Summary: Faith must be acted on in order to be effective.
"Faith: Step Into the Water"
13 And as soon as the priests who carry the ark of the LORD--the Lord of all the earth--set foot in the Jordan, its waters flowing downstream will be cut off and stand up in a heap." 14 So when the people broke camp to cross the Jordan, the priests carrying the ark of the covenant went ahead of them. 15 Now the Jordan is at flood stage all during harvest. Yet as soon as the priests who carried the ark reached the Jordan and their feet touched the water’s edge, 16 the water from upstream stopped flowing. It piled up in a heap a great distance away, at a town called Adam in the vicinity of Zarethan, while the water flowing down to the Sea of the Arabah (the Salt Sea ) was completely cut off. So the people crossed over opposite Jericho.
This is a tremendous story of faith and victory. It is truly a fantastic tale. It’s miraculous. It happened just the way the Lord said it would. The very moment the priests got their feet wet the water stopped and began to pile up on the one side and it trickled down on the other side. Israel crossed over Jordan on dry ground.
My question is, "Why?" Why did God choose to wait until the priests stepped into the water before He stopped the Jordan’s flow? I mean, why didn’t He perform the miracle first, and then have them walk across on dry ground? Why did they have to get their feet wet before He performed the miracle?
I have just one answer, and that’s faith. The Lord could have had them build a bridge, or a fleet of boats to cross the flooding Jordan river. But God wanted Israel to know that He would continue leading Joshua just as He had Moses. So He parted the waters for the second generation of wanderers as He had for their parents to engender the same confidence in His provision and in His selection of Joshua as their leader. He wanted to build their faith.
I believe that’s why He wanted to lead them across on dry ground. But what about having the priests dip their toes in the muddy waters? The same reason - faith. He could have had the ground dry when they approached the Jordan. But they were entering a land that held many battlefields. Ahead of them lie numerous perils and temptations. There would be times when they would need to hear God’s commands and follow them without hesitation. They needed something to build their faith.
They had to take Him at His word and believe that when the soles of their feet made contact with the waters of Jordan something miraculous would happen.
This is one of the principles of living by faith. The Lord does the miraculous. God provides. But not always up-front. Many times He expects us to take a leap of faith before anything miraculous takes place. When God calls us to a task it is often one that we are ill-equipped to tackle. We aren’t prepared for the things He asks us to do. Who can ford the Jordan at flood-stage? Who can make raging waters cease to flow? Only God. But if we will step out on faith then He will see us through.
If you will look back to the generation before Joshua’s crossing the Jordan you’ll see the same principle at work when Moses led their forefathers across the Red Sea on dry land. God could have had an open alley through the sea ready and waiting for them when they arrived on the beach. But He chose to wait until they went as far as they could go, look over their shoulders to see the Egyptian army breathing down on them and then make them wait all night on the beach until the waters had parted and the floor of the sea was dry.
Faith is the explanation. Paul explains it like this, "... hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently." (Rom. 8:24-25) When pay-day rolls around you are going to pick up your check. (Not because you need it but because you don’t want to leave it cluttering up the office. ) When you’re standing there with your paycheck in hand you aren’t going to look over at the person beside you and say, "I hope I get paid today." (Or if you do you’ll give away your secret. Then they’ll know you’re nuts! ) You don’t need faith for something you already have. You need faith for something you hope to get.