Summary: Getting out of the rut of weak faith.
Forward by Faith, Joshua 3:1-13
Background: The book of Joshua deals with much more than ancient history—what God did centuries ago for the Jews. It’s about your life and the life of the church today—what God wants to do here and now for those who trust Him. The Book of Joshua is about the victory of faith and the glory that comes to God when His people trust and obey.
In the Christian life you’re either an overcomer or you’re overcome, a victor or a victim. After all, God didn’t save us to make statues out of us and put us on exhibition. He saved us to make soldiers out of us and move us forward by faith to claim our rich inheritance in Jesus Christ.
Moses said it perfectly: “He brought us out . . . that He might bring us in” (Deut. 6:23). Too many of God’s people have the mistaken idea that salvation—being delivered from the bondage of Egypt—is all that’s involved in the Christian life; but salvation is only the beginning.
In our personal spiritual growth and in our service for the Lord, “there remains very much land yet to be possessed” (Josh. 13:1, NKJV). The theme of the Book of Joshua is the theme of the Book of Hebrews: “Let us go on” (Heb. 6:1); and the only way to go on is by faith.
Unbelief says, “Let’s go back to where it’s safe”; but faith says, “Let’s go forward to where God is working” (see Num. 14:1-4).
40 years before, Joshua and Caleb had assured the Jews, “Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it.” That’s faith! But the people said, “We are not able!” That’s unbelief. That cost the nation forty years of discipline in the wilderness (see Num. 13:26-33). “And this is the victory that has overcome the world—your faith” (1 John 5:4, NKJV).
The lives of the men and women whom God has used—and is using—to challenge the church and change the world had one thing in common: They all believed God’s promises and did what He told them to do. They were men and women of faith, and God honored them because they believed His Word.
So, what’s the problem…God hasn’t changed, and the principle of faith hasn’t changed. What seems to have changed is the attitude of God’s people: We no longer believe God and act by faith in His promises. His promises never fail (Josh. 21:45; 23:14; 1 Kings 8:56), but we can fail to live by the grace of God and not enter into all that He has promised for us (Heb. 3:7-19; 12:15). God has “brought us out that He might bring us in,” but too often we fail to “enter in because of unbelief” (Heb. 3:19).
In Joshua 3, God shares with us how our faith go forward.
As the nation waited by the Jordan River, the people must have wondered what Joshua planned to do. He certainly wouldn’t ask them to swim the river or ford it, because the river was at flood stage (3:15). How about boats or rafts? Construction problems. So, what would their new leader do?
Like Moses before him, Joshua received his orders from the Lord, and he obeyed them by faith. “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10:17, NKJV). It has been well said that faith is not believing in spite of evidence but obeying in spite of consequence.
Because Abraham believed God, he left Ur and headed for Canaan. Because Moses believed God, he defied the gods of Egypt and led the Jews to freedom. Because Gideon believed God, he led a small band of Jews to defeat the huge Midianite army. Living faith always leads to action. "faith without works is dead also” (James 2:26, NKJV).
This passage has five different messages, all of them based on the Word of God, which is the “word of faith” (Rom. 10:8). The people obeyed these messages by faith, and God took them over the river into the promised land.
NEED ELEMENT: Ever feel like your faith is stuck in a rut?
This is how our faith goes forward.
1. Our Faith Can Go Forward When We Seek After God’s Presence (vv. 1-4)
Explanation: Joshua wakes up early in the morning and goes to get alone and hear from the Lord. Once he heard, Joshua ordered the camp to move ten miles from The Acacia Grove (Shittim) to the Jordan; and no doubt the people in Jericho watched this march with great apprehension. It probably took Israel a day to make this journey; they rested another day; and on the third day, the officers gave them their orders: The people were to cross the river, following the ark of the covenant.