Summary: We need to understand the value of remembering the goodness of God once we’ve come through a trial. Joshua is instructed to take rocks...
I would say that one of the things that I have a hard time with is throwing away things from the past. As Donna and I have just moved and sorted through all of the things we have accumulated we came across some treasures from our past. It seems that no matter how small or seemingly worthless each item may be they spark a memory and usually a conversation and then a struggle over whether we should throw it away or not. I have been doing a lot of remembering these past few weeks and I have begun to see its great value in the life of the believer. How many of you can honestly say you have gone through a very difficult, almost impossible life circumstance? This morning I want to talk to you about not just going through them, but the value of keeping a memento so that you always remember.
As we read this passage we have to remember that the Israelites are moving into a place where they refused to go before. The Jordan River was the barrier that separated them from their promised inheritance. A generation of doubters had died off, a new leader was guiding the people and they were set to embark on the fulfillment of God’s promises to His people. There must have been an air of excitement as well as uncertainty. This story illustrates so much of our walk as Christians so let’s get into it. (read scripture)
1. Being called to cross (3:6)
God wakes them up after a day of fasting and tells them that He will give them victory over the people inhabiting the Promised Land, but they would have to do battle. He told them that His presence would stop the water, but they would still have to walk across. One thing that we must all understand about walking this Christian walk is that no matter how wonderful God and His promises are, we will always be required to take a step of faith and move in obedience. God never told them how He would give them victory or how He would stop the river, they just had to trust Him.
The Israelites also knew the consequences of doubting the Lord and deciding that they knew better. 40 years in the desert! No they were ready to be obedient and that meant crossing another body of water in order to grab hold of their future. You and I have been called to cross too. We have all been promised a future that is fulfilling, meaningful and exciting, but first we must be obedient and cross in faith believing that our God can do the miraculous. Abraham Heschel in his book Unshakeable Faith said, “…faith like Job’s cannot be shaken because it is the result of having been shaken.” We must have faith to believe that whatever is out there is good because God is good, no matter how much of a challenge it is for me.
2. His presence will allow safe passage (3:9-17)
The Israelites had been instructed to send a priest from each tribe to hold up the Ark, the presence of God, in the middle of the river and in so doing they would see the hand of God. Even though the river was overflowing due to it being the rainy season, God would stop the river. As they walked out with the Lord in front the river was stopped and the ground dried up. What a promise people that is still true today. This is one truth that you need to cling to in the midst of every challenge life brings you…if God is at the centre you will make it through!
Many people allow many things to happen while crossing the rivers of life. Some people touch the water with their feet and jump back onto shore because of doubt and fear; they never go anywhere. Others walk in and begin to see God’s provision, but get caught up in looking at the river, not on God; these people are swept away in the current. Others still get tired when the crossing takes longer then they had anticipated; these people are overcome and become victims of the river. We need to look to the Israelites for inspiration. They walked across and were focussed on their God and His ability to do the impossible. He remained at the centre until they were all through and everyone made it.
“There is no situation so chaotic that God cannot from that situation, create something that is surpassingly good. He did it at the creation. He did it at the cross. He is doing it today.” - Handley C. G. Moule
3. Take something to remember who got you through (4:1-7)
Finally I want to talk to you about what you take away from these life experiences. God instructs the Israelites to do something very interesting. 12 others are instructed to go into the middle, where the priests are standing, and take 12 stones for the purpose of building a memorial. Why did Israel need a memorial? So that when their kids would ask them how did we end up here they could tell them the story of God’s faithfulness. These parents would tell them the exciting details and how these stones are from right in the middle of the river, “I watched them carry them”. It would speak of the day they chose to trust God for their future and how He proved Himself to His people. It would remind them in other times of trial that God brought them this far, He would carry them through to the end. God was good on His word and that’s all that mattered. These were rocks worth remembering. A true testimony of the God of Israel; the God we serve today!