THE SWELLING OF JORDAN
"How will you do in the swelling of Jordan?"
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
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
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!"