Tuesday within the Octave of the Feast of the Holy Trinity
Scripture: Joshua 3:1-17 (NKJV)
1 Then Joshua rose early in the morning; and they set out from Acacia Grove and came to the Jordan, he and all the children of Israel, and lodged there before they crossed over. 2 So it was, after three days, that the officers went through the camp; 3 and they commanded the people, saying, “When you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, and the priests, the Levites, bearing it, then you shall set out from your place and go after it. 4 Yet there shall be a space between you and it, about two thousand cubits by measure. Do not come near it, that you may know the way by which you must go, for you have not passed this way before.”
5 And Joshua said to the people, “Sanctify yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you.” 6 Then Joshua spoke to the priests, saying, “Take up the ark of the covenant and cross over before the people.”
So they took up the ark of the covenant and went before the people.
7 And the Lord said to Joshua, “This day I will begin to exalt you in the sight of all Israel, that they may know that, as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. 8 You shall command the priests who bear the ark of the covenant, saying, ‘When you have come to the edge of the water of the Jordan, you shall stand in the Jordan.'”
9 So Joshua said to the children of Israel, “Come here, and hear the words of the Lord your God.” 10 And Joshua said, “By this you shall know that the living God is among you, and that He will without fail drive out from before you the Canaanites and the Hittites and the Hivites and the Perizzites and the Girgashites and the Amorites and the Jebusites: 11 Behold, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth is crossing over before you into the Jordan. 12 Now therefore, take for yourselves twelve men from the tribes of Israel, one man from every tribe. 13 And it shall come to pass, as soon as the soles of the feet of the priests who bear the ark of the Lord, the Lord of all the earth, shall rest in the waters of the Jordan, that the waters of the Jordan shall be cut off, the waters that come down from upstream, and they shall stand as a heap.”
14 So it was, when the people set out from their camp to cross over the Jordan, with the priests bearing the ark of the covenant before the people, 15 and as those who bore the ark came to the Jordan, and the feet of the priests who bore the ark dipped in the edge of the water (for the Jordan overflows all its banks during the whole time of harvest), 16 that the waters which came down from upstream stood still, and rose in a heap very far away at Adam, the city that is beside Zaretan. So the waters that went down into the Sea of the Arabah, the Salt Sea, failed, and were cut off; and the people crossed over opposite Jericho. 17 Then the priests who bore the ark of the covenant of the Lord stood firm on dry ground in the midst of the Jordan; and all Israel crossed over on dry ground, until all the people had crossed completely over the Jordan.
What is the promised land? What is that good land flowing with milk and honey? Obviously for Joshua and the Israelites, as they entered into Canaan, they believed they had arrived at that place. But as we learn from the Epistle to the Hebrews, this event is but a type, a foreshadowing of the real entrance into the true promised land. All the patriarchs were following God to a place they did not know. They were seeking a homeland. But that homeland was always a heavenly one, and it always was obtained not through obedience to the tablets of the law that were in the ark, but through the God of the law. “For the promise that he would be the heir of the world was not to Abraham or to his seed through the law, but through the righteousness of faith” (Rom. 4:13).
It is faith in Christ that gives the promised land. “And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Gal. 3:29). If all this is the case, can one miss that one enters the promised land by passing through the midst of the water? Jordan is an echo, a repetition of the Red Sea. “…all [our fathers] were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea” (1 Cor. 10:2). We should see our baptism in this story of the Israelites crossing the Jordan. Our entrance into Heaven is made possible by the water that flowed from our Savior’s side and flowed over us in baptism. We are the children of promise and heirs of that heavenly promised land.
Lord, remind us of our baptism often so that we may thank you. Amen.