How the Jordan River Reflects Your Spiritual Life

The grace of God we stepped into at the beginning will also lead us home.

Have you noticed how often hymn writers use the Jordan River as a metaphor for transitions in the spiritual life? That may be because the Bible does the same.

How the Jordan River Reflects Your Spiritual Life

(Photo: Jordan River north of Sea of Galilee. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

The Jordan River usually flowed a hundred feet wide at the place across from Jericho where Israel crossed over into Canaan after the Exodus (Joshua 3:14–4:23). But because the Israelites crossed at flood stage, the river surged much wider and deeper.

  • When the priests carrying the Ark of the Covenant stepped into the Jordan, the water ceased its flow 16 miles upstream.
  • This left a stretch of dry land some 20 miles wide for the nation to cross en masse, perhaps several thousand abreast.

Joshua compared the miracle of the parting of the Jordan River with the miraculous parting of the Red Sea (Joshua 4:23). He linked the power of God that allowed them to enter Canaan with the power that freed them from Egypt.

This was a critical comparison. Why? The same grace that redeemed them from bondage led them home.

This also reflects our own spiritual lives.

The Same Grace in Every Place

The author of the Book of Hebrews compares entering Canaan with entering the rest God provides those who believe in Jesus Christ apart from works (Hebrews 4:1-10).

I find it fascinating that our deliverance as Christians from the bondage of sin and our entrance into God’s rest both stem from the same act of grace at the cross.

It’s the same grace in both places.

The winding Jordan River north of Sea of Galilee

(Photo: The winding Jordan River north of Sea of Galilee. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

It’s the same from one end of our salvation to the other—from our election to our justification, through our daily sanctification to our eventual glorification.

God’s grace has provided the passage our sinful souls could never earn.

The Jordan River—A Crossover from Here to There

Thumb through any hymnal, and you may be surprised how often writers use crossing the Jordan River as a metaphor for entering heaven. Here’s one of my favorites:

In the cross, in the cross, be my glory ever, till my ransomed soul shall find rest beyond the river. —Fanny Crosby

What Joshua made sure to point out to Israel we should also remember.

The grace that saved us is the same grace that leads us home.

Question: What’s your favorite hymn that includes the Jordan River? To leave a comment, just click here.


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  • Rev. Bill Reeves

    As a kid I dreamed of building a raft and floating it down the Deplanes to the Illinois to the Great Mississippi. A friend and I actually built the raft but it was too heavy to carry six blocks to the connecting creek. So we built a fort in stead. No Tom and Huck. When I saw the Jordan River it did not quite compare. The river look bigger in the hymnals. Of course no river compares to the great divide of death. Praise Jesus He gets us to the other side.

    • Great story, Bill. Love it. Thanks for sharing.

  • Randy

    I Won’t Have to Cross Jordan
    Alone

    When I come to the river at the ending
    of day
    When the last winds of sorrow have blown
    There’ll be somebody waiting to show me the way
    I won’t have to cross Jordan alone

    I won’t have to cross Jordan alone
    Jesus died all my sins to atone
    In the darkness I see
    He’ll be waiting for me
    I won’t have to cross Jordan alone

    Often times I’m weary and troubled and
    sad
    When it seems that my friends have all flown
    There is one thought that cheers me and makes my heart glad
    I won’t have to cross Jordan alone

    Though the billows of trouble and sorrow
    may sweep
    Christ the Saviour will care for his own
    Till the end of my journey my soul he will keep
    And I won’t have to cross Jordan alone

    I won’t have to cross Jordan alone
    Jesus died all my sins to atone
    In the darkness I see
    He’ll be waiting for me
    I won’t have to cross Jordan alone

    • I love that, Randy. Thanks so much for sharing these lyrics.