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The perverseness of man is seen more plainly in Israel after they were in the land of Canaan than while going through the wilderness. This did not appear at first, where an instance of what the energy of faith is in one man can do. All the days of Joshua, and indeed all the days of the elders that outlived Joshua, the people served the Lord; but when that generation had passed away, another arose which knew not the Lord nor His works, and they did evil (Judges 2:7).
Israel’s entrance in Canaan seemed very promising, and they would have become possessed of it all if disobedience had not stopped the tide of blessing flowing in upon them. God, in His grace, showed what they might count upon if they would be obedient. The passage over the Jordan recalled to mind that the same God who led them through the waters to escape from Egypt was now leading them where the river had rolled into the promised land of Canaan.
The Red Sea and the Jordan River typify important truth. In both, the waters are the symbol of death, resurrection and ascension of and with the Lord Jesus. The first is deliverance from the bondage of Satan, from the power of darkness into the kingdom of His dear Son (Col 1:13)—a totally new position. It is the introduction of the believer into the world as a wilderness, where no water is, save that which flows from the risen Lord Jesus as the smitten Rock; where, if He be not seen, there will be constant murmuring for water.
The Jordan points to a further truth, that is, that the believer has done with all things here below as objects of desire before his soul. It is the practical realizing of the new standing that he has died with Christ, and is risen again with Him. The Red Sea brings us to His resurrection and ascension—the result of His work on the Cross for us. The Jordan is the Holy Spirit making good in our souls, and producing practical growth suited to the place in which the death, resurrection and ascension of the Lord Jesus has positioned us. So the Red Sea introduces us to a wilderness, and Jordan, into the enjoyment of the heavenly places, its privileges and also its conflicts. The Jordan is, for faith, the realizing of the full results of the Red Sea passage.
The trial of Israel is no longer a wilderness trial. There they had previously failed; how will they behave in the land of promise? It is the same story, even then growing old in the history of man. There is no condition, however favorable, where man (most of Israel and even most of mankind – Mat 7:13, 14—NC) responds to the goodness of God. There is no confidence in God, however lavishly His benefits are given. The people have not yet learned what they are in themselves, and so they have confidence in themselves—nay, they even boast of their obedience to Moses. “All that thou commandest us we will do, and whithersoever thou sendest us, we will go. According as we hearkened unto Moses in all things, so will we hearken unto thee” (Josh 1:16, 17).
Like all self-righteous men, unconscious of fault, they pronounce readily sentences of death upon the disobedient. Yet their disobedience had been so great, that Moses said, “Ye have been rebellious against Jehovah from the day that I knew you” (Deu 9:24). Thus it is that the Word of God gives in a few brief touches the portrait of man, and without comment leaves it to tell its own sad tale.
To have no confidence in the flesh is the hardest and, perhaps the last thing learned by any saint of God, and in most how many the lesson, how severe the discipline—yea, how persevering the patience of the Father, until the necessary process is completed, and sentence of death pronounced by the believer upon his old man (flesh, i.e. sinful nature—NC)! To this point each growing one must be brought. The flesh shall not boast in the Father’s presence: no glorying there but in the Cross of the Lord Jesus Christ.
- R Beacon