Scripture: Joshua 3:1-13
Joshua told the people "Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do amazing things among you."
Joshua said to the priests, "Take up the Ark of the Covenant and pass on ahead of the people." So they took it up and went ahead of them.
And the LORD said to Joshua, "Today I will begin to exalt you in the eyes of all Israel, so they may know that I am with you as I was with Moses. Tell the priests who carry the Ark of the Covenant: 'When you reach the edge of the Jordan's waters, go and stand in the river.' "
Joshua said to the Israelites, "Come here and listen to the words of the LORD your God. This is how you will know that the living God is among you and that he will certainly drive out before you the Canaanites, Hittites, Hivites, Perizzites, Girgashites, Amorites and Jebusites. See, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth will go into the Jordan ahead of you. Now then, choose twelve men from the tribes of Israel, one from each tribe. And as soon as the priests who carry the ark of the LORD -the Lord of all the earth—set foot in the Jordan, its waters flowing downstream will be cut off and stand up in a heap."
In the book of Joshua we see the promise of Abraham coming into reality. We see God’s covenant people possess the land, and we watch them as they learn how the promise becomes a reality. It was a significant time in the “short” history of the Israelite nation. Just a scant 40 years before they stood at the Red Sea waiting to end 400+ years of slavery. They could see on the other side the end of striving and never arriving; the end of walking by sight; the end of independent living; the end of never being assured of victory over the enemy; the end of being constantly reminded of past failures; the end of fear; the end of a self-centered existence where life was all about them.
It was truly the end for the majority of the people, all those except Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh. For they would never occupy the land of promise; for them God’s promise would only be words, not substance. They opted out for something much less than fullness of joy, peace, meaningful relationship and enjoying the milk and honey of being in fellowship with God.
But for those who were going to cross over, the end of the wilderness was just three days away. It was going to be the greatest adventure yet! They didn’t know all of what lay ahead but we can read about it. I don’t even know if they would have believed what God said would happen even if He had been specific. They really didn’t have a clue about the great things He was going to do right in front of their eyes; He told them He would be with them; He would tumble great walls; He would show great mercy and grace in defeat; they would see an enemy terrified of them; they would witness punishment for breaking the law; they would enter into God’s rest.
Transitions are a bittersweet time of experience for each of us. It can be freedom and fear all at the same time. Personally, I know it is scary to go from trusting my own resources and myself for life to trusting God for life; from a DYI (do-it-yourself) mindset to trusting God to do it and lead us through it. Maybe that is where some of us find ourselves today, in transition; going from religion to relationship, trying to trusting, and self-reliance to God reliance.
I think the real issue was not what was going on right then but what had been going on before they even got to the point of transition; where they went from wilderness living to Cannan living. Let me give you four things that took place.1. They had to face the Jordan. It was uncrossable just like the Red Sea. It was in flood stage, there were no resources around to help make the crossing easier. They had to wait for three days and just stare at the water.
Ever have that experience in your life? A thing, an incident, a person you just can’t forgive, get around or over? It may have been when you were small, or it might have happened recently, but you have not been able to go on in your Christian life because of this uncrossable river. They could either go back and stay in the wilderness or go forward and trust God.
The uncrossables; a child who is braking your heart, the things you can not handle, the unresolved anger, the hurt from 20 years or 20 minutes ago, the mistake you wish you hadn’t made. We can’t change our fixes, but God can fix and make changes. We must face the Jordan, not with despair, but with hope for deliverance.
2. They had to focus on God. They had to “Go after it!” according to the scripture. Nike just made the present form of this concept famous but scripture is the originator of the phrase. How do we do this; through the Word, prayer, and making a choice. This is what the early covenant people were doing – they were taking their focus off their feelings and putting them onto God.
3. They had to face themselves. In verse 5 God tells them to consecrate themselves; set yourself apart. Why? Because tomorrow you will see great wonders among you; He tells them to separate from the wilderness mindset, it is time to leave it behind. Will you be a wilderness junkie or a person of faith; trusting God not only as savior but as life.
4. They needed to know a fact. God was going to cut off the water only when the priest rested their feet in the water. Nothing would happen until they took that step of faith. Let me quote a Michael Card song, “That’s What Faith Must Be.”
To hear with my heart
To see with my soul
To be guided by a hand I cannot hold
To trust in a way that I cannot see
That's what faith must be
When the universe fell from His fingertips
He decided He wanted some fellowship
But the man and the woman would not submit
So He made a better way
When the moment was right He sent His own Son
And He opened the way so that everyone
Could have hope and believe that when time was done
He'd be able to make us one
Now I understand that there is a key
It's Jesus in me, a reality
That God is in Christ and that Christ's in me
That with faith I see what is unseen
That's what faith must be
Standing at the Jordan; what a defining moment that is in the life of God’s people. A moment when they faced reality, do we go on or do we go back. As you face the Jordan, will you believe God wants you to walk not only in newness of life but in the fullness of life? Are you ready to leave the wilderness behind?
Give us the strength to encounter that which is to come, that we may be brave in peril, constant in tribulation, temperate in wrath and in all changes of fortune, and down to the gates of death, loyal and loving to one another. Amen
Some things to be mindful of this week:
- Join us for Father's Day this Sunday at 10am as the MANCODE will be revealed to all.
- Be in prayer for "Sailing Free" the ENC Ministry team who will be joining us for services on Sunday, June 27. They will be ministering to the Culpeper Community through Habitat for Humanity on Saturday and then they will share their testimonies with us that morning.
- Sunday, July 4th Services will be in the evening beginning at 6pm due to the Antique Car Show that will be taking place that morning.