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A Close Encounter Through Miraculous Passage Into The Promised Land

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Close Encounters Of The God Kind

A Close Encounter

Through Miraculous Passage Into The Promised Land

Joshua 4:1-11

Nearly one third of the people of this great nation of ours say they believe “somewhat” in UFOs.[1]  Consequently, I felt impressed to use the subject of UFOs as a launching pad for our biblical discussion of “Close Encounters Of The God Kind.”

        In first three sermons in this series, we worked hard to develop a technical definition for a “Close Encounter Of The God Kind.”  That definition is

A “Close Encounter Of The God Kind” is a face-to-face meeting with God that cannot be totally explained, but which—when fully experienced—will bring about a response of genuine worship or celebration, which includes the remembrance of a redemptive past and/or the conviction of a liberated future that changes people forever; causing them to move and grow by over-recording the intuitive tapes of their core belief.

In the fourth message in this series, we explored how intellect sometimes keeps us from wholeheartedly worshipping God.

        We then began to explore twelve “Close Encounters Of The God Kind,” using the definition that we developed.

We have explored God encountering Abraham, Jacob, Moses, the woman at the well, Peter, James, and John, and the two Mary’s on resurrection morning.

(Today we move to our next “Close Encounter Of The God Kind.”)

        Although we have been moving through these encounters in biblical order, i.e. according to their place in the biblical record, today I want to backtrack to the Old Testament.  We have basically covered encounters with God before Pentecost.  Pentecost is such an important encounter with God that before we deal with it we want to backtrack and deal with its Old Testament antitype, i.e. the Old Testament picture of Pentecost.

        The Bible tells us in 1 Corinthians 10 that the Children of Israel were examples for us in the things that happened to them, so that we should not crave evil things.  It is generally accepted among Bible scholars that the Children of Israel are examples to Christians in far more than that.  Their deliverance from Egypt represents salvation.  Their wandering in the wilderness represents a certain portion of the Christian journey.  These things being true, what does the crossing of the Jordan River into the Promised Land represent?


(Well, let’s see if we can answer that question in our covering of this encounter.)

        First, let’s cover a few of the details of the Israelites crossing of the Jordan River.  The passages of Scripture describing this event are rather long, so allow me to narrate the event and read the passage that I want to elaborate on.

        Even though the children of Israel had miraculously crossed the Red Sea and were followed by water underground as they wandered in the wilderness, it was not God’s desire for them to wander in the wilderness for forty (40) years.  When the children of Israel crossed the Red Sea, they were only a two-week’s journey from the Promised Land—but the children of Israel did not have faith that God could deliver the land into their hands.  So, they were sentenced to wander in the wilderness until every adult of that generation died out, except Joshua and Caleb, who were the only two men who expressed faith in God’s ability to give them the Promised Land.

        So, after their 40 years of wandering in the wilderness and the death of Moses, Joshua is now ready to lead the children of Israel into the Promised Land. The Ark of the Covenant, which represented the presence of Jehovah God, was carried by the priests into the Jordan River—at the request of Joshua by direction of God.  When the priests stepped into the Jordan River, something miraculous happened.  The waters of the Jordan congealed and stoop up in a heap and stopped flowing.  Perhaps the water looked like quivering Jell-O?  The priests then stood in the middle of the Jordan, on dry ground, until all of the children of Israel crossed the Jordan.

        Certainly this was “A Close Encounter Of The God Kind.”

·        As the waters congealed at the Red Sea, so they did at the Jordan River.

·        As the children of Israel were miraculously delivered from Egypt and into the wilderness, so they were miraculously delivered from the wilderness into the Promised Land.

·        As they walked on dry ground through the Red Sea, so they walked on dry ground through the Jordan River.

At the crossing of the Red Sea, Moses compiled a song that stated in

Exodus 15:8, “And at the blast of Thy nostrils the waters were piled up, The flowing waters stood up like a heap; The deeps were congealed in the heart of the sea.”

Moses painted a beautiful, anthropomorphic picture of God congealing the waters of the Red Sea by the blast of His nostrils.  Wouldn’t this picture also be appropriate of the action of God at the Jordan River?  It is not specifically stated, but why not?

At any rate, the Children of Israel came face-to-face with God through their miraculous passage into the Promised Land.  They saw God face-to-face in His miraculous power!


(Now what was their genuine response of worship?)

        Well, this is what I want to center on.  Notice with me please Joshua 4:1-11.

        This encounter is a somewhat different than that ones that we have been exploring.  In those encounters, we have been exploring naturally occurring responses to the encounters.  In this encounter the worship response is orchestrated and commanded by God.

(What are we to make of this?)

        I believe that this encounter with God was so important that God did not leave the response totally up to the Israelites.  He prescribed the worship response that He wanted from the Israelites, for their own benefit, for the teaching that would benefit future generations, and for His own glory.

        The response had to do with taking twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan, which represented the twelve tribes of Israel, and setting them up as a memorial or worship marker to remind them, and their children, forever, of the miracle that God performed at the Jordan River.

        The word “memorial” is also used in God’s deliverance of His people from Egypt.  In that marvelous deliverance, it was not stones but the day that was to be the memorial.  God said to the Israelites in

Exodus 12:14, “Now this day will be a memorial to you, and you shall celebrate it as a feast to the Lord; throughout your generations you are to celebrate it as a permanent ordinance.”

Even as God prescribed and commanded the worship at the Red Sea, so He prescribes and commands the worship at the Jordan River!!!

(But that’s not all!)

        They also took twelve stones from the Promised Land and placed them in the middle of the Jordan River.  When the Jordan River returned to its riverbed, these stones were covered forever in the Jordan River.  We shall seek to understand this in a few moments.

(Let’s begin to explore the meaning of this stone memorial.)

        This worship memorial would bring about the remembrance of the redemptive past and a conviction of a liberated future.  The memorial was to remind them forever about what God had done.  No doubt, this memorial also gave them a conviction of a liberated future.  They were convicted or convinced that that God who had miraculously brought them across the Jordan River would go before them in battle, as they fought enemies to recapture lost territory.


        This response of worship over-recorded the intuitive tapes of their core belief.  Forty years earlier they doubted that anyone, even God, could help them overcome their impressive enemies in the Promised Land, but now they were ready to do battle with their enemies under the banner and through the power of Jehovah-Nissi, whose compound name means “The Lord our banner.”  God is a banner of protection to His people!

(So, what does this say to us?)

I believe, along with others, that the crossing of the Jordan River represents what happened at Pentecost, in Acts 2.  So, I want to talk about a few of the large features and typologies of the crossing of the Jordan River.

(Before I begin this study, I want you to hear me closely.)

I am not talking about anything Pentecostal, i.e. anything have to do with spiritual manifestations—tongues in particular.  I am talking about the kingdom perspectives of Pentecost, as it relates to the crossing of the Jordan River.

        I want to talk about some of the large features of what happened at Acts 2.

(So, with that disclaimer, let me get started.)

Acts 2 is “the dawning of the new age that was signaled by Pentecost.”[2]  It is here that Peter’s quotation of Joel’s prophecy becomes so significant.[3]

Acts 2:16-17, “But this is what was spoken of through the prophet Joel:  ‘And it shall be in the last days,’ God says, ‘That I will pour forth of My Spirit upon all MANKIND; And your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, And your young men shall see visions, And your old men shall dream dreams.’”

Joel talked about a new age that he called “the last days.”  Peter identified Joel’s “last days” with what had just happened at Pentecost.  So, what happened in Acts 2 was the dawning of a whole new age.  This new age is the dawning of the kingdom that Jesus taught and prophesied about.  Some are confused about this because they don’t understand the now and not yet manifestation of the kingdom of God.  The kingdom of God has a present manifestation and a future manifestation.  The kingdom of God has already begun, but it will not be consummated until the future.  Jesus, the Lamb of God, was a present manifestation of the kingdom, but Jesus, the King of kings, Lord of lords, and Prince of princes will be a final manifestation of the kingdom.


        “According to all four Gospels, John the Baptist predicted that Jesus the Messiah would usher in this new age:  He would baptize his people in the Holy Spirit.”[4]  I am not discussing what this baptism is or how it is shown, but what it initiated.  So, I am merely pointing out that what happened on the Great Day of Pentecost was the dawning of a new era or age in the sovereign workings of God.

(Now let’s look at several typologies.)

·        Jordan was the line of demarcation between wilderness wandering and entrance into the Promised Land.

·        Acts 2 is the line of demarcation between wilderness wandering and entrance into the spiritual Promised Land of abundant Christian living.

God wants to encounter us for the purpose of miraculously providing a way for us into the Promised Land of abundant Christian living!

¨      God does not want us wandering through wilderness of Christianity.

¨      God does not want us living beneath our privilege as sons and daughters of the most high God.

¨      God does not want us to remain in a barren, wandering, thirsty experience of Christianity.

That is never what God had in mind for us.

¨      God had in mind, from the beginning, a short journey through the wilderness and into the Promised Land.

¨      God had in mind a life that is free, joyous, Spirit-filled, and victorious.

¨      God wants to encounter each one of us and miraculously open a way for us into abundant Christian living.

Somebody praise God!

He didn’t bring us this far to leave us!

He didn’t teach us to swim to let us drown.

He didn’t build a home in us to move away.

He didn’t lift us up to let us down!

        This is good news.  Just as God was set on miraculously placing the children of Israel in the Promised Land, God is set on miraculously giving us the Promised Land of abundant Christian living!

    Now keep this in mind, “You can’t live the abundant Christian life without a miraculous encounter with God that miraculously provides entrance into this kind of life!”  You can’t work up on this, study up on this, or serve up on this, although all of these are important.


(Let’s move on to the next major typology.)

·        Jordan was the line of demarcation that denoted new possibilities of victory over their enemies and the regaining of lost territory.

·        Acts 2 is the line of demarcation that denoted new possibilities of victory over God’s enemies and the regaining of lost territory, which has to do with a new advent and experience of the Holy Spirit.

God encountered people at Pentecost, so that there might be a whole new body of people, “one new man” made up of both Jews and Gentiles, who would experience new possibilities of victory over the devil and the regaining of territory, which had to do with a new advent and experience of the Holy Spirit.

(This is certainly outstanding, but let’s move on to the typology that God has laid upon my heart to major on this morning.)

·        Jordan was the line of demarcation that denoted a new identity, i.e. in the wilderness versus in the Promised Land.

·        Acts 2 is the line of demarcation that clearly denoted a new identity in Jesus Christ.

Identity is that which you are identical to; that which you are identical to in character—that which defines you, i.e. your personality, soul, or heart!

(In the commanded worship response to the miraculous passage through the Jordan River, there is something that God wants to teach us.)

        Joshua had a representative from each of the twelve tribes of Israel to take a stone from the center of the Jordan River and make a memorial altar and worship marker out of them in the land.  In addition, Joshua took twelve stones from the land and set them up as a marker in the center of the Jordan River.  This is fascinating.

        The Bible explicitly states that the stones set up in the Promised Land were to be a remembrance of their past redemption.  They were to remind the Israelites of what happened at the Jordan River.  The remembrance of this redemption was in itself worship.  Remembering the miraculous deliverances of God is one form of worship.  That is the reason for worship markers—to remember God’s redemption.  That is the reason praise and worship services—to remember God’s redemption.  That is the reason for anniversaries—to remember God’s redemption for another year.  Our 25th is coming up and were going to have a big celebration!

The Bible also explicitly states that God worked this miracle to give them conviction of a liberated future.  This is recorded in

Joshua 3:10, “And Joshua said, ‘By this you shall know that the living God is among you, and that He will assuredly dispossess from before you the Canaanite, the Hittite, the Hivite, the Perizzite, the Girgashite, the Amorite, and the Jebusite.”


God, in the future, was going to defeat their enemies.  So, this worship marker encompasses both of responses of worship that we have developed in our definition, i.e. the remembrance of a redemptive past and/or the conviction of a liberated future that changes people forever.  This had to change the Children of Israel forever.  The intuitive tapes of their core beliefs were over-recorded.  This was demonstrated in their first battle at Jericho.

(But I want to go beyond this very important truth.)

        In these two piles of stones, i.e. two altars of stones, we see two identities.  The stones set up in the Promised Land represent a new identity:  resurrected with Christ.  Every time the children of Israel looked at the altar they would be reminded of the fact that they had been typically baptized and risen from the Jordan River.

        They would also be aware of another identity.  Every time they saw that altar of stones in the land, they would think about the twelve stones that were submerged in the Jordan River.  This was also their identity.  They were buried in the Jordan River.

So, there is a double identity here.  They were buried in the Jordan River and resurrected in the Promised Land.

This is not only a picture of the identity of the Israelites, but it is also a picture of the identity of all of those cross the rivers of living water that were poured out at Pentecost.  This is all a picture of the coming status of believers after Pentecost.  What is that double identity?  Buried with Christ and resurrected with Christ.  We received this identity through the finished work of Jesus Christ, but we experience this identity through the ministry of the Holy Spirit.  At the Red Sea there is a baptism of salvation, but at the Jordan River there is a baptism into the church era and a new relationship and experience with the Holy Spirit.  Somebody shout out loud, “I’m buried with Christ and risen with Christ!”  It is no longer “I” who live, but Christ lives within me!

(But that’s not all!)

        God has given us this new identity in Christ, so that we might walk in the newness of life!  There is a new quality of life of life that He wants us to experience.  Yet, how many of us are really experiencing a newness of life, because of that new identity?  The identity of so many Christians today is tied up with the things of this world.

·        What kind of job we have;

·        What we are able to achieve on our jobs.

·        How much money we make or have;

·        What kind of clothes we wear;

·        The size of the diamonds on our fingers;

·        What kind of house we live in;

·        What kind of car we drive;

·        The stuff we are able to accumulate;

·        What kind of vacations we are able to take;

·        The kind of restaurants we are able to eat in;

·        What kind of friends we have;

·        What people think about us;

·        What kind of education we have;

·        The church we attend;

·        The church positions we hold;

·        The biblical knowledge we have accumulated;

·        The correctness of our doctrine.

·        The level of our spirituality;

·        What ethnic group we belong to;

·        What family we belong to;

·        Who our husband, wife, boyfriend, or girlfriend is;

·        Etc., etc., etc.

But God has given us a new identity in Jesus Christ:  buried with Him and resurrected with Him—old things have passed away and behold all things have become new.

        It is not my purpose, nor do I have time to explain all of this now, but we do know that this new identity has something to do with the miraculous power of the Holy Spirit.  You can’t get this new identity from any other source!

In addition, I believe there are certain encounters with God that are so important that God does not leave the response totally up to us.  This is one of them.  As a result of Pentecost, God wants every believer to set up a memorial of remembrance in our lives with respect to the new age of the kingdom and our new relationship with the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit now indwells every believer as a deposit from Jesus Christ.  This deposit guarantees our ultimate redemption, and God wants us to memorialize this new relationship.  He wants us to remember where we have come from, so that we might realize where we are.  He wants to work genuine worship in our lives, i.e. the remembrance of a redemptive past that will facilitate the conviction of a liberated future that will change us forever.

(Why?)

        Because, God wants us to accept a God-sized assignment.  The Israelites assignment was to conquer and possess the Promised Land, for the glory of God.  He wanted them to take back territory that had been lost to their enemies, because of sin!

        God wants us to accept the God-sized assignment of conquering and possessing the Promised Land of abundant Christian living, for the glory of God.  He wants us to take back territory that has been lost to Satan and his demons!  God wants to glorify His name in victory over His enemy!

        Now, wherever there is good news there is bad news.  The bad news is that there were enemies and fighting in the Promised Land.  God miraculously delivered them into the Promised Land, but they would have to fight to possess and live in it.


        This is bad news for modern people.  At Pentecost, God miraculously delivered the Promised Land of abundant Christian living into our hands, but we will have to fight the devil, through the power of the Holy Spirit, to possess this land and live in it.

        Nevertheless, it’s time to begin to claim our inheritance and our new identity in Jesus Christ.

·        We are the salt of the earth according to Matthew 5:13.

·        We are the light of the world according to Matthew 5:14.

·        We are saints of God according to Romans 1:17.

·        We are joint heirs with Christ according to Romans 8:17.

·        We are more than conquerors according to Romans 8:37.

·        We are God’s workmanship according to Ephesians 2:10.

·        We are God’s chosen ones according to Colossians 3:12.

·        We are the temple of the Holy Spirit according to 1 Corinthians 6:19.

·        We are a new creation according to 2 Corinthians 5:17.

·        We are ambassadors for Christ according to 2 Corinthians 5:20.

·        We are the beloved of God according to 1 Thessalonians 1:4.

·        We are priests unto God according to Revelation 1:6.

And our identity entails much, much more in Jesus Christ.

Are you ready to begin to claim and celebrate your new identity in Christ!  I am!

(Now is the Day of Salvation.  Come to Jesus, Now!)

Invitation

Call to Discipleship


----

[1] Anne R. Carey and Gary Visgaitis, “USA Snapshots,” 1998 USA Today, April 20th, (Source of statistics:  “Yankelovich Monitor Minute.”)

[2] D. A. Carson, Showing The Spirit, Baker Books, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1987, p. 154.

[3] D. A. Carson, Showing The Spirit, Baker Books, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1987, p. 154.

[4] D. A. Carson, Showing The Spirit, Baker Books, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1987, p. 154.

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