The Red Sea and the Jordan
Exodus 14 and Joshua 3.
Although there is little doubt about how glorious and spectacular the voyage of the Red sea was, it is very interesting to compare it with the crossing of the Jordan. Both were prodigious miracles, yet they were different from one another. The circumstances, and, even more notably, the people that participated in them were different.
God majestically intervened in both cases; nothing could oppose His purpose of taking to His people to the "good land."
Yet if we observe the behaviour of the people in both experiences, the difference is remarkable. Faced with the Red sea, the people were confused, crying out and cursing with great desperation. When the sea opened up, they advanced in a kind of "every man for himself!" It is easy to imagine an enormous chaos in that terrible night. By dawn of the following day, they believed, they feared, and they celebrated with tambourines and dancing. Their emotions were totally changed from desperation to joy in less than 24 hours!
However, the desert would soon expose their miserable spiritual condition. They were spiritual children and that childishness would almost be manifest soon after.
Faced with the Jordan, forty years later, the situation was very different. It was the next generation who faced this obstacle. The previous one had fallen in the desert because of their rebellion. This was a new chapter in the history of Israel. A remarkable chapter.
This time, the new generation of Israelites "lodged" for three days before crossing the river. There were no voices of cursing or fear, but rather only the official's instructions heard throughout the camp: "When ye see the ark of the covenant of Jehovah your God, and the priests the Levites bearing it, then ye shall remove from your place, and go after it" (Joshua 3:3). About forty thousand ready armed for war passed over before Jehovah unto battle.(4:13). The Jordan opened up for them!
When they had passed over, there were no dances or celebrations. There was reverence and solemnity among the people who, through their dealings in the desert, had learned how to march, that is, to advance in order (as a body) "after the ark of their God," unlike the madness of their deceased fathers.
There were great battles still to fight. There was no desire to celebrate, but there was reverence before a God who fulfils His promises. There was discipline, order and obedience. Finally, the Lord obtained a people who pleased His heart; and to them He would give His land.
Have we learnt a lesson from our dealings in "our deserts"? Do we have a serene trust in God's faithfulness and promises? Or do we still curse and complain and look back to the temporary enjoyments that Egypt so amply offered us? God hopes to see maturity in His people!