Summary: Today's Sermon is the 2nd part of a series within the series on Practical Faith. It looks at Joshua and the children of Israel who are now ready to step out by faith and cross over into the promises of God.
“Stepping Out By Faith”
Today we are looking at part 2 of our series within our series on Practical Faith as we look at Joshua and the children of Israel as they ready themselves to cross over the Jordan River and into the Promise Land. And by doing so we’ll see the faith it takes to step out into the promises of God.
We are kind of picking up our study from where we left off last week, as part of the process of Joshua defining His purpose as He and Israel were about to step out by faith and cross over the Jordan River and into the Promised Land.
One reason why people lack vision is because they lack the faith to believe that God will do what He has promised. The first time the children of Israel were at the border of the Promised Land they didn’t enter because they lacked the faith to believe, so they never received what God had in store for them.
However, after 40 years of wandering in the wilderness, they didn’t make the same mistake twice. They moved forward and stepped out by faith, keeping their eyes firmly fixed upon the Lord, and this time they crossed over into God’s promises.
Let’s take a look at this story.
“Then Joshua rose early in the morning; and they set out from Acacia Grove and came to the Jordan, he and all the children of Israel, and lodged there before they crossed over. So it was, after three days, that the officers went through the camp; and they commanded the people, saying, "When you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, and the priests, the Levites, bearing it, then you shall set out from your place and go after it. Yet there shall be a space between you and it, about two thousand cubits by measure. Do not come near it, that you may know the way by which you must go, for you have not passed this way before." And Joshua said to the people, "Sanctify yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you." Then Joshua spoke to the priests, saying, "Take up the ark of the covenant and cross over before the people." So they took up the ark of the covenant and went before the people.” (Joshua 3:1-6 NKJV)
“So it was, when the people set out from their camp to cross over the Jordan, with the priests bearing the ark of the covenant before the people, and as those who bore the ark came to the Jordan, and the feet of the priests who bore the ark dipped in the edge of the water (for the Jordan overflows all its banks during the whole time of harvest), that the waters which came down from upstream stood still, and rose in a heap very far away at Adam, the city that is beside Zaretan. So the waters that went down into the Sea of the Arabah, the Salt Sea, failed, and were cut off; and the people crossed over opposite Jericho.” (Joshua 3:14-16 NKJV)
The people were about to cross over into the Promised Land, but there was one obstacle before them, the Jordan River. Normally the Jordan is not that wide or fearsome, but in the springtime it’s generally flooded, and so instead of calm flowing waters, the children of Israel encountered a rushing raging river, and to cross it at this time wouldn’t be the smartest decision, in fact, they may have said that it was insane.
But God commanded that they cross if they wanted to enter the promises. As such, they were to enter these raging waters, but not presumptuously, but with full faith in God.
And so, they began where all faith begins, and that is with the Lord God, and in keeping their eyes firmly fixed upon Him.
Solomon said, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6 NKJV)
The word, “acknowledge,” means to know God in a real and intimate way. And so, as we looked at this last week, if we want the Lord to direct us in the way we should go, then we have to know Him personally.
Now, Jesus tells us to love God with the whole of our being, that is, with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength (Mark 12:30). And that sort of love means that we are to make Him first and foremost in our lives. And that’s exactly what Joshua commanded the children of Israel to do when he said they were to “sanctify” themselves before the step of faith was made.
To sanctify means to set ourselves apart, and to be completely dedicated unto the Lord and in His service.