Summary: The faithfulness of God is seen in the new era of Israel under Joshua’s leadership.
The Ways of God
Joshua 1,3, 4
(Scripture reading is from Psalms 77:11-15).
Over the past several weeks we’ve been pushing our way through the book of Joshua, looking closely at some of the ways that God works in the lives of His people. This week I decided it was time for us to step back, take a breath, and look at the big picture.
There is a story about a teenage boy who was deeply interested in scientific subjects, especially astronomy. So his father bought him a very expensive telescope. Since the young fellow had studied the principles of optics, he found the instrument to be most intriguing. He took it apart, examined the lenses, and made detailed calculations on the distance of its point of focus. The youth became so absorbed in gaining a technical knowledge of the telescope itself that he never got around to looking at the stars. He knew a lot about that fine instrument, but he missed seeing the wonders of the heavens.
Sometimes we get so enamored with the details that we forget to look at the big picture.
As I’ve read, prayed, and meditated over these stories we’ve looked at so far in Joshua, I was lead to the scripture in Psa. 77. (read)
That’s the big picture. Or, if you will, that’s the God who paints the picture. A God whose ways are holy, whose arm is powerful, a god who performs great miracles. That’s what we need to see in these stories.
I want to start where we left off last week.
The Jordan River was a barrier to the people. God had called them to enter the Promised Land. But the Jordan was a barrier that separated them from their destination.
God’s people still face barriers. For you it is probably not a river, but a habit, an attitude, a sin, an addiction, a grudge, a financial challenge, joblessness, a divorce, outside expectations, etc.... This church has barriers too. We often face a barrier to reaching out to unsaved and unchurched people, to discipling those young in their faith, etc.
In this account of Israel crossing the Jordan, we will learn three truths of how God still enables His people to cross the barriers before them.
I. God Always Prepares His People (1:1-18).
A. God prepared Israel to cross the Jordan.
1. Last week we learned how God brought Israel to the border of the Promised Land 40 years earlier. Through mighty plagues, He delivered them from slavery in Egypt. He parted the waters of the Red Sea. He gave them His law on Mt. Sinai. He fed them in the wilderness. He defeated their enemies in battle.
2. When He lead them to the land, He told Moses to send in spies to see the land He was "giving" them (Num.13:2). 10 of the 12 spies brought back a "bad report" and the people rebelled against God. As punishment, God allowed that whole generation, everyone over 20 to die in the wilderness.
3. After 40 years of wandering, when the last of the rebels were dead, God brought His people again to the edge of the Promised Land. This time they came to the banks of the Jordan on the east.
B. God prepared Joshua to cross the Jordan (vv.1-9).
1. Moses had recently died and God raised up Joshua as the new national leader. Joshua and Caleb were the two spies who had brought back a faithful report 40 years earlier.
2. I find it significant that God had been preparing Joshua all of his life just for this moment. All of the experiences he had had were used by God to prepare Joshua to lead these people.
3. No doubt, as Joshua, now probably the oldest man among them looked at the rushing waters of the Jordan, God spoke to him.
4. Note v.2, "Arise, go over this Jordan... to the land which I am giving them." God seems to be saying, "Don’t doubt Me, I’m with you."
5. In vv.3, 5-7 God encourages him to not be afraid but to go out and conquer. Over and over He says, "Be strong and of good courage."
6. In vv.8-9, God reminds Joshua of the importance of Scripture.
C. Joshua prepared the people to cross the Jordan (vv.10-18).
1. Joshua told his "officers" to go throughout the camp, over 2 million people and say, "Prepare provisions for yourselves." "Provisions" comes from a Hebrew word that means "food or meat."
2. They were to know that "within three days you will cross over this Jordan." I’m sure as they looked at the churning waters beside their camp they thought, "How will we ever cross that?"
3. The last part of the message is that you will "possess the land which the Lord your God is GIVING you to possess." Note Joshua’s special word to the tribes who would inhabit the eastern bank of the Jordan in v.13