The view from the mountaintop was breathtaking. Moses’ old heart was finally getting weak and the sight of the Promised Land was overpowering. His tired legs had endured forty extra years of wilderness wanderings because most of the people of his generation refused to act in faith.
- They saw giants in the land and forgot the God who had proved Himself bigger than Pharoah, than Pharaoh’s army, than the Red Sea, bigger even than hunger and thirst in the desert. Yet they forgot and were scared by the reports of faithless men.
- They followed a pillar of fire at night and a pillar of cloud by day but would not follow them across a river.
- Forty years of wandering, of supernatural food, of clothes and shoes that wouldn’t wear out killed off that faithless generation, all except Joshua and Caleb and Moses.
And now Moses was about to die.
But before he died, God led him up one more mountain. He remembered Sinai, the mountain of law and smoke and a thunderous revelation of God. This mountain by the river Jordan was also a mountain of revelation. The Promised Land could be seen on the other side of the river. Joshua will get there. He and Caleb and young people will cross the river and conquer the land. God has promised, so it will happen. All Moses could do was look and remember.
It wasn’t just those other people, those who forgot how big God was. Moses had failed, too. He forgot who God was for one terrible moment. In the wilderness when they needed fresh water and God said speak to the rock, Moses forgot for a moment and struck the rock. Water gushed forth anyway, but Moses, the lawgiver, the friend of God, had failed. He forgot that God does a new thing. He doesn’t have to do things in the same old way. Strike the rock the first time; speak to it the second. But Moses forgot. Now he was about to join the generation of those who forgot who God is and died on the wrong side of the river.
Often, as the Spirit of the Lord leads, we will see the other side of the river. There is a deep desire to cross this river before us.
- We want to get there with the people of God who have not forgotten.
- We don’t want to die on the mountain with the Promised Land on the horizon.
- We want to be the generation who remembers who God is. God is not satisfied with maintenance; keeping us alive in the wilderness.
God is not satisfied with maintenance; keeping us alive in the wilderness. He wants us to move out, cross the river and take the land. We haven’t forgotten who God is.
There is a plan.
We must find the plan, or at least the first steps of the plan. But the biggest step is the first one: to wade into the river, following the Ark. The generation that was born and raised in the wilderness had to follow Joshua, Caleb and the priests into the river Jordan. Then the waters rolled back and they all crossed on dry ground.
Do the Work.
King David’s words to Solomon ring true to this day. Solomon’s river to cross was the construction of the Temple as a dwelling place for God—a place to remember Him and His Covenant. It was a daunting task. There was a plan from David’s own heart and the first steps could clearly be seen. That first step for Solomon, as it always has for all of us, required courage. I’ve taken the words of David to Solomon as a constant challenge to me from the Lord.
“Be of good courage and do the work.”
“Do the work” means crossing the river. It is the only way to get to the other side. We must not forget who God is.
Deuteronomy 34:1-4 NKJV
Then Moses went up from the plains of Moab to Mount Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, which is across from Jericho. And the Lord showed him all the land of Gilead as far as Dan, all Naphtali and the land of Ephraim and Manasseh, all the land of Judah as far as the Western Sea, the South, and the plain of the Valley of Jericho, the city of palm trees, as far as Zoar. Then the Lord said to him, “This is the land of which I swore to give Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, saying, ‘I will give it to your descendants.’ I have caused you to see it with your eyes, but you shall not cross over there.”
Joshua 1:1-9; 3:15-17 NIV
After the death of Moses the servant of the LORD, the LORD said to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ aide: “Moses my servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them– to the Israelites. I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses. No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”
Now the Jordan is at flood stage all during harvest. Yet as soon as the priests who carried the ark reached the Jordan and their 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 … The priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the LORD stood firm on dry ground…while all Israel passed by … on dry ground.
1 Chronicles 28:20-21 NIV
David also said to Solomon his son, “Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you until all the work for the service of the temple of the Lord is finished.
Song of Jordan
On Jordan’s Stormy Banks
Text: Samuel Stennett; Music: Rigdon M. McIntosh
1. On Jordan’s stormy banks I stand, and cast a wishful eye
to Canaan’s fair and happy land, where my possessions lie.
I am bound for the promised land,
I am bound for the promised land;
Oh, who will come and go with me?
I am bound for the promised land.
2. O’er all those wide extended plains shines one eternal day;
there God the Son forever reigns, and scatters night away.
3. No chilling winds or poisonous breath can reach that healthful shore;
sickness and sorrow, pain and death, are felt and feared no more.
4. When I shall reach that happy place, I’ll be forever blest,
for I shall see my Father’s face, and in his bosom rest.
© 2016 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved