It was great to be back in Manchester at Ivy this morning and see so many of our church family gathering – and lots of them told me they were praying for me on the trip last week when I went to Jordan and then on to Dubai, teaching hundreds of church leaders in both places for a phenomenal ministry called LIVING ON THE EDGE (go and get their app, full of teaching and check out the site for discipleship resources by Pastor Chip Ingram, I think it’s incomparable and yes, it’s free!).
This ministry does not want anyone from the delegates but are 100% for them, incredibly generous in spirit to just bless the leaders in these hard places blessing them with a free banquet (at which I spoke on The Art Of Survival from James 1), and further in person teaching and coaching to become a ‘High Impact Church.’ I will be putting some more notes and thoughts on that ahead of partnering further next year with these guys for LAUNCH here in the UK so watch this space and why not subscribe to my blog now so you don’t miss any of it?
Today many of our church family were asking about the trip so I thought I’d do a quick reflection on the time in Jordan (Sunday to Tuesday, very full!). There’s so much I could say, but here are some thoughts about that fantastic place.
I really had no idea when I went there just how much of what took place in the Bible happened in Jordan. You can remember the 4 Kingdoms and lands in the nation as they featured in the Old Testament using the acrostic GAME.
- Ammon (where we stayed, still there as the capital of Jordan)
Means ‘Rocky place.’ From the Golan heights in the north to the Ammonite kingdom in the South, it’s famous for its balm, collected from trees in the mountains and worth twice its weight in silver. It’s where Jacob pitched his tent when he was on the run from his father in law (Gen 31:25-28), and at the ford of the Jabbok River there he wrestled with God (Gen 32:23) and had his name changed. Elijah was from Gilead. Here at the Cherith River he was fed by ravens and later at the Jordan (where we visited) he ascended to heaven as Elisha watched.
Was the son of Lot and he founded the city, which was built as a place of fortresses. In 2 Samuel 11 David plotted against then sent Uriah to his death here at the citadel of Rabbah so he could steal his wife Bathsheba. The citadel still remains.
The other son of Lot from one infamous incestuous night, Moses and the children of Israel did not fight against them because the Lord told him they had inherited their land from Lot. But they were historical enemies of Israel, remember King Balak who tried to get Balaam to curse them all (Numbers 22)? You may recall Ruth was from here. Her name means ‘friend’ and she chose to leave home and past behind to go with Naomi back to Bethlehem, her destiny was changed by her decision as were ours, because she ended up in the family line not only of King David, but of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Saviour!
Moab appears in 149 verses in the OT alone. Madaba is there, and we had a wonderful lunch there in the city but didn’t have time unfortunately (this time!) to go to see the famous mosaic Madaba Map made by Christians in the C6th including the whole region and borders of the Holy Land from Egypt, the Nile delta, Mount Sinai and both sides of the Jordan as far as Jericho – to scale! Jerusalem is the centre of the map as it still remains very much the centre of the world’s focus even today so to be so close this week and able to pray for the whole region from the top of Mount Nebo where Moses looked down to the Promised Land before he died (Deut 32) was such a privilege.
It was here that we were also able to go down to the Jordan itself, and I stood and prayed in the remains of the church on the site where the Lord himself was baptised by John the Baptist, before walking a short distance to the contemporary place the river has moved to.
There I stood in the river up to my knees ( I am now holy from there down) with the border of Israel just a few metres away and was prayed for by my dear friend Pastor Shaddi who looked after us all so well, while somehow managing to also pull together our Gala dinner for 230 leaders where I was privileged to bring the keynote.
Was the son of hairy old Esau, and he lived in what is now known as Southern Jordan which goes right down to the Red Sea. The Edomites opposed the children of Israel coming out of Egypt despite Moses sending messengers asking if they could pass by peacefully on the main trade route Kings Highway that runs through Petra and on past Damascus in Syria (Numbers 20). As a result it was later prophesied by Obadiah that this once proud land would be destroyed and its mighty men who had said ‘Who will bring me down to the ground?’ were indeed scattered as a result.
So that’s just some of the many Old Testament connections. When I have some time I hope to write up some of the many ways Jordan features in the New Testament too! Let’s continue to pray for all involved in the wars and conflicts raging in the region where the Lord himself walked, prayed, and met with us.
As I stood there on Tuesday praying in the waters of the Jordan where He was baptised I remembered that Jesus did not just drop down some divine dictat from the safety of heaven for us to try to follow. He chose to come into the midst of the mess in the Middle East as the Prince of Peace by revealing himself as the friend of sinners, the one John the Baptist saw and said is, ‘The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.‘
God got his hands dirty. God got his feet wet in the Jordan. He is the answer. He did not come with geopolitical advice on how to resolve international issues then or now, if he did we would not be still seeing it. It’s been said the heart of the human problem is the problem of the human heart – and Christ came to fix that, one life at a time.