Joshua 3:2-3 and 13-17
“And it came to pass after three days, that the officers went through the hosts; And they commanded the people, saying, When ye se the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, and the priests the Levities bearing it, then ye shall remove from your place, and go after it.
And it shall come to pass, as soon as the soles of the feet of the priests that bear the ark of the Lord, the Lord of all the earth, shall rest in the waters of Jordan, that the waters of Jordan shall be cut off from the waters that come down from above; and they shall stand upon an heap. And it came to pass, when the people removed from their tents, to pass over Jordan, and the priests bearing the ark of the covenant before the people; and as they bare the ark were come unto Jordan, and the feet of the priests that bare the ark were dipped in the brim of the water, (for Jordan overflowed all his banks all the time of harvest,) That the waters which came down from above stood and rose upon and heap very far from the city of Adam, that is beside Zaretan: and those that came down toward the sea of the plain, even the salt sea, failed, and were cut off: and the people passed over right against Jericho. And the priests that bare the ark of the covenant of the Lord stood firm on dry ground in the midst of Jordan, and all the Israelites passed over on dry ground, until all the people were passed clean over Jordan."
Amazing isn’t it! There is so much in these verses. I have tried to glean just some of the wonders presented here to share with you.
First, the people were told what they were to look for or what would be their sign and what they were to do when they saw the sign. When they saw the ark being carried by the priests they were to spring into action. They were to leave their place (comfort zone) and go after it.
Many of us wear out the carpet and our knees asking God for leadership in things that he has given guidance in His word. The Bible is full of commands and other guidelines for us to follow and we don’t have to even ask if it is god’s will. Is it God’s will for you to share the gospel with your lost neighbor? Sure Acts 1:8 says we are to be witnesses first in Jerusalem or locally. We have been told; don’t waste your time and God’s time asking if this is His will.
The Israelites had been told, when they see the ark being carried by the priests to get up and go after it. Was it necessary to have a prayer meeting to seek God’s will in this? NO! They had God’s directive.
As the priests carried the ark, did they have a prayer meeting seeking God’s leadership about crossing the Jordan? NO! They had been told that as soon as the soles of their feet touched the water that it would be cut off and stand upon a heap.
Now visualize this. The priests carrying the ark of the covenant are walking toward the Jordan which is flooded and out of it banks and over a half mile behind them come all the Israelites weary from their travels around the wilderness. Was this the blind leading the blind? Yes, in some ways it truly was. The priests had blind faith that when they got to the water’s edge and stepped into the water that God would do as he had promised and the Israelites had faith that God would take them across the river into the promise land.
Now visualize this. Here we all go, heading toward the work God has given us to do. Maybe it is crossing a river but maybe it is crossing a street to witness to our neighbor. As we near the edge what do we do? Fall to our knees in prayer seeking god’s will whether we should cross that barrier before us to do as God has directed or simply continue forward. Too often with all good intentions we allow ourselves to be hindered by doubt or fear.
I wonder if the priest worried as they neared the swollen banks of Jordan if they might drown. Or be swept away as the waters rushed to their destination in the salt sea. As we come closer to the barrier before us do we fear what might happen to us? As we cross that street will we be hit by a wild driver, will the neighbor’s dog bite us, or will we fall as we cross their yard.
The priests marched forward and as their feet touched the water’s surface a miracle happened. The lord, the Lord of all the earth, caused the water flowing to the sea to start piling up in a heap. Have you ever seen water pile up in a heap? It did that day. That is a miracle but it says that the priests stood firm on dry ground in the midst of Jordan.
No where in this passage is there any mention of a week or two of warm sunny days with a nice brisk wind? How was the ground of the river bed firm and dry? It doesn’t say how God chose to do this but it does say the ground was firm and dry. A miracle? Yes!
Now let’s back up and tell this story the way we might have done it if we were there.
When the officers went around telling the people to be prepared this would lead to a business meeting and the appointment of committees to handle each aspect of this task. Some at the meeting would have suggested buying boats, someone might even have suggested building a bridge, but for sure most would have agreed it is not common sense to just walk out in the water and think we can get across. It is too deep at flood time.
If we all finally agreed to buy boats the next question is where is the money. We can’t do this until we have enough boats and we can’t buy the boats until we have the money in our account. I guess we will have to postpone entering the promise land to we can get the money raised. Does this sound familiar? How often does God tell a church to do a work and the response is we must have the money first?
Remember the phrase in verse 13 which says ”the Lord of all the earth.” The Lord of all the earth is the same Lord that was able then to stop the river’s flow and to dry the ground. Amazing that he is not now able to provide yours and my meager needs.
Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen".
Substance means real, three dimensional and evidence is facts so faith is real facts, not just pipe dreams or wishes. You don’t find my name in the hall of Fame of Faith heroes. I lack faith. I pray for more faith. I am not writing these words to you because I do them and you don’t. God gave me this. maybe just for me but it won’t hurt you to take it and chew on it and see if at least part of it is digestible for you.
What we do for God without faith doesn’t please him. We must operate on faith and through faith to please God.
Sometimes we just have to throw the world’s ways of doing things out the door and bear the ridicule of our neighbors when we follow God’s plan.
Spreading His Word, Don