Summary: The 3rd sermon in my Joshua series focuses on faith when we don’t immediately see God doing anything.
14 So when the people set out from their tents to cross the Jordan with the priests carrying the ark of the covenant before the people,
15 and when those who carried the ark came into the Jordan, and the feet of the priests carrying the ark were dipped in the edge of the water (for the Jordan overflows all its banks all the days of harvest),
16 the waters which were flowing down from above stood and rose up in one heap, a great distance away at Adam, the city that is beside Zarethan; and those which were flowing down toward the sea of the Arabah, the Salt Sea, were completely cut off. So the people crossed opposite Jericho.
17 And the priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the LORD stood firm on dry ground in the middle of the Jordan while all Israel crossed on dry ground, until all the nation had finished crossing the Jordan. (NAS 95)
I. Getting Ready for God’s Work 3:1-12
1. They are now on the oasis of Jericho, which is about 5 miles from the river proper. They are in the final preparation for crossing the Jordan. Just over the Jordan River lies the land God had promised to their forefather Abraham hundreds of years earlier. But a major challenge lay between them and the land God had promised them, the river.
The Jordan River varies from 200 yards wide to nearly a mile wide during the rainy season. The crossing took place during the rainy season.
2. Why the three day delay at the edge of the Jordan? The reason lies in having time for spiritual preparation. The Lord was about to perform one of the truly great miracles & He wants the Israelites to be ready to not only witness it, but to also understand its significance. The river is swollen and surging. The miracle of crossing the river at flood stage will communicate to the people how God’s strong arm will be their Savior. (PBC)
3. I want you to notice in verse three what would lead the people as they crossed the river? That’s right, it would be the ark of the covenant. You’ve probably all about the ark of the covenant, but what was so important about it & what does it have to do with the way things are today? Good questions, I’m glad you asked. First of all let me show you an illustration of what the ark may have looked like. We don’t have actual pictures of it, because it has been lost. What we do have though, is a description of what it might look like based upon a detailed scriptural description.
4. Previously God had used "the cloud by day and pillar of fire by night" as symbols of his leading, presence and protection. Now God has chosen to lead the people in a new way, by the "Ark of the covenant." The Ark represented the person of God Himself. Having it lead the way, demonstrated the fact that they weren’t attacking the well protected land of Canaan under their own power, they were following Him into the Promised Land.
The ark is mentioned 16 times, in chapters three & four. It represented God and His presence. When they followed the ark it was as though they were following God Himself.