Easter is sometimes called resurrection Sunday. Belief in a bodily resurrection extends clear back to the time of Abraham. Job, a contemporary of Abraham, had this to say:
“For I know that my Redeemer lives, And He shall stand at last on the earth; And after my skin is destroyed, this I know, That in my flesh I shall see God.” Job 19:25-26
Today, the hope of a bodily resurrection remains the greatest single desire for those who wish to live beyond the grave; to have their slate wiped clean of heartaches, defects and maladies; to once again be able to converse with lost friends and loved ones. How can we be sure there will be a bodily resurrection for every believer in Jesus Christ? The gospel of John records these words of Jesus just before the bodily resurrection of Lazarus:
Jesus said to her [Martha], “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die…” John 11:25
After 40 years of talking about it, the Israelites were finally in the Promised Land. To celebrate, they renewed their covenant with God and prepared for the new life awaiting them. No longer desert nomads, they would become farmers and shepherds in a land flowing with milk and honey.
“The day after the Passover, that very day, they ate some of the produce of the land: unleavened bread and roasted grain.” Joshua 5:11 NIV
Their daily supply of manna suddenly stopped falling to the ground and the river Jordan once again raged at their backs. They couldn’t retreat to the desert. What they needed now was complete trust and obedience in God, their deliverer. Thankfully, Joshua appeared to be connected to Him just like Moses was. This thought seemed to put the people at ease.
Meanwhile, the people living in Jericho looked down with fear at the sight of 2 million Israelites covering the countryside. Would their massive city walls be enough to protect them? They had the living God on their side. Jericho’s army shut themselves tight inside the fortified city and waited. A showdown loomed…
“When Joshua was near the town of Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with sword in hand. Joshua went up to him and demanded, “Are you friend or foe?”” Joshua 5:13 NLT
After the Israelites crossed the Jordan river, Joshua commanded the people to carry 12 large stones up out of the river and pile them up on the shore as a memorial. Then, when someone asks, “What do these 12 stones mean?” tell themhow the Lord cut off the flow of the Jordan and let the Israelites cross over into the promised land.
This event occurred on the 10th day of the first month of the Jewish calendar (Joshua 4:19) marking the end of the Exodus (the date 40 years earlier the people of Israel left Egypt (Exodus 12:3)). The message: God will finish the work He starts.
Followers of Jesus celebrate communion, “Do this in remembrance of me,” to remind us what God has done for us through his Son. The cross of Christ demonstrates God can accomplish the impossible in our lives if we will let Him.
And like the people of Israel we must be ready to tell those who ask us, “what is the reason for the hope that lies within you?” 1 Peter 3:15.
For people of God, the Jordan River carries heavy symbolism. If you are a churchgoer, take a quick peek in your hymnal. You will find songs revealing the Jordan as a symbol of death. Crossing the Jordan and reaching the Promised Land meant entering the gates of heaven.
Some time after Jesus was baptized in the Jordan River, baptism took the meaning of dying to your old self (upon immersion) and being raised to new life found in Christ (being drawn back up out of the water).
In Joshua chapter three we read the people of Israel needed to sanctify themselves before they could cross the Jordan River. For this ancient people it involved devoting themselves completely to God and worshiping him. God was about to perform a miracle and he wanted their undivided attention.
“Joshua told the people, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you.”” Joshua 3:5
Unlike the Red Sea crossing found in the book of Exodus, crossing the Jordan to take possession of the Promised Land required an act of faith on their part–especially by the priests. God wasn’t going to stop the flow of the Jordan River at flood stage until their feet were in the water. The priests, however, didn’t go into the water alone. God was with them in the form of the ark of the covenant, which they carried.
“The priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord stopped in the middle of the Jordan and stood on dry ground, while all Israel passed by until the whole nation had completed the crossing on dry ground.” Joshua 3:17
Some thoughts for those who know God through his son Jesus:
God sometimes performs miracles at the most extreme times, often only after we step out in faith
How many miracles have we missed because we failed to take that first step of faith?
Every person passed by the ark (containing the Word of God) as they traveled through the dry riverbed. Much as every person today must encounter God to pass from death to everlasting life.
God will accomplish the impossible in our lives if we will trust Him.
Joshua is a remarkable, heroic Old Testament Bible character worthy of our admiration. He did what Moses could not do; lead the children of Israel into the Promised Land which God gave to them.
Joshua had a servant’s heart. He was an assistant to Moses since his youth, serving him in Egypt, during the desert wandering and leading men into battle. He never married or had children, dedicating his life to serving God.
“Israel served the Lord throughout the lifetime of Joshua…” Joshua 24:31
The book of Joshua opens with the death of Moses, and concludes with the death of Joshua. In between we find a person worthy of our study. For Christians, there’s a host of parallels between Joshua leading the children of Israel and Jesus leading the body of believers in Him to our promised inheritance. For starters, the name Joshua means Jehovah is salvation, and the equivalent name in Greek is Jesus. Taking the name one step further, we read in Joshua 1:1 that Joshua is the son of Nun. The word “Nun” means eternal or perpetual, no doubt underscoring him as a type of Christ.
“Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7 CSB
If you are like me, there are incidents in my life where worry rules the day. Philippians 4:6 says, “don’t worry about anything.” Count me among those who wonder, how is that possible?
For starters, I need to remind myself that God is sovereign, He reigns over everything. He never gets distracted. There is never an incident in my day when God is not present. Those who believe these things handle anxiety by praying. In my conversation with God, I pour out my heart (help me, please!). While I’m talking to Him, I also must remember to thank Him for all he has done, for listening to me presently, and for what he is about to do. God’s answer to my prayer might not be how I envisioned it, but I need to remember to thank him regardless of the outcome.
It is through prayer and thanksgiving that, “the peace of God, which passes all understanding can be found.” This peace (that I cannot explain) guards my heart (faith in God) and my (worrisome) mind.
If you are like me, there is nothing better than a cup of coffee to start your day. It brings me great joy. Can a person experience the same feeling of joy the rest of the day; even on a bad one?
Anyone who has run in religious circles for any length of time has probably heard this verse:
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” Philippians 4:4
An online dictionary defines rejoice as: feeling or displaying great joy or delight. Feeling great joy is easy when I am happy. But happiness and joy are two different things. Happiness is greatly dependent on my personal circumstances, whereas joy is not. I’ve learned I have the capacity to experience joy no matter what befalls me. Examples include: being content with what I have, or finding peace in the middle of a stormy crisis. The source of my joy comes from the spiritual realm, in the person of Jesus. I know the Lord of the universe is with me throughout my day. I never have to wonder if he will show up. Even though the day may be painful, He is there with me.