“All Israel was passing over on dry ground” (Joshua 3:17)
If you’re ever in the Teton Wilderness area of Wyoming’s National Forest, near the southern boundary of Yellowstone National Park, you will see a very rare and unusual sight that controls the earth’s waterways. It is called the Two Ocean Pass. It sits at the Continental Divide at an elevation of nearly 8200 feet. There, the waters of two creeks come together. They are called the Atlantic and the Pacific Creeks. The Pacific Creek divides off and carries its’ waters 1353 miles to the Pacific Ocean. The Atlantic Creek also divides off and carries its’ waters 3488 miles to the Atlantic Ocean. Amazing to think that two great oceans find one another at two small creeks. Stop and see the phenomenon if you’re ever out that way hiking. But I must warn you, it’s grizzly country.
Two Ocean Pass has something in common with Israel. The waters part in Wyoming, but nowhere else on the face of the earth have waters parted like they have in God’s chosen land. There God parted the Red Sea and the Jordan River, so they would serve as bookends for the Israelites’ journey from slavery to freedom. The parting of the Red Sea delivered the Israelites from the land of humiliation in Egypt. The parting of the Jordan River ushered them into a land flowing with milk and honey. In the parting of the Red Sea, the Israelite’s enemies were destroyed. In the parting of the Jordan River, the Israelites destroyed their enemies. The thing both partings had in common is the fact that Israel walked across them on dry land. If you’re familiar with the account of God’s creation, you are aware that on the third day of creation God said, “let the dry land appear” (Genesis 1:9). I can’t help but wonder if perhaps those were the same words he used at the Red Sea and the Jordan.
But there was one very significant time in the history of Israel when God visited the Jordan without parting it. To find out, we must fast forward from the time of the Hebrew children crossing the Jordan around 1406 BC to the time of Christ, around 28 AD. Once again God’s focus was on the waters of the Jordan. Only this time was different. This time God was visiting the Jordan to watch his son standing in the waters to be baptized. This time was different in another way also. For God was not there to part the waters of the Jordan so his Son could walk on dry ground as he had for the Hebrews. No, this time the Father was there to part something else – the very heavens themselves (Matthew 3:16), so that he could announce the coming of Israel’s long-awaited Messiah. This time was also different because God was not ushering his Son into a land flowing with milk and honey as he had the Hebrews. This time God was ushering his Son into a land flowing with fallen sinful humans. And unlike Israel crossing the Jordan to conquer the land, Jesus came into the Jordan to conquer sin. An even greater phenomenon than Two Ocean Pass.