The illustration above depicts Julius Caesar crossing the River Rubicon on his way to Rome. Once Caesar did this in 49 BC, he and his men were committed to overthrowing the Roman Republic that had lasted for 700 years. Today, “crossing the Rubicon” refers to an individual or group committing itself irrevocably to a risky course of action, similar to the modern phrase “passing the point of no return.”
Salvation is a step of faith, believing that the holy, sinless Son of God will save me from sin through His substitutionary, atoning death on the cross. It is faith that what the Bible says about sin, salvation, and the Savior is true and that my very life depends on it. Jesus said this to a woman when He asked her for a drink of water from a well: “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.” (John 4:13-14 NKJV)
As fellow-soldiers, we have assurance that God will keep His Word and that our eternal destiny depends only on His faithfulness and not our own. As fellow-soldiers, fellow-laborers, and fellow-servants, we will meet together at a river one day in the New Jerusalem and spend eternity at the foot of the throne of God. Will you meet us there at that river?
E. W. Long’s Illustrated History of Hymns and their Authors says this about our “Battle Hymn” for today:
“On a very hot summer day, in 1864, Robert Lowry was seated in his parlor in Brooklyn, NY. It was a time when an epidemic was sweeping through the city, and draping many persons and dwellings in mourning. All around friends and acquaintances were passing away in large numbers. The question began to arise in the heart, with unusual emphasis, ‘Shall we meet again? We are parting at the river of death, shall we meet at the river of life?’ ‘Seating myself at the organ,’ says he, ‘simply to give vent to the pent up emotions of the heart, the words and music of the hymn began to flow out, as if by inspiration:—
‘Shall we gather at the river,
Where bright angel feet have trod?’”
Shall We Gather at the River?
by Robert Lowry
Shall we gather at the river,
Where bright angel feet have trod;
With its crystal tide forever
Flowing by the throne of God?
Yes, we’ll gather at the river,
The beautiful, the beautiful river;
Gather with the saints at the river
That flows by the throne of God.
On the margin of the river,
Washing up its silver spray,
We will walk and worship ever,
All the happy golden day. [Refrain]
Ere we reach the shining river,
Lay we ev’ry burden down;
Grace our spirits will deliver,
And provide a robe and crown. [Refrain]
Soon we’ll reach the shining river,
Soon our pilgrimage will cease;
Soon our happy hearts will quiver
With the melody of peace. [Refrain]
“And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.” Revelation 22:1-2