Follow in the footsteps of JESUS as sung and portrayed by Carroll Roberson in his music video, “I Walked Today Where Jesus Walked.”
A whole chapter of the Bible is devoted to keeping one’s promise. It was Moses who wrote in Numbers 30, “This is the thing which the LORD hath commanded” and continues, “If a man vow a vow… or swear an oath… he shall not break his word, he shall do according to all that proceedeth out of his mouth.” If God is the One who commands promises are to be kept, then breaking a promise or going back on an oath is sin.
The Children of Israel had reached the eastern shore of the Jordan River on their way to the Promised Land, avenging God’s wrath on the Midianites who for centuries had been idol worshippers and refused to worship the One True God. The children of Reuben and the children of Gad, two of Jacob’s sons of the twelve tribes of Israel, “had a very great multitude of cattle: and when they saw the land… behold, the place was a place for cattle,” (Numbers 32:1). The descendants of Reuben and Gad asked of Moses if they could remain east of the Jordan, settling their families and livestock in such a lush valley. Being a part of the Israelite army needed to cross the Jordan and continue in the Children of Israel’s quest to obtain the land promised to Abraham’s descendants, the soldiering men of Reuben and Gad promised, “We ourselves will go ready armed before the children of Israel, until we have brought them unto their place… We will not return unto our houses, until the children of Israel have inherited every man his inheritance.” The men also vowed, “We will not inherit with them on yonder side Jordan, or forward; because our inheritance is fallen to us on this side Jordan eastward,” (vs.17-19).
Moses agreed with the men if they would go armed across the Jordan and lead the army against God’s enemies, they could return and possess the land east of the Jordan River as their inheritance. In his agreement, Moses also gave them this stern warning, “But if you will not do so, behold, ye have sinned against the LORD: and be sure your sin will find you out,” (Numbers 32:23).
Keeping a Promise obeys God;
Not keeping a Promise is sin.
Times were changing. The old was being replaced by the new. No longer would bulls and goats need to be sacrificed in the Temple as described in the Old Testament (Hebrews 10). As the New Testament opens John the Baptist declares while baptizing Jewish converts in the River Jordan, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” as Jesus made His way to the banks of the river. Although John requested Jesus baptize him, Jesus insisted John baptize Him to fulfill all righteousness. In this way Jesus was identifying with sinners who were trusting in Him for salvation.
As Jesus entered the water He demonstrated His death, burial and resurrection which was to come by being placed under the water and “straightway coming up out of the water” (Mark 1:10). There was no just splashing Him with water or sprinkling a few drops on Him. It was total immersion signifying dying to self, being buried with Christ and being risen again to walk in newness of life. Peter tells us in I Peter 3:21 baptism is “not the putting away of the filth of the flesh,” in other words the water is not for the washing away of sin, for only the blood of Jesus Christ is pure enough to do that. Baptism is a picture of identifying with Christ.
Just as the Jewish converts from Judaism who trusted Christ as the Promised Messiah took a bold step in following the Lord in believer’s baptism in spite of the pronouncements of the Temple rulers that those who did so would no longer be welcome in its synagogues, believers today upon placing their total faith and trust in Christ boldly identify with Him by dying to self, being buried in the baptismal waters, and coming up out of the water to walk with Him wherever He leads, just as Jesus portrayed for us.
Moses had led the Children of Israel in the wilderness for forty years. Time was drawing near for them to enter into the Promised Land. Just before their crossing of the Jordan River, God called Moses up onto Mt. Nebo to show him all the land that had been promised to Abraham’s descendants. As far as the eye could see from the mountaintop, the Lord pointed out to Moses the lands that the Children of Israel would possess northward east of the river, westward all the way to the sea, and southward unto Zoar, the city Lot fled to upon the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. Finally they had arrived; all but Moses would enter.
Moses knew this was as close as he would get to the Promised Land. It was during their wandering in the wilderness that the people began murmuring and complaining because of lack of water to sustain them. Earlier in the exodus before the giving of the Ten Commandments on Mt. Sinai, the wanderers were without water and God instructed Moses to strike a rock to bring forth water (Exodus 17). Twenty years later under the same circumstances Moses was told to speak to a rock and it would bring forth water. In his anger at the lack of faith of those under his leadership, Moses struck the rock twice with his rod and the water came forth. Because of his disobedience to what God had instructed him to do, the LORD spoke to Moses and said, “Because ye believed me not, to sanctify Me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore ye shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them” (Numbers 20).
The Lord concluded His time with Moses on the mountaintop with these words, “I have caused thee to see it with thine eyes, but thou shalt not go over thither. So Moses the servant of the LORD died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the LORD. And He (God) buried him in a valley in the land of Moab, over against Beth-peor: but no man knoweth of his sepulchre unto this day” (Deuteronomy 34).
How important it is obey God’s Word. Many wonderful blessings that could have been elude us when we disobey God. Surely Moses would have been the first to step foot in the Promised Land after all God led him to do after encountering the burning bush. But God is in control and when we do not obey His Word He will find others to do His Will. Upon Moses’ death Joshua was called of God to lead the people through the river Jordan on dry land, just as they had done in the crossing of the Red Sea during the exodus, and on to many great victories in the history of His Chosen People.