I’m sure you remember the passage where the LORD parted the Red Sea so God’s chosen people could cross over on dry land when they escaped from slavery in Egypt! Now we are talking thousands of people and all their livestock and possessions their Egyptian neighbors had given them! When Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, the LORD brought up a strong wind all that night, and made the sea into dry land, and the waters were divided like a wall on each side. (Exodus 14: 21-22)
But did you know that the LORD repeated that miracle again when the Israel nation was ready to cross into the Promised Land? I have read it many times, but honestly had forgotten it! It was just as exciting to read this time as it was when I read it in Exodus! The feeling this time was more relaxed. They didn’t have the Egyptian army chasing them with their chariots and horses! And this was a new and different generation that had not experienced life in Egypt, but had been born while traveling in the wilderness. I’m sure they had heard the stories of the LORD’S miracle at parting the Red Sea.
So 40 years later, as they are ready to take the land God had promised their forefathers, Joshua was instructed by the Lord to command the priest’s to bear the Ark of the Covenant and lead the Israel people across the Jordan River. “And it shall come to pass, as soon as the soles of the feet of the priests who bear the ark of the Lord, the Lord of all the earth, shall rest in the waters of the Jordan, that the waters of the Jordan shall be cut off, the waters that come down from upstream, and they shall stand as a heap.” (Joshua 3:13 NKJV) And as soon as the feet of the priests touched the Jordan River, the waters parted and there was dry land! The priests holding the Ark of the Covenant stood firm in the middle of the Jordan River and all of Israel crossed over Jordan on dry ground!
Now the LORD had instructed Joshua to take a man from each of the twelve tribes of Israel. They were to go to the place where the priests had stood with the Ark of the Covenant and take a large stone from that spot, put it on his shoulder, and carry it to the other side. After the people had crossed to dry land; the priests carrying the Ark of the Covenant also crossed to dry land and a large rock was taken up for each tribe of Israel. Then the waters of the Jordon returned to normal and the water overflowed the banks as before! (Joshua 4: 18)
This is the time when we celebrate our Thanksgiving, which was a tradition that was started after the pilgrim’s had gathered their first harvest in their new land. The children of Israel and our early settlers were likely feeling about the same way about this time! It had not been an easy journey! It had been a long journey! But, they had finally arrived and were full of excitement and anticipation for what lay in store for them in this new land that was to become their very own!
This is a special time for us to remember our own forefathers and what God has done for us to live in a free country because of the faithful men who came here in order to worship the LORD in a free land! It’s important to take this time to explain to our children so that they will understand and remember and can pass that memory to their children. And that tradition of passing on to future generations the importance of special times was started in God’s Word.
“Then he spoke to the children of Israel, saying: “When your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, ‘What are these stones?’ then you shall let your children know, saying, ‘Israel crossed over this Jordan on dry land’; for the Lord your God dried up the waters of the Jordan before you until you had crossed over, as the Lord your God did to the Red Sea, which He dried up before us until we had crossed over, that all the peoples of the earth may know the hand of the Lord, that it is mighty, that you may fear the Lord your God forever.” (Joshua 4: 21-244; 4:5-7)
Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family! I pray you will take this opportunity to teach your children, family and friends how we came to celebrate a day of Thanksgiving! That God has a Mighty Hand and has given this land of freedom of religion to us and we must never forget that it is a gift from the LORD! God bless your family and God bless the United States of America!!