I’ve been thinking about John the Baptist lately. One day, his calling kicked into high gear and out of the blue he just started preaching in the wilderness saying, “Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 3:2 KJV) Pretty bold stuff, when you think about it.
Somehow his message hit home with the people who began listening to him. His message of repentance and preparing for the kingdom of heaven became more than just a sermon. He started baptizing people in the Jordan River. Huge crowds were coming to him. He knew his mission was to prepare the way for the coming Messiah. And the people felt this impetus.
It’s all pretty amazing really. He truly prepared the way for Jesus to begin his ministry. He made the people ready by turning them to God, causing them to repent and purify their hearts and lives.
Why the Jordan River?
Have you ever wondered why John baptized people in the Jordan? I never had until recently. I always focused on what he was doing not the importance of where he was doing it.
Weren’t there other bodies of water that could have been used for his baptism ministry? Yes of course. Was it because the Jordan was handy or was there more to it than that?
In pondering this recently, I thought of Naaman, the captain of the Syrian army, who went to Elisha the prophet to be healed of his leprosy. You can find the whole story in II Kings, chapter 5. (I’ve written about this in a previous post.) When the prophet’s messenger tells Naaman to wash in the River Jordan seven times, Naaman is furious and stomps off. He expected more pomp and circumstance for someone of his importance and rank.
Fortunately, his servants calm him down and convince him to follow the simple instructions, which he does. And “his flesh came again like unto the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.” (II Kings 5:14)
One of the major takeaways here is that Naaman had to swallow his pride and eat a nice big piece of humble pie.
So I got tho thinking, maybe the Jordan River metaphorically has something to do with washing away pride and becoming humble. It was certainly true for Naaman and it was true for all those who were by baptized by John B. After all, it takes no small amount of humility to admit your sins. It’s hard enough to repent in the privacy of your own home, but to repent in public in front of God and everybody at the Jordan River required a whole new level of humility.
What does “Jordan” mean in Hebrew?
A little idea popped into my head: I wonder what the name Jordan means in the original Hebrew. Out comes Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance. (Yes, I still like the weight of that book in my lap.) And wouldn’t you know it, the word Jordan, yardén in Hebrew means “descender” which comes from a root word, yarad, meaning “to descend, to go downwards.”
If you know the topography of the Holy Land, you can see how the name originated. The Jordan River descends from an elevation of 9,232 feet to the low point of the Dead Sea 1,365 feet below sea level. That’s a lot of descending.
There you have it in plain Hebrew. The Jordan River is the Descending River, the River to Take You Down from Your Pride, the Humbling River, the River of Humility.
I love these little Aha! moments of Bible discovery. But there is always something that has to follow.
A lesson in humility
So, I asked God, “What am I supposed to do with this information?”
“Dip seven times in the River of Humility” was the instant reply.
And what does that mean? Oh yeah, I need to be humble. Who knew? (Everyone probably, including me.)
In thinking about how to wash myself in humility seven times, I thought about the seven spirits of God mentioned in Revelation 3:1, 4:5, and 5:6. What are these seven spirits, essences, or natures of God? The Bible refers to God in so many ways. But here is what I came up with. I took seven of the ways I think of God and them humbled myself to that aspect of God’s being or nature.
This whole process took several hours and had a profound effect on me. I felt I was actually breathing for the first time in my life! The spiritual peace I felt is hard to describe.
During my baptism in the River Humble, I wrote down the ideas which came to me in my journal. Every time I read those pages, I am inspired once more to keep an attitude of humility in relationship to God.
I invite you to join me in the River Jordan, the Descending River, the River of Humility, and wash seven times, seventy times seven if need be. Bathe in the pure essence of God’s nature and be who God created you to be.
Here’s the short version of what I wrote in my journal.
- God is the Supreme Ruler, the Divine Governing Principle of all creation
I surrender all desires to be in charge of running things on my own or according to my opinions, at work, at home, at church, and with whatever else I may be doing. I am not the originator of any activity; God is. I am not the Director, the Producer or the Choreographer. God is. Everything depends on Him, not me. I must do all that is mine to do, but I strive to do His will, not my own. I will be His humble servant with gratitude in my heart.
- God is the Creator, the Divine Mind, the Source of all intelligence and wisdom
I surrender to God as the source of all true intelligence and action. I am not that source and have no desire to be. I am not the originator of the inspiration that comes to me. God is. I do not need personal acknowledgment or recognition for some idea that I have. All good ideas I have come from God and He gets all the credit. I just have to think, be, and do what He tells me to. I have no wisdom or intelligence of my own. I reflect God’s. I cannot be beguiled by the Serpent to believe that I am a little god unto myself.
- God’s Divine Being, Essence, or Soul, is all good, all harmonious, all pure, all holy
I surrender to the holiness, the purity, the absolute goodness of God’s Soul or Being. (Several places the Bible refers to God’s soul: see Isaiah 42:1 KJV) Whatever bit of purity, holiness, goodness, or righteousness I express comes from God. I am not the source. He is. I cannot create harmony or holiness in myself or others. God alone does this. I surrender all impure, self-centered, limited desires. As the image and likeness of God, I reflect His entire nature. I worship Him in the beauty of holiness, His not mine.
- God is Omnipresent and Omnipotent Spirit, always available, capable, and willing to guide protect
I surrender to divine Spirit, the very presence of God. God’s spiritual nature is the only lasting substance of the universe. God’s allness and wholeness as divine Spirit inspires me, moves me to right thoughts and deeds. God is the source of inspiration to all mankind. I am not and have no desire to be a personal motivator of myself or others. I trust God to speak to everyone directly. My desire is to glorify His presence, not my own.
- God is the Eternal, Divine Source of all Life and is actually Life itself
I surrender joyfully to God as my Life. I am not a little creator of life. I am created by Life. I am not a little life all on my own, but am the manifestation of Life itself, a beam of light shining out from God. I am grateful to know God better through His Son who proved death and sin to be powerless in the presence of Life.
- God is the only basis of spiritual reality and truth, the ultimate Truth of all Reality
I willingly surrender to God as the only basis of what is spiritually true and real. What is real to God must be real to me. What is not real to God, has no attraction or power over me. I cannot be fooled by the lies and decoys of the Serpent. I do not have to make God’s truth be true. I only have to know it. Truth itself will set me free. I acknowledge and am grateful that God has revealed His truth in the Bible and through others over the centuries. When God reveals His truth to me, I know it is His and not mine, and that I must share it with those He sends me to.
- God is Infinite, Divine Love mothering the universe
I humbly surrender to eternal, ever-present, divine Love as the only true motivating and nurturing power in all creation. All God does and causes us to do is through His love for us. I surrender all my fears, my past hurts and history, my unfulfilled hopes and dreams to Divine Love’s purpose for me today. Divine Love meets all my needs and causes me to feel loved. My ability to love and be loved comes from God, not some human effort or psychological mind games on my part. With God’s help I will not be afraid to love as much as Jesus did. I surrender to God’s absolute love for all His children.
I hope this is helpful. Please join me in surrendering to God in all things.
All God’s blessing upon you,