What are We Singing: The River is Here
- Wednesday, January 30, 2008
In 2002, I journeyed to Israel as a journalist to report on the safety of traveling to the Holy Land. Being there became more than just an assignment for which I’d report to Crosswalk.com. Being there became one Bible lesson after the other.
Have you ever seen something so powerful and magnificent it took your breath away, while at the same time left you feeling giddy and overcome with joy? Such was a moment for me in The Dan Reserve, located in Northern Israel below Mount Hermon.
There I walked along nature paths winding under tents of high-reaching shade trees and thick foliage, and over bridges that arched above rushing streams of crystal water, cold as ice. In the center of one bridge I stooped to take a picture, to attempt to capture the beauty, the magnificence, and the power of the water as it hurried toward its destination. Photo taken, I turned southward to watch as a single golden leaf sped away, wondering where it might end up.
I turned to our guide, Miriam Feinberg Vamosh and asked, “Where does the water come from? And, where does it go?”
To understand the Bible fully it helps to have a clear picture of the topography of the Holy Land. Mount Hermon is a mountain range with three distinct summits, each about the same height, located in the northernmost tip of Israel and the southernmost tips of Lebanon and Syria. Because of its impressive height (approximately 9,200 feet above sea level) it gathers a great deal of precipitation. Every winter and spring, snow is absorbed by the pores of the mountain, which—in turn—feeds the springs at its base. These springs become small rivers that feed into one larger river.
One of the smaller rivers is The Dan River which flows through The Dan Reserve.
Approximately 2,000 gallons of water flows through Ein Dan (the Stream of Dan) every second. This enormous volume is rushing toward the Jordan River which snakes through Israel, pooling momentarily in the Sea of Galilee and ending its stretch at The Dead Sea.
The River Jordan
In Scripture the Jordan River is often used to signify freedom. This metaphor begins with the story of the wandering Israelites. After four hundred years of slavery and forty years in the desert, they were finally to enter the Promised Land. But they would have one final step; they would have to cross the Jordan River.
But you will cross the Jordan and settle in the land the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance, and he will give you rest from all your enemies around you so that you will live in safety. (Deut. 12:10)
This was during the harvest season, according to Joshua 3:15,16. The river would have been full to overflowing; moving quickly toward its destination. To cross would take a step of faith, literally. According to Scripture, when the people put their feet into the water, the water was cut off and piled into a heap until all of the Israelites had crossed. What joy—with song and dance, perhaps?—must have filled the hearts of the people!
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