Crossing the river with Joshua and Christ

Alfred Randall
Written by: Alfred Randall
5 min read

One of the reasons we don’t want to “unhitch,” as some modern “pastors” try to tell us to, from the Old Testament as Christians is that we don’t want to miss all of the imagery that was there of what Christ was and is doing for us.

Christ displayed at the first Passover

When we think of the Passover we usually just think of Egypt and the Exodus, the plagues and the death of the firstborn son.

Don’t get me wrong, it is most certainly about that. It's about how the Passover lamb and the blood put on the door posts and lintel to cause the angel of death to pass over the Israelites pointed forward to the death of Jesus on the cross, who is our Passover Lamb, and how we are passed over by the wrath of God by his blood. And also, it's about how the death of the firstborn sons of Egypt points to the depth of our sins and the need for the death of God’s firstborn son to carry his wrath in our place.

The cross is definitely the fulfillment of the picture of God’s wrath on his son and his grace and mercy through the blood of the lamb that we find in the Old Testament imagery of Egypt and the Passover.

Joshua, another Passover picture

But did you also realize there is a second Old Testament picture that also points to the meaning of the Passover and what Jesus has done and is doing for us? Do you remember the story of how Joshua replaced Moses after his death as the leader of Israel and how he led the Israelites into the promised land?

Do you remember when that was? That’s right, it was during Passover.

On the 10th of Nisan, or what we call Palm Sunday on our calendar, Joshua led the Israelites over the flooding river Jordan and into the promised land. And when that happened the ark went before the people of Israel on the shoulders of the Levites and when they put their feet into the raging and flooding river, it was like the Red Sea all over again.

The river downstream dried up, the land really flooded upstream, and where the people of Israel crossed the Jordan, the ground was bone dry. And it all happened on the first day of Passover.

What does that mean for us ?

How does this relate to us? When Jesus said to remember him with the bread and wine in the Lord’s Supper, which is the Church’s celebration of the completion of the Passover picture fulfilled in Christ, he said this:

" Drink of it, all of you,  for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom."  ( Matthew 26:27-29 )

And Paul said this:

"For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes." ( 1 Corinthians 11:26 )

There is a promise that Jesus will return!  You see, we also have a promised land. The Old Testament promised land was just a picture that pointed forward to a much greater reality: the New Heavens, the New Earth, and the New Jerusalem, where we will live with God forever.

And to get there, the spiritual river Jordan of separation has to be crossed.

Jesus went before us, to make a way

Joshua and the priests, who carried the Arc of the Covenant,  led the children of Israel across the river Jordan and into the promised land.  So too Christ will lead us over the great divide, through death and ressurection, into the eternal promised land.

Jesus had to die, rise again, and ascend into heaven to make a way for us, into the promised land where we will one day be with Him.

One day we will pass over from this land to the fulfillment of the new life in Christ, just as Israel crossed over the Jordan into the promised land.