And Joshua rose up early in the morning. And they pulled up stakes from Shittim and came to the Jordan, he and all the sons of Israel. And they stayed there before they crossed over. And it happened, at the end of three days, the officers passed into the midst of the camp.
And they commanded the people, saying, “When you see the ark of the covenant of Jehovah your God, and the priests, and the Levites bearing it, then you shall pull up stakes from your place and shall go after it. Only, keep a distance between you and it, about two thousand cubits by measure. You shall not come near it, so that you may know the way in which you are to go. For you have not crossed over this way yesterday and the day before.”
And Joshua said to the people, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow Jehovah will do wonders among you.”
The disciples had been with Jesus and seen many works of power through His hand, they had received from Him the teaching of the mystery of the kingdom, and they had just been commanded to “go therefore into all the world;” but they had need of a vital thing if they would succeed: a new Baptism, which only the Son of God having all things under His feet could baptize them with – and this they could not invoke by the flesh, but were to set themselves apart in humility for it. And just as the disciples had need to wait in Jerusalem, here the children of Israel “stayed there (by the Jordan) before they crossed over.” They needed to wait upon God, who orders everything according to HIS wisdom. To wait upon the Lord is to settle for no other method than HIS anointing.
“The one not entering through the door into the sheepfold, but going up by another way, that one is a thief and a plunderer.” And so we see in our own day the spiritual falsehood of those who lead many astray under the anointing of a different spirit: sowing to the earthly, fleshly, and demonic to the reaping of much destruction. These are the ones who “savor not the things that are of God, but rather those that are of men.” Although Peter sought for Jesus a more carnally glorious way than through death, Jesus had a death to die and suffering to endure in order to bring many sons to glory. And we also, as the ones becoming those sons, must take care that we are always passing over in Him through death which is the way of true deliverance, the narrow way of the cross. For those who enter the banquet not wearing the clean garments found only at the cross will be thrown from the King’s banquet into outer darkness; and those who have soiled their garments or traded them back for the old garments of earthly mixture (which in God’s eye is nakedness), are counted unworthy to walk with He who is able to blot their names out of the book of life.
“But when the King came in to look at the guests, He saw there a man who had no wedding garment. And He said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. Then the King said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ For many are called, but few are chosen.”
“Then remember how you received and heard, and keep, and repent. If, then, you do not watch, I will come upon you like a thief and you will not at all know what hour I come upon you. You also have a few names in Sardis which did not defile their robes, and they shall walk with Me in white because they are worthy. The one overcoming, THIS one shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not at all blot his name out of the Book of Life; and I will acknowledge his name before My Father, and before His angels.”
“Behold, I am coming as a thief. Blessed is the one watching and KEEPING his garments, that he does not walk naked, and they may see his shame.”
Now this new generation of Israelites had come to edge of the wilderness, having passed beyond where their fathers had fallen; yet they still required their own experience of crossing over, having need of entering into His rest. It is not enough that they should look upon and admire the promise from far away. The works of inheriting the kingdom begin upon entering into His rest; where we may find rest from our labors and walk from faith to faith in the labors of the Holy Spirit. It is by HIS power that our life can become a revelation of God’s righteousness, a life after His own design, in which “the righteous demand of the Law might be fulfilled in us, those walking not according to flesh, but according to Spirit.” (Rom 8:4) The baptism of repentance is meant to be one of the death of the old man so that we might be raised to the newness of this true life in the Spirit!
Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him.
John would have prevented Him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?”
But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us TO FULFILL ALL RIGHTEOUSNESS.” Then he consented. And when Jesus was baptized, immediately He went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on Him; and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”
“But the ones waiting for Jehovah shall renew power; they shall go up with wings as the eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not be faint!” (Isa 40:31) The wind upon which the sons of God will mount as eagles is that of the Holy Spirit, who “breathes where He desires, and you hear His voice; but you do not know from where He comes, and where He goes; so is everyone having been generated from the Spirit.” (Jn 3:8)… “Because everything having been generated of God overcomes the world” (1 Jn 5:4)… So let us also, having seen and heard the pattern of things in His teaching, likewise come before the river Jordan; consecrating ourselves for usefulness in the hands of He who desires to lead His people in the true form of that life in the Spirit in which Jesus Himself walked, and so be given the power to ever more become the sons of God.
“Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow Jehovah will do wonders among you.”
To consecrate something is to separate or set it apart for a specific use, to surrender all of its possible functions to one purpose or to the disposal of one master. A separation must be made from the former things for the children to move into the coming things. The degree to which we do not cast aside every weight and the entanglements of sin is the degree to which we find the Spirit of God unable to lead us further into the land. The dove which Noah sent from the ark would not place its clean feet for very long on the decaying rafts of filth that the ravens were happy to feed upon; but it always returned to the same dry abode until it could find another. How appropriate I find it therefore, that the children will cross over Jordan into His rest upon dry ground – this is the way of the Spirit! He will remain in power upon those who give themselves over to His purposes according to the call of His voice.
The time just before this crossing was surely a time for the testing of the people’s trust, just as it was for those who crossed the Red Sea in dismay, and afterwards fell in the disobedience of unbelief still coveting this present world, the riches of Egypt. But these children were now to cross into the land of rest having hope beforehand, trusting in the Faithful One who was very present to lead them. Those who throw themselves obediently upon His gracious provision by faith are those who will be found walking by the Spirit; since they know that they desperately need His hand to move should anything He requires of them ever be truly accomplished. And if we have been made a kingdom of priests, even the very temple of the living God (and we have), then we each also carry with us the ark of the covenant – the implanted Word within it, and the seat of His glory upon it: so that His glory in us might become manifest through us as we learn to walk after the Spirit of Christ, whose blood was sprinkled upon it to consecrate this dwelling place of God (Lev 16:14-15). For the implanted Word is a Seed which requires the constant input of the living waters of the Holy Spirit so that it might grow into a great tree. By this the presence of the Lord in His people’s midst will be made known.
And Joshua spoke to the priests, saying, “Take up the ark of the covenant and go before the people.” And they took up the ark of the covenant and went before the people. And Jehovah said to Joshua, “This day I will begin to make you great in the eyes of all Israel, so that they shall know that as I was with Moses, so I am with you.”