"How will you do in the swelling of Jordan?"  Jeremiah 12:5

No Scripture reader can have failed to notice that the journeyings of the children of Israel are typical of the Christian's pilgrimage, and the promised rest in Canaan of the Christian's eternal home. Their deliverance from Egypt, their march through the desert, their passage over Jordan, their abode in Canaan—are all points of resemblance, tracing out, as it were, the journey from this world of sin and sorrow—to "the rest which remains for the people of God."

In the words before us one interesting point of history is referred to, which may serve to illustrate an important and solemn stage in the Christian's pilgrimage—that is, the passage over Jordan. Let us meditate for a little on this marvelous event; and may God, by His Holy Spirit, enable us to derive comfort from the thoughts suggested regarding our heavenly home!

The Jordan lay between the Israelites and the promised land. Doubtless, as they stood upon its banks, wistfully gazing across its swelling waves, their hearts were filled with gloom and terror. Three days they rested within sight of the flowing stream; no promise—no assurance of help was given. Dark and cold, the river rolled on its course, and ever as the waves rose and heaved and broke at their feet, the question would arise in many a sinking heart, "How shall I do in the swelling of Jordan?" It was only when summoned to cross—only when the time for their departure had come—that Joshua unfolded to them the wondrous way in which the Lord intended to guide and conduct them over. "The priests will be carrying the Ark of the Lord, the Lord of all the earth. When their feet touch the water, the flow of water will be cut off upstream, and the river will pile up there in one heap." Joshua 3:13

As the Jordan lay between the Israelites and Canaan, so death lies between the Christian and his eternal home. It is oftentimes an object of terror even to the holiest and the best. We do not love death; we fear the gloomy passage; our faithless hearts shrink at the prospect of breasting the foaming flood. We would gladly tarry on the banks of the stream, unable to find an answer to the inquiry, "How shall I do in the swelling of Jordan?" Christian, be of good courage; the answer will come in God's good time. These fears will then vanish, and, like Israel of old, you will safely and triumphantly cross the rapid, rising flood.

Mark some of the incidents connected with their wondrous passage. The ark of the covenant was with them; upborne on the shoulders of the priests, it went before, and led the march of the advancing hosts. So is it with the Christian—Christ, the Ark of the Covenant, is present in the hour of his departure. At His bidding the dark waters will divide—they will rise up on either side, and hold back every onward-flowing billow; until, at length, the once timid, trembling, fearful believer, stands, with a joyful and triumphant heart, upon Immanuel's blissful shore.

Yes, believer; never has a solitary pilgrim crossed the Jordan unattended by the presence of Jesus. He watches each disciple with intensest interest. He keeps His eye not only on the busy scenes of life, but also on the secret mysteries of death. "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints." Sweet, comforting thought! Do not fear to go down with Him into the dark river—it may prove boisterous for a season—its waters may be cold and chilling at their approach, the waves may threaten to drown you—but fear not, He will be with you—"He will hold you by your right hand, saying unto you, Fear not." Whatever weakness you may be called to pass through, He will be "the strength of your heart;" the Almighty Lord will be with you, and strengthen you, you will see His smile—you will hear His voice—you will feel His hand, and His conscious presence will enfold you as you pass.

We are further told that "everyone had crossed the Jordan on dry ground." None were left behind—none were swept away by the swelling of Jordan. Neither shall any of God's true Israel be lost in death's devouring flood. Whatever fears may have distressed them—whatever doubts may have gathered round them as they neared the brink of the stream—they shall pass over in safety, because their High Priest is with them, and He has promised to conduct them to the heavenly Canaan.

Sick one, dear to Christ! are you afraid of death?—are you inquiring with an anxious heart, "How shall I do in the swelling of Jordan?" It is not strange to be thus alarmed; others have experienced the same painful feeling. It is only through strong faith in the promises of God, and hope in the infinite merits of our Redeemer, that we can look on death, and overcome those terrors which the most perfect of mortals must feel at putting off mortality. You need not blame yourself if you cannot feel joy in leaving this world. Human nature cannot be perfected in this life; it is well if you are resigned to the will of God, without murmuring or repining, when He is pleased to call for you. Death is to the best—a dreadful summons—and human nature turns from the gloomy passage. It is also a mournful thought to be separated from those whom we love most dearly—to leave them amid the sorrows of a sinful world—to leave them struggling with all the difficulties, the hardships, and the dangers that attend a Christian in his journey through the wilderness—and no more to see their faces—no more to hear their voices until they too shall have passed through the river of death.

But surely, Christian, you may be comforted by the thought—that a safe and triumphant passage is insured to the weakest of Christ's followers. "They shall never perish." This is the assurance of "the faithful Promiser." It is not life, and it is not death, which shall separate you from your Savior-God. Because He lives, you shall live also—where He is, there shall you be also. Fear not the swelling tide! All is in the Lord's hands, and He will divide the foaming billows, and take you dry-shod over, and not a heaving, not an undulation of the cold waters shall chill the warmth, or ruffle the calmness of your bosom. Let this be the language of your soul, "Savior-God, my trust is in You. I will cleave to You closer and closer. As the water deepens, I will plant my foot of faith firmer and firmer upon the Rock—until I find myself in glory."

Yes, believer, in glory—away from doubts and fears and anxieties—away from besetting sins—away from pain and weariness and toil—with Him whom your soul loves—with Him who gave His life's blood to redeem you—with Him who led you on your earthly pilgrimage—with Him who brought you to the brink of Jordan's stream, and gave you faint glimpses of the heavenly Canaan—with Him who, when the billows began to heave and swell on either side, and your heart trembled with fear, whispered these words, "Fear not; I am still with you. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the floods, they shall not overflow. I will not leave you nor forsake you."

And then, to this add a kindred reflection—that on the other side of Jordan you will greet again the loved ones who have already reached the land of rest. You shall find all who 'sleep in Jesus' there. You accompanied them to the edge of the river—saw them enter the swelling tide—heard their shout of victory, and then they vanished from your sight, and you saw them no more. But soon, believer, you too shall pass over, and meet them all again. No more partings—no sad farewells—no sudden rendings of affection's ties; for there the icy hand of death itself is dead. "Now thanks be unto God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!"

Heavenly Father, I beseech You, grant that when the time of my departure shall come, I may be found prepared. May I be enabled to feel that, though my heart and my flesh fail, yet that You are the strength of my heart, and my portion forever. O blessed Jesus! who went to prepare a place for Your own people in Your Father's house—You who have strengthened and supported many a dying Christian while amid the swellings of Jordan—support and uphold me. Let not my faith fail—let not my hope waver. Enable me to look forward to the solemn hour of my departure with meek and humble confidence, trusting only in the merits of my gracious Lord and Savior, and relying so much on His promised grace, that the last hours of my life may be those of peace, and hope, and joy. O gracious God, pardon and accept me for the sake of Jesus Christ. Amen.

"My times are in your hand."—Psalm 31:15

Our times are in Your hand;
O God, we wish them there;
Our life, our friends, our souls, we leave
Entirely to Your care.

Our times are in Your hand,
Whatever they may be—
Pleasing or painful, dark or bright,
As best may seem to Thee.

Our times are in Your hand;
Why should we doubt or fear?
A Father's hand will never cause
His child a needless tear.

Our times are in Your hand,
Jesus the Crucified!
The hand our many sins have pierced
Is now our guard and guide.

Our times are in Your hand;
We'll always trust in Thee,
Until we have left this weary land,
And all Your glory see!

*    *    *    *    *

"O death, where is your sting?"—1 Cor. 15:55

Why that sigh, my soul, at parting
From a world so cold as this?
Why those silent tear-drops starting,
Standing at the gates of bliss?
Soon the struggle shall be ended,
Jordan's swellings soon be past,
And these fears—a while suspended—
Lose themselves in heaven at last.

What is death?—to sleep in Jesus,
When this weary strife is o'er;
And to sorrows, sins, diseases,
Never to awaken more!
Safe from every care and anguish,
Leaning on the Savior's bosom—
Where the wicked cease from troubling,
And the weary are at rest!"

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