Reflections on the Way, the Truth, and the Life
- Monday, March 07, 2005
Come here and listen to the words of the Lord your God. This is how you will know that the living God is among you and that he will certainly drive out before you the Canaanites.... See, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth will go into the Jordan ahead of you. – Joshua 3:9-11, emphasis mine
Let's stop here for a moment with them. Let's see what they're seeing. Forty years before, their fathers and mothers had failed to enter the Promised Land for one principal reason: lack of faith. The prospect and potential consequences of war with the various Canaanite peoples was more real to them than what God had promised. As a result, they failed to live in God's reality and enter Canaan; instead of a land flowing with milk and honey, they chose suffering and death in the wilderness of their own self-destructive choices.
Now at last a new generation was facing the same challenges: to believe God or to believe their fears. This time, though, the danger was not the giant Canaanite warriors and their well-defended cities. On this particular day, the Jordan River was a flood.
I've seen it, both the Jordan and desert floods. Here in Phoenix, my home city, we have a river (the Salt) that's nearly always desert-dry. I drive through the boulder-strewn, quarter-mile-wide gully several times a month. However, a couple decades ago we had record rains, and that dusty channel roared with the equivalent of one third the flow of the Mississippi River! All but one bridge toppled into the swirling chocolate flood, and for weeks we had a traffic nightmare.
You had to see it to believe it ... and so did the Israelites. Looking at the flooded Jordan, they had to "see" God's promise. Remember, faith is the evidence of things not seen. Looking at one thing, they had to see another. I said this earlier: Faith is how we change our reality. Again, to qualify, faith is not how we create reality – faith is not the force. Faith is how we transform our reality by identifying ourselves with God's reality. As the Israelites stood there, they faced a choice of realities: their "real" world or God's true reality; the flood or God's power to get them through the flood. This time, unlike their fathers and mothers, they made the right choice; this time they proved God was alétheia. God was true. God was real.
Joshua instructed them,
"Choose twelve men from the tribes of Israel, one from each tribe. And as soon as the priests who carry the ark of the Lord – the Lord of all the earth – set foot in the Jordan, its waters flowing downstream will be cut off and stand up in a heap."
So when the people broke camp to cross the Jordan, the priests carrying the ark of the covenant went ahead of them. Now the Jordan is at flood stage all during harvest. Yet as soon as the priests who carried the ark reached the Jordan and their feet touched the water's edge [just like God said], the water from upstream stopped flowing. – Joshua 3:12-16
[The water] piled up in a heap a great distance away, at a town called Adam in the vicinity of Zarethan, while the water flowing down to the Sea of the Arabah (the Salt Sea) was completely cut off. So the people crossed over opposite Jericho. The priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord stood firm on dry ground in the middle of the Jordan, while all Israel passed by until the whole nation had completed the crossing on dry ground. – Joshua 3:16-17
Believing is seeing. Can you see it?
Let's revisit verses 10 and 11 for a moment:
This is how you will know that the living God is among you and that he will certainly drive out [your enemies]. See, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth will go into the Jordan ahead of you.
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