Today we turn our thoughts towards those who are passing through to their heavenly reward. We could use the old Negro spirituals as a help in picturing that passage. Thos slaves, in turn, took their inspiration from the passage of the Israelites into the Promised Land. Let’s look at that.
After the death of Moses and forty years of their wandering, the faithful remnant of tens of thousands of Israelites arrived opposite the Promised Land. It was springtime, and the Jordan was wide an deep, thanks to melting snows from Lebanon. Joshua ordered the people to line up four abreast in a column stretching back a mile from the flooded Jordan.
Then Joshua ordered eight young men to lift the Ark of the Covenant by its fixed handles, and to walk into the river. In Exodus 25 God had told Moses that the people could find him above the Ark between the Seraphim. So, in following the Ark into the river, the people felt they were following God.
Chapter Three of the Book of Joshua relates how as soon as the men carrying the Ark ever the Jordan the waters backed up, allowing the Ark, then the column of the people to pass down into the river bed. When the Ark reached the bottom, it halted, allowing the great column of the people to pass by it, and up into the Promised Land.
When we are midway between life and the Promised Land we will move past, not the Ark, but Jesus on the cross opening the way for us.
“Deep River, my home is over Jordan. Oh, deep river, I want to pass over into campground.”