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Joshua 3:2-13

Passing Over

  • Samuel Wilson
  • Weekend Messages
  • January 7, 2018

In these scriptures, we see that God has called Joshua and the people of Israel to a new opportunity. A call that if met by faith, would lead them into a new land. Joshua led this people and we know that it was his history of faith, what had been in his life, that allowed him the faith to move forward.

  • Sermon Notes
  • Scripture

Passing Over

Joshua 3:2-13 

Illus. A high ropes course.

When pursuing something difficult that we have never done, there is a question as to how we will get there safely. Often, in seeking assurance, we assert our will and our skill set and our will can easily get in the way of what the Lord wants to do. In order to pass over, or enter into a new season well, faith in the Lord to make a way, is necessary.

This morning we have the opportunity to celebrate with one another what the Lord has done in our church. He has been faithful, He has made a way for this church to be established.

He has also given us a great opportunity, a territory and a great calling to press forward and pass over into a new season. We pursue this together, but in every step of this journey, it remains important that we rely on the Lord to bless, guide, and protect. If we are relying on Him, this means that we don’t get to hold onto the rope, we get to hold onto Him.

In Joshua chapter 3, the Israelites, led by Joshua are given directives from the Lord to enter into a new territory, this was a territory. This land was long awaited, but in Joshua chapter 3, the Israelites step into the water with both feet, and pass over into the land that was promised.

Joshua was now the leader of the nation of Israel. Up to this point, he had served Moses and served him well, but he was now being called to lead the nation into a new land.

In Joshua chapter 1, the Lord gave very specific orders to Joshua, telling him to arise and press forward, that it was now time for the people of Israel to enter into the land that God was giving them.

Joshua seemed overwhelmed by the calling, but the Lord reminded him again and again to be “strong and courageous” Why? Because the Lord was with him. This new land was long awaited, even feared by some, but the Lord makes it clear that it is now time for them to pass over, into a new season, and into His promise.

After the Lord revealed the plan to Joshua, he told the people to get ready, because in three days, they were all going to pass over the Jordan to take possession of the new land. The people assured Joshua that they were with him and after two men went to check out the land, the stage was set, the three days were up.

Read Joshua 3:2-13

In these scriptures, we see that God has called Joshua and the people of Israel to a new opportunity. A call that if met by faith, would lead them into a new land. Joshua led this people and we know that it was his history of faith, what had been in his life, that allowed him the faith to move forward.

I.  The Lord is Preparing You

  • In Joshua chapter 1, God gives Joshua specific orders, “Arise, cross this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving them.”
  • In order to fully understand and take a hold of what is happening in this moment, we need to understand that Joshua had been exerting great faith throughout his life.
  • He had endured a great deal alongside Moses and the Israelites.
  • It was Joshua’s opportunities in faith that prepared him for where God would call him next.
  • In the situations he faced, the Lord was preparing and reminding Joshua that He is faithful and as His people, we need that perspective.

A. Choose a faith filled perspective 

  • In Joshua 3 verse 5, Joshua tells the people, “consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you.”
  • This word consecrate means to “set apart” or “prepare.” In preparation, they ready themselves for what the Lord will do.
  • In preparation, emptying ourselves of our own thoughts about an outcome and being filled with faith in what is possible with the Lord. 

Mark 9:22-24, But if You can do anything, take pity on us and help us! And Jesus said to him, “’If you can?’ All things are possible to him who believes.” Immediately the boy’s father cried out and said, “I do believe; help my unbelief.” 

  • The Lord had prepared Joshua throughout his life for a moment such as this, where he would lead in faith, trusting that the Lord would do what He said he would do.

Illus. - In Numbers, Moses sent 12 spies to go look at the land of Canaan, of the 12, only Joshua and Caleb were standing in a place of faith.

  • They all went and looked at the same land, yet the 10 other spies came back faithless: “This land flows with milk and honey and there is fruit, but the people are strong, the cities are fortified and large. This land devours people, and its inhabitants are of great height, we are grasshoppers compared to them.”
  • The people of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron. Joshua and Caleb did not see it this way.
  • Joshua and Caleb saw a good land, they were ready to go, ready to trust in God declaring, “He will bring us there.” They knew that despite what looked to be giants, all things were possible to him who trusts and believes.

Illus. – Trusting the right sources.

  • 10 were trusting the wrong source. Joshua and Caleb remained firm. They knew who to rely on.
  • With Joshua being called to lead the Israelites, there would not be another 40 year wait. He boldly proclaimed, set yourselves apart, fill up with faith, God is going to do wonders among you.
  • That’s the perspective I want, the type that trusts in the Lord, no matter the size of the giant. There may be a giant in your life, at your job, or in your family…Choose a faith filled perspective. 

B. Follow God forward

  • Vs. 3, when you see the ark of the covenant of our Lord your God, go after it.
  • This ark represented God’s presence. Thus, the officers of the congregation were saying, when you see the presence of God move, go after it.
  • It is interesting that in preparation, what was commanded of the people was to follow the ark of the covenant of the Lord being carried by the Levitical priests at a distance of 2,000 cubits, or 3,000 feet.
  • Why? So that they don’t get in the way…They hadn’t gone this way before. 
  • It was imperative that they follow, and not allow themselves to try and get ahead of what the Lord would do. 

Illus. Getting ahead on a test.

  • When we try to get out ahead, or get a jump start, we aren’t following, we are trying to lead.
  • What is being said here then is “follow me, but don’t push me.”
  • You will hear people say, "I am going to have the same experience that they had.” The trouble there is that God wants us where we have never been before.
  • A better way, is to follow, at whatever distance is necessary in order to ensure the Lord is leading the way.
  • Lord, work it out however you see fit, I will follow You forward. 

Psalm 32:8, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go…”

John 15:4 “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in me.”

Illus. A new ATV.

  • When we trust God, we can abide in Him wholeheartedly. If He says go, we go, if He says no, we wait.
  • The Israelites had waited and now the Lord was telling them, this is the time, when you get to the Jordan, the entry point to the promised land, step in. 

II. Put Your Feet in the Water

  • The priests, who were leading the way, were to carry the ark of the covenant into the Jordan river and stand in it, alongside 12 men from the tribes of Israel.
  • 40 years earlier, when the Israelites escaped Egypt, the waters of the Red Sea were parted before they stepped in. This time was different, this time they were to step in by faith.
  • “What if I step out and nothing happens? I will feel like a failure!” We say. So, we stay out of the water and wait where it’s dry, dusty dry, wilderness dry.
  • The question comes, “why doesn’t God part the water first?” Likely, because the language of eternity, is faith.

Hebrews 11:6, And without faith it is impossible to please Him…

A. Find strength in the Lord

  • Moses had told Joshua in Deuteronomy 31 to be strong and courageous. The Lord then gives His charge to Joshua to “be strong and courageous” three times…Then the people he is leading also say it.
  • Joshua was about to cross over and lead the nation into a new territory. He would need both strength, and courage.
  • The Israelites weren’t stepping into a trickling stream. They were stepping into a raging river.
  • Though they were stepping into a raging river, their steps were in response and faithfulness to God.

Luke 6:47-48, “Everyone who comes to Me and hears My words and acts on them, I will you whom he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid a foundation on the rock; and when a flood occurred, the torrent burst against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built.”

  • Joshua heard the words of the Lord and the Lord alone was His strength. He was not turning back, confident that once the priests set foot in the Jordan, the Lord was going to make a way.

B. Proceed into His Promise

  • There was a promise to this people that was going to be fulfilled that very day.
  • Verse 15 says that the Jordan was at “flood stage” but it didn’t matter, because when the priest reached the water and stepped in, the water from upstream stopped flowing.

Illus. God was working, out of sight.

  • You want me to do what? To go where? To tell them that?
  • God is likely working upriver, where you can’t see.
  • This morning we have the opportunity to thank our God for His faithfulness to us, to set our church apart for His purposes through prayer, and to follow His lead, placing our feet in the water, ready for Him to make a way.

Romans 12:9-12, Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer.

Joshua 3:2-13     NASB

2 At the end of three days the officers went through the midst of the camp; 3 and they commanded the people, saying, "When you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God with the Levitical priests carrying it, then you shall set out from your place and go after it. 4 However, there shall be between you and it a distance of about 2,000 cubits by measure. Do not come near it, that you may know the way by which you shall go, for you have not passed this way before."

5 Then Joshua said to the people, "Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you." 6 And Joshua spoke to the priests, saying, "Take up the ark of the covenant and cross over ahead of the people." So they took up the ark of the covenant and went ahead of the people.
 
7 Now the Lord said to Joshua, "This day I will begin to exalt you in the sight of all Israel, that they may know that just as I have been with Moses, I will be with you. 8 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.'" 9 Then Joshua said to the sons of Israel, "Come here, and hear the words of the Lord your God." 10 Joshua said, "By this you shall know that the living God is among you, and that He will assuredly dispossess from before you the Canaanite, the Hittite, the Hivite, the Perizzite, the Girgashite, the Amorite, and the Jebusite. 11 Behold, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth is crossing over ahead of you into the Jordan. 12 Now then, take for yourselves twelve men from the tribes of Israel, one man for each tribe. 13 It shall come about when the soles of the feet of the priests who carry the ark of the Lord, the Lord of all the earth, rest in the waters of the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan will be cut off, and the waters which are flowing down from above will stand in one heap."
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