Summary: This message speaks on the steps Israel took in crossing into the Promised Land. We can learn from these principals as we cross into the destiny God has for us!
In the movie, The Dead Poets Society, Mr. Keating (played by Robin Williams) brings his class before a display case featuring photographs of previous students. He asks the students to stand near it and listen carefully they are saying. In a haunting voice, he then utters: “Carpe Diem! Carpe Diem! Seize the day!”
That movie more than any other put “Carpe Diem” into the mainstream of American vocabulary. In looking at the Israelites and their move into the Promised Land, one could certainly say that they answered the call of God to “Carpe Diem.” Their forefathers, unfortunately, rejected the call of God and had condemned themselves to a meager existence of wandering in the desert for forty years.
The move of Israelites from the wilderness into the Promised Land certainly marked a great leap for them as a people. No longer were they to be a group of nomads eking out an existence in the wilderness. No longer would they just get by, but in crossing the Jordan they were going to take their place as a nation in the world and begin to fulfill God’s redemptive plan for the world.
When we read stories from the Bible we can often garner principles to apply to our own lives. Just as the nation of Israel wandered aimlessly without fulfilling its God ordained destiny, so many believers also wander aimlessly without fulfilling the destiny that God has for them. If there ever was a challenge that God would make to the church of America, I believe it is Joshua 3:5:
And Joshua said to the people, “Sanctify yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you.” – Joshua 3:5
This morning we are going to look at the steps the Israelites took in their journey across the Jordan into the Promised Land and seek to apply them to our lives.
In reviewing these steps, we see in Joshua 3:5 the first step they took.
I. They sanctified themselves. (Joshua 3:5)
The word used in this passage for sanctify is the Hebrew word qâdâsh. This word literally means to be set apart, dedicate, or consecrate by purification. This word appears several times in scripture with two main contexts.
A. Being set apart—A call to be holy (Example the consecration of Aaron and his sons)
And you shall take some of the blood that is on the altar, and some of the anointing oil, and sprinkle it on Aaron and on his garments shall be hallowed, and his sons’ garments with him.—Exodus 29:21
These priests went through this ceremony because God was showing them that they were set apart. Likewise, God was calling the nation of Israel to be set apart and even believers today to be set apart as holy priests.
But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. – 1 Peter 2:9
Just as the blood of rams set the priests apart as holy, so the blood of Christ sets us apart as holy and thus we need to separate ourselves from that which is not holy.
Consider what is written in Exodus 28:36-37:
You shall make a plate of pure gold and engrave on it, like the engraving on a signet:
Holiness to the Lord. And you shall put it on a blue cord, that it may be on the turban, it shall be on the front of the turban.
This was something only the head priest could wear in ancient times. When the priest wore it, this plate was evident for all to see. For those of us in Christ, however, this is something that has been engraved on all of our foreheads and we must live such lives that it is evident for all to see.
B. Sanctification by purification-- Often times when the Israelites were called to sanctify themselves they had to wash themselves and their clothing.
The Lord said to Moses, “Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow, and let them wash their garments.” – Exodus 19:10
When Joshua called the Israelites to sanctify themselves, I believe that they went through a similar ritual. The reason for this was that the inward preparation for meeting with God was reflected in the outward actions of maintaining physical cleanliness.
Cmd. Sgt. Soto Illustration: You often hear of inspections for those who are in the military. When I was in Army Signal School we had an inspection that did not go so well. In the military you have command sergeant majors who the highest ranking enlisted men in the army. They usually answer directly to a colonel. Command sergeant majors often conduct inspections and because they answer directly to a colonel they are able to cause even some officers to quake in their boots.