Summary: God gave four specific instructions to Joshua for crossing the Jordan River. These instructions will help us cross the rivers of our lives.
I grew up in the little community of Munford, AL. My granddaddy owned a small farm that provided a place of enjoyment, hard work, and learning as I grew up. We were fortunate to have Cheaha Creek that flowed through the farm. About three acres was across the creek and we had one place that we’d cross the creek.
When I was about ten years old, we were crossing the creek to do some work on the other side. We only lived a half mile from my grandparents, so I had ridden my bicycle to their house. When we got to the creek, I wanted to ride my bicycle across. Daddy tried to get me to put the bicycle in his Jeep, but I insisted that I could ride across the creek. So, Daddy let me go first.
I went down the road that lead into the creek to gain the momentum I’d need to get across the current. I made it about ten feet into the creek when my front wheel hit a rock and threw me over. The water was only about eighteen inches deep. But that covers a lot of a bicycle with only twenty inch tires. As I stood up, Daddy came across in the Jeep, helped me put my bicycle in and carried me across. He never said a word. He knew I’d learned imprtant lesson that day.
The Israelites found themselves on the banks of the Jordan River. Across the river was the Promised Land; the destination of their long journey. But how would they get across?
The Lord gave Joshua four specific instructions about crossing the Jordan River.
1. Don’t move until the Ark of the Covenant moves (3:2-3).
2Three days later, the Israelite leaders went through the camp 3giving these instructions to the people: "When you see the Levitical priests carrying the Ark of the Covenant of the LORD your God, follow them."
The people were anxious to cross the Jordan. Across that swollen river lay the land God had promised them. They had several options. They could wait until the rains stopped and the river returned to its normal flow. Or they could find a shallow place to cross.
God gave Joshua specific instructions about the timing in which they were to cross the Jordan.
The Ark represented God’s presence, his throne.
God was their leader. The Israelites were to follow his instruction.
2. Follow the Ark because you will travel on a road you have never walked before (3:4).
4Since you have never traveled this way before, they will guide you. Stay about a half mile behind them, keeping a clear distance between you and the Ark. Make sure you don’t come any closer."
My trip to England & Scotland – our tour guide safe took us on many roads we’d never been on before.
God will guide you wherever you need to go.
3. Purify yourselves for the Lord (3:5).
5Then Joshua told the people, "Purify yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do great wonders among you."
God was preparing to perform a miracle for the people. However, the people weren’t ready to receive the miracle.
Ceremonial cleansing of sin (sacrifice)
Repentance - confession & cleansing
4. Step into the water (3:8, 15b-16a).
8Give these instructions to the priests who are carrying the Ark of the Covenant: ’When you reach the banks of the Jordan River, take a few steps into the river and stop.’"
But as soon as the feet of the priests who were carrying the Ark touched the water at the river’s edge, 16the water began piling up at a town upstream called Adam, which is near Zarethan.
God did not open the waters before they stepped in. God opened the waters after they stepped in.
Dependence upon God
Trust God’s wisdom
There are many Jordan Rivers that we must cross during our lifetime.
I remember standing on the banks of another river in my life. I was 18 years old. I had finally graduated high school and moved to Atlanta to attend school. This was a big change for me. It was the typical small-town-boy-moves-to-the-big-city experience. I lived in student housing during the first term of school. We affectionately called the apartments the "roach motel’. I found myself rooming with three guys whom I had never met before. I also discovered that many of the things I had only heard about really did exist.
About a month after school started, I made my first trip back home. I had a good visit. It was a wonderful weekend. As Sunday afternoon wore into the evening, I began feeling down. I really didn’t know why. That night I went to my bedroom to get ready for bed and it hit me like ton of bricks. I sat down on the edge of my bed, placed my face into hands and began to sob.