Our Death and Resurrection with Christ.
Lord Jesus! are we one with Thee?
O height! O depth of love!
And crucified and dead with Thee,
Now one in heaven above.
The Red Sea and Jordan have the same general thought, the one at the beginning of the wilderness and the other at the end.1 The Red Sea delivered Israel from Egypt and the power of Pharaoh; but Jordan brought them into the land of Canaan. The crossing of the Jordan speaks of the death and resurrection of Christ in which we have died with Him and are risen with Him in New Creation2 and linked with Him by the Holy Ghost.
- Crossing the Jordan (Joshua 3)
- Our Memorial: The Twelve Stones at Gilgal (Joshua 4:1-8)
- God’s Memorial: Twelve Stones in the Midst of Jordan (Joshua 4:9-11)
- The New Creation
- Conclusion – Where the Jordan Puts Us
Not physical death. The Jordan does not refer to the believer’s physical death and going to heaven; because there is no warfare in heaven. But there is warfare in the heavenly places, which is the sphere the Jordan opens into.
The boundary of the land. The Jordan was the boundary of the land, and must be crossed to enter the land of promise. Crossing the Jordan is not something we are commanded to do, because God has brought us across already, we just need to recognize it and lay hold of it by faith. Chronologically, we crossed the Jordan the same time we crossed the Red Sea… when we believed the gospel. However, often a believer apprehends the truth of the Jordan at a later date. The Red Sea is different in this sense, it was an actual event in our life.
The truth of the Jordan is; (1) as a man I am dead, that is, I have passed out of the condition being a man on the earth;3 and (2) I am risen with Christ in New Creation, where now not just my hope is in heaven, but I am there, sitting down in the heavenlies in Christ. Coming out of the Red Sea I am walking (a stranger and pilgrim); coming out of the Jordan I am sitting (down in heavenly places). I am leaving Egypt in the Red Sea, I am entering Canaan in the Jordan.
Christ made sin. Moses’ rod (righteous judgment) was used in the crossing of the Red Sea, but there is no rod at the Jordan, simply the ark going down before us into the river. That is because this aspect of the work of Christ is not so much bearing our sins where Jehovah lifted up His rod; but being made sin for us, going down into the place where we were. It is not as in Romans to deliver us from Satan, but to bring us into the heavenlies to accomplish the purposes of God.
The Jordan pictures the opposite of what happened in Eden. In the garden, Adam was driven out of earthly Paradise because in him, sin was complete. Now we have been brought into the heavenly Paradise by Christ, the Second Adam, because righteousness is complete in Him. But in order that we might be made the expression of what God is (righteousness) Christ had to be made the expression of what we are (sin). This is the meaning of 2 Corinthians 5:21.
Crossing the Jordan (Joshua 3)
The 2000 Cubits
(vv.1-6) There was to be a space of 2000 cubits (ten football fields) between the people and the Ark. This space marks a difference between what the ark passed though, and what the people passed through. The ark speaks of Christ, and the people are a picture of the believer. The crossing of the Jordan is our death with Christ, but while we do not suffer, Christ suffered immeasurably.
Through death into life everlasting
He passed, and we follow Him there…
Christ must go first, and we must keep a respectful distance. Peter failed in this. He thought he could follow the Lord directly; but he was wrong, see John 13:36. Peter did not understand the 2000 cubits. He never could have dreamed that the very sound of Jordan in the distance would frighten him so badly that “he began to curse and to swear, saying, I know not the man.” Yet Peter would follow; the Lord said “Thou canst not follow me now: but thou shalt follow me afterwards.” The Lord would have to go first, meeting death in its darkest form, so that for us, Paul can say “O death, where is thy sting?”
What is Death? How have we been delivered from it?
Death speaks of separation. Separation of the soul from the body, separation of the soul from his life on the earth, and – in its darkest form – separation of the soul from God, called “the second death”.
Why do men fear death? Maybe the pain of death is partly the reason, because we don’t know what it is like. But truly, death is terror to man for two reasons, both of which are annulled for the believer in the Jordan.
|Aspect of Death that Men Fear||How that Aspect is Annulled for the Believer|
|After death the judgment (separation from God)||The judgment is past in the sufferings of Christ, because He was forsaken of God.|
|Death will mean going out of existence, the loss of our life, our identity, relationships, etc.||
We have passed out of the old creation, into the new. We have died with Christ, all that we were in Adam has passed out of existence with all the relationships, etc. Everything we have now is on the other side of death.
If the Lord doesn’t come first we will have to go through the article of physical death… but the sting is gone. Death is swallowed up in victory.
Proof of God’s Intention to Bless
(vv.7-8) As the Lord was with Moses (at the Red Sea, etc.) so he would be with Joshua (at the Jordan, etc.). Joshua is a type of the risen Christ in the power of the Holy Ghost. The priests carrying the ark into the Jordan typify Christ going down into death for us, and breaking its power.
(vv.9-11) The ark going into the Jordan told the people that (1) the living God was among them, and (2) the victory over the Jordan was proof that the inhabitants would be driven out for the enjoyment of their inheritance. Why? Because “He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things” (Eph. 4:9-12). Christ, in rising from the dead, came up as a victorious conqueror who, returning home, gives gifts as a token of His victory. The resurrection of Christ was a token of His intention to bless us with “all spiritual blessings in heavenly places”. We owe everything to the death and resurrection of Christ.
On Dry Ground
(vv.11-13) When the souls of the priests feet touched the water, the Jordan would be cut off, they would stand upon a heap… a picture of the sufferings of Christ.
(vv.14-17) The River Jordan was at its worst when Christ went down into it. “For Jordan overfloweth all its banks all the time of harvest.” The waters “which came down from above stood and rose up upon an heap very far from the city Adam.” This would speak of the end of Adam, and the putting off of our Old Man in the sight of God.
The end of Adam. God will have Adam out of His sight forever. For those who believe the gospel, our link with Adam is broken at the Jordan. However, many reject the gospel. Yet this purpose will be completed after the Great White Throne, when those who refuse God’s offer of salvation are eternally separated from God.
Sad and woeful ending, to that stream descending
From the loins of Adam, foul, polluting where it goes,
Brawling, turbid river, Widening, deep’ning ever,
Till into the dead sea of eternal wrath it flows.
The Priests stood firm until all the people were passed over on dry ground. Not one drop of death’s dark water will never touch the soles of my feet. The ground is dry for me. And now I stand on the other side, created new in Christ Jesus (Eph. 2:10).
Our Memorial: The Twelve Stones at Gilgal (Joshua 4:1-8)
(vv.1-8) From the place where the priests feet stood firm, representatives of the tribes would take out stones for a memorial to place in Gilgal. It is our privilege to stand dry-footed on Canaan’s shore and “build” a memorial to what our Joshua has done in defeating death, and raising us with Him. It is a memorial to resurrection. It is never to be forgotten.
“If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.” Colossians 3:1-2
The book of Colossians is a wilderness book, but it gives us the truth of the Jordan. In Colossians, we have come through the wilderness, into the Jordan, and now are looking up the bank into the land, setting our affection on things above, where our life and Christ are hid in God. But we are not yet settled in the land until Ephesians.
Gladly of Him we sing,
Since we with Him are dead;
Our life is hid with Christ in God,
In Christ the church’s Head.
God’s Memorial: Twelve Stones in the Midst of Jordan (Joshua 4:9-11)
(vv.9-11) The twelve stones in the midst of Jordan are a memorial to death; they speak of us, dead with Christ. The stones are placed where the ark had gone down. Later, the water closes over them and they are out of sight forever, although forever in that place. Christ went out of sight – made sin, forsaken of God – in order that I might go out of sight in death with him. But I do not remain out of sight… the stones in Gilgal are set up, so I am created anew in Christ Jesus. When God takes the old away, He gives us something infinitely better.
They are there unto this day. Picture in your mind the mighty Jordan closing back over those stones. It is as much as to say, “I am dead. All that I was in Adam is left under the judgment of God.” Then turn, and look up the bank at the twelve stones in Gilgal and say “My life is hid with Christ in God.” Col. 3:3. The stones in the river are there unto this day, although we can’t see them like we can the ones in Gilgal. This is because it is God’s memorial. In His sight, we are dead with Christ, and that fact will never change!
Out of sight to us. But they are out of sight to us because it would not be a normal focus to dwell on death, or to “keep looking down”. Rather, we are to acknowledge it, and then look to the stones in Gilgal, remembering Christ’s victory for us, His being made sin, and move into the land of promise
(v.10) “For the priests which bare the ark stood in the midst of Jordan, until every thing was finished…” The Lord bore the wrath of God in the three hours of darkness. He remained on the cross until He could say, “It is finished.”
The New Creation
The Old Creation. Before we talk about New Creation, we need to be reminded of the Old Creation. The Old Creation is described in Genesis 1; God formed the world as we know it in six days including Adam and Eve. God rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had made. But shortly, God's Sabbath rest was broken by man’s sin (Rom. 5:12). In John 5, we find that because sin entered, the Father and Son could not rest (John 5:17). God cannot have sin in His presence, so He dwelt in thick darkness, at a distance from creature man. Still, even separated from sin, He could not rest with sin in His creation. God must either destroy the corrupted creation out of His sight, as He did in the flood (Gen. 6:7) and promised not to do again (Gen. 9:11), or He must work in grace to redeem man from sin. His love, of course, made Him work, for Christ came “not to judge the world, but that the world through Him might be saved” (John 3:17)! Adam was the “head" of that old creation, a fact shown by the animals coming to Adam to be named. All who descend from Adam – his race – “bear the image of the earthly” (1 Cor. 15:49). When Adam “fell” through sin, his whole race fell with him (Rom. 5:12-end). The wages of sin is death, and so “in Adam all die.” Those of Adam’s race are characterized by certain qualities and behaviors, referred to as the “Old Man”. Paul summarized the old man as a character that “corrupts itself according to the deceitful lusts”. This is the old creation.
The New Creation. When Christ rose from the dead, He became the beginning and head of a New Creation (Rev. 3:14) where sin can never come! God can find all His rest and satisfaction in the Person and work of His Beloved Son! It is into this New Creation, far beyond the reach of sin, that we have been brought by our death and resurrection with Christ; "if any man be in Christ, there is a new creation" (2 Cor. 5:17). That New Creation will be extended out to the physical universe when God's dispensational purposes are accomplished to the glory of Christ. The full “rest of God” will not be fully restored until the elements melt, and God makes a new heavens and earth (Rev. 21:1-8). The Old Creation began with a heavens and earth, and was completed with a head, the First Man placed over it. The New Creation began with a head, the Second Man, and will be completed with a new heavens and earth! Several features of the New Creation are:
- Christ is the beginning or head of the New Creation (Rev. 3:14). Christ's death and resurrection are the foundation of the New Creation. As the firstborn from the dead, Christ is the beginning of that creation, and He is head over it, just as Adam was head over the Old Creation. As Head, the whole creation takes its character from the risen Christ… all in the New Creation have “put on the new man, which according to God is created in truthful righteousness and holiness” (Eph. 4:24).
- Our standing “in Christ" brings us into New Creation (Eph. 2:10). The entire New Creation is “in Christ”; i.e. the creation itself is in Christ’s standing before God… therefore; "if any man be in Christ, there is a new creation" (2 Cor. 5:17). This is why justification isn’t mentioned in Ephesians, because in Ephesians we are on new creation ground. A nice example of this is Noah's ark. The ark is picture of Christ, and those in the ark speak of the believer's standing "in Christ". Only those "in the ark" were able to step out, after the judgment had passed, into a new world... a picture of new creation.
- Death and resurrection with Christ puts us onto New Creation ground (Col. 3). A complete and radical change transitions a person into the New Creation. All that we were in Adam is gone in the sight of God; dead and buried with Christ. Furthermore, we are risen with Him, and brought into the new sphere. "If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God." (Col. 3:1-3). This is pictured in the Old Testament by Israel crossing the Jordan river in order to enter Canaan. The river had to be crossed to enter that promised land. Practically, being dead with Christ means that believers "should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again" (2 Cor. 5:15).
- In the New Creation, Christ has brought us to Heaven positionally (Eph. 2). Christ went where we were (death) and took the cup of wrath for us. Now we have been quickened with Him, raised with Him, and seated with Him where He is now in heaven. He has given us life and a justified standing, and left us in the world; but this is what we call "wilderness" doctrine, where Philippians sees us and where Romans ends. But God has done much more than that, He has brought us to where He is. We have been brought to heaven positionally; this is the new creation.
- In the New Creation we share Christ’s resurrection life (John 20:22). Christ rose as Head of a sphere of life that is beyond death. On the resurrection day, the Lord breathed the breath of the new-creation-life into the gathered apostles. We too share in that life.
- In the New Creation we are “one kind” with Christ (John 12:24). Christ as the corn of wheat, fell into the ground and died, has sprung up again, and has borne “much fruit.” The grains of wheat (individual Christians) have the same life as the risen stalk (Christ in resurrection). Hebrews 2:11 says “we are all of one [kind]”. God is so pleased with His Son that He wants to make many more sons just like Him!
- In the New Creation we have Oneness and Union with Christ. Oneness we get in John’s ministry, and Union we get in Paul’s ministry. Christ is head of the New Creation, and He is head of the Body. We are one with Christ in resurrection life, and we are united to Him by the Holy Ghost as members of His body. These are two distinct but connected lines of Christian truth. Therefore, New Creation is prerequisite to the formation of the Body of Christ (Eph. 2:14-15). God's work of bringing Jew and Gentile into New Creation “that he might form the two in himself into one new man”, has forever made peace between them; the middle wall of partition has been broken down.
- In the New Creation, manhood is brought into an exalted condition. Christ, as Son of Man has brought manhood into a condition that is “above angels” (Heb. 2). There is a new order of manhood!
- In the New Creation, natural relationships and distinctions have no place (Gal. 3:28). God’s work of creating us anew in Christ has the effect of erasing natural distinctions; gender, social class, ethnic background, etc. In this new condition of manhood, a distance is placed between the believer and the old creation. So striking is this change, that even if a Christian had known Jesus before the resurrection, in the New Creation we don’t know Him that way anymore (1 Cor. 5:16). Mary Magdalene was told “touch me not” (John 20:17), while Thomas was later told to touch. The Lord was making a point with her. She could not have the Lord in the same way she had previously known Him. Old things were passed away, and all things had become new. A nice example is James, who addressed himself, not as the brother of the Lord, but as His servant. An illustration of this from the Old Testament is Elisha. When Elisha was first called by Elijah in 1 Kings 19, he was not prepared to cut the ties with nature ("my father and my mother"). But after walking with the man of God, and crossing the Jordan with him, and seeing him go up, he says "my father, my father"... the old creation no longer had a hold on him. This fact extends to all our relationships; "henceforth know we no man after the flesh" (2 Cor. 5:16).
- In the New Creation, we have nothing to do with the world and religious flesh. God is looking for one thing (Christ), and through Christ’s work on the cross we see that He has got His aim. He wants to see Christ in us, the New Creature. Circumcision and uncircumcision alike for the believer are gone, because they are connected with the old creation. All that is left is Christ. “But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world. For in Christ Jesus neither is circumcision anything, nor uncircumcision; but new creation.”Galatians 6:14-15
- New Creation is enjoyed in the measure that we disconnect with the Old Creation (2 Cor. 12). Paul relates his experience under the abstract label of “a man in Christ” caught up to the third heaven. He was so disconnected from the Old Creation that he could not discern whether he was in or out of his physical body. The Spirit of God shows us what life would be like if we enjoyed the New Creation with the final tie to the old (physical body) removed. What was Paul’s report? “Unspeakable things said which it is not allowed to man to utter.”We are not going to be “caught up” until the rapture, but in the measure that we disconnect ourselves from earthly things, we will enjoy the New Creation.
- Enjoyment of the New Creation does not make us "no earthly good" (1 Cor. 5:19-20). Though we are in the New Creation, we are still on the earth, and God has given us a work to do. We are here for the purpose of representing Christ as ambassadors with the ministry of reconciliation.
So Paul is presented as a model Christian. In the wilderness he was obliged to beat down his body and keep it under lest he be found a castaway; but as to his enjoyment of Canaan he was already soaring in the heavenlies. It doesn’t mean that there are no trials, just read Paul’s list in 2 Corinthians 11; but think of the inner joy that he possessed! This is not some abstract theory, but a reality to those who will apprehend it by faith. This is what it means to be in Canaan.
Resurrection life is manifested in walking through this world as abstracted, withdrawn from, unactuated by, the motives of the world. A Christian has new motives. – If I see a man walking through the world without things here affecting him; I say, “He is either mad – or risen with Christ.” Alas! we are not as consistent as madmen. All the motives in the world never touch the new nature. Do you think it could be thinking about friendship with the world? could be seeking riches, or honour, or power? The motives which actuate men have no influence upon it. Perplexity comes in by our having a motive which is not drawn from heaven; whenever I see myself, or another, in difficulty, I may be quite sure some other motive is at work.4
Conclusion – Where the Jordan Puts Us
In the wilderness we were a redeemed people with heavenly hopes, but still in an earthly scene where we have earthly responsibilities. But when we come to the Jordan, we pass out of the whole condition of responsible man in the world (godly or ungodly) because we are dead. Our condition of being “earthy” is done, now we are “heavenly”. We are not the same genus or species any more, we are a New Creature created in Christ Jesus.
Quickened, raised, and in Him seated;
We a full deliverance know;
Every foe has been defeated,
Every enemy laid low.
Now we have a life in union
With the risen life above;
Now we drink in sweet communion
Some rich foretaste of His love.