Are you at a crossroad of your life where you know what God wants you to do yet you are afraid to obey? Is God asking you to make a decision yet you are wavering? Or, you already decided and you are excited to take a step of faith. If you are, then I believe this message is for you! Let us look through the book of Joshua chapters 3 and 4. We will glean our lessons from their miraculous crossing through the Jordan River.
Joshua and the nation of Israel were poised to attack the Promised Land. They waited for this moment for 40 years already. For three days, they were camped near the edge of the Jordan River. Their leaders gave them specific instructions to wait for the Ark of Covenant before moving out. Then, Joshua ordered them: “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do amazing things among you.”  This brings me to our first point: CONSECRATE yourselves.
Let’s do a word study on “consecrate.” Forty years before, when Israel left Egypt, God commanded Moses, “Consecrate to me every firstborn male. The first offspring of every womb among the Israelites belongs to me, whether man or animal.” Note the words “Consecrate” and “belongs to me”. To be consecrated then means to be set apart for a person or a purpose.
Before God gave the 10 commandments, He told Moses, “Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow. Have them wash their clothes and be ready by the third day, because on that day the LORD will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people.” Here the idea is not just commitment but also cleansing. There are times we ask God what His will is, like the choice of a mate or career. But He doesn’t answer our prayers because we have no intention of obeying it. If we like His will, if it is to our advantage, we might obey. But if we don’t like it, if we feel it’s hard, we won’t follow. Even before we ask for His will, let us commit ourselves to obey. There are times we can’t obey His will because we have some sin issues. We want to obey but we are not prepared to obey. Is there a sin or a relationship that we need to deal with so we can be ready to obey the Lord? For the Lord is looking for a clean vessel, not a golden one. 2 Timothy 2:21-22 says, “If you keep yourself pure, you will be a special utensil for honourable use. Your life will be clean, and you will be ready for the Master to use you for every good work. Run from anything that stimulates youthful lusts. Instead, pursue righteous living, faithfulness, love, and peace.”
 So, let us cleanse ourselves from sin and commit ourselves to obey so we can take the step of faith.
Joshua commanded the people to wait for the Ark of the Covenant because, “Then you will know which way to go, since you have never been this way before.” The Ark of the Covenant was a symbol of the Lord Himself. Moses prayed to the Lord, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?” So, when we take our step of obedience, let us RELY on the Lord. Joshua told them that God assured them of His presence. “By this [the miraculous cross-over] you shall know that the living God is among you, and that He will assuredly dispossess from before you the [inhabitants of the land].”
So, we must trust God for His wisdom and strength in every decision that we make and every action that we take. The Lord should have the first word, the last word and every word in between. Psalm 37:23 says, “The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD, And He delights in his way.”
Remember that Moses wrote the first five books of the Old Testament to prepare the people led by Joshua to conquer the land. They need to learn from the mistakes of their parents who were denied entry to the Promised Land. This generation read the parting of the Red Sea in Exodus. Many of them witnessed that event when they were still young. The Lord assured 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.” As they crossed the Jordan River, they recalled also the time when they crossed the Red Sea. Thus, “That day the LORD exalted Joshua in the sight of all Israel; and they revered him all the days of his life, just as they had revered Moses.” There are times we worry about what people would think or say when we take steps of obedience. However, the Lord assures us that He will take care of that. Of course, that doesn’t mean that people will always like what we said or did. But, if we would not be proud when we succeed, then we should not be ashamed if ever we fail. We have to remember that it is the Lord we are pleasing, not men.
To emphasize that it was indeed a miracle, Joshua pointed out “the Jordan is at flood stage all during harvest.” Thus, they “crossed the Jordan when the river was at its widest, deepest, and swiftest”. The water can rise up to a depth of 12 feet and as wide as 360 feet, which normally is only about 180 feet wide. Now, the priests were standing at the edge of the raging, overflowing river. About 900 meters away, about 2 million Israelites were watching as they wait on what would happen next.
Maybe in their mind they heard the ancient Nike commercial: “Just do it! Seriously, at that moment, they decided by faith to OBEY! So, as they hold their breath, the priests took the step. As soon as “their feet touched the water’s edge, the water from upstream stopped flowing. It piled up in a heap a great distance away… 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. 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.” How can you get plainer than that? Some people question this miracle by saying that there was an earthquake that caused a landslide and blocked the river flow. They say it was not really a miracle but just a coincidence, a great timing of a natural phenomenon. But how can they say this was no miracle? Look at these factors: “(1) The event came to pass as predicted… (2) The timing was exact… (3) The event took place when the river was at flood stage… (4) The wall of water was held in place for many hours, possibly an entire day… (5) The soft, wet river bottom became dry at once… (6) The water returned immediately as soon as the people crossed over and the priests came up out of the river”.
Now, in our case, the miracle is in the obedience itself. Things may not go well as expected. But, as long as you are obeying the will of God, you can rest assured that “God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.” Just obey.
The Lord then commanded Joshua to have twelve men take 12 stones from the exact spot where the priests stood and bring them over to their camp site. Not only that, he set up another pile of 12 stones on that same spot. Now, what was the purpose of those stones? The Lord Himself explained to them that these “serve as a sign among you. In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever.” Verse 24 adds, “He did this so that all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the LORD is powerful and so that you might always fear the LORD your God.” To remind us of the faithfulness of God, to remind us of our commitment to obey, to remind us of our step of faith, we are to SET a memorial.
How? We can journal our journey of faith. We can share our testimony. We can memorize the verse that encouraged us. What I do is I write the blessings that I received in my planner. And then, at the end of the year, I list it all and thank God for it again. Doing so strengthens our faith. There are times we find it hard to trust God. But, as we review what He has done for us in the past, we find ourselves encouraged to move on. Psalm 103:2 says, “Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits”.
Joshua wrote this book to encourage the people to complete the conquest. Joshua mentioned that the stones of remembrance were still “there to this day”, at least at the time of the writing of the book. Also, remember that the Lord instituted the Passover the night before He took Israel out of Egypt. Now, “Interestingly, the nation arrived across the Jordan just in time to celebrate the Passover… God’s timing is always precise.” It is as if God was telling them, “Mission accomplished!” Now, what’s next was the conquest of the land. All the elements in the account, the similarity between the supernatural crossing of the Red Sea and the Jordan River, the “dry ground,” the stones of remembrance and the Passover, all encourages the nation to SEEK to continue.
Let me rewind to the questions I posed at the start. Are you at a crossroad of your life where you know what God wants you to do yet you are afraid to obey? Is God asking you to make a decision yet you are wavering? Or, you already decided and you are excited to take a step of faith.
Brothers and sisters let us C-R-O-S-S over!