The Passage of the Jordan.

Joshua 3.

Bible Treasury, Volume 3, 2nd Edition, February 1861.

(1st. Edition, February [03 1861 217])

We often lose a good deal of the practical value of the teaching that is given us in this book, from thoughts that we have probably received from the days of childhood. Thus the passing of the Jordan is often thought to mean passing the boundary that divides us from earth into heaven when we die — that it is entering into the heavenly Canaan through death. I do not doubt that it is passing over the boundary of death, and entering into Canaan; but it is not when we leave this world, but while we are still in the body. It is that which God has even us in the resurrection of Christ, and in His present taking possession of the heavenly places for us. And what will make this plain to all is, that when we get to heaven, we have not got to fight with the Canaanites, nor with anything answering to them. Fighting is not the business of heaven; but it was the special business of the people who passed over Jordan. It was more their business than any other thing. It was not so much the work before them in the wilderness. There, the great lesson was dependence upon the living God, and, in the next place, the learning of self. There, God was proving what the hearts of His people were; and, what was infinitely better, the people were proving, or ought to have been proving, what the living God was who had taken His place in their midst. But conflict with enemies was not the great thought of the wilderness. And therefore we only find them meeting with the Amalekites, at one time, or with the Midianites at another. The wars that they had in the wilderness were comparatively few: whereas, when they passed the Jordan, for a time there was nothing but war. The passing of the Jordan, therefore, does not mean the literal death of the body, but the death of Christ, and our union with Him; whereby we are even now planted in heavenly places — and that too for the purpose of our wrestling not with flesh and blood; for, as the Apostle Paul tells us, "we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in heavenly places."

Now there is a good deal of the meaning and power of this lost by the children of God, from the idea that the main part of our conflict is with ourselves. That is not at all the case. Self-judgement is a different thing from conflict. Daily self-judgement is most right and needful — the constant review of our ways and judgement of self, and of the flesh. But there is a restless, indefatigable, subtle enemy, that makes it his main business, not merely to entice the Christian into sin through the flesh, but, by darkening the truth, to hinder souls from enjoying the fullness of the blessings of God's grace and God's glory in His beloved Son. That is the main work of the devil, as far as the Church is concerned, and that is the special thing which we have to watch against. We may examine and judge ourselves day by day, and it is a very right thing. But if the soul is ever so jealous about that, it is not enough. It may, at the same time, be hindered from the full enjoyment of the Lord Jesus. One main reason is this: the Lord has put before us an inheritance of blessing — "all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ." But we are slow to take advantage of it. We think, perhaps, that it is presumption; or some may fancy that, instead of venturing on such a subject, it would be more practical to be dwelling upon our ordinary duties in life. But this would not be enough, because it is not Christianity. It is not the measure of what the Lord has called us to now. There are certain things that all saints from the beginning of the world have walked in. It never was right at any time for a saint to lie, or to be dishonest, or to do anything immoral. In all dispensations there are certain moral duties that necessarily are inseparable from life in God. But this is not Christianity. A saint may do all that, and yet not enjoy what I call Christianity. To be thoroughly Christian is to enter into the calling that is now ours through the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. That is what is represented by the passing of the Jordan. It presents the same death and resur­rection of Christ that had been previously given us in the passage of the Red Sea, though in a different point of view. The death and resurrection of Christ as seen there is Christ separating us from the world — Christ bringing us out of Egypt. But all that may be, and we may not have the least enjoyment of our heavenly blessings.

 We may thank God that we are delivered — that we are not going to be cast into hell. But is that enough? It is not. If we stop short there, if we do not enter further into our blessings, Satan will be sure, at one time or another, to gain a complete victory over us, as he did over the Israelites. For instead of their conquering and driving out their enemies, we read of Canaanites, Perizzites, Jebusites, etc., who kept their possessions in peace, in spite of Israel. And so it is with many a child of God. They are kept in evil that does not appear to be such, and is not considered so, because it is not moral evil. For even a mere man is bound not to sin morally. But a Christian is a person who has his eyes upon the Lord. Any one can judge an outwardly immoral thing, but very few know that what even godly people are doing, is entirely contrary to the Holy Ghost and to God Himself. There are many so-called religious practices that are sins, and these are what the Christian ought to have his eyes open to. The Lord works this in us by giving us to know that we have got a heavenly inheritance. The Lord Jesus, by His death and resurrection, not only has brought us out of Egypt and into the wilderness, but into heaven itself in spirit. We are even now seated in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. We have got now the stamp of heaven upon us, and God is looking that we may walk in the sense of this great privilege, making advances, gaining victories, and wresting what Christ has given us out of the hands of the enemy. Supposing a person truly converted to God, and made happy in the knowledge of his sin being for ever put away, the next thing is — he does not know what to do to please God, or how to worship God. If he simply goes on as he was before, assuming that what he did when he was unconverted as to these things, is what he is to do now, (save only, of course, with a new aim and power,) he cannot make any progress; and it is thus that the devil keeps possession of the place of blessing, and shuts out the heir of glory from his calling and inheritance. Of course, I only speak of the matter of practical enjoyment. The enemies are still undisturbed in the land. But we ought to be seeing what the inheritance is that the Lord has assigned to us, and whether our worship and our walk are really according to God, and suitable to the place in which He has set us. If you make morality your standard, you will be sure to fall below what you propose. Whatever we put before us as our criterion, there will always be a falling short. If we have Christ risen and Christ in heaven as our object, we shall prove the power of His resurrection, not only in lifting us up when we are conscious of our exceeding shortcoming, but in strengthening us "to press forward towards the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus."

In the beautiful scene before us, we find that the people passed dry-shod over Jordan. And what made it so remarkable was, its being the very time when the river was overflowing its banks; it was fuller then than at any other season. So in the death of Christ there was the fullest possible outpouring of God's wrath; and upon His beloved Son, sin — our sin has been judged to the uttermost. And, as in the type, they passed over as if there had been no Jordan at all, so, in the reality for us, there remains no judgement, but fullness of blessing. We are passed from death unto life, and are blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.

And now, when they have entered the land, what do we find? The manna ceases — they must eat of the old corn of the land. The food that had sustained them in the wilderness does not any longer suffice. And what is the old corn of the land? It is Christ, as the manna also was; but Christ in another way: it is the food of resurrection. The corn of the land was the fruit of the seed that had been sown in the land, and that had died and sprung up again. It was Christ in resurrection. The Lord grant that our souls may feed upon Him thus! To say that Christ thus known is too high for us, — to be content without enjoying Him thus, is thus far to be content without Christ.