Digging in Deeper: Joshua 3:8

“And as for you, command the priests who bear the ark of the covenant, ‘When you come to the brink of the waters of the Jordan, you shall stand still in the Jordan.'”  (ESV – Read the chapter)

This has always struck me as one of the more remarkable stories in the Exodus narrative.  Here were Joshua and the people of Israel ready once again to cross the Jordan and enter the Promised Land.  The bounty of God’s provision and promise lay ahead of them.  The only thing that stands in their way is the Jordan River.  But, this should present no real trouble to them.  After all, God had already parted a whole sea for them.  What threat does a river pose?

This time, though, things are a little different.  Now, instead of being pursued by an army bent on their enslavement or destruction, they are freely crossing the river in faith that God will do something that would have seemed ludicrous to most rational minds.  In fact, it had seemed sufficiently crazy a generation before that the nation had balked and refused to go.  The result of that lack of faith in the God who had led them faithfully out of slavery in Egypt had been the previous 40 years’ worth of wilderness wandering, though, so there was at least a little emphasis behind them.

The only question was: How would God do it?  He had already announced to Joshua that He would do it.  He just hadn’t told him or the people how.  When Moses had parted the Red Sea over 40 years before–something only a small portion of them remembered from their childhood–the waters had parted completely before they started crossing.

This time, though, the instructions were different.  The priests were to carry the Ark of the Covenant on their shoulders all the way into the waters of the flood-swollen river.  In other words, they were to start crossing the impassable river before God would act.

There are times in our own lives when God is clearly leading us in a certain direction, but the path forward seems blocked by some impassable obstacle.  You’ve experienced this.  I’ve experienced this.  We have a vision from God for where we are to be going that seems perfectly clear, but the way forward to realize this vision is not.

What’s more, the path that seems like it might possibly be the one God is calling us to take appears to be blocked entirely.  He’s calling us forward, but the way seems blocked.  What do we do?  We do just what the priests of Israel did.  We march forward, trusting that when the time is right, He will clear the obstacles in our path so that we can take the next step.

You see, God does not require or even expect us to understand where and how He is leading us.  All He desires from us is faithfulness and obedience.  Now, when we exercise these we will often be rewarded and reassured with a bit of understanding (often in the form of clear hindsight), but there are no guarantees for this.  God wants us to trust Him and to marvel when He delivers us.

The fact is: He has a great plan for each of us to serve in His kingdom in some way.  Now, it may not seem too great by the standards of the world, but those aren’t the standards of the kingdom.  The kingdom of God celebrates faithful service to the King, not bold, personal achievement.  When we are willing to trust our King, to go where He says to go, to do what He says to do, we will be able to marvel at how He gets us there.  At times, it will take great trust on our part and faithful (but never blind) obedience, but He hasn’t failed us yet and He’s not about to start now.  Where is God leading you?  What obstacles seem to be standing in your way?  Step forward with bold confidence in the God who always makes a way for those who trust in Him.

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