Summary: Overcoming life obstacles by learning from the Israelites’ experience of God & His Power in the crossing of River Jordan.
GOD give the people of Israel a grand promise - the Promised land, flowing with milk and honey. Yet the journey to it wasn’t easy - there were testings through the wilderness (desert). They faced natural obstacles - Red Sea, desert (no water, food), Jordan River... Then there were other physical obstacles - enemies, giants were living in Canaan. They need to fight them.
We face all kinds of obstacles in life - looking at it negatively, we get discouraged and may decided to turn around. With God, we take life obstacles as challenges and overcome them in His strength. They become stepping stones for us, opportunities where we experience God’s power and develop strong faith in God.
The people of Israel had a very long and difficult journey. They have now come the place very near to the Promised Land. Just one step away. God’s leading has been great. He provided all that they needed in the wilderness. This new generation was about to enter the Land. Yet there is just one more barrier - the River Jordan. They need to cross the river.
Their previous generation - the fathers and grandfathers - had the experience of crossing the Red Sea. Now this new generation is about to experience God’s power in their own way. He is going to lead them across River Jordan.
Notice that in the OT, we read of the people of Israel recalling their history very often, particularly the journey out of Egypt (even in the Psalms). It was through this journey that they experienced God’s power and faithfulness. This historical experience was important. They were able to trust Him today because they have seen God’s power and faithfulness in the past.
Today, our barrier may not be a river. Maybe a bad habit, an addiction, an attitude... maybe it’s a difficulty at work, or in your family. Some kind of barrier that stops you from being at the place God wants you to be, or being the person God meant you to be. But we can overcome!
In this account of Israel crossing the Jordan, we learn that God will enable His people to cross the barriers before us:
I. God Prepares His People (1:1-18)
1:2 "get ready to cross the Jordan River." God prepares Joshua. He was fearful, being a new leader and given such a difficult FIRST task. (v.9 "Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged...")
See how God assures him:
v.3 "I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses."
v.5 "No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you."
v.6 "Be strong and courageous..." (3 times - v.6, 7, 9.)
v.9 "the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go."
Why did God make such an effort to assure him? He knows Joshua’s struggles.
These are words we want to hear when we’re facing a big obstacle. God understands. He knows you very well. He knows what you’re struggling today. He is there to help you - He will not leave you nor forsake you.
BUT God stressed something we need to take note of. The underlining principle for success is this - we must listen to Him and walk by His ways.
vv.7-8 "Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. 8Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful."
THEN Joshua prepares the people to cross the Jordan (vv.10-18)
Now Joshua turns to the officials and ask them to get the people ready - v.11 "get your supplies ready, 3 days from now we will cross Jordan... to take possession of the land God is giving you for your own."
God will prepare His part, man will prepare their part. God has His promise, but man must do his part - obey the Word of the Lord. This time, they did not murmur or hesitate.
Trust God. If it is God’s will, He will grant us the resources to overcome our obstacles and reach our destination. In our ministries as well. The devil will lay down obstacles & barriers to stop us, but we can overcome. God will prepare us - emotionally and physically - strong and courageous.
Crossing over may not be easy. It requires faith. It’s so much easier not to do anything - stay in the wilderness, but then we’re not enjoying all that God has blessed with. Our life can be more blessed, our ministry can grow stronger, our work more rewarding... if we take the step of faith and do greater things for God.