Other rivers have more beauty. Many are longer. Most are cleaner. But none has garnered as much affection as the Jordan River.
It wasn’t the beauty of the Jordan River that inspired centuries of psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to include it in their verses.
Its significance began as a simple geographic barrier, which—practically speaking—represented a border (Joshua 22:18-25). In fact, the serpentine river still represents a border between Israel and the nation of Jordan.
In Scripture, however, the river’s presence on Israel’s eastern edge stood as an enduring metaphor of transitions.
Significant transitions, in fact.
My favorite New Years Eve happened before the infamous Y2K. I pulled a practical joke that made the people in my grandmother’s house believe their fears about the future were true.
(Picture: By Flickr user: 29cm CC-BY-SA-2.0, via Wikimedia Commons)
My relatives had gathered to watch the televised countdown at New York City’s Times Square. Midnight hit America first on the east coast, so all eyes waited to see what would happen at midnight.
- Would all power go dark in America?
- Would computers suddenly stop working?
- Should we stockpile more food?
While no one was looking, I snuck outside and found the breaker box to my grandmother’s house.
From a distance, the place seems as if it’s hiding. I don’t blame it for trying. After all, it remains one of the three cities in Galilee that Jesus rebuked for failing to respond to His message and miracles.
The basalt ruins of Chorazin appear little more than a pile of rocks among so many thousands of others. Clumps of grass and volcanic rock offer a variegated green and gray to the hillside above the Sea of Galilee.
Unless you look carefully, you may not even see the city.
But Jesus saw it. So should we.
Most travelers to Jerusalem never think to come to Nebi Samwil. The minaret towering above the hill looks like a misplaced lighthouse searching for the sea. On a clear day, a visitor can spy the Mediterranean to the west.
Very few come here today. And yet, there were few more important places in David’s and Solomon’s time—if any.
In fact, it signified Solomon’s most defining moment.
What’s more, it represents the potential for ours as well.
Think about the worst mistake you’ve made. If you’re like me, it probably ranks as the worst because of the fallout it caused. After all, some wrong things we did seem to have had little effect. But the ones that backfired on us we view as the big ones.
(Photo: by Dammnap, via Wikimedia Commons)
The trouble is, we never know which compromises will end up being the big ones.
Reuben, the oldest son of Jacob, blew it big-time. From his example, we can learn to make two daily decisions that can change the past.
More specifically, we can change the past that will be.
The ancient world had a bully system that worked in straightforward terms. A nation would conquer a region and demand tribute—annual payment of money and goods. If you didn’t pay tribute, they’d come and kill you. Pretty simple system.
King Hezekiah refused to pay tribute to the bully. So the Assyrians invaded Judah.
Archaeology has unearthed treasures that reveal Hezekiah’s faith in God.
Lakes, Loaves, and Leaders —
Mark 6:30-56 —
What impossible task has God given you right now? You must completely rely on Him. That’s not just for plaques on walls . . . it is to be etched in your heart and in mine. We must continually come to Jesus with our inadequacies and expect Him to do the miracle work.
(c) 2008 Wayne Stiles