I like the imagery of sea or river being banked up and people being able to pass between the two walls of water. It seems here that the author of this section of the Old Testament wants to make some sort of comparison with the parting of the Red Sea at the beginning of the journey to the Promised Land. The two events of passing through the Red Sea and the Jordan River mark a boundary within which a certain epoch of Jewish history is marked out for us – the 40 year sojourn in the desert. Let us look a little more deeply into this idea.

The beginning of the journey to the Promised Land is marked by an extraordinary victory of the armies of Pharaoh when the sea swallows them up as they attempt to follow Moses and company through the divided waters. The forty years that follow are a time of purification and preparation for the reception of the Land God promised to Abraham about 600 years earlier. It is not that easy to move from a place of slavery in Egypt to being the masters of their own land and lives. God must first teach them how to order their lives according to His will and Commandments so that they do not just take everything for granted and allow themselves to fall straight back into lives of sin. Perhaps there are even echoes here of the command given to Adam, not to eat of a certain tree, when Moses receives the 10 Commandments on Mt Sinai.

The miraculous crossing of the Jordan River marks the beginning of a new era whereby the Chosen People will be able to settle down into a more comfortable sort of existence provided they respect the laws of God and are obedient to Him. In Christian terms we could even see the crossing of the Jordan as a type of baptism whereby the Chosen People take on a new life – a new life that is very clearly seen as a gift from God. However we want to interpret these events we are certainly embarking upon a new phase of God’s relationship with His people. In time we will see this unfold.

What are the watershed moments of my life? How do I understand these major turning points and what significance do they still have for me today?

Lord Jesus, you died ion the cross to set all humanity free from the power of sin. Your act of love changed the way we view life and live it. Grant me the grace to be faithful to your offer of new life.