(Joshua Chapter 3)
As we wrapped up Joshua 2 there was a sense of anticipation for what was coming next. We watched as the Lord protected two men scouting out a land they had been called to pursue. We sat near the edge of our emotional seats when they nearly lost their life at the hands of the King. And then eased back in comfort watching God do what only he could do. The outcome they all wanted came in a way none of them could have predicted.
Rahab the prostitute reminded us what faith looks like. Her life changed forever the moment she trusted in her creator. And now...the men who came to spy on the land returned home...as the next step of the journey begins.
We find Joshua "up early and on his way". He's already showing us that when God calls you to something, a sense of urgency jolts past every other feeling (uncertainty, anxiousness, fear, doubt, etc...) and causes us to act with boldness.
Joshua knew where he was called to go (The Waters Edge), because of what he was called to do. (Cross The Jordan River)
They camped for three days staring at the task ahead (Crossing the Jordan). What they must have been thinking! Seriously...here is where my head would have been at...I know we are supposed to cross that river, and I know God has already promised us victory...but I can't see how. We are here, and there is a massive river between us and our victory. A MASSIVE OBSTACLE.
I don't know about you, but I would have been scared out of my mind. I know...I know...God said the victory was already won. I didn't say I was being rational...just brutally honest. I wonder if they felt like they were staring at a dead end too.
Have you ever looked at a promise God made to you, and felt held back by the dead end you saw in front of you?
So here is what happens next...
The leaders in camp gather everyone and give specific instructions.
"When you see the Covenant-Chest of God, your God, carried by the Levitical priests, start moving. Follow it. Make sure you keep a proper distance between you and it, about half a mile - be sure now to keep your distance! - and you'll see clearly the route to take. You've never been on this road before."
THAT! In its entirety it has so much juice in it, you could drink the cup it would fill forever. And when I read it, it was emotional for me. I've been asking God to show me direction in a specific area I feel he is calling me. That passage of scripture in Joshua about froze me with equal parts excitement and overwhelming humility in His presence as I read it.
Just as the people of Israel has been given specific instructions...if we are being called by God to move on something, He will provide us with direction as well.
"...keep your distance!"
"...you'll see clearly the route to take."
"You've never been on this road before."
I think sometimes we try to outrun God on the way to the victory He wants to bring for us. We hear him say go, and somehow we infer that means go ahead of Him. In this moment...the instructions the Israelites get are a remarkable reminder to us, that when we follow God, the distance between where He is (moving on our behalf doing only what He can do) and where we are creates the clarity we've been longing for.
The route we are to take becomes clear when we follow God, not race past Him.
And then the reason this book is named Ocean Road.
"You've never been on this road before."
Joshua tells the people...
"Sanctify yourselves. Tomorrow God will work miracle-wonders among you."
The priests were called to "...step out before the people."
And as they went, God speaks life, love and hope into Joshua's heart. He builds his leader up so that the very next command Joshua gives to the priests doesn't overwhelm them, but rather infuse them with the power only God can impart.
"When you come to the edge of the Jordan's waters, stand there on the river bank."
"...take twelve men from the tribes of Israel, one man from each tribe. When the soles of the feet of the priests carrying the Chest of God, Master of all the earth, touch the Jordan's water, the flow of water will be stopped - the water coming from upstream will pile up in a heap."
Do you see it? When you come to the very edge of your dead end...the very edge of what you cannot change...GOD WILL ACT. Sometimes we get to know how, other times we don't. The fact remains that if he's called us to it, he will bring us through it.
Are you at a "water's edge moment" in your life right now?
Two months after God showed this to me in August...I am.
As I sit here and write this to you, tears are full in my eyes, dropping slowly along my cheeks, as I stand at my water's edge, following a promise God spoke into my heart. So if you feel like no one understands your feelings, trust me...many, many people do.
When the priests feet touched the very edge of the overflowing banks of the Jordan River that day...when the people had to wonder if they were staring at their dead end...or their God-given future...
"...the flow of the water stopped. It piled up in a heap....The river went dry."
A road of safe passage had been created, where an obstacle used to stand.
And as I stared at the banks of the Atlantic ocean in the distance this past August, God reminded me that He was in control. My heart was full knowing that if that water needed to part so that I could get through, He would do it.
In the moment that feels like a dead-end, He will create our…Ocean Road.
And he will do the same for you if you’ll be obedient at your water’s edge.
"And the people crossed, facing Jericho."
"And there they stood; those priests carrying the Chest of the Covenant stood firmly on dry ground in the middle of the Jordan while all Israel crossed on dry ground. Finally the whole nation was across the Jordan, and not one wet foot."
Obedient feet led to a dry street. The priests obedience to lead as God directed, through Joshua's voice, led all Israel to safety. The priests took the first steps in, stayed in the middle until everyone had crossed, and were the last ones to walk out.
IN FIRST...IN THE MIDDLE OF THE CHALLENGE...OUT LAST.
That's leadership. (*1)
You’ll see * and #’s throughout the rest of the book. It’s the PERSPECTIVE POINTS I promised, and they are listed at the end of each chapter so that you can go back and review where they came from in the story.
We're getting close to the end of chapter 3.
But I can't leave before I share this with you...
Notice that they weren't given boats to cross the Jordan River. Neither was Moses when the Red Sea parted. No...both times they were given a way through that was totally dependent on God to act. They weren't given boats to coast over the obstacle. They were sent right through the center of it...and the provision of HOW it came to pass could only be explained as a miracle.
Can you relate to that?
We look for a route over our problems, rather than the miracle through.
Perhaps...let's be honest...if we could get over it, we could take some credit for it. Hmmm...that would feel good because we'd look good. It would also give us a huge sense of security in ourselves that is undeserved, and ultimately dangerous...as we not only revel in what we've done for ourselves, but pass it on as "advice" to others that they can take care of themselves too. (*2 & *3)
We perpetuate our problems when we build on our own opinion rather than God’s vision. (*4)
Does that mean we sit on our butt and do nothing, because we don't want to accidently solve our problems? No...not at all. It simply means that our diligence needs a direction. And it will very likely not make much sense at times. (water's edge moment anyone?)
The priests didn't sit around...they responded obediently to the person God gave them in Joshua...EVEN THOUGH the marching orders had to have absolutely confounded them. (…and probably Joshua as well)
Seriously...it must have sounded something like this...
Hey, go grab that huge, heavy chest and start marching toward the water. You know...that thing over there (Jordan River) that looks more like a dead-end than the path to your new beginning.
The priests did what every great leader would...they stood in the middle. (*5)
Sometimes our water's edge moment will look like a creek, sometimes a river, and others times...the sheer impossibility will seem as big as trying to cross an ocean. When you feel like you are staring at a dead-end...remember...if it's the direction God has called you to move in, he will be faithful to move you through.
Your water's edge moment is a promise that you are about to walk on an Ocean Road.
Here are the PERSPECTIVE POINTS that I shared throughout Chapter 3 that we can reflect on as we get ready to head into Chapter 4 of Joshua.
And some questions to reflect on.
Chat about these with a friend, your family, a small group, and if you are of age...a bar. (Yes, I said bar. Jesus was particularly fond of meeting people where they were at.)
The last question is the perfect place to end our time together today. And honestly...one of my favorite ones.
Don't forget...the comments section is open to share thoughts and ask questions. It's located just below, or by clicking in the upper-right section of each chapter where it says...wait for it...COMMENTS. :)
See you tomorrow for Joshua Chapter 4.
We will tackle how to respond during the moment that we desperately need our greatest breakthrough.
Wait until you see what the Israelites did!!!
About the book
Brett W. Gould
Author. Speaker. Teacher. Coach.