Joshua 3 (NRSV)
Israel Crosses the Jordan
Early in the morning Joshua rose and set out from Shittim with all the Israelites, and they came to the Jordan. They camped there before crossing over. 2At the end of three days the officers went through the camp 3and commanded the people, “When you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God being carried by the levitical priests, then you shall set out from your place. Follow it, 4so that you may know the way you should go, for you have not passed this way before. Yet there shall be a space between you and it, a distance of about two thousand cubits; do not come any nearer to it.”
5Then Joshua said to the people, “Sanctify yourselves; for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you.”
Joshua 3:5 (ESV)
Then Joshua said to the people, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do wonders among you.”
- Take my life and let it be
Consecrated, Lord, to Thee;
Take my hands and let them move
At the impulse of Thy love.
- Take my feet and let them be
Swift and beautiful for Thee;
Take my voice and let me sing,
Always, only for my King.
- Take my lips and let them be
Filled with messages from Thee;
Take my silver and my gold,
Not a mite would I withhold.
- Take my moments and my days,
Let them flow in endless praise;
Take my intellect and use
Every pow’r as Thou shalt choose.
- Take my will and make it Thine,
It shall be no longer mine;
Take my heart, it is Thine own,
It shall be Thy royal throne.
- Take my love, my Lord, I pour
At Thy feet its treasure store;
Take myself and I will be
Ever, only, all for Thee.
written by Frances R. Havergal, 1874
6To the priests Joshua said, “Take up the ark of the covenant, and pass on in front of the people.” So they took up the ark of the covenant and went in front of the people.
7The Lord said to Joshua, “This day I will begin to exalt you in the sight of all Israel, so that they may know that I will be with you as I was with Moses. 8You are the one who shall command the priests who bear the ark of the covenant, ‘When you come to the edge of the waters of the Jordan, you shall stand still in the Jordan.’”
9Joshua then said to the Israelites, “Draw near and hear the words of the Lord your God.” 10Joshua said, “By this you shall know that among you is the living God who without fail will drive out from before you the Canaanites, Hittites, Hivites, Perizzites, Girgashites, Amorites, and Jebusites: 11the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth is going to pass before you into the Jordan.
The Living God. The Lord of All the Earth.
These names for God help us “to see Him big,” as Tozer puts it. The Lord has power to act on Israel’s (and our) behalf; the Lord will do good things, great things for them (and us). The Lord is sovereign over the universe (and over our own lives). When we truly believe that God is in fact that great, then we can truly trust God to do what is right for us, to “fulfill His purposes for me,” as Psalm 138:8 says. God has irrevocably shown us that He infinitely loves us, when He put Jesus on the cross for our sakes. There is no need to be afraid: Be strong and courageous in our strong and mighty God!
12So now select twelve men from the tribes of Israel, one from each tribe. 13When the soles of the feet of the priests who bear the ark of the Lord, the Lord of all the earth, rest in the waters of the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan flowing from above shall be cut off; they shall stand in a single heap.”
14When the people set out from their tents to cross over the Jordan, the priests bearing the ark of the covenant were in front of the people. 15Now the Jordan overflows all its banks throughout the time of harvest. So when those who bore the ark had come to the Jordan, and the feet of the priests bearing the ark were dipped in the edge of the water,
“You can’t test courage cautiously.”
16the waters flowing from above stood still, rising up in a single heap far off at Adam, the city that is beside Zarethan, while those flowing toward the sea of the Arabah, the Dead Sea, were wholly cut off. Then the people crossed over opposite Jericho. 17While all Israel were crossing over on dry ground, the priests who bore the ark of the covenant of the Lord stood on dry ground in the middle of the Jordan, until the entire nation finished crossing over the Jordan.
Faith leads us into greater victories than we could ever imagine.
from Today God Is First,
by Os Hillman
THE PURPOSE OF ELEVATION
“And the Lord said to Joshua, ‘This day I will begin to exalt you in the sight of all Israel, that they may know that, as I was with Moses, so I will be with you.'” —Joshua 3:7
Joshua had been a faithful number two man under Moses for 40 years. Can you imagine serving one man for 40 years? Now that is faithfulness!
Even so, when the time came to pass the mantel to Joshua, God knew he needed to be elevated in the eyes of the people in order for Joshua to accomplish his purpose. That is the purpose for elevation – so that you and I can fulfill our purpose and our mission.
We are not called to elevate ourselves. If we elevate ourselves before our time we will short circuit God’s plans for our lives. We will not have the same level of grace as we would have if it were in God’s perfect timing. Jesus refused to let others elevate Him or make Him into something contrary to His purpose. Moving into a job or responsibility before we are ready is a formula for failure. We may not be mature enough. We may not have the proper skill set.
Let God elevate you in His timing and you will be successful in the thing He created you to be and do.
Crossing the Jordan River has become a metaphor for traveling from earthly life to everlasting life, for leaving the wandering of human toil to go to the Promised Land of peace and rest. The old spiritual “Deep River” speaks to our longing for that eternal home. This beautiful arrangement HERE is by Norman Luboff.
Deep River, my home is over Jordan.
Deep River, Lord, I want to cross over into campground.
Oh, don’t you want to go to that Gospel feast,
that Promised Land where all is peace.
Deep River, Lord, I want to cross over into campground.
The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.