Summary: The Children of Israel stand on the edge of a new land, and a new experience. Can they be obedient? Can they trust God?
A Series of Sermons on Joshua 3&4
The Crossing of the Jordan by the Children of Israel.
Israel has been cleansed of the disobedience of the “Exodus generation” and is ready to move forward with God’s plan for His chosen nation. They are now to claim the Promised Land and establish a nation that embodies Kingdom values as a witness to the world of God’s love and sovereignty.
This series will examine the steps that were necessary for Israel to accomplish that part of God’s plan and will show us how we can establish a life and a community that embodies kingdom values.
Essentially, “Crossing the Jordan” represents a movement toward Christian maturity within the church community. It is the gradual fulfillment of Jesus’ prayer, “thy kingdom come.”
Consecrating Yourself – Joshua 3:5
Following God’s Presence – Joshua 3:1 - 6
Crossing the Waters – Joshua 3:13 - 17
Gathering 12 Stones – Joshua 4: 1 - 9
Going Somewhere New – 4:13 & 3:4
What does it mean to be consecrated?
Joshua 3: 5, 6
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.
It is important to begin this series with the right perspective. We will look at Israel following God’s presence across the Jordan, gathering 12 stones to mark that miraculous event and moving on to conquer Jericho. But before all of that took place and before God would work great miracles on their behalf He required one thing, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do amazing things among you.”
Israel needed to remember what type of people God was calling them to be. Israel was moving into the Promised Land to establish a nation that would display God’s character and will, thereby fulfilling the promise to bless all nations though His people (cf. Gen. 12:1–3). They were to do this by living under his rule with his Presence in their midst. This sanctifying Presence would mark Israel as a holy people, set apart for his work and required holiness of life in response.
This lifestyle would demonstrate to the surrounding nations the benefits of being a people living under God’s rule.
To maintain this lifestyle God gave ritual, moral and social laws that were to be strictly kept. These three areas represent three realms of holiness presented in the OT:
1. The Priests’ Realm – ritual holiness involved being separated from the idolatrous culture surrounding them.
2. The Sages’ Realm – inner integrity and individual moral acts
3. The Prophets’ Realm – speaking and acting out for social justice
The act of consecration was an act whereby Israel purified Herself and recommitted Herself to this lifestyle. They were reminded of God’s holiness and the requirement that they be a holy people. As it was with Israel so it should be with us. We must examine our lives and our communities with regard to these three areas before we seek to move forward.
As Christians our consecration, i.e. dedicating our lives to the service of God, which is made possible by God’s act of forgiveness through Jesus. We are called upon to ‘separate ourselves’ or to ‘offer ourselves as living sacrifices’ because we are called to be people of consecration.
How do we do this?
Stepping away from the idolatrous culture surrounding us
Being ‘in the world, but not of the world’ is a real challenge. We could feel guilty that sometimes we get an urge to respond to someone in a manner we know would not make Jesus happy! Sometimes we are ‘tempted’ to act as one without The Holy Spirit. We need to listen – listen to what God has to say:
I think that this subject revolves more around the choices we make than any other subject. I think so because it requires us to ‘step away’. It means that we need to be deliberate…
• Men: from the internet sites we visit, to the way we manage our personal funds…from the way we use our time to the way we treat our wife. You can be part of the culture and build your own custom ‘idol’ very easily.
• Women: from the manner in which you dress to the way you use your time and talents…from the priorities you set for yourself to the way you deal with your husband.
• Building families and homes of integrity will mean we build a legacy.
Therefore we think about ritual…what rituals help guard us from building ‘idol-like’ life?
• Reading our Bible – spiritual food
• Marking a time to pray – spiritual communication