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April 24, Day #115 – Like Him, but Not Like Him

Today in our readings we come to Joshua 3-5:12, where we read that, “early in the morning, Joshua and all the Israelites set out for the Jordan River, where they camped before crossing over” (verse 1). The Jordan River is a picture of death. For the Israelites, it will represent the death of everything they have experienced up to this point – slavery in Egypt, wandering through the desert, and forty long years of rebellion, testing, trials, and anticipation of waiting to inherit the promises of God. The ark of the covenant would lead the way – a picture of Jesus Christ going through the waters of death to lead His people to go into the land and finally possess their inheritance. Moreover, Joshua now leads the people, and he directs the entire crossing. “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do amazing things among you” (verse 5). In the same way that God parted the Red Sea when the people first set out for the promised land, now God is going to part the waters of the Jordan River – “its waters will be cut off and stand up in a heap” (verse 13). The river was “at flood stage” (verse 15). Thus, the entire forty-year period in the wilderness is parenthetical to these two divisions of water – the Red Sea and the Jordan River. Chapter 4 tells us that, “When the whole nation had finished crossing the Jordan,” the LORD told them to set up “a memorial of stones to the people of Israel forever” (verses 4-7) to remind them that there, the “waters of the Jordan were cut off … and Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground” (verses 7-23). Notice, God did this, not only for the Israelites, but also for us: “He did this so that all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the LORD is powerful …” (verse 24).

Psalm 50:1-15 helps us to understand the difference between our Creator and us. God has created us in His image, and in that sense, we are like Him. However, He is eternal, holy, sovereign, and transcendent - nothing like us – and so we are not like Him. Notice what the Psalm says: “He summons” (verses 1 and 4); He “judges” (verse 6); He “has no need” [of anything actually] (verse 9). He “owns” it all, and He owes no one any explanation for anything (verse 12). Such personal characteristics and claims are understandable to us – we know what they mean – but at the same time, they are also simply incomprehensible to us. If they are accurate and true [and they are], then we are obliged to honor and worship Him “with all our hearts, souls, minds, and strengths” (cf., Mark 12:29-31). But for all His transcendence, He further complicates our thoughts by revealing that He is immanent. Though God is invisible, He is personally near us and invites us to “call on” Him for “deliverance” [i.e., for salvation] (verse 15). How can this be? Nothing in all the universe is like this - nothing and no one are His equals. A god can be no greater, no bigger, or no more worthy of worship than the degree of mystery that surrounds him, and until we come to grips with the incredible degree of God’s “otherness” (i.e., the depth of mystery that characterizes Him), our praise of Him is indecorous - a sham. More about Psalm 50 tomorrow.

In Luke 22:1-38, we read that the “Passover was approaching, and the chief priests and the teachers of the law were looking for some way to get rid of Jesus” (verse 1). This expression couldn’t be plainer, could it? And, of course, Satan was willing and eager to help them translate their evil thoughts into evil deeds by “entering into Judas … who went to them to discuss how he might betray Jesus” (verses 3-4). This brings us to the Last Supper. Jesus told Peter and John to “go and make preparations” (verse 7). At the supper, Jesus reveals His “eagerness to eat that Passover” and He shared the cup and the bread with his disciples, and then he reveals his betrayal. Luke does not address the betrayer’s exit, but rather the dispute between the disciples over who was the greatest. He points out that the greatest among them should be a servant – not like Gentiles who “lord it over” others (verse 25). In verse 31, Jesus addresses Peter by his old name, “Simon,” because Peter is being controlled by his old sinful nature, when he says: “I am ready to go with you … to death” (verse 33). Jesus informs him that before the night is over, Peter will deny Him three times. From this we should learn how truly little we know about ourselves.

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