Our son Jordan got his name from the river Jordan in the Bible. I gave him that name because he was born at a time in my life when God asked us to step out in faith into something new. And in the midst of us obeying what He asked, for me to stay home with our young son Sam even though we had little money, He gave us a new unexpected blessing of Jordan. God knew when Jordan would arrive before we did. He knew He was going to bless us with another child, even though we weren’t planning for it. So, He asked me to quit my job and stay home with Sam knowing that’s what I would need to do anyway after Jordan was born since we couldn’t afford childcare for two kids. We stepped out in faith that God was going to provide and then He blessed us. Obedience always precedes the blessings.
If you look at the children of Israel when they crossed the Jordan river to get into the promised land you can see a picture of obedience and disobedience. The people of Israel could have been in the promised land when Moses was leading them 40 years before they did, but they disobeyed God and didn’t have faith that God would provide for them and so God didn’t bless them with the promised land but chose to wait until the next generation to allow them to enter. So, in Joshua 3 we find them crossing the river Jordan with Joshua as their leader, after Moses died. Joshua was an interesting choice for a leader. Back years before Moses had sent twelve spies to scout out ahead of the people to see what was coming and what people they would face in this new promised land. 10 spies came back saying it couldn’t be done because the people were too many and too large. They thought the people should turn back and not obey what God said. 2 men didn’t agree and said that they could take over the land, Joshua and Caleb. At this point Joshua was already set up by the Lord to succeed Moses but God was going to allow Moses to lead the people into the promised land but chose not to because Moses and the people believed the report of the 10 spies that this was too hard for them to do.
So, Moses dies and then we see the Israelites finally ready to cross the Jordan into the promised land. Only Joshua and Caleb were still alive and leading the people to cross the Jordan. An entire generation had died wandering in the desert because of believing they couldn’t do what God had instructed. Are you believing what the Lord has said you could do, or the opinions of those around you who say it cannot be done?
Joshua prepares the people to cross the Jordan. This is the harvest time which means the Jordan was over a mile wide and very deep. God commanded the priests to take the Ark of the Covenant (which represented God’s presence) and step into the river and then the waters would part. These are not the same people who saw the crossing of the Red Sea. They had heard about it from their parents but didn’t see it for themselves. Not that it had helped their parents faith that much since they were the same people who believed God couldn’t help them defeat all the giants in the promised land, but anyway. So, stepping foot into this river had to be terrifying, but they believed what God had said He would do, so they continued forward. The priests took the Ark walked into the water and then the waters parted. The waters dried up for 20 miles wide in order for the people to cross. What I hadn’t thought of was how muddy it must have been and how steep to walk down to the riverbed and back up to the other side. It was a mile long walk in the mud or rocks. They had all their possessions and livestock and children. The priests had to stand there in the middle of the river holding the Ark until everyone had crossed. Can you imagine how scary it must of been to just stand there knowing how much water was being stopped up and could come crashing down at any moment. They had to trust God wholeheartedly. I find it interesting that God made them stand there for most likely a few hours while all the people crossed. Do you ever feel as though you are standing in the mud of life for what seems like an eternity? God has promised you something and you have obeyed but along the way you get stuck in the mud? Man I have. You are thinking it will be all unicorns and roses following God but instead you end up stuck in mud and just standing there waiting for forever. Finally the people crossed, and then God tells twelve men to go back into the river and get one boulder each and carry it. That was a huge task, we are not talking about about little rocks here and it was a mile just to cross the river and then they had to carry these stones to their campsite for the night and build a memorial. God wanted to remind them of what He had done. He knew that in the days ahead of having to march around Jericho and defeat many armies they would need to be reminded with something tangible of what He had brought them through and that He could be trusted. Sometimes we need to make a memorial for ourselves of what God has done. Something tangible to remind our selves of His faithfulness as we continue on in our journey.
God’s promises are not without difficulties in the journey. It’s never easy, but always worth it. Are you trusting God for something He has promised? Are you doubting He can do it? Or are you remembering what He has done in the past and continuing to walk forward in faith to claim your promised land?