Israel is about to do something they have never done before – cross the Jordan and move into Canaan.
• They are moving onto uncharted path. They have never been this way before (3:4), Joshua said it right.
• His instruction is: “When you see the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, and the priests, who are Levites, carrying it, you are to move out from your positions and follow it.” (3:3)
What are they supposed to do? FOLLOW the ark. The Ark of the Covenant of the Lord represents the presence of God.
• It wasn’t a superstitious thought. It was a revelation of God given to Moses in Exo 25 when God instructed Moses to construct the Ark.
• God said, “There, above the cover between the two cherubim that are over the ark of the Testimony, I will meet with you and give you all my commands for the Israelites.” (Exo 25:22)
• That’s where God meets Moses. That’s the presence of God with His people.
The Ark of the Covenant will move ahead of them, carried by the priests, the Levites. God will lead the way, as He has promised.
• It doesn’t matter if this is a way you have never been before. But it does matter WHO is leading you.
• Keep your eyes on the ark, Joshua says. God will get you to where He wants you to go.
• It does not matter what is ahead of you. It does matter WHO is with you.
And then Joshua added a word of caution: Don’t come to near to the Ark.
• Keep a distance. Stay close, close enough to see the Ark, but keep a distance of 1000 yards (900m). We do not know the reason for this. No explanation.
• Two possibilities. One is the holiness of God. The people, unprepared and unsanctified, must not come too close to God’s holy presence.
• Second possibility is that if those nearest crowd around the Ark, the rest would lose sight of the Ark. Stay a distance to maintain a clear line of sight for all.
We do not know the exact reason. But the important thing is DON’T LOSE SIGHT OF THE ARK. Don’t stay too far behind. Don’t get lost in the crowd.
• Joshua says, FOLLOW IT and “then you will know which way to go.” (3:4a)
• Follow Him and you will know which way to go. Determine today, in your heart that you are going to FOLLOW Him, no matter what.
The focus is not on the leader. It’s not Joshua that the people are going to look up to. It’s not going to be any church leaders or pastors. We follow Christ.
• The focus is not even on the daunting problem in front of you – how to cross the river. The instruction was simple, just follow the Ark.
• The focus is on the ARK, the presence of God. Where is He right now in your life?
The Ark of the Covenant is mentioned 17 times in these 2 chapters (3 and 4); 10 times in chapter 3 alone.
• That’s what the people need to LOOK AT and LOOK TO – the presence of God and His power to lead them through.
• God will lead us through our BIG RIVER if we stay focused on Him. No matter what that may be, it doesn’t matter. Stay close to God and keep Him in sight!
No wonder Jesus’ made such a simple call – COME, FOLLOW ME.
• That was enough for the first disciples. They experienced God’s grace and power, and transformed lives.
• Don’t lose our primary focus. Heb 3:1 “Fix your thoughts on Jesus.”
• Keep this main thing the main thing, that’s the main thing. The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.
This is easier said than done. We need to make an effort to KEEP OUR FOCUS RIGHT.
• When we are struggling with difficulties and many unanswered questions, we become bitter and unhappy. We vent our frustrations at God because we feel, somehow, He is involved. And we begin to find our hearts drifting away. We are no longer excited about God. We are losing sight of Him.
• The Ark is still there, but we are not seeing it. Heb 3:1 “Fix your thoughts on Jesus.” Check what you are looking at today.
How are you going to cross the river without the Ark?
• God will surely lead you through Jordan because Canaan is His plan for you.
• Don’t try to figure out HOW. Just follow Him. Stay close and keep Him in sight!
• We can only tackle the problems WITH God, and not apart from Him.
As I prepared my thoughts at this point, God spoke and said:
“I have done everything I could. You have not done that little you can.”
Let’s take a look at what God did for Israel. The Ark is always “ahead” of them.
• The word AHEAD is repeated in verses 6, 11 and 14. The emphasis is clear.
• You may be uncertain but that’s fine, because God knows the way. He is ahead of you, leading the way.
• The priests carrying the Ark step into the River and it stopped flowing. Actually it has already stopped flowing some time back.
The water flowing downstream was cut off and stood up in a heap (3:16).
• It piled up at a town called Adam (unknown) in the vicinity of Zarethan (3:16), that’s about 24 km up North.
• If the stream had been flowing at a speed of 50 km/h (at flood stage), it would mean that the river was cut off up North about 30 minutes ago.
• The priests stepped in and the river stopped flowing, because 30 minutes ago God has already performed a miracle!
God can do miracles, out of your sight and ahead of your time!
• God has it all prepared, ahead of time, way beyond their sight, so that His people could cross the river in safety.
• Do you believe this? Of course, I do. Jesus Christ is a testimony of such a God.
• Even before I knew I was a sinner, even before I found out that I have a problem, even before I was born, God has prepared Jesus Christ to be the sacrificial lamb for me - way ahead of my time and way beyond my realisation.
It is very naive of us to think that God is unprepared for our problems today.
• As if our present woes caught Him by surprise, and He was not prepared for it.
• In fact, the other way around is correct. He saw it and had it all prepared.
• Whatever you are going through, God has already seen it coming, way before it happened, and He has the answer for it.
KEEP YOUR FAITH STRONG
It really doesn’t matter if the river is at flood stage (spring time). God has ALREADY gotten the answer for it.
• Whatever the situation, God always has the upper hand. Trust Him.
• The entire nation crossed the Jordan on dry ground and in safety.
During the cross, the Ark stood firmly in the middle of the Jordan (3:17).
• If you ask me, where is God? He is in the middle of it all. He is right there in the midst of your crisis.
• And He will stay there “until the whole nation had completed the crossing on dry ground” (3:17)
• He will stay here until you are safe and completely out of your crisis. This is our God. He is with us, every step of the way.
You know who came out last?
• Josh 4:18 “And the priests came up out of the river carrying the ark of the covenant of the LORD. No sooner had they set their feet on the dry ground than the waters of the Jordan returned to their place and ran at flood stage as before.”
You can’t beat that. It’s a miracle. The timing was as precise as God wanted it.
• What came out last? The Ark. No one was behind it. God was their fore-runner and their rear guard.
• You are fully safe and secure, because He is before you and after you, He is Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End.
If you ask me, what is the secret to their success? The Ark. Nothing else.
• His presence is what they really need. Train your heart and mind to fix on Him.
• God assures Joshua: “I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Josh 1:5)
• Jesus’ parting words to His disciples were: “I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matt 28:20)
Keep Your Focus Right. Keep Your Faith Strong. GOD IS ENOUGH FOR YOU.