Summary: The three phrases are: “Don’t know which way to go,” “the way seems blocked,” and “on the edge of something.” Let’s talk about these three phrases and see where they lead us. [Inductive Sermon]
THE WATER’S EDGE
“Don’t know which way to go,”
“the way seems blocked”
“on the edge of something”
READ JOSHUA 3:1-17
“Early in the morning Joshua and all the Israelites set out from Shittim and went to the Jordan, where they camped before crossing over. 2 After three days the officers went throughout the camp, 3 giving orders to the people: "When you see the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, and the priests, who are Levites, carrying it, you are to move out from your positions and follow it. 4 Then you will know which way to go, since you have never been this way before. But keep a distance of about a thousand yards between you and the ark; do not go near it." 5 Joshua told the people, "Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do amazing things among you." 6 Joshua said to the priests, "Take up the ark of the covenant and pass on ahead of the people." So they took it up and went ahead of them. 7 And the LORD said to Joshua, "Today I will begin to exalt you in the eyes of all Israel, so they may know that I am with you as I was with Moses. 8 Tell the priests who carry the ark of the covenant: 'When you reach the edge of the Jordan's waters, go and stand in the river.'" 9 Joshua said to the Israelites, "Come here and listen to the words of the LORD your God. 10 This is how you will know that the living God is among you and that he will certainly drive out before you the Canaanites, Hittites, Hivites, Perizzites, Girgashites, Amorites and Jebusites. 11 See, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth will go into the Jordan ahead of you. 12 Now then, choose twelve men from the tribes of Israel, one from each tribe. 13 And as soon as the priests who carry the ark of the LORD-- the Lord of all the earth-- set foot in the Jordan, its waters flowing downstream will be cut off and stand up in a heap." 14 So when the people broke camp to cross the Jordan, the priests carrying the ark of the covenant went ahead of them. 15 Now the Jordan is at flood stage all during harvest. Yet as soon as the priests who carried the ark reached the Jordan and their feet touched the water's edge, 16 the water from upstream stopped flowing. It piled up in a heap a great distance away, at a town called Adam in the vicinity of Zarethan, while the water flowing down to the Sea of the Arabah (the Salt Sea) was completely cut off. So the people crossed over opposite Jericho. 17 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 passed by until the whole nation had completed the crossing on dry ground.”
As I was thinking and praying on this passage from Joshua 3, three phrases popped in my head and caught my heart’s attention as I was reading. The three phrases are: “Don’t know which way to go,” “the way seems blocked,” and “on the edge of something.” Let’s talk about these three phrases and see where they lead us.
DON’T KNOW WHICH WAY TO GO
ILLUSTRATION…Alice in Wonderland, ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/c/carroll/lewis/alice/chapter6.html
In Lewis Carroll’s classic fantasy story from 1865 “Alice in Wonderland,” Alice falls through a rabbit hole and enters a world with strange creatures and has quite an adventure. Alice, in her travels, has just put down the baby she was carrying which ended up being a pig. She set the pig down and was wandering about and met a character which is most famous from the Alice in Wonderland story… the Cheshire Cat.
She [Alice] was a little startled by seeing the Cheshire Cat sitting on a bough of a tree a few yards off. The Cat only grinned when it saw Alice. It looked good-natured, she thought: still it had very long claws and a great many teeth, so she felt that it ought to be treated with respect.
‘Cheshire Cat,’ she began, rather timidly, as she did not at all know whether it would like the name: however, it only grinned a little wider. ‘It’s pleased so far,’ thought Alice, and she went on. ‘Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?’
‘That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,’ said the Cat.
‘I don’t much care where —’ said Alice.
‘Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,’ said the Cat.
‘— so long as I get somewhere,’ Alice added as an explanation.