This part of the Jordan River has seen significant transitions in Israel’s history. Amazingly, the waters of the river parted here:
For Joshua, as Israel entered the Promised Land for the first time.
For Elijah and Elisha, as Israel prepared to leave the land in Exile.
For Jesus, the sky parted (not the river) at His baptism.
All in this same place!
The transitions that occurred there were sometimes national—as with Moses and Joshua, Elijah and Elisha, and John and Jesus. But the area also had its personal transitions—even conversions—as in the cases of Rahab, Naaman, Zaccheus, and Bartimaeus.
Be they national or personal transitions—or both—any new beginning also requires an ending. It requires leaving one shore and crossing the river for another.
While in Jerusalem, I like to ponder the psalms that the pilgrims of old would recite from memory as they came “up” to Jerusalem for the annual feasts.
These Psalms of Ascents (Psalms 120-134) stirred up critical reminders of basic themes in a believer’s life. Reminders of faith, forgiveness, family, children, peace, hope, brotherhood, sacrifice, and right attitudes toward God and people. Indeed we need to hear these themes often.
Built into the first-century Jewish culture was the necessity of reminders and repetition—the need of rehearsing truth when the Roman world around them countered God’s Word at every step.