Joshua 3:1-17 STRANGE TERRITORY
Israel had been in the wilderness for 40 years. Now they are about to cross over the Jordan River into the promised land. “…Ye have not passed this way heretofore” (v. 4).
New Challenges, New Opportunities, New Ministries, New Tests, New Trials,
I. We must Rely on God’s PRESENCE 3 And they commanded the people, saying, When ye see the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, and the priests the Levites bearing it, then ye shall remove from your place, and go after it 1. The Symbolism Of The Ark
To the Israelites, the ark symbolized the presence of God. In that ark were: First, the two tablets of stone God's Sovereignty Second, a supernaturally preserved pot of manna God's Sufficiency Jesus said later, in John 6:35, "I am the bread of life." Thirdly, Aaron’s budding rod God's Supremecy God is a miracle-working God. 2. The Sanctity Of The Ark 4 Yet there shall be a space between you and it, about two thousand cubits by measure: come not near unto it, that ye may know the way by which ye must go:
Why the space? Respect, Reverence, Revelation, (Seen by all) Borne by the priests half a mile ahead, the ark would be visible to the whole multitude
1930 Black Congregation "Why do we sing? We have Jesus to sing about!" "Amen! Turn your eyes upon Jesus, Look full in his wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, In the light of his glory and grace. 3. The Security Of The Ark Romans 8 v 31 What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? 32 He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?
With Christ in the vessel we can smile at the storm
II. We must Reckon on God’s POWER 5. And Joshua said unto the people, Sanctify yourselves: for to morrow the LORD will do wonders among you. (a) The Test Sanctify yourselves (1) First, their experience tells us we need to look IN. Psalm 139:23, Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: (2) Next, we must look UP. we will never make a crossing on our own. 15 And as they that bare the ark were come unto Jordan, and the feet of the priests that bare the ark were dipped in the brim of the water, (for Jordan overfloweth all his banks all the time of harvest,) (3) we must also look BACK. the story of the crossing of the Red Sea had been told over campfires for 40 years "Oh God our help in ages past-our HOPE for years to come; our shelter from the stormy blast and our eternal home." (4) And then finally we must look FORWARD. Got any rivers you think are uncross-able? Got any mountains you can't tunnel through?
God specializes in things thought impossible He can do for you, what no other can do (b) The Timing 5. And Joshua said unto the people, Sanctify yourselves: for to morrow the LORD will do wonders among you.
15 And as they that bare the ark were come unto Jordan, and the feet of the priests that bare the ark were dipped in the brim of the water, (for Jordan overfloweth all his banks all the time of harvest,) Man’s extremity is God's opportunity 1. Jesus didn't come when Lazarus was sick 2. Jesus didn't heal him 3. Jesus didn't prevent his death 4. Jesus didn't leave him in the grave
(c) The Triumph 13 And it shall come to pass, as soon as the soles of the feet of the priests that bear the ark of the LORD, the Lord of all the earth, shall rest in the waters of Jordan, that the waters of Jordan shall be cut off from the waters that come down from above; and they shall stand upon an heap. God could have divided the Jordan without the priest, but the priest could not divide the waters without God.
On Christmas Day, 1939, King George addressed the nation, "The Gate of the Year." “And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year: ‘Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.’ And he replied: ‘Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the hand of God. That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.’”
Luke 5:4 Now when he had left speaking, he said unto Simon, Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught. 5 And Simon answering said unto him, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net. 6 And when they had this done, they inclosed a great multitude of fishes: and their net brake.
III. We must Rest on God’s PROVISION (v. 7). And the LORD said unto Joshua, This day will I begin to magnify thee in the sight of all Israel, that they may know that, as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee.
A. He will SUPPLY! B. He will STRENGTHEN! C. He will SUSTAIN! “without fail.”
IV. We must Respect God’s PRECEPTS (V. 8) And thou shalt command the priests that bear the ark of the covenant, saying, When ye are come to the brink of the water of Jordan, ye shall stand still in Jordan.
Heb. 13:7, Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation. There must be unquestioning submission to His Word.
Comedian W. C. Fields replied, "I’m looking for loopholes."
God means what He says and says what He means. John 2:5 His mother saith unto the servants, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it.
Life would be so much simpler and richer if we would just do what God says.
Psalm 119:128 Therefore I esteem all thy precepts concerning all things to be right; and I hate every false way.
A tourist once approached a sign that read, "ROAD CLOSED. Do not enter."
When he came back to the sign that he had ignored, "Welcome back, stupid."
A. It was a BOLD STEP of faith (15)
B. It was a BOLD STAND of faith (17) C. It was a BOLD STATEMENT of faith (16)
While we make God’s precepts our standard, His promises our stay, His power our strength, and His presence our sufficiency, we need not dread the strange territory.