"You shall, moreover, command the priests who are carrying the ark of the covenant, saying, 'When you come to the edge of the waters of the Jordan, you shall stand still in the Jordan.'"Joshua 3:8(NASB)
Joshua and Caleb were the only two who escaped Egyptian slavery and passed through the Red Sea... who would finally cross the River Jordan, into the promised land. 40 years had passed, since that eventful day, when the lambs were slain in Egypt, the angel of death passed over, and the people were redeemed. Moses had reminded a new generation of Israelites, of the covenant God made with His people, and their duty towards the Lord. Finally, just before his death, Moses passed the baton of leadership to Joshua, just as God had commanded.
"Be strong, and of a good courage", Joshua was told, by the Lord "be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed, for the Lord thy God is with thee, whithersoever thou goest." The 40-year-long wilderness trek had come to an end, and Joshua had prepared the people for the task ahead. They were ready to enter the Land of Canaan and claim the territory promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, many years before. They had to trust all that God had told them - "the Lord thy God is with thee, whithersoever thou goest."
A new generation of Israelites had arrived at the edge of the Jordan, where they encamped for 3 days. God reminded Joshua that every place, where the sole of his foot would tread, would be given into the hands of His people - just as He promised Moses. Joshua was then given some very specific instructions for the priests, who were carrying the Ark of the Covenant on their shoulders. "When you come to the edge of the waters of the Jordan, you are to tell them to stand still in the Jordan." The priests were also to believe, that the Lord thy God was with them, whithersoever they went.
Just as the Red Sea barred the Israelites' flight from Egypt, so the fast-flowing waters of the Jordan River were impassable, without a mighty miracle of God. The Bible tells us that this was the harvest season, which meant that the river was swollen, and the waters overflowed the banks. God had brought His people to the brink of the Jordan, at a time when it was impossible for them to cross. This was to be a test of faith. This was a demonstration of God's power. This was to be a time for them to grow in their faith. The people were also to believe, "the Lord thy God is with thee, whithersoever thou goest."
From the birth of the nation of Israel, and throughout the dispensation of Law, the Lord wanted to teach His people to trust Him, and obey His Word. He wanted His chosen nation to obey His covenant and believe all He had said. He wanted them to trust in Him with all their heart and not rely on their own understanding, ingenuity, or human wisdom. He wanted them to know, "the Lord their God was with thee, whithersoever they went."
No matter what difficulties they faced; no matter what giants barred their way; no matter what problems loomed over them; no matter what circumstances they had to face... God was teaching His people to trust Him implicitly, and depend on Him entirely so that their faith in Him would grow and flourish, as they witnessed God dealing with difficulties, giants, problems, and the many, onerous circumstances they faced.
God was teaching His people to walk by faith and not by sight. The raging waters would have swept the people to certain death, but God wanted Israel to trust that He would prevent the overflowing waters from overtaking them. For 40 years they had learned that the Lord was with them in the fire and in the cloud, and now their faith was to be tested once again. Now they were to believe, "the Lord thy God is with thee, whithersoever thou goest," - even though the Jordan.
During their wilderness journey, they learned that the Ark of the Covenant represented the presence of God, and so the Lord told Joshua to command the priests, who were carrying the Ark of the Covenant, to step into the raging waters, and stand still in the midst of the Jordan, with the Ark on their shoulders, while the entire multitude crossed on dry land. God proved His faithfulness to His people on that day, for they all crossed on dry land.
The Lord is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and like Israel, we are also to walk by faith and not by sight. Like Israel we are to live by faith and to trust the Lord with all our heart, no matter what difficulties we may have to face, no matter what giants bar our way, no matter what problems loom above us, no matter what circumstances overtake us... we are to step out in faith and remember that "the Lord our God is with us, whithersoever we goest."
Too often we want God to act so we can believe in His deliverance, but God wants us to demonstrate faith before He acts, in order to increase our faith - so that we may grow in the faith. We often say 'Deliver me, and I will trust You, Lord', but our Father replies, 'Trust Me, My child, and I will deliver you', for He has promised, to be with us, wherever we go.
Many times the Lord used Israel, as an example to the Church, of faith in action, as well as faltering faith. Through Israel, we learn of the danger of doubting God's Word and falling away. Some of the things Israel did are warnings to the Church not to fall into the same snare, while others are godly examples, for us to emulate. May we remember the encouraging words given to Joshua, the priests, and the people of Israel that, "the Lord our God is with us, whithersoever we go."
Heavenly Father, thank You that You are the same yesterday, today and forever. Thank You for the many lessons we can learn from Israel, when they crossed the River Jordan into the promised land. Thank You that you have promised to be with me wherever I go. Thank You that no matter what difficulties or dangers I have to face, You will be with me, to lead, to guide, to protect, and to comfort. Help me to trust You in all things and not allow life's circumstances to cause me to doubt Your precious promises - which are all 'YES' and 'AMEN' in Christ Jesus my Lord, AMEN.