(Joshua 1:10-18; 3:1 – 5:2 Written as if the first priest to step into the Jordan River carrying the ark were saying this.)
“Swing low, sweet chariot, coming fo’ to carry me home. Swing low, sweet chariot, coming fo’ to carry me home I looked over Jordan and what did I see? Coming for to carry me home? A band of angels coming after me, coming for to carry me home. If you get there before I do, coming for to carry me home, tell all my friends I’m comin’ to, comin’ for to carry me home.”
“Crossing over the Jordan” – what does that phrase mean to you? Often you get your theology from songs, and often your songs speak of Canaan as heaven and the Jordan as entering heaven. I’ll tell you, though, to us who crossed the Jordan River it was an obstacle, and Canaan was a battleground, not heavenly rest. God had promised us the land, but we had to enter and fight. He would give us every place our foot stepped, but fierce warriors were prepared to keep us from stepping anywhere in that land. To us the Promised Land was where God wanted us to be. We were in His will there. It was His choice for us to grow, mature, serve Him and bear fruit. But that wouldn’t happen without heavy opposition. It was possession through conflict – that is the only way to have victory. We were to fight behind the “Captain of our Salvation,” Joshua (a picture of Jesus, whose name in Greek is the same as Joshua in Hebrew – both meaning “Jehovah is our Salvation”). We fought behind Joshua, you fight behind Jesus (Heb 2:10-11; Rom 8:37; II Cor 1:10; 2:14).
God is sovereign but He expects us to do our part in the fight. Everyone: Daniel, Jeremiah, Moses, Paul, even Jesus Himself, had their battles against God’s enemies. Our battles were physical. Yours are spiritual (Eph 6:10-12). From our Physical battles you can learn how to fight your spiritual battles. Listen to my story as I tell you what is necessary to enter into the place God has for you, the place where your battles for victory can be fought and won.
When Moses died Joshua took over. We were camped by the Jordan River, ready to enter the land to fight for our promised blessings. God said we should cross over and enter the land (Joshua 1:10-11) but the Jordan was in flood stage! As such it was impossible for us to cross. Still, we committed ourselves to obey Him (1:16). Joshua even started making plans for when we were on the other side by sending two men to spy our Jericho (Joshua 2).
We moved to the River’s edge (Joshua 3:1) and waited three days, wondering all the time how we could cross. The Jordan wasn’t a large river, except in flood stage. They if overflowed its banks and want far up the valley walls on either side of it.
When it was time to cross God said the priests carrying the Ark were to go first. This was where God’s presence was, between the angels on the ark. In effect God was going to go first and we would follow. That sounded right and acceptable. Everyone spent the evening getting ready by praying and removing any sin I n their lives (3:5). In the morning we were all ready.
God told the priests to go first and all the rest would follow (3:6-7). Wouldn’t you know that the lot fell to me to have the privilege of carrying one of the poles which transported the ark! Normally that was a once-in-a-lifetime privilege which we all dreamed about. However on this day it was a little different. What’s more, I was to go in the front! Why was this so bad, well, let me tell you what it was like for us there. The banks down into the water were very steep and once one took a step down there was no turning back. It was slipping and sliding straight down to the bottom. That was VERY difficult carrying an ark under normal circumstances, but with the water raging far up the valley wall, there was no stopping until we hit the bottom of the valley and the river bed. But that would mean we would be under many feet of water which was rushing down with tremendous force and power. God hadn’t said anything about stopping the water! I remembered how He opened the Red Sea BEFORE they stepped in 40 years ago, but now He was telling us to step into the water and trust Him! It would be like telling you to run full speed and jump off the side of the Grand Canyon, trusting God to put a bridge under your feet as soon as you started coming down! it was an act of faith!
You wouldn’t believe what happened, though! My foot hit the water, and I know it went into the water, but it didn’t get wet! The water parted and the land was dry (3:13). We were able to safely walk down the slope and into the middle of the water! Everyone crossed over on dry land (3:14-17). God had promised, and when we followed in obedience He delivered! As soon as the last one was across the waters rumbled back again. Now THAT was impressive!
God instructed us to leave a pile of stones on the shore as a memorial to remember this (Joshua 4:17). Instead of following up on this great psychological advantage and attacking Jericho, God had us camp. There was more preparation to do to be ready to battle. We needed to be 100% committed to God, so all the males were circumcised (5:1-9) and then we celebrated the Passover (5:10), something we hadn’t done for almost 40 years. We were now in the land! The manna stopped (5:11-12).
God was teaching us something very important: the wet feet concept. You see, the water didn’t part until after we made the first move and stepped in in faith. What step of faith must YOU take for the waters that separate you from being in God’s perfect will to part? It is an attitude, a habitual sin, a relationship you put before God? Whatever it is, go ahead in faith, trusting God to remove it and open the way for you. He’ll do it, but you must step out!
(If I can answer questions or offer personal counsel, or if you would like a free copy of my Spiritual Warfare Handbook, email me at Jerry@ChristianTrainingOrganization.org or download it from http://sw.christiantrainingonline.org/. My next book, Spiritual Warfare in the Bible, which is a more advanced treatment of spiritual warfare, is also available there for free.)