Summary: The crossing of the Jordan River reminded us of the need to have a heart to follow God, a faith to believe Him fully, and the courage to act on His Word. God will do His amazing works, very often, beyond what we can see or imagine.
[The sermon thoughts here taken and adapted from Edmund Chan’s book Growing Deep in Faith]
God has promised to give His people the land of Canaan and to guide them there.
• It does not mean, however that the journey will be smooth and easy. In fact, the opposite is true - there are obstacles and many difficulties.
• But if the people are willing to trust God and obey what He says, they will surely inherit what God has promised them.
This is easier said than done, because people are often discouraged when they face problems and difficulties.
• They complained, they get discouraged and they give up too soon.
• We must not fear problems, but tackle them with God. We must trust that God will give us the strength and wisdom to overcome them.
The nation was now camped out by the side of River Jordan. Joshua faced a big obstacle.
• And verse 15 says the Jordan is at flood stage now, being spring time.
• It was impossible for them to cross over. UNLESS God helps them.
And God did, and they crossed over.
• Without God, it is impossible, but with God, everything is possible.
• We learn from this event 3 principles about overcoming obstacles in life.
(1) Having a Heart to Follow God
We must be determined to follow God fully.
• When faced with a problem, we often hear these words, “I do not know what to do.”
• This is not unusual. Many of us have similar experiences. But this is not the problem.
• The problem is not that we do not know what to do, but rather, we don’t do what we know.
And what we do know is that we must follow God. If you are feeling unwell, you should look for a doctor. If you are tired, you should rest.
• There are some things we do know – we need to seek God and pray.
• Joshua instructed the people: “When you see the ark of the Lord, follow it.” (v.3)
• [The Ark was built at the command of God, according to the instructions given to Moses on Mount Sinai (Exo 25:10-16). God was to communicate with Moses "from between the two cherubim" on the Ark’s cover (Exo 25:22).]
The instruction was clear – follow God!
• The focus was not on the river, or the leaders, and not even on Joshua himself.
• Rather, the people were asked to focus on the Ark of the Covenant.
• It is mentioned 17 times in chapters 3 and 4. In chapter 3 alone, it was mentioned 10 times. Everything revolves around the ark.
Note the position of the Ark during the entire crossing. It is described as being in 3 places.
• The Ark was ahead of them (vv. 6, 11 and 14) – the Lord leads the way.
• And then the Ark was moved to the middle of Jordan (v.17) – He was right in the middle of their difficult path. In the midst of the crisis (difficulty), God is there with His people.
• Lastly Exo 4:15 tells us the Ark came up from the river after everyone has crossed – He made sure that everyone was safe. It symbolises His protection.
This is our God. He is with us, every step of the way.
• He wants us to follow Him and He wants us to know He is with us in the midst of our difficult journey.
• Faith is rooted in the conviction that God is with us, and He will show us the way.
(2) Having the Faith to Believe
Some things are beyond us. In fact, many things are beyond our control. We don’t need to feel bad about it.
• Joshua faced an uncross-able river. There was nothing he could do, except to trust God and let God tell him what to do. We need to let go and let God.
• He has to listen to what God says and follow Him. There is no other way.
• “The end of man is the beginning of God.”
He did not even question God, even though he does not fully understand.
• Why cross during the flood season? Should we wait a few more months, until the water level goes down? Or shall we build a boat instead?
• For Joshua, having experienced God’s faithfulness in the wilderness journey, there was no need for negotiations with God.
• God knows best! If He says so, then He can be trusted. We can trust God’s Word today, even when we don’t understand fully.
• In fact, we will NEVER fully understand – that makes us gods!
(3) Having the Courage to Act
The heart to follow and the faith to believe are the attitudes of the heart.