On Jordan’s Stormy Banks I Stand — June 2020

Thinking about the New Earth is the most powerful, practical thing you can do right now.

If you’re like me, the evil of our world might overwhelm you. So how is thinking about the New Earth powerful, and practical? Let’s look at our new hymn, Samuel Stennett’s “On Jordan’s Stormy Banks,” a song that embodies this powerful, practical, future-facing hope.

“On Jordan’s stormy banks I stand and cast a wishful eye, to Canaan’s fair and happy land, where my possessions lie.”

We might say that when Stennett penned this hymn, he was using the Israelite’s journey from Egypt to Canaan as a metaphor for the pilgrimage of the Christian. Just as Yahweh freed Israel from slavery in Egypt, cared for Israel in the wilderness, and victoriously brought them into the land he promised to them, so we can trust him to free us from sin, care for us in our trials, and bring us to heaven. It’s a fantastic and beautiful metaphor.

But this isn’t totally accurate. It is not simply a metaphor. We are selling Christ’s kingdom short if we make it a purely spiritual kingdom. For it’s possible that when we talk of the earthly kingdom of Israel and the heavenly kingdom of Christ, we’re over-spiritualizing our hope. True, our battle is not against flesh and blood as Israel’s was. But is the destination that Abraham and all the saints of the Old Testament longed for truly different than our destination? Hear what the author of Hebrews has to say:

“These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.” (Heb 11:13-16)

Hebrews 11 is not simply saying that we should imitate the strength of faith of the Old Testament saints. It is teaching that our faith has the same hope and object. We, like them, are also waiting for a better country, a heavenly one. “And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.” (Heb 11:39-40) They were the first in line, but together we will enjoy the same New Jerusalem. As Peter says, “But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.” (2 Pet 3:13) We are all bound for the Promised Land, the new heavens and new earth.

Christ has given us every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places. But these spiritual blessings should manifest themselves in the lives of God’s people, in every tribe and tongue and nation. It is our joy and privilege to bring the kingdom of God into every continent, island, nation, city, village, home, restaurant, workplace, park, and everything in between. The spiritual kingdom of Jesus will become manifest physically as we live Spirit-filled lives and testify of our Lord.

Christ is making all things new, beginning with us. Inwardly we are growing and experiencing new life day by day, but our body and yes, our world is in the throes of death. We will find strength to endure the storm by strengthening our hope that we will cross the Jordan at last, and our resurrected souls will be joined to our resurrected bodies, as we worship our resurrected king on a resurrected earth.

Jordan’s banks are stormy indeed. Christian, look to the other side! There, the storm and the night has been scattered. There, Christ the Sun forever reigns!

Thinking about the New Earth is the most powerful, practical thing you can do right now.

Our cursed world is filled with brokenness, sickness, suffering, anger, murder, racism, confusion, fear, destruction, and death.

But the kingdom of Jesus is here.

We have a real hope, a real peace, a real kingdom, and a real king to offer this broken world. Thinking about our eternal home, the New Earth, is intensely powerful and practical. It is the heart of faith to long expectantly to be with Jesus in the place he has prepared. So let’s be like David, and strengthen ourselves in Yahweh our God.

Take a long look. Look at the eternal joy that Christ has purchased for us on the new earth, where the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father.

Take time to pray. Pray for faith like our Lord Jesus, who endured the cross for the joy set before him. 

Take a deep breath.

And then go.

Go back into the storm, freely loving, freely giving, freely serving, freely preaching, freely dying, just like Jesus. You have nothing to lose. You have everything to gain. For we are bound for the Promised Land.

Will you join us this month as we meditate on these truths and sing this hymn with our families? Let’s resolve to make much of Christ, to put him at the center of our homes by seeking him first. As the summer months begin, and things get a little busier, it is tempting to let things get in the way of family worship time. Let’s remain steadfast, taking just a few minutes of our day to read the Scriptures, pray and sing out our praises to the Lover of our souls.

Have questions about how to do this or you need help getting started? Let us know! We’re not experts in family worship ourselves, but we can encourage each other!

To help you get started in learning this hymn we have free printables for you with lyrics, music and copywork for your kids. If you don’t read music or don’t feel musically inclined, we’ve got you covered. Listen to this month’s hymn on our YouTube channel and sing along with us. Looking forward to worshipping alongside you this month!

Post written by Derek Brover

ABC’s of theology card pictured is from Tiny Theologians.

 

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