What is the place in the cannon of Scripture for the Book of Joshua? What place do we give it in out lives? We read it as the story of God building a people to birth His Messiah out of. But also it can be guidance for how we are to live as His people, drawing on principals and ways we can relate to our Lord. Today’s passage shows us a a continuing pattern of God leading His people. He makes it clear what He is going to do and then He does it. As part of that He calls His people to purity and obedience as they follow where He leads.
Before when God took His people OUT of Egypt He took them through water. When He brings His people INTO The Promised Land, it is through water also. He does what we can’t… which is the basis for our relationship with Him.
We cannot remove the guilt of our rebellion against our creator, yet we all long for that barrier to be removed between us and God. Christ removed that barrier by doing what only God could do: paying the price for our sin and then rising to show HE is the master of life and death and so He can give us eternal life. So we follow by faith, in obedience and without fear: because we have given Jesus Christ our lives!
Today we see an example of God doing what only He can do and He people doing what they have been called to do
Joshua Chapter 3
1 Early the next morning Joshua and all the Israelites left Acacia Grove and arrived at the banks of the Jordan River, where they camped before crossing.
- God placed the people so that everyone could see the obstacle
- What did they know of water? Could any of them swim?
2 Three days later the Israelite officers went through the camp, 3 giving these instructions to the people: “When you see the Levitical priests carrying the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord your God, move out from your positions and follow them.
- They do another three days (time of preparation)
- For the last 40 years they have moved when the Ark moved
4 Since you have never traveled this way before, they will guide you. Stay about half a mile behind them, keeping a clear distance between you and the Ark. Make sure you don’t come any closer.”
- Only Joshua & Caleb had been this way… walking thru bodies of water
- Why were they told to keep such a distance?
5 Then Joshua told the people, “Purify yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do great wonders among you.”
- ‘Consecrate’ or ‘Set Apart’ (obedience to what God has made very clear: Law)
- Purify yourselves had some very specific practices involved for them
- We don’t do it by prescription of ‘The Law’ (Ritual that played a role)
- We ‘set ourselves apart’ by being obedient to Christ, empowered by HIS Spirit
6 In the morning Joshua said to the priests, “Lift up the Ark of the Covenant and lead the people across the river.” And so they started out and went ahead of the people.
- The Ark was going to take them through the water…sound familiar?
- Ark means ‘vessel of safe keeping’
- Noah’s Ark kept people and creatures safe, now it is God’s written Words
- The Ark of The Covenant was the carrier of the manifestation of God on earth
- Mercy Seat / Mana / Bidding Staff / The Five Books of Moses: Pentateuch
7 The Lord told Joshua, “Today I will begin to make you a great leader in the eyes of all the Israelites. They will know that I am with you, just as I was with Moses. 8 Give this command to the priests who carry the Ark of the Covenant: ‘When you reach the banks of the Jordan River, take a few steps into the river and stop there.’”
- God uses leaders; geographically local and relationally available leaders
- Joshua is a unique leader, but he represents a pattern of how God works
- God is just beginning to make Joshua a great leader (in the eyes of people)
- God’s leadership training program is ‘Learn to Lead by Following HIM’
- God is recreating a miracle HE 1st did through Moses (repetition of HIS ways)
9 So Joshua told the Israelites, “Come and listen to what the Lord your God says. 10 Today you will know that the living God is among you. He will surely drive out the Canaanites, Hittites, Hivites, Perizzites, Girgashites, Amorites, and Jebusites ahead of you.11 Look, the Ark of the Covenant, which belongs to the Lord of the whole earth, will lead you across the Jordan River!”
- Joshua takes the focus off of himself, God’s Word is what we listen to
- On this day, more so than yesterday, you will experience God personally
- That experience is going to make you confident about where you are headed
- The opposition will be dealt with by The Living God Himself!
- His personal presence embodied in HIS Written Word is going to take you thru
- We can apply these principals to our lives (it begins and ends with God’s Word)
12 “Now choose twelve men from the tribes of Israel, one from each tribe.”
- Choose for what? Each tribe is going to volunteer a guy but the job is unknown
- Are you willing to volunteer without knowing the assignment or being credited?
13 “The priests will carry the Ark of the Lord, the Lord of all the earth. As soon as their feet touch the water, the flow of water will be cut off upstream, and the river will stand up like a wall.” 14 So the people left their camp to cross the Jordan, and the priests who were carrying the Ark of the Covenant went ahead of them.
- The Lord of all the earth…
- HIS power will flow through their feet, instead of making the Ark touch the water
- God has always wanted to involve people in the display of HIS Glory
- They are told to do it and they just do it
15 It was the harvest season, and the Jordan was overflowing its banks. But as soon as the feet of the priests who were carrying the Ark touched the water at the river’s edge, 16 the water above that point began backing up a great distance away at a town called Adam, which is near Zarethan. And the water below that point flowed on to the Dead Sea until the riverbed was dry.
- They had been looking at the swollen river for three days, but God said…
- It happens: God gave the vision, the people did what God told them to do: BAM
- The supernatural aspect of this must have been overwhelming
Then all the people crossed over near the town of Jericho.
- It was in sight of people on the walls of the city
- Close to two million people, plus animals…how long would that take?
17 Meanwhile, the priests who were carrying the Ark of the Lord’s Covenant stood on dry ground in the middle of the riverbed as the people passed by. They waited there until the whole nation of Israel had crossed the Jordan on dry ground.
- All the while the priest stand there with the Ark
- What were their names? Did they have any idea what they had signed up for?
Title: When Led By God…We have nothing to fear
God’s uses HIS servants to lead HIS people by HIS Presence & HIS Word to places they have not been, in ways they have not traveled. This is part of what makes us HIS Community.
As HIS people, our obedience is crucial, how we set ourselves apart to God as we follow HIM has always mattered. If we want to see HIS wonders, we have to do things HIS way!
The Jordan river is symbolic of frightening challenges we must trust God to lead us through as we follow HIM. The same God who made a way then can make a way now!
Those who serve God’s Word & God’s Community must be willing to do whatever, whenever and not get much attention.
What are some specific things you could change that would help to purify yourself / set yourself apart to God?
What is an example of something you have not tried to do because you don’t think you can do it?
What is an example of something you have done that you didn’t think you could do until you trusted God for it?
What is your contribution to the Midtown culture of humble, faithful service?
How might you better prepare for your role as a member of God’s people based on Scripture and Church History?
VISION & PRACTICE
Vision: Our world is not a ‘brave new world’… it is a world dominated by fear!
As God’s people / Jesus’ Body we can live without fear when we let God lead us!
Practice: Our lives can be set apart to God, not taken up with self fulfillment and consumerism. Our day to day can be full of God’s presence by obeying scripture.