Early on in my Christian experience, I found it quite easy to deliver what apparently were beneficial lessons to what used to be called adult Sunday School; my classes were at times as large as most churches. At one point, I even attempted a teen class given that I had spent 15 years in public schools and hoped to inspire a younger generation with my teachings. I will never forget asking one of the more transparent students in the class why so few students asked questions during my class? His response, “We are not used to passion.” I returned to adults, perhaps my calling.
I will admit that I get somewhat excited when I discover spiritual insights embedded in the Word. That excitement comes from both a sense of calling and awe at what can be revealed by the Holy Spirit from words previously read hundreds of times and then suddenly, made new and relevant.
Such was the case as I read through the third chapter of Joshua this week:
“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, at a town called Adam in the vicinity of Zarethan, while the water flowing down to the Sea of the Arabah (that is, the Dead Sea) was completely cut off. So the people crossed over opposite Jericho. The priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord stopped in the middle of the Jordan and stood on dry ground, while all Israel passed by until the whole nation had completed the crossing on dry ground.” Joshua 3:15-17 NIV.
What caught my attention was the name of the town where the water first began to stop flowing: “Adam!” Was this somehow indicative of the insertion of mankind into the stream of life, and until that time all things somewhat different in nature? Was man, Adam, an afterthought and this whole thing of life as we know, an insertion upon this globe that far exceeds our understanding, a sphere inhabited by fallen angels alone? (You might need to read in Genesis to see this and perhaps Is 14:12, Lk 10:18, Rev 9:1)
Then the end point of this miraculous intervention was the Dead Sea, what’s with that? Does all of this wind down in some brief current from creation to death? As I get older that makes more sense, for not only do I seem to be wearing down, but I cannot convince myself that this globe ecologically, nor the nature of man is improving, though quality of life and longevity have always been our goal.
For those reading who by now, sense the writer to be inserting too much thought and significance into this brief text, just allow me to continue and then I welcome your comments.
The bright spot in the middle of this, is what was on the shoulders of the priests that made the water part, the ARK. If you read a couple posts back, you have some context for what I am planning to share.
This box, which back then stood for God’s covenant with mankind, seemed to bear a certain presence and power over creation itself. A wooden box (humanity) covered in pure gold (divinity), and in New Testament terms would be found in the person of The God-Man, Jesus Christ, and still later the Body of Christ, the Ecclesia made possible by His sacrifice. It is about Easter you know!
Here they were mid-stream in life, so to speak, and the Ark cuts across all limitations, establishes their footing and assures their victories. What a picture of the Body of Christ and its call to the world. She steps into the stream of life and the very limitations of death (water) submit to the children of God.
“And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah, about David and Samuel and the prophets, who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. Women received back their dead, raised to life again. There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. (Heb.11:32-35 MIV).
I long for that in my life and in the life of the Church. And though we have for the most part abandoned much of God’s promises, a devotional moment like this seems to arouse the deep sense of promise held resident in my bones.
The only thing necessary was for leadership to shoulder the box, step into the river and stand firm on the “dry ground” that always awaits them mid-stream.