So when the people broke camp to cross the Jordan, the priests carrying the ark of the covenant went ahead of them. Now the Jordan is at flood stage all during harvest. Yet as soon as the priests who carried the ark reached the Jordan and their feet touched the water’s edge, the water from upstream stopped flowing. It piled up in a heap a great distance away, at a town called Adam in the vicinity of Zarethan, while the water flowing down to the Sea of the Arabah (that is, the Dead Sea) was completely cut off. So the people crossed over opposite Jericho. The priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord stopped in the middle of the Jordan and stood on dry ground, while all Israel passed by until the whole nation had completed the crossing on dry ground.
- Joshua 3:14-17
Later that night, the boat was in the middle of the lake, and he was alone on land. He saw the disciples straining at the oars, because the wind was against them. Shortly before dawn he went out to them, walking on the lake. He was about to pass by them, but when they saw him walking on the lake, they thought he was a ghost. They cried out, because they all saw him and were terrified.
Immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” Then he climbed into the boat with them, and the wind died down. They were completely amazed, for they had not understood about the loaves; their hearts were hardened.
- Mark 6:47-52
During the Humor Me presentation last week, I referenced two different water miracles in the comedy – Scripture cross reference. One humorous story put a twist on walking on water, while another talked about a crowd, not water, parting so that a family could pass on dry ground.
I started thinking of how powerful water is, and how these miracles showed God’s power. My mind has since gone in two directions at the same time.
First, this is the tail end of hurricane season. One of the most destructive forces of a hurricane is the storm surge, also causing the most deaths. Thinking of a wall of water that just stops and piles up is an awesome concept. Yet, if you were in harm’s way and didn’t have absolute faith that God was in control of that wall of water, you’d probably die of fright anyway, just looking at the impending doom – hanging there. But the water in Joshua 3 held until the people passed over.
Of course, I could have used the Exodus 14 account of the parting of the Red Sea. Or for a modern comparison of a water made disaster, looked at an approaching Tsunami or water from a reservoir when a dam bursts. Even the slowly rising waters from floods earlier this year would be a good example. Those slow moving floods, caused by snow melt and heavy rains, caused flash flooding when levees collapsed. Any of those people affected by such powerful storm damage would love to see God pile up the water until they could get things taken care of. We don’t have that luxury. We prepare as best we can.
Yet, there were a couple more times that the Jordan stopped flowing. In 2 Kings 2:8, Elijah hit the water with his cloak and the water parted for Elijah and Elisha to cross over. After Elijah had ascended into Heaven, Elisha returned, using the same routine (2 Kings 2:14). While in Exodus and Joshua, the water parting was for the transport of a lot of people. Elijah and Elisha parting the water was a different story.
Yet in Mark 6, Jesus reunites with His disciples by walking on the water. He didn’t need to reach the far shore – not right away. He needed to be reunited with people on a boat, floating on the water. Parting the water to leave Jesus at the bottom of the seabed and His disciples floating on the water, above Him. Simply, walking on water was a better solution.
That’s the second thing that struck me. Parting the water seems to be an Old Testament miracle, while walking on the water is a New Testament miracle. A bizarre, and trivial observation.
What is not trivial is the damage that water can do. But there are so many uses of water. Sufficiently harnessed, water can produce electrical power. It can grind grains in a grist mill. Yet, unleashed, it can destroy everything in its path. Heated water can heat homes and provide heat for your automobile on a cold day. Boiled water that is pressurized has a variety of uses. It can drive turbines to make electrical power. It can run steam engines. It can also heat homes.
In times of destruction due to water, we can remember that God is more powerful than the storms of this world. These storms were the aftermath of the fall of man in Genesis 3. God has power over the water as shown in the miracles that were mentioned before. But He allows the storms, and we grow stronger as a result of weathering the storms while trusting Him. And someday, when in God’s New World, there will be no more destruction by water.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.