This blog is the first article in a series I am writing for the Worship Central Newsletter.
Anyone who enjoys listening to folk or gospel music or reading poetry has, no doubt, frequently come across “the Jordan” as a point of reference. As I was reading in the book of Joshua recently, I came across a passage in chapter 3 that seemed to jump off the page. I have revisited that passage several times to try to dig in and see the relevance that it has for us here at Worship Central.
It was verse 6 that first seemed to light up for me in neon lights. The specific phrase that stood out was Joshua’s instruction to the priests responsible for carrying the Ark of the Covenant. He told them to take the Ark and “Go BEFORE the people”. In obedience, they picked it up and went ahead of the people, toward the Promised Land.
The Ark of the Covenant represented the presence of God. It was a place of Holiness and reverence. The Israelites didn’t fight a battle or make a journey or take up residence anywhere without the Ark of the Covenant being center stage. They regarded it as their lifeline because they knew that their lives, literally, depended upon it’s presence among them. They didn’t treat it lightly. They couldn’t – because they had not yet experienced he freedom of the cross. They lived under strict law and didn’t have the right to gain access to the presence of God on their own.
The Israelite priests and Levites had great responsibility. Here, they were instructed by Joshua to GO AHEAD of the people with the presence of God. In verse 2, the people had been instructed to LEAVE THEIR POSITIONS and follow the priests and Levites as they passed by them. They were told as they followed, they would receive DIRECTION on which way they should go, since they didn’t know the way before them.
There are many things in this passage I want to explore in the coming newsletter editions. In reading about Jordan in Wikipedia during my research, I found that “Crossing the Jordan” represents Freedom. In our pursuit of Freedom, I want us to realize that we are both leaders and followers. When we are in a leadership role (as each of you are in choir, frontline, band, or technical support), we are expected to carry the Presence of God and to go AHEAD of the people. We can’t lead people to a place we have never been. Yes, we are on a journey together, but someone has to point the way. There is freedom, deliverance, and direction in HIS PRESENCE. But we have to go there first before the people can follow. In our private worship at home and in our worship during rehearsals, we are beginning to “carry the Ark”, so to speak. We are practicing His presence and preparing our hearts so that, when we get on stage, it is more than just a musical performance. We are preparing to help others Cross the Jordan.
Leave your positions. Forget about who you are and what you “do”. You are a worshipper and a leader. Follow the Presence and carry it in front of others. Freedom is at stake.