Joshua, Moses’ successor, had seen God deliver the Israelites providing them with food, protection, and direction. He didn’t only witness these blessings upon the Israelites once. God delivered them again and again. After Moses died, one of the first things that Joshua had to do was lead the people into the Promised Land. The only problem was that the Jordan river was between them and their destination. They had no boats, the water was too deep to wade across, and too far to swim, especially since it was flooded that time of year.
God could have easily stopped the water like he did for Moses. He could have provided a thousand boats or even erected a bridge for the people to cross, but he didn’t. He just let the river flow. He gave Joshua some instructions to follow. The story is recorded in Joshua chapter 3 and points out three acts of faith.
First, keep their eyes on God.
“2 After three days the officers went throughout the camp, 3 giving orders to the people: “When you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, and the Levitical priests carrying it, you are to move out from your positions and follow it. 4 Then you will know which way to go, since you have never been this way before.” Joshua 3:2-4
The Ark of the Covenant was a chest made of acacia wood, overlaid with pure gold inside and out. It was 3 feet, 9 inches long and 2 feet, 3 inches wide and high. The Ark contained the stone tablets with the Ten Commandments written on them and some manna. It was where the presence of God dwelled; it was the most holy object and represented the living God. Joshua told the people that when they saw the Ark of the Covenant pass in front of them, held by the Levitical priests, they needed to follow it. Their first act of faith was to keep their eyes on God (the Ark) and move when he moved.
Second, expect something amazing to happen.
“5 Joshua told the people, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you.” Joshua 3:5
The people were told to expect God to show up. They needed to have faith that God would answer their prayers. The Ark passed by and the people followed. When the priests came to the river, it was still flowing. The moment must have been tough. All the people were looking ahead at an impossible situation while Joshua was trying to earn credibility. Now it was up to God.
Third, stand in the water without any promise that it will stop flowing.
“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.” Joshua 3:13
Only after they stepped in the water did it stop flowing. God could have stopped it prior to their arrival. He could have parted it like he did for Moses. But he didn’t. He told the priests to step in, without any reassurance other than his promise, and only after they got wet did the water stop. It was then that the people were finally able to cross over on dry ground.
In the end, God led Joshua into the Promised Land.
Joshua’s life is remarkable and filled with stories of faith and answered prayer. He was a man who trusted God to move and God did. If you were to compare Joshua’s map to the Promised Land with God’s map, they would not have been identical, but God’s way was the best way and it took faith to walk with him.
The path of life ahead of you may at times look impossible to cross. Too many trials, too many obstacles, too big of a task, too many naysayers, lack of confidence...the list goes on. Most of us want the water to stop flowing before we step in. We want to have proof before we take the plunge. A follower of Christ trusts that God can, and will, move the mountains in their life. They trust that if they step out in faith, he will make a way for them. Sometimes we need to get our feet wet before God parts the water. Don’t be afraid to step in the water, God will show up.