23 For the Lord your God dried up the waters of the Jordan for you until you passed over, as the Lord your God did to the Red Sea, which he dried up for us until we passed over, 24 so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the Lord is mighty, that you may fear the Lord your God forever.” Joshua 4:23-24 (NKJV)
The Israelites entered the Promised Land in the same way they left the land of Egypt – walking across what was a body of water which the Lord had parted so that they were able to cross over on dry land. He did this as a demonstration of His power and His presence, for when God is for us, there is no power on earth that can stand against us.
Notice God’s stated reason for choosing to do it this way: so that all people on earth may know of His might, that we may all fear the Lord forever.
Whenever we see the word “fear” used in the context of a loving God, the One who graciously offers us a life forever with Him, we are not talking about being literally afraid of Him. Instead, it refers to an attitude of reverent respect. God is worthy to be the top priority in our life and not just an afterthought to call upon only when we face a difficult challenge (although He does love to solve those for us).
God brought His people across the Jordan River into the Promised Land, and one day He will bring us there, too. In that day, it will be be be the residence of the throne of God among men, with Jesus Christ reigning as king in the New Jerusalem. Both Christ and the city will descend from heaven covered with the glory of God (Revelation 21).
The first inhabitants that God brought into the Promised Land were the Israelites, but unfortunately, due to their eventual unbelief and gross disobedience, there would be periods of time when the people were expelled from the land. The Lord spoke warnings about this through many prophets, but those warnings repeatedly fell on deaf ears.
11 “But they refused to heed, shrugged their shoulders, and stopped their ears so that they could not hear. 12 Yes, they made their hearts like flint, refusing to hear the law and the words which the Lord of hosts had sent by His Spirit through the former prophets. Thus great wrath came from the Lord of hosts… 14 “But I scattered them with a whirlwind among all the nations which they had not known. Thus the land became desolate after them, so that no one passed through or returned; for they made the pleasant land desolate.” Zechariah 7:11-12,14 (NKJV)
Because of His grace, God would bring future generations back into the land, and by His Spirit give them hearts to believe in and follow Him.
Today, God brings each one of us the opportunity to enter our own “new land” of salvation, joy and peace in God, made possible through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Without exception, we all deserve to be excluded from this good land because of our sin, but God removes our iniquity through faith in Christ and His sacrifice for us.
God promised in advance to do this for all people in prophecy about the coming Messiah:
8” …For behold, I am bringing forth My Servant the BRANCH. 9 …Says the Lord of hosts, ‘And I will remove the iniquity of that land in one day.’” Zechariah 3:8-9 (NKJV)
Jesus is the Branch, the King of an eternal kingdom that began slowly as a tender shoot (Isaiah 53) and grew to cover all nations on the earth.
The eternal kingdom of God began as a seed with the call of Abraham, which was watered by the faith of Abraham, who was even willing to sacrifice his own beloved son, Isaac, at God’s command. God stopped Abraham from doing it, and would instead offer His own beloved Son as a sacrifice on the cross at the same location, on Mount Moriah. Abraham’s faithfulness gave God encouragement to go forward with His costly plan for our salvation, giving up His only Son because of His great love for us (Genesis 22).
In the book of Romans, the apostle Paul summarizes the gospel like this:
23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23 (NKJV)
Wages are earned, but eternal life is a gift of God for all who would receive it. But like any gift, it must be accepted. Are we to reject this gift and hand it back to Him, unopened and unreceived?
Father God, thank You for leading us into a new land of hope and peace. Help us to walk obediently along the good path You have chosen for us. We ask this in Jesus’ name, Amen.