Joshua 3:1-17; Luke 14:1-6; Psalms 80:1-13; Proverbs 19:20-21
OT: “Joshua started early the next morning and left the Acacia Grove with all the Israelites. They went as far as the Jordan and stayed there before crossing. After three days the officers went through the camp and commanded the people, “When you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God carried by the Levitical priests, you are to break camp and follow it. But keep a distance of about a thousand yards between yourselves and the ark. Don’t go near it, so that you can see the way to go, for you haven’t traveled this way before.” Joshua told the people, “Consecrate yourselves, because the Lord will do wonders among you tomorrow.” …The Lord spoke to Joshua: “Today I will begin to exalt you in the sight of all Israel, so they will know that I will be with you just as I was with Moses. Command the priests carrying the ark of the covenant: When you reach the edge of the water, stand in the Jordan.” Then Joshua told the Israelites, “Come closer and listen to the words of the Lord your God.” He said, “You will know that the living God is among you and that he will certainly dispossess before you the Canaanites, Hethites, Hivites, Perizzites, Girgashites, Amorites, and Jebusites when the ark of the covenant of the Lord of the whole earth goes ahead of you into the Jordan… When the feet of the priests who carry the ark of the Lord, the Lord of the whole earth, come to rest in the Jordan’s water, its water will be cut off. The water flowing downstream will stand up in a mass.” When the people broke camp to cross the Jordan, the priests carried the ark of the covenant ahead of the people. Now the Jordan overflows its banks throughout the harvest season. But as soon as the priests carrying the ark reached the Jordan, their feet touched the water at its edge and the water flowing downstream stood still, rising up in a mass that extended as far as Adam, a city next to Zarethan. The water flowing downstream into the Sea of the Arabah — the Dead Sea — was completely cut off, and the people crossed opposite Jericho. The priests carrying the ark of the Lord’s covenant stood firmly on dry ground in the middle of the Jordan, while all Israel crossed on dry ground until the entire nation had finished crossing the Jordan.” (Joshua 3:1-5, 7-11, 13-17 CSB)
For 40 years, the nation of Israel wandered around in the wilderness because of their lack of faith and unwillingness to obey the word of the Lord. They were now only a few miles away from the land that God had promised them. The only thing that stood between them and their destination was a flooded Jordan River. Would they once again turn back in fear and unbelief, or would they move forward in faith? The word that they were given was to consecrate themselves (cleanse themselves of the dirt from their wanderings and put on clean clothes) and keep their eyes on the ark of the covenant. The ark of the covenant was the representation of God’s faithfulness to His covenant and His promise to be with them and go before them. As they kept their eyes on the ark, they kept their faith in the Lord God of the whole earth. When the ark moved forward, they moved forward. As those carrying the ark stepped their feet into swollen uncharted waters, the people moved forward to do the same… and then a miracle happened. God made a way where there was no way, and the entire nation walked into promise and destiny. They moved forward in faith. They navigated the unknown in faith. They stepped into promise by faith… all the while keeping their eyes on the faithful God. For many of us, we began this year with hope and words of promise – then we came to our “flooded Jordan River.” Blocking the way forward has been an unceasing cycle of weather events, plagues, political unrest, economic turmoil, loss of income… it goes on and on. Most alive today have never experienced anything like this… we’ve never traveled this way before. What do we do? Trust in the Lord and His faithfulness to His Word and His words of promise. Keep your eyes on Him and allow Him to lead you into and through the swollen and turbulent waters. If you remain with Him and in Him, you won’t get swept away. Through faith and obedience, we will get through and arrive safely on the other side.