Preached by Dr. Tom Malone, Sr. at the Emmanuel Baptist Church, Pontiac, Michigan, October 3, 1999
"Wherefore, said they, if we have found grace in thy sight, let this land be given unto thy servants for a possession, and bring us not over Jordan." (Numbers 32:1-13)
Do you know that three-fourths of the Bible is in the Old Testament? From this Old Testament there are quoted passages in the New Testament scores and scores of times. The Old Testament is important. Without understanding the Old Testament, the New Testament would be more difficult for you, and for me, to understand. So it is a wonderful part of the Bible that were are reading from tonight, chapter thirty-two of the Book of Numbers.
I want to speak to you tonight on the subject: "The Wrong Side of Jordan." You will see what we are talking about as we read from the Word of God. What we are talking about is this great group of people—many of the people who read the Bible estimate that there were one million and six hundred thousand people—they came out of Egypt and started across the wilderness, and for forty years journeyed on their way to the land of promise. What we are reading about tonight takes place in this journey. It is a very important thing here, about these people, that God is speaking to us about. Let us read the story in the Book of Numbers, starting with verse one.
32:1 Now the children of Reuben and the children of Gad had a very great multitude of cattle: and when they saw the land of Jazer, and the land of Gilead, that, behold, the place was a place for cattle;
2 The children of Gad and the children of Reuben came and spake unto Moses, and to Eleazar the priest, and unto the princes of the congregation, saying,
3 Ataroth, and Dibon, and Jazer, and Nimrah, and Heshbon, and Elealeh, and Shebam, and Nebo, and Beon,
4 Even the country which the LORD smote before the congregation of Israel, is a land for cattle, and thy servants have cattle:
5 Wherefore, said they, if we have found grace in thy sight, let this land be given unto thy servants for a possession, and bring us not over Jordan.
6 And Moses said unto the children of Gad and to the children of Reuben, Shall your brethren go to war, and shall ye sit here?
7 And wherefore discourage ye the heart of the children of Israel from going over into the land which the LORD hath given them?
8 Thus did your fathers, when I sent them from Kadesh-barnea to see the land.
9 For when they went up unto the valley of Eshcol, and saw the land, they discouraged the heart of the children of Israel, that they should not go into the land which the LORD had given them.
10 And the LORD’S anger was kindled the same time, and he sware, saying,
11 Surely none of the men that came up out of Egypt, from twenty years old and upward, shall see the land which I sware unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob; because they have not wholly followed me:
12 Save Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenezite, and Joshua the son of Nun: for they have wholly followed the LORD.
13 And the LORD’S anger was kindled against Israel, and he made them wander in the wilderness forty years, until all the generation, that had done evil in the sight of the LORD, was consumed.
Now, I want us to bow our heads and pray together.
Our Father, how we thank you for the wonderful privilege tonight to be in this place. This is thy place, and thou art here, and thou art meeting with us. How we thank you that by the grace of God we have been made one of your own, a member of your family. I pray tonight that thou would bless the Word of God. Lord, may the Spirit make it plain and clear to us. May our heart’s needs be dealt with and be met tonight through the blessed Word of God. Lord I pray that you will help me. I want to please thee with all my heart. I don’t want to please men. I don’t preach for men. Lord, thou knowest my heart, and I ask you to help me tonight as I preach the Word of God. Give me strength and power, and fill me with thy Spirit. Lord Jesus, bless this service in a wonderful way. We pray in Jesus name, and for his sake. Amen.
I want you to look at a verse, tonight, that I want to take for a text. It is an astounding verse. It is verse five of Numbers chapter thirty-two. We read these words:
"Wherefore, said they, if we have found grace in thy sight, let this land be given unto thy servants for a possession, and bring us not over Jordan."
Now here we read in the Bible a great host of people, a great nation of people— they were the Jews—were taken into captivity down into the land of Egypt, and scattered from their native land. They lived there for four hundred and thirty years. They were slaves, nothing in the world but slaves and servants. Nothing they touched with their hands belonged to them. They were killed, they were whipped, they were beaten, they were persecuted. They were God’s elect people. They spent four hundred and thirty years down in Egypt. But in the providence of God, one day God raised up a man. God said to that man, "I want my people delivered out of the bondage of Egypt. I promised to their father, Abraham, a wonderful land. It is a land of plenty, a land of milk and honey, and a land of fruit and water, and a great land. Seven nations are in it, all of whom are stronger than these delivered slaves that will come out of Egypt. But I am going to give it to them." It is called the Promised Land because God promised it. What God promises, God always does. God said, "I am going to give this land unto these Jews who have been delivered from the bondage of Egypt." God promised that to them.
Well, they set out on that journey. (That happened years before this scripture that I read tonight.) They were about three days from being ready to cross the River Jordan. But they said, to Moses, a lot of them (this is something almost unbelievable), "Oh, we wish we had never left Egypt." Can you believe that someone who had been delivered by blood, like you have been saved by Christ, could ever say, "You know, I don’t want to leave the old life?" Thank God, when you get genuinely saved, I believe the old life means nothing to you. But these people said, "We don’t want to go over Jordan." They had journeyed along, and as they got close to the Jordan River, to go over into that Promised Land, these two and a half tribes said, "Look at this country here." It is on the wrong side—this side of Jordan—the land of promise is over there, and they said twice in this scripture, "This is a wonderful place to raise cattle." They never said a word about raising children, and living for God. They said, "We don’t want to go over Jordan. We want to stay here where we can raise lots of cattle, and make lots of money. Don’t bring us over this Jordan. I know you promised you would, and you promised our father, Abraham, you would, but we don’t want to go over Jordan."
Can you imagine someone whom God has touched, and God has put His blood on like He did them? He said to them, "When I see the blood, I will pass over you." God had done this. Can you imagine saying to God, "Oh, I don’t want that Promised Land. You said you were going to give us that great land to be our home, and it would belong to us forever. We don’t want that?" Here are rebellious people, and they are saying to God, "Bring us not over this Jordan."
If you will read in the Bible, and I know you have, you will find that temptation came early in the Bible to someone. Lot was a believer. You wouldn’t know it by what all happened in his life. But over in the New Testament God spoke of him as "that just man." Lot went with his godly uncle, Abraham. Abraham loved God. Abraham obeyed the Lord. Abraham gave everything he had to God. This was his nephew. This young man, one day when their herdsmen were not getting along, said, "There is not room enough for all of us here." Abraham said to this young man, "We are going to have to separate. Lot, you choose what you want, and you can have it." He gave him first choice. "We are brethren," Abraham said, "let there be no trouble between us." Lot said, "I want the well-watered plains of Jordan, because it is a good place to raise cattle." But, Abraham said, "Lord, I want to be with you in the mountains, where it is a good place to serve God, and to live for the Lord." Lot was tempted by the same wonderful, beautiful plains of Jordan as a place to raise cattle. This world is a good place to make money, but it is not a good place to raise your family and to live yourself. If God has saved you. You want to be on the right side of Jordan, and that is on the other side, in the Promised Land.
So we find that this temptation had come to people sooner than it came even to these people. I read about when Israel did cross the Jordan, these two and one half tribes (and I want you to think about this Old Testament incident) said to the Lord, finally—begged the Lord—"Let us do this. Let us go over the Jordan, and until the cities in the Promised Land are taken, then we will go back over Jordan, and we will make our home here, and raise our cattle here on the "off" side of Jordan.
Some times God lets people do things that He knows they ought not to do. God doesn’t just take a hammer, and knock you in the head and say, "You go ahead and cross this Jordan like I told you." God never takes your will away from you. The Bible says "He gave them their desire, but He sent leanness in their souls." (Psa. 106:15) You see, there is such a thing as you doing something, you begging God to do something that is wrong, and something that will not turn out well, and that is what happened here.
But I like to read when they crossed the Jordan. My, what a day that was. I want to tell you that there are so many blessed things about just the crossing of Jordan, when they went over in to the Promised Land. The Lord said to them, "first of all, when we cross the Jordan, we are going to follow the ark of the covenant." Now, I know that you know what the ark of the covenant is. The ark of the covenant is that holy thing that the Lord made, something like this communion table. God put in it three things: the broken tablets of the law, Aaron’s shepherd staff that bloomed, and budded when it was just an old shepherd’s crook, and life came in it, and they put in it a golden pot of manna that the Lord sent from heaven, and made a banquet in the wilderness for them, and fed them on heavenly food. He put that in the ark. The Lord said, "When we cross the Jordan, we want the priests to carry the ark." See, that ark, the top of that, is what the Bible calls a mercy seat. There is no tangible thing in the Bible more holy than the mercy seat. People pray, "God, be merciful unto me." That prayer means, "God, be unto me as you are under the mercy seat, where the blood is sprinkled, and sins are confessed, and sins are forgiven." The Lord said, "You follow this ark." What the Lord is saying is, "Follow Jesus, and I’ll lead you across the way." Follow Jesus: that ark is one of the greatest types in the Bible of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is Jesus who stood between us and the broken law. It is Jesus who sent the manna from heaven. It is Jesus who put life into death and arose from the grave. All that ark is speaking of is the Son of God, the Savior of the world, the Lord Jesus Christ. God said to them, "You follow the ark."
When they came to that Jordan River, some people who said, "Oh, we don’t want to cross the Jordan." This river would swell out of its banks and even wild beasts would run from their homes near the banks of the Jordan many times. They said, "We don’t want to cross the Jordan." But when they followed the Lord Jesus—followed the ark, and obeyed God—when they came to the river Jordan, the waters parted like it did at the Red Sea. You see, God opened the waters to let them out of Egypt, and He opened the waters to let them into the Promised Land. Listen, God takes care of His people. He said, "Follow the Lord—follow the ark—and you will cross the River Jordan, and every thing will be all right". So the people followed, and the waters parted. They went across, and it was a great day.
When they had crossed the river Jordan, in the Book of Joshua there is an accurate account in two chapters, of this great crossing. It is a great symbolic thing. It has great truth to it. When they crossed the Jordan and got on the other side—that is the right side—they turned around, and the waters were still parted, and they took twelve big stones out of the river Jordan. They brought them out on to the land, and they built an altar unto God. They took these twelve stones into the river Jordan and they built like a monument—an altar—where the Jordan water would run. They put these twelve stones there. After they had crossed the water came back. That is a picture of the judgment of God passing over the Lord Jesus when He died on the cross for your sins and mine. Oh listen, crossing the river Jordan was not just going to get your feet wet and may have to swim a little bit. It is God talking about the great things of the Bible. It is God talking about Jesus taking your judgment, and giving us a new life in a new land. Thank God, that is what He has done for us tonight. He is going to give us a city not made with hands, eternal in the heavens, made by the Lord, Himself.
So the crossing of the Jordan was no little thing. But the people said, "We don’t want to cross the Jordan. We like this worldly-looking place where you can raise lots of cattle." They did not do the will of God.
Let me just precede a little bit. Hundreds of years went by. Jesus came to the world. One day He went up the river Jordan, and went over into the land across the Jordan. There were people there. There were ten cities there. That is where He went over into Gadara. There was a mentally ill man there, a wicked man, and there He wrought miracles. Jesus said to the demons in the wicked man—the maniac of Gadara—"You get out of him." There were two thousand head of hogs there. Those demons ran into those two thousand hogs, and down a steep place into the Sea of Galilee and were drowned. Do you know what happened? The people, hundreds of years after their ancestors settled on the wrong side of Jordan, the citizens of Gadara who knew not God, knew not Jesus, knew nothing about Him, had not ever worshipped Him, or believed in Him, those people said to Jesus, "You depart. Get out of our country." They said, "What are you doing to our hogs?" Do you know where they got that philosophy? They got it from their ancestors, who said, "WE DON’T WANT TO GO OVER JORDAN TO THE PROMISED LAND!"
I want to tell you, I want to go over. I’m going over just as sure as the world, just sure as you are sitting there. Somebody says, "Brother Tom, do you think you will make it to heaven?" I have already got it made. There is no doubt it. A lady said to an old preacher friend of mine, "Well, I’ll meet you in heaven." The preacher friend of mine said, "Well, I’m going to be there. It’s up to you." Oh, thank God. They rebelled so against God. They did not understand what God was trying to do for them. The promise God had made hundreds of years before to Abraham, they thought nothing of it. They took no thought about it.
You know, there is a wrong side and a right side of Jordan. These people crossed over, then they went back—two and a half tribes, many thousands of people—and they were on the side of Jordan where you could raise cattle.
I. The other side of Jordan is the side of materialism.
First of all, I want you to think about the fact that the other side of Jordan is the side of materialism. A lot of folks want to be known by what they have instead of what they are. My wife and I have been talking about some things the Lord has allowed to happen in our lives. We always say, "You know what happens to "things" doesn’t mean a thing in the world. It is nothing…nothing…nothing. It is people who are saved, and God taking care of you—that is a wonderful thing. Oh, they wanted the material side of Jordan. That is the wrong side of Jordan.
A lot of people are like that. Jesus said, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." (Matt. 6:33) All you have to do to get your needs supplied is to seek first the kingdom of God, and put the Lord first in your life. The Psalmist said, "I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread." (Psalms 37:25) I like that. I would rather have God take care of me than man. God looks after His own. But they wanted the material side. They wanted to be known for what they could do, and what they had instead of what they are. Philippians 4:19 says, "My God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus." I have had a lot of people say, "You know, my needs aren’t supplied. I’m in debt." A lot of people are in debt because they owe God, first of all. Listen, you do what God says. You give a tenth of your income to God (I didn’t even have that in my notes, it just stays in my mind all the time, like it’s been cemented in there, because it’s a part of the Word of God.). You put God first and you come to the place where you are big enough, foolish enough to believe (We put it that way because that is the way the world feels about it.) that if you give God a tenth, the ninety percent will be a lot more, and you will never want for anything for God will never be in debt to anybody. These people, they didn’t want that. "Oh, we want to raise cattle and make money," they thought. They never thought about, that it might be a place to raise cattle and make money, but it was like Sodom and Gomorrah, a mighty poor place for children, and for people that loved God. They stayed on the wrong side of Jordan. I have seen a lot of people do that.
I had a Southern Baptist preacher—I know a lot of good people in the Southern Baptist Convention. The Southern Baptist Convention has some good people, but it has six seminaries and none of them believe in the inerrancy of this Bible, none of them, not one of them. Their faculties do not believe it. And this man who was a friend of mine many years ago (I’ll give you his name. He is in heaven and I do not know if he can hear or not, but if he does he can’t do anything about it because we are a long ways apart; he is in heaven and I am down here in Emmanuel Baptist Church.) But he wrote me a letter one time. He said, "I know that the convention I am in—he was a pastor—I know it is going the wrong way." It did. It went on the wrong side of Jordan. He said, "I know it is going the wrong way." But he said, "My son is in it also, and my boy is involved. I just can’t get out of it because of him." He said, "Another thing is that I soon am going to have my retirement."
By the way, somebody talked to me today and said, "I am going to pray for you, Brother Tom, and your retirement." Don’t do that to me. Don’t ever pray about my retirement. There isn’t any such thing. I just happened to think of that. Don’t pray for my retirement, because I am not retiring. Old Dr. Lakin, when he got old like I am, somebody said to him, "Dr. Lakin, have you retired yet?" He always had an answer for everything. He said, "Yes, I put on four new ones last week." Do you get it? "Have you RE-tired yet?" "Yes, I put on four new tires last week." That is what he thought of retirement.
Listen, this preacher wrote me. He said, "It is time for my retirement." I wrote him back: "You had better do what God says. Let the Lord take care of you, rather than to disobey God, and stay where there is liberalism, and falsehood, and people who deny the Bible." Not long after that his boy wrote me a letter, and said, "Dad died, and I am so lonely without Dad." His son stayed in the convention. As far as I know he is still in to this day. He compromised.
Listen, get on the right side of Jordan, the side that God wants to put you on: the Promised Land, and plenty, and blessing, and fruits, and what God wants to give you. Don’t let the Devil cheat you out of it.
They said, "Take us not over Jordan." Oh, the rebellion that is in that statement. That is like a Christian saying, "Preacher, I don’t want to be a Christian." A lot of people don’t. But a born-again Christian that is really saved; they don’t want to ever go back. They want to be on the right side of Jordan.
I used to talk about folks being "really saved." Dr. Curtis Hutson and I, when he was the editor of the Sword of the Lord, used to preach together many, many, many times, all over the country. I would talk about people "really getting saved." Dr. Hutson said, (We would talk to each other about just anything.) "Brother Tom, There is no such thing as being really saved. You are either saved or lost." We laughed. I said, "Well, I still believe that I have really been saved." I will tell you, when you get "really saved," and God says, "We are going over Jordan," and Jesus is in front of us, and He is the leader, just follow Jesus, and it will be alright. God will part the waters, and when you get over there it is the land of plenty, and milk and honey, and fruit, and a fertile land, and a great place to live and enjoy your life.
Get on the right side of Jordan. These people got on the wrong side of Jordan.
II. The other side of Jordan borders the Land of Promise.
On the wrong side they bordered the Land of Promise. Over there is the Land of Promise, but they are on this side. I am talking about "Border Line Christianity." I am talking about people trying to live so close to the border that if they want some of the world they can find a dose of it very quickly, just cross over the border line. I want to tell you, there may not be such a thing as a person being really saved, though I know I am, but there is such a thing as a person that is a "Border Line Christian," that wants to live in both worlds. You can’t do that. The world will not respect you. They don’t want you. You are an enigma to them. On God’s side of Jordan is where the Lord wants you. These people were border line people, or people who live close to the border.
I read many years ago a simple story about a king, and his coach, and his coachman. He had to get a new coachman to drive his coach. He had three applicants. He said to one, "I want to ask you, how close could you come to the edge of this precipice? How close could you come on the road to this precipice, and still not endanger your king?" The first man said, "I could come so close that the wheel would be right along the edge of the precipice." The king said to that man, "You just go on. You are not going to be hired." He said to the second one, "How close could you come?" The second applicant said, "Oh, with the king, I would get at least three feet away. I would get a yard away, so I wouldn’t endanger my king." The king said, "You just go on. You are not going to be hired." He said to the third man, "How close could you get?" The third man said, "King, I don’t know, because I would stay as far away from it as I possibly could, because I would be driving the coach of the king." The King hired that wise, cautious man. Listen, you are living to honor the King. Don’t be a "Border Line Christian."
I read about people dying. I don’t know why, but Joyce and I read the obituaries. I don’t know why Joyce reads them, but I know why I read it. I read it to see if my name is in there. I want to know it if it is. We read the obituary column in the paper every day. We read about people who belong to the Elk’s Club, and the Lion’s Club, and they belong to the Eagle’s Club, and to the Bear’s Club, and all that kind of stuff, and never mention the church of Jesus Christ. A man who had been in the funeral business for years and years said, "Seven people out of ten who have a funeral come in and we say, ‘What church did this person belong to?’ and they say, ‘He had no church association.’" Seven out of ten! A funeral director said that, who had been in it for years.
A lot of people want to live border line. Listen, I not only want the Lord, I want His church and His people. I want them to be my running mates. I want them to be my friends, and my brothers and sisters. I thank God for the church of our Lord, and the born again people of God. They are on the right side of Jordan.
These people got on the wrong side of Jordan, and they suffered as a result of it. A lot of people do that. I told it in this church, but I think it is worth telling again. When I came here, a good man—I will not call his name because he was a good man, and I honored him and loved him, and he was a truly good man and did a great work—but when I came to Pontiac, I came to a little church out on the north side of Pontiac, where they had never had a pastor. They had never been a church as such, but was a Sunday School. We stayed there two and one half years, and doubled the size of the building. The building filled up. People were saved and were baptized. The church who mothered that group had said, "If the church grows it will be set free." But when the time came they did not want to do that. I don’t want to serve some kind of ecclesiastical order. I want my headquarters to be with God in heaven. So, we came out to this little Castle Inn building—a deserted tavern—and started Emmanuel Baptist Church.
But, this good man—a good man, I loved him and I love him tonight, he has been in heaven a long time—said to me, "Now Tom, I want you to go with me to the Ministerial Association. So I said, "I love him, and believe in him." I said, "I’ll go with you." We went down here to the First Presbyterian Church in Pontiac. We went in and sat down. There were seventy preachers—pastors—there. They got into a discussion about the virgin birth. The discussion was very heated. About half of them believed in it, and the other half didn’t. They just really argued whether you had to believe in the virgin birth of our Lord in order to be a Christian. I believe that you would have to believe that because that is in the Bible. That is why Jesus came, and how He came to die for my sins and for yours. So I gave my little word in favor of believing in the virgin birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. But I saw half the people—ministers—preachers—did not believe that. I am not trying to be obnoxious. I am not trying to show off, but I went outside that church, and I remembered what Jesus had said: "If people don’t receive you, knock the dust of your feet off." I went outside that church, hit my foot just like that, and I have never been back, and I have no plans to go. My crowd of preachers believe this Bible. My crowd of people are glad to go over Jordan to the land God has given us with all of its blessings, and its fruit. A lot of people are "Border Line Christians."
A young Catholic man came to me years ago, and he said to me, "Do you believe that you could make a preacher, (He was talking about the school.) could make a preacher out of a Catholic man?" I said, "No, I couldn’t make a preacher out of any kind of man. But God can make a preacher out of a saved man." I talked to him, and he had faith in the Lord, and trusted the Lord, but he was in the wrong place. He said, "I want to go to that school over there." So he went over and registered, and he was filling out the application, and he came to the place where it said, "Do you use tobacco?" Now, don’t run off, anybody. "Do you use tobacco?" He didn’t fill it out. He came to me, and he said, "I’ve run up against another snag." He said, "I found in there that you can’t use tobacco." I said, "Well, that is right." I said, "If you want to come to this school, and if you feel God has called you to preach, you ought to settle that on God’s side." He said, "That is the end of it." He said, "I am going to fill out: No." He put "No" down. He never touched another one, and he went out of this school serving God.
Listen, this old border line business won’t get it. Get on the right side of Jordan.
I am taking too much time with a few notes. I’ve got—let’s see how many pages of notes I’ve got—thirty … thirty-eight pages. Oh, I tell you, I can just feel the hearts just pounding, and you saying, "Oh, Lord!" No, I’m going to finish up.
III. The other side of Jordan is the side of bad influence.
On the off side of Jordan is the side of bad influence. These people had bad influence. The Lord said, "You are disappointing your brethren. You are not willing to stand with them." They had a bad influence. The people who will not follow the Lord, and go on across—take the step over on God’s side, and trust the Lord, and get saved—those kind of people are bad influences on other people. They don’t get anyone saved. They don’t influence anyone to go to heaven. Why should they? They are not going themselves. These people had a bad influence, because they wouldn’t obey God, they would put their faith and trust in Him, they wouldn’t follow the ark, which means following the Lord Jesus Christ. They wouldn’t do it. They were a bad influence. Nothing is ever said about how they came out. Hundreds of years later, the whole territory they settled, were people who ran Jesus out of that place in Gadara: no voice for God, no one testifying for Jesus, not one. You see, people have a bad influence, not only on the family, but on other people who are on the wrong side of Jordan.
Oh, tonight, for God’s sake, get on the right side of Jordan.
A fellow got saved in Dr. George W. Truett’s church many years ago. He was sixty-four years old. That’s how long I have been preaching, and a little more. Sixty-four years old, and he had never been saved. He got saved, and he said to Pastor Truett, "I have a son, and two grand boys. The grand boys are nearly grown." He said, "My son is not saved, and my grand children are not saved. I want you to pray that I can win them to the Lord." The pastor said him, "I will pray for you. I will do anything I can to help you win them." So the man went to his boy. He was sixty-four years old. He said to his boy, "Son, I have been saved at the First Baptist Church, and I know the Lord, now. I am going to follow the Lord. God has cleaned me up. I am a new man. I am a new Daddy." He said, "Son, I want you to be saved." His boy said, "Dad, you went sixty-four years. You never got saved. (Sixty-four years on the wrong side of Jordan!) Dad, I am not going to live that kind of life. You go ahead, and you do what you want to, but, you went sixty-four years, and lived just like I am living. Maybe when I get sixty-four I may get saved. I don’t know, but I don’t want any part of it now." It broke his heart. He went to his two grand sons. He said the same thing to them. They said what their daddy said: "When we get sixty-four, Grandpa, maybe we’ll trust the Lord."
Listen, you had better cross Jordan now. Get on the right side. I want to tell you: It is wonderful there. God is over there. God supplies your needs. God looks after you. God defeats your enemies. God gives you all the blessings that a person could ever enjoy in this world. Hesitation to do what God wants you to do is a bad influence.
IV. The other side of Jordan is the side of the permissive will of God.
The wrong side of Jordan is the side of the permissive will of God. As I said earlier, you can do some things like these twelve spies God sent over to look at the land. They found it so wonderful. The grapes were so big that they took a long pole and hung a bunch in the middle. They put the pole on one man’s shoulder and another one up there, and they brought those grapes and they said, "This is the fruit of the Promised Land." There were twelve of them—a committee. Listen, don’t ever get on a committee if you can help it. Dr. Hyles said, "The camel was supposed to be a horse, but the Lord said, ‘I just believe I’ll appoint a committee to make this horse,’ and look how it turned out with all those humps inside." There is something you need to learn: "The majority is not always right." In fact, the majority is seldom right. Ten of the spies said, "We can’t take that land. There are giants over there, and we look like grasshoppers when we saw these great big giants. We can’t take the land." You know, when you get the "grasshopper complex" you are going to make some dumb decisions. Don’t look at the giants. Look at God, and the giants will look like they are not that high when you look at God. Don’t compare them with yourself, compare the giants with God, and they will look awful small. People begged God, "Let us not go over Jordan," and they didn’t go. God gave them their wish. But like Psalm one hundred six, verse fifteen says, "And he gave them their request; but sent leanness into their soul." Boy, I want to tell you, leanness—spiritual leanness—in your soul is a miserable life.
IV. The other side of Jordan is the side of barrenness.
The wrong side of Jordan is a place of barrenness, as far as spiritual fruit is concerned. Jesus said, "I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing." (John 15:5) You need to learn who the vine is. On the right side of Jordan is fruit bearing. It is a land of milk and honey, and fruit. I believe God wants his people to bear fruit. In Mark eleven is a passage of scripture that I often just put into my heart. I often go over it verse by verse. It starts out in verse twenty-two, "And Jesus answering saith unto them, Have faith in God. For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith. Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them." I often think that the reason He said that was that the morning before Jesus wanted something for His breakfast. He saw a fig tree. He went to the fig tree, and put His hands in among the leaves and the limbs and looked for a fig on this fig tree. The Bible says there was nothing but leaves. That describes a lot of Christians: no fruit, just leaves, just show, no fruit. Jesus pronounced a curse on that fig tree. The next morning when they came back, the disciples saw that fig tree, and it was as dead as though it had been dead a hundred years. They said, "How can this happen?" Jesus said what I have just read to you. "Have faith in God." You can do anything that needs to be done if you trust God. You have a big God, a living God, a loving God, and a wise God, and a powerful God. Oh, when you get on the right side of Jordan wonderful things happen. Nothing but leaves, the Bible says, no fruit, and the Bible says it withered away.
I want to tell you about a white-haired deacon in this church years ago, such a wonderful, wonderful man. I don’t know whether there is anybody here who would remember Brother Bob Key, or not. Bob Key and his dear wife served the Lord in this place. They were some of the sweetest people I ever met in my life. Brother Bob Key was one of the dearest men, you just couldn’t help but love him. It was a joy to shake hands with him, he was such a wonderful man. But Bob Key grew older, older, and older, and he got sick, and he was very ill. He was in and out of the hospital and I would visit him. Just before he died I went to see him again. We were talking about the things of God. Brother Bob Key was talking about how wonderful it is to be a Christian, and how he looked forward to heaven. And he said, "Brother Tom, you know it is the greatest thing in the world to have your faith in the Lord, and to know where you are going to spend eternity." There was a man in another bed. I didn’t know anything about this man. Brother Key, you could see his little old frail body, and his flesh had vanished away, and he was just a figure of what he was when he was healthy. I loved him so much. We took each other by the hand and we prayed and Bob Key prayed, and we wept. He said, "If I don’t see you again, I’m going to meet you in heaven." So when I got through, I went over to the man in the next bed, and I said to him, "Sir, do you know the Lord? I’d like to find out if you know Jesus, and if you are going to heaven." He said, "You know, I’ve been laying here day after day, just waiting for somebody to come and help that good man, and get me saved." He said, "I believe God sent you here. I want to get saved" So I told him that it is so easy to get saved, and he trusted Jesus. I got to thinking about it afterwards: listening to Brother Bob Key talk, and this man hearing it all, and I got thinking that if I were unsaved I don’t think I would have enjoyed that conversation about heaven and how good it is to know the Lord. That man was hungry, and he trusted the Lord because there was a Christian in that bed dying. He died on the right side of Jordan. Oh, thank God!
The Lord has told us, "Let’s go over on the other side." He never lets you lose out on the way. He will take you all the way. Jesus will be the leader. You can go to heaven by following Him, trusting Him, believing in Him. You will be on the right side.
Let’s stand and pray.
Oh, Lord, I thank you tonight for your mercy and grace in my life. You have been so good to this unworthy servant. I thank you for your saving me, for your watch care, for your provision, for your love, your wisdom, your leadership. Oh, Lord, it is so good to be in your care and keeping, and to be on the right side of Jordan. I pray tonight if there is someone here that feels that the things that are on the wrong side are part of their life, may they part from that tonight, and get on your side, the right side where there is plenty, and happiness, and peace, and blessing from God. Oh, Lord, tonight apply to our hearts what I have stammeringly tried to speak tonight. Oh, God, please, I beg of thee, use it in our hearts tonight to help us to cross over to the side God is on, and the side of plenty of blessings, and spiritual things. Lord, help us to take our stand with the Lord Jesus in all things in every way. Lord, if there is someone here tonight who needs to be saved I pray that you will help them come and trust the Lord. If there are some of your dear children holding on to some little nugget in the world somewhere, may they turn it loose tonight and get on the right side Jordan. I pray in Jesus name, and for His sake. Amen
Let’s just have bowed heads for a moment. If God is speaking to your heart, and you feel the desire to come and pray, and you want to please God more and more, just come and kneel at this altar. Let’s sing Just as I Am. Sing it prayerfully. You come while we sing.