Summary: Are we people who live by faith, or by sight; are we afraid to cross the river, or are we willing to take the risk and live by faith.
Cross That River
I. There are a few things you need to know that will be foundational to understanding the principles of today’s lesson.
A. First, you need to know about the Ark. The Ark of the Covenant was the piece of furniture that God directed Moses to build and place in the middle of the Tent of Meeting, in the Holy of Holies.
1. The Ark was an OT representation of what was to be fulfilled in the NT.
2. The Ark was God’s dwelling place. It was the place where God met with Moses.
3. The Ark gave power and victory to the people when they were engaged in battle.
4. It also gave them direction: wherever the Ark went, they followed.
5. What (or who) do you see in the NT that’s similar in purpose and function to the Ark?
a) How about, Jesus?
b) How about the Holy Spirit?
B. You also need to know about the Jordan River. Just like the Sabine River is the boundary between Texas and Louisiana, the Jordan River was the imaginary line that separated the Israelites from the Promised Land. To reach the Promised Land they had to cross the river. Throughout most of the year, the Jordan River was only a mere stream that was easily forded. However, during the harvest season the river transformed from a small stream into a mighty river that would overflow and flood the surrounding plain. Guess when God chose for the Israelites to cross the river? That’s right, when the river was at flood stage. Now, why do you think God did that?
C. The Promised Land was the goal the Israelites had been striving for. When they left Egypt they had this dream of “a land flowing with milk and honey.” It was going to be their utopia. Somehow, they expected the journey to the Promised Land to be easy, and when it didn’t turn out that way they complained. When the spied came back with stories of giants in the Promised Land, their dream turned to dust. It wasn’t the facts that dried up their dreams, it was their unbelief. Because of their unbelief God declared that none of that generation except for Caleb and Joshua would enter the Promised Land. So the Israelites wandered in the desert forty years waiting for that generation to die. Moses was the last to die. Their children are the ones who now stand at the banks of the Jordan River, looking across to the Promised Land. Will this generation cross over, or will they be as rebellious as their fathers had been?
D. One last thing you need to know. The OT was written primarily in the Hebrew language. It’s always difficult to translate from one language into another, because of the variance in syntax and meanings, but translators have done a remarkable job of trying to convey the original meaning into our rather limited language. Would you like to learn some Hebrew? There are a couple of Hebrew words that I would like to teach you.
1. The first word is naca (naw-sah’ ). It’s translated into English as “set out.” That word is used over and over again in the book of Numbers. That’s the book that describes the Israelites 40 years of wandering in the wilderness. During the time in the wilderness they were led by a cloud by day, and a pillar of fire by night. This was the glory of God. Each day they would look to see if the cloud had lifted from the tabernacle to see if they were going to travel that day or not. If the cloud lifted they “naca” – “set out.”
2. The other word is abar (aw-bar’ ). It’s translated into English as to “pass over” or to “cross over.” This word is used most frequently in the book of Joshua. Primarily in the first 5 chapters. In the context of this chapter in Joshua, God is telling the people to “abar” – cross over the Jordan River. This was something completely new.
II. What kind of people are we? Naca or Abar?
A. Naca people are portrayed ever so clearly in the lives of the Israelites who came out of Egypt—those who were under Moses’ leadership, and who lived out the remainder of their lives wandering around in the wilderness, because God forbade them to enter the Promised Land.
B. How would you describe them?
1. Afraid of the unknown. Their fear paralyzed them from moving into the Promised Land and claiming their inheritance.
2. Doubt God’s power. They had witnessed God’s power, but the giants in the land seemed bigger than God to them.
3. Fearful of change. How many times had they complained about their circumstances, and ask to be taken back to Egypt, back into slavery. “Take me back to where I was comfortable.