Two men camped at the brink of the Jordan about to cross over to the land of their enemies. One wrestled the night away in terror and unbelief, intent on wresting from God what He had already promised: “I will surely do you good, and make your offspring as the sand of the sea…” Gen.33:12 He was lamed in the process and walked with a limp ever after, a reminder that no man shall hold God hostage. He will bless whom He will bless. God had already chosen to bless him and to make him a blessing. He would father the twelve heads of the tribes of Israel.
Five hundred years later this man’s descendants would camp on the banks of this same Jordan awaiting their crossing to the land of their enemies. Though the Jordan was flooding its banks the man who would lead them was ready. He had waited forty years for this opportunity, forty years of watching an entire generation die in the wilderness because of their unbelief. Only he and Caleb had lived to see this day.
In those forty intervening years He had been Moses’ understudy. He had seen the glory of God and when his time came to lead He had believed God’s reassurances: "just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you. Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to al the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go..." Joshua 1:7,8
His name of course, was Joshua and there he was, up early and ready to go. The Ark of the Covenant was with them, a sacred symbol of God’s covenant promises and of His presence with His people. What more did they need?
The instructions were simple. The priests carrying the Ark were to lead the way because the people ‘had not been this way before.’ They had only to take a step of faith, to wade into the water and God would do the rest.
This story resonates for me right now. I’m not sitting on a riverbank exactly but there is quite a torrent around me—boxes and totes and antique apple crates being filled and stacked and ready for a crossing in the morning…We’re going to get our feet wet, ready to make a move into a new province, without knowing the particulars of where we’ll get to unpack and settle. But we have a calling—to a job and to family. And we are ready to take a step of faith.
Would it be stretching the analogy here to observe that we as believers, are also priests? We’re ‘a kingdom of priests’, appointed to trust God and follow His directives, to step out in faith even if it means getting our feet wet, because others follow behind us and may find dry land on which to follow….
This miraculous crossing was to be for them a sign that the living God was indeed among them and would go before them and drive out their enemies. (Joshua 3:10) And sure enough, as the priests carrying the Ark took the first steps, the waters stood up like a heap and the people were able to cross over on dry ground.
During the crossing twelve stones were chosen to be set up on the far bank as a memorial for the generations to come, as an object lesson for the stories parents would tell their children “so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the LORD is mighty, that you may fear the LORD your God forever." Jos 4:24
Joshua's story inspires me—the way he just believed God and 'rose early in the morning and set out...'Joshua 3:1 to do what God had prepared him to do. He didn’t know all the details but he knew God would lead the way. I want to be like that, strong and courageous, trusting, obeying, moving forward as He directs, overcoming obstacles in His timing...
Joshua’s name is the Hebrew equivalent of the One we know as Jesus, meaning, “The Lord is salvation”. This is the likeness God is pleased to conform us to as we walk by faith. Christ in me, my Hope of glory. Rejoicing in His strength, I am strong. Believing His promises I am made courageous. Holding His hand I am led to my inheritance…
And now, I had better get closing up boxes and readying for the ‘crossing’ .
Thank you for your prayers. The next post, Lord willing, will come from Alberta!
Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the LORD his God, who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, who keeps faith forever. Ps.146:5.6
Not one word of all the good promises that the Lord had made to the house of Israel had failed; all came to pass. Joshua 21:45
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go." Joshua 1:9