Tell the priests who carry the Ark of the Covenant: ‘When you reach the edge of the Jordan’s waters, go and stand in the river.’” Joshua 3:8 NIVThe account of the Nation of Israel crossing the Jordan River contains many lessons and Kingdom principles that we can apply today, more than 3000 years after the event. The account gives us insight and wisdom into God’s way to accomplish significant advancement when He is calling us to cross over into new territory, new levels of faith, greater levels of responsibility, and more secure and stable walking of His plan on earth.
We must know God’s timing. Joshua’s decision to cross into Canaan was in sync with God’s timing. It was specifically given by Yahweh after the older generation had cowered in fear when they approached the Jordan River 40 years before. God said He would give them the land. But, at that time the majority considered the giants and the opposition to be more powerful than God’s promise and His word. But 40 years of desert living, eating manna, fighting battles with local tribes, and following a cloud and a pillar helped transform the next generation into highly anticipating the second chance. This second chance reflected two aspects of God’s perspective. First, God demonstrated grace for Israel as a whole, even though the adults of the first chance would not enter the land. Second, God demonstrated and insisted on the fulfillment of His own sovereign plan through His chosen people.
At the time of crossing over the priests took the first steps of faith as they carried the Ark of the Covenant. "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, 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 (that is, the Dead Sea) was completely cut off. So the people crossed over opposite Jericho." Joshua 3:15, 16 NIV.
They stepped into the edge of the river, a river at spring flood stage. The Word of the Lord declared that those steps would activate the stoppage of the river flow. And the river stopped! There are times in our lives when we must simply step into new territory even when the rivers of life are rushing at flood stage. If we have discerned God’s timing; if we know in our hearts and have heard from His Spirit on how to do it His way, then...then we step into the water. But we step with others watching, a risking step forward!
Consider Joshua’s situation. He told everyone that God was going to do this incredible thing. He told them when God would do it. And, He told everyone what they had to do to partner with God in crossing over into the land of promise. He, as leader, carried the burden and took the risk to believe God. If it didn’t happen, the people would grumble, complain and start looking for another leader. It would be a replay of what they did with Moses after leaving Egypt. Many in Israel simply wanted a leader who would keep them comfortable and risk free. Leaders, beware of this hindrance to going forward!
In today’s world we have an industry built around ‘risk management’, also known as insurance policies. Much of western civilization has developed a ‘minimal or no risk’ mentality. This minimal risk mentality has created a comfort zone within the church. Many leaders won’t risk preaching and teaching Truth because it may offend some in the church. Many will not confront hard issues in the culture of a nation. They either accept or tolerate the cultural currents. Some who do not accept the lies of the culture choose silence to avoid being marginalized or shamed by those who go with the flow. We must realize that if we choose not to ‘go and stand in the river’, even when it is at flood stage, we are choosing to stay in the desert of the culture. And that is not the Promised Land!