of the power of God working through His children was neglected and/or lost! I believe it was easier to take mention of the miraculous out of Scripture than to be challenged to live up to it! So it is today! To see the Lord Jesus work mightily through His disciples, they must be sold out to Him and obedient to His Lordship!
God worked mighty miracles throughout history! Do you want to see in your life what Joshua and the Israelites experienced in theirs?