104-104-Joshua Chapter 3
In Joshua 1:11 we read that God had commanded the Israelite nation to wait three days at the banks of the Jordan River. It was the time of the year when the Jordan River overflowed its banks and the people of Israel watched and saw the rushing waters of the Jordan, which were swollen from the spring rains. I imagine they must have been asking how they would be able to cross over. It was one thing for two spies to cross over the swollen water but quite another for the whole nation to cross with all their possessions. Perhaps a few had doubts after all the wonderful talk of taking possession of the Promised Land. They had eagerly marched forward and now at the river they found a seemingly impossible barrier before them. Others must have been pondering how God would make this feat possible to them.
Joshua did not send a group of engineers ahead to find a way to cross the Jordan but sent the Priest in the lead with the Ark of the Covenant. The Ark of the Covenant was the representation of God’s presence with His people. The problem that faced them was not one of human engineering but a spiritual problem and therefore would take a spiritual God to provide the solution. God required that a space of 1000 yards be between the people and the Ark of the Covenant. There are two reasons for this command. One was to respect the holy nature of the Ark of the Covenant and the other was to assure that everyone had a clear view of the Ark of the Covenant. To know the way that you should go is to follow the Ark of the Covenant, to know the way is to follow the Lord. Israel would be able to accomplish what seemed impossible by setting their eyes upon the presence of God and follow Him.
Their battle was like that of ours, not against flesh and blood but against spiritual forces. Before going into spiritual battle one must make spiritual preparation. One must sanctify themselves unto the Lord. We must turn form the common things of this world and look to the One who will lead us into the world to come. As we keep our focus upon God He will do wondrous things amongst His people.
Joshua issued the command to the priest to take up the Ark and move forward. His command was that of what the Lord had told him to do. Joshua had a deeply mature faith in God’s word. In the days of his youth he was with Moses when God had parted the Red Sea freeing the people for the pursuing Egyptian Chariots. The success of Joshua depended upon and grew out of the promise of God in Joshua 1:8, “This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success.”
Even with the specific guidance from God and His Word the faith that Joshua displayed is impressive. To live and walk in the Promised Land requires this kind of faith. A slavish dependence upon the law or the works that we do will not grant us a personal relationship with God. Faith will lead us unto greater victories than law and works ever will.
Joshua has taken his step of faith in God’s Word and now God encourages him. God has promised that Joshua will be respected by the people as Moses was and will be their leader on God’s behalf. God is always wanting to encourage those who are walking with Him in faith.
As the Red Sea displayed the power that God would use through Moses so the Jordan River would be used by Joshua to show the power of God through Him.
Joshua knew the way that the Lord works in the human events of our lives. God is about to move on behalf of the Israelite people and this movement is also a promise that He will move on their behalf with future blessings. Joshua knows that the Ark of the Covenant must lead the way. Man cannot fight spiritual battles by physical means. When in spiritual warfare the Lord must lead the way to victory. For the Israelites the flooding waters of the Jordan River may have seemed an impossible barrier to overcome but the words of Joshua must have been refreshing to them. So too it is for us that the impossible problems we face are not insurmountable but opportunities to see the mighty works of our God.
1000 yards in front of the people the priest made their march to the Jordan River carrying the Ark of the Covenant. They carried the Ark into the River and stood there. We don’t know how long they stood there before the rivers flow ceased. It may have been for a long time or it may have been just for a moment. But in that type of a situation a moment would seem as a long time. In our prayers we may expect the ground to be dry before we step into the bed of a river, but God often expects us to step out in faith into the raging waters.
The waters of the Jordan River stopped. Some have said that it was possibly an earthquake the caused the waters to stop. Maybe, but I believe that the waters stopped at the command of God’s Word according to the timing of His hand. Not only did the flow of the river cease but the Israelite nation crossed on dry ground. God miraculously dried the river bed so the people would not become bogged down in the marshy river bed.
How did this happen? By the demonstration of man’s faith in the power of an Almighty God. By following God’s lead of presence in our lives according to His plan. The Ark of the Covenant is mentioned 14 times in these 17 verses. This event was all about the trust in God’s Word by Joshua, the priest and the Israelite people. The Ark of the Covenant cleared the way for the Israelite nation. This was a spiritual work, not the work of a group of engineers.
When we face impossible situations in our lives we must fix our eyes upon Jesus, our Joshua, to lead us on the way. Jesus is our Ark of the Covenant, He is Immanuel, “God with us.” (Matthew 1:23) Jesus has cleared the way to victory in all things. “When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him.” (Colossians 2:15) I find it true that nothing is impossible for one who has complete faith in God. The Israelites followed the Ark of the Covenant and walked across the Jordan River on dry land. Peter followed Jesus with eyes fixed upon Him and walked on the water of the Sea of Galilee. (Matthew 14:29)