Summary: Some great principles about faith found in Israel’s crossing of the Jordan River.
A Study of the Book of Joshua
Sermon # 3
Stepping Out On Faith
Joshua 3: 1-17
Dr. John R. Hamby
For Christians today crossing of the Jordan represents passing from one level of the Christian life to another. It is not a picture of a believer dying and entering heaven. Canaan was not heaven it was a place that had to be won by hard work. Canaan is a picture of entering into spiritual warfare to claim what God has promised.
Tonight I want us to examine some great principles about faith found in Israel’s crossing of the Jordan River.
1. FAITH MAY REQUIRE THAT WE WAIT
“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. (2) So it was, after three days,
The spies had returned from Jericho and given a favorable report. Joshua orders the Israelites to move to the edge of the Jordan River and wait for further instructions.
The Israelite were to wait when waiting was difficult. Those three days of waiting at the Jordan river were days of preparation for crossing it. The issue of waiting is seen in the first phrase of verse two, “So it was, after three days,”
As they waited they no doubt became increasingly aware that crossing the Jordan River was impossible. The Jordan River that was only about 100 ft. wide most of the year, but during the spring flood stage, which it was now, became up to a mile wide.
As they faced the difficulties there had to be many conflicting proposal being offered. Some of them no doubt were saying, “Let’s go back!” Some were saying, “Hey it looks pretty good on this side of the river to me.” Some no doubt examined the various ways of crossing the river. They could not swim across. They couldn’t build enough rafts or boats to transport over a million people. They did not have time to build a bridge. There was only way around their problem and that was through it.
It was a the very time that the people were faced with the tremendous difficulties and they knew that they were at the end of their resources that God would be able to show his power. But it is never about what we can do, it is always about what the Lord is able to do. The apostle Paul says in Ephesians
(3:20) ”Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us”
Have you ever seen those flashing electronic signs on the highway which say, “Expect Delays” that is pretty sound advise but lets admit it, waiting on God is hard to do!
2. FAITH RECOGNIZES THAT SOMETIMES GOD CHOOSES TO WORK IN NEW WAYS
When it was time to go, God gave the Israelites some specific instructions (vv. 2b-4), “So it was, after three days, that the officers went through the camp; (3) 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. (4) 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.”
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 has fascinated people for over three thousand years. Now the ark symbolized the presence and power of God with His people.
The presence of the Ark represented the person and promises of God. Having it led the way, pointed to the fact athat as the people of Israel set out to cross the Jordan, invade and possess the land, they must do so not in their own strength, but in God’s for it was God Himself who was going before them as their source of victory.
When we face times of crisis or when we need direction in life, we need to learn to be sensitive to the movement of the Lord in and around us. When God is at work among us and around us we cannot help but expect to hear the call to go forward. When God is at work, we are sometimes moved right out of our comfort zones into the path of new opportunities.