Week 2, Day 7
READ: Joshua 3-5:12
BACKGROUND: This passage has great significance in that it marks the crossing of the boundary into the promised land! The Israelites’ faith in God was renewed and strengthened when it was about to be most severely challenged, while at the same time the Canaanites’ fear was greatly increased. The author uses an “overlay” technique where he narrates the entire story and then returns to various points in the event to focus on several details.
3:3 The Ark of the Covenant was the most sacred furnishing from the tabernacle (Ex. 25:10-22). It signified the Lord’s throne, the Lord himself went into the Jordan ahead of his people as he led them into the land.
3:10 God’s method for bringing the Israelites through the water was to prove once again that He is the one true God and the god of the Canaanites (Baal) is not.The Lord passed first through the water and then waited while all of his army passed through to show that he is Lord over the waters and he is able to establish his own order in the world. Everyone who heard about this miracle would know that this land was the Lord’s.
4:6 A stone monument was commonly used as a memorial to remind future generations of what had happened at that place.
5:1-12 The two covenantal ceremonies that took place at Gilgal (cirucumcision and the Feast of the Passover) were significant preparations for the defeat of the promised land.
5:12 The transition from eating manna to eating the “produce of the land” ended 40 years of dependence on God’s special provision. Manna was God’s gift for the desert journey; from now on he provided Israel with food from the promised land.
THINK: I spent a week each summer at Pine Lake Camp in Eldora, IA while I was growing up. We always spent one afternoon at the Ropes Course. I dreaded the Ropes Course. After repeating the same challenges every summer for years, I had a hard time getting excited about completing the course. However, one challenge held enough thrill to keep it exciting year after year – the Trust Fall. One person would climb onto a platform about five feet off the ground while the rest of the cabin would stand below with their arms stretched out to catch the person that fell backwards off of the platform. I loved getting to free-fall off of that platform even though I never had complete confidence that the group waiting for my fall would really catch me. I couldn’t see them as I was falling, and there was always a good chance one of them would move too soon and I’d go crashing to the ground. Ultimately, I just had to trust that they were going to do what they said they were going to do…and thankfully they always did.
Let me remind you of God’s words to Joshua in chapter one, verse nine, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” God didn’t repeatedly remind Joshua to be strong and courageous because he was about to make Joshua’s life incredibly. He had to remind Joshua to be strong and courageous because he was calling Joshua to be faithful and obedient through some enormous challenges.
The challenge we read about in chapters 3-5 was just that – enormous. Joshua was charged with leading the Israelites (approximately 40,000 people!) across the Jordan River (approximately 1,000 yards) into the Promised Land. In verse eight, God prepares Joshua for this enormous feat by telling him what to tell the priests who would be the first in line, “When you reach the edge of the Jordan’s waters, go and stand in the river.” Joshua must have thought God was crazy and those priests must have been terrified! Just like in the trust fall, those men had no way of seeing how God was going to protect them from these powerful waters. God did not stop the water from flowing until their feet had touched the river (vs. 15). God required these men to take steps of obedience before they could see the miracle he was about to perform to protect them.
God could have easily said, “Check it out – I built a bridge right over the top of the Jordan,” so those men could have seen how He was going to provide. Instead, God asked them to move forward in obedience and trust He would make a way for them.
I believe God asks the same of you and me. We desperately want God to give us a vision of his specific blueprint for our lives – where we should go to college, what career we should pursue, who we’ll marry, what jobs we should apply for. God doesn’t often work that way. Instead, often He calls us to move forward in obedience without knowing exactly what’s ahead. Sometimes you may hear God telling you to end a relationship, but you hold on waiting to know who your next relationship will be with first. Or you know God’s calling you to volunteer in a ministry, but you have no idea how you’d find the time to do it. Unfortunately, I have often ignored God’s promptings to witness to friends and neighbors because I am too afraid of how they’ll respond and what our relationship might look like after I share Jesus with them.
Let’s choose to move forward in obedience and not fear, so the world may see God’s glory through us like they did through the Israelites that day (Joshua 4:24)! The same God who parted the Jordan River for 40,000 Israelites and delivered them to the Promised Land is the God we serve today. He is worthy of our obedience. We can trust with full confidence that He holds our future in the palm of His hands and will work all things together for the good of those who love him (Romans 8:28).
ASK: What steps of obedience do I need to take? What do I need to do to increase my trust in God and decrease my fears?
Written by: Cari Widdel