READ : Matthew 17:14-21
The Israelites left the land of slavery only to spend forty years in the wilderness before entering the land of hope. During these years they crossed two bodies of water. The first generation faltered at crossing the Sea of Reeds. The second faced the Jordan River. Each generation has its own obstacle to overcome.
For the first generation, God made a passageway through the sea before their very eyes. The story was retold time and again. Hence as they approached the Jordan the memory helped them face a new obstacle. Was not God the Creator of rivers as well as seas? This new generation had a symbol of God’s presence, the Ark of the Covenant. Following the Ark into the water, they crossed the “Wide River” ready to possess the promised land.
O wasn’t that a wide river, river of Jordan Land, wide river, there’s one more river to cross.
Our spiritual has a double meaning. It could have been a code for the Ohio and the St. Lawrence rivers, important landmarks for runaway slaves. It also speaks eloquently of passing through the sea of conversion and journeying to the river called death. They sing of the victory over sin in Christ and press forward with confidence that the river of death is passable, that they need not be afraid.
Savior, give us the assurance You will walk with us through our death into life eternal. Amen.