9 Joshua said to the Israelites, “Come here and listen to the words of the LORD your God. 10 This is how you will know that the living God is among you and that he will certainly drive out before you the Canaanites, Hittites, Hivites, Perizzites, Girgashites, Amorites and Jebusites. 11 See, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth will go into the Jordan ahead of you. 12 Now then, choose twelve men from the tribes of Israel, one from each tribe. 13 And as soon as the priests who carry the ark of the LORD -the Lord of all the earth—set foot in the Jordan, its waters flowing downstream will be cut off and stand up in a heap.”
14 So when the people broke camp to cross the Jordan, the priests carrying the ark of the covenant went ahead of them. 15 Now the Jordan is at flood stage all during harvest. Yet as soon as the priests who carried the ark reached the Jordan and their feet touched the water’s edge, 16 the water from upstream stopped flowing. It piled up in a heap a great distance away, at a town called Adam in the vicinity of Zarethan, while the water flowing down to the Sea of the Arabah (the Salt Sea) was completely cut off. So the people crossed over opposite Jericho.
What we have here is a bunch of priests carrying the ark of the covenant before the people of Israel, leading the way to Jericho.
Now we all know that the ark is somewhat special. The most holy object on the entire planet. An object which, a couple of hundred years later, a dude would be struck down dead by God just for steadying it when it was going to tip over.
These priests have an unenviable job. They have to carry this awesome object at the head of a procession of God’s people and then they are told:
Go down to the edge of this flood ravaged, fast flowing, churning river and walk out into it.
This is not an instruction to wait until Joshua has struck the water with his staff and then walk through on dry land. This is a command to step out in faith, with the risk of losing it all. Who wants to be the one who got swept away in a flooded river and took the ark of the covenant with him?
Any takers for that job?… Anyone?
Not me. That’s for sure.
Joshua was asking them to have a level of faith that most of us probably haven’t even noticed in this passage before.
Joshua was asking them to step out even while the waters were raging. To step out in faith despite anything that their heads might be telling them about how unsafe it was to do so or even how foolish it would be to walk into a flooded river.
He wanted them to step out in faith before the way had been opened for them, believing that if they were faithful and obeyed, that God would be faithful and perform a miracle.
My question to you today is this:
What is your river Jordan?
What is God asking you to do, in faith, despite the fact that it seems foolish or unsafe?
Is God calling you to step out even before he seems to have opened the way for you?
So often we demand that God makes the way clear and opens the doors for us in advance. We ask for him to roll the river back so we can simply walk through on dry land. Very often though, God calls us to be obedient BEFORE the way seems open. He asks us to step out into the river and just see what he will do.
What is your Jordan? What’s the river that God is asking you to step into? Will you obey, in faith, regardless of how turbulent the waters might look, how risky it might seem, how foolish people might tell you it is?
Or will you stay safe on this side of the Jordan and never see the miracles and victories that God has in store for you?