When the children of Israel reached the Jordan River they were faced with a supreme challenge from their Supreme Commander.
I am not saying there were not major challenges in the wilderness, nor am I discounting the anxiety that may have been present in those challenges.
I just imagine them standing at the river bank waiting on God to split the waters so they could cross into their place of purpose. Knowing human nature the way I do I can see them staring at the river waiting, waiting, waiting for God to speak to Joshua as He spoke to Moses. “Why are you complaining. What do you have in your hand? Stretch out your “staff”! Stand still and watch Me perform a miracle for you.”
Those instructions never came!
If you are going to place yourself in your place of divine purpose you should not expect God to say what He once said, nor do what He once did. Instead they heard [my paraphrase], “You will have to step into the raging river if you want to enter your promised land.”
Those called to carry the Ark of the Covenant had to step in first. That is the real test of leadership. Can you lead when what you expected to happen is not happening the way you expected?
Will you believe the God you say you believe in? “Be the first to step into the flooded river.”
God said the priests must step into the river!
God said the priests must stand in the river!
God said the priests must stay in the river!
Can you imagine standing still, holding the Ark of the Presence of God on your shoulders, for however long it took anywhere between 1.5 to 5 million people to cross the Jordan River? Only when all of God’s people crossed over were the priests allowed to leave the River.
This is what God actually said, “It shall come about when the soles of the feet of the priests who carry the ark of the Lord, the Lord of all the earth, rest in the waters of the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan will be cut off, and the waters which are flowing down from above will stand in one heap. . . . . 10 For the priests who carried the ark were standing in the middle of the Jordan until everything was completed that the Lord had commanded Joshua to speak to the people, according to all that Moses had commanded Joshua. And the people hurried and crossed; 11 and when all the people had finished crossing, the ark of the Lord and the priests crossed before the people.” [Joshua 3:13; 4:10,11]
Until we learn to rest in God will we will never discover the rest of God. We will also never rest in the ever changing and unsettling world we live in and are called to settle.
Did you notice how God identified Himself? He did not call Himself the Lord God of Israel. He called Himself the Lord of all the earth. This is a huge pronouncement that many have missed.
God identifies Himself, or is identified, as the God of Israel over 200 times. All but 2 of those are in the Old Testament. Yet here in Joshua 3 He identifies Himself by a different name, The Lord of all the earth, 2 times. The first time is in verse 11, “Behold, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth is crossing over ahead of you into the Jordan.”
The is the first time in Scripture God identifies Himself by this name!
The Presence of God, carried on the shoulders of certain priests of God, preceded the people of God into that which was flooded, moving swiftly, and was very unstable!
The Jordan River begins at the foot of Mount Hermon to the north and empties into the Dead Sea to the south. The Jordan descends approximately 3100 feet from its headwaters to the Dead Sea where it ends its journey. At the time of Jesus the Jordan could reach almost 5000 feet wide. Today it is no where near that width.
Jordan means to descend, to decline, to be brought down, among other things. It ends in the Dead Sea. The metaphor is representative of a person whose life is in decline and heading toward death.
This is what happened to the water once the priests settled in their place of rest in the middle of the River. “The waters which were flowing down from above stood and rose up in one heap, a great distance away at Adam.” [Joshua 3:16]
Adam is the man of sin whose sin brought death into the human race! By rolling the water all the way back to Adam God was saying everything Adam passed on to man was being rolled back, off of and away from those entering their place of promise.
Why would God do that? Why would God do that at this moment in history? Why would God identify Himself as the Lord of all the earth right there, right then?
I am convinced that God identifies Himself this way to the children of Israel as the Lord of all the earth because the promise of a promise land was made to Abram, before he became Abraham, the converted covenant man of faith.
We find that promise promised the first time in Acts 7 when Stephen is testifying before the Sanhedrin. “2 The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran, 3 and said to him, ‘Leave your country and your relatives, and come into the land that I will show you.'”
In Genesis 12 God told Abram the 2nd time, when he was in Haran, to leave his father’s house and go to the land that He would show him and eventually give to him.
In Genesis 12:3 God preached the gospel to Abram when He said to him, “And in you all the nations of the earth will be blessed.” Paul tells us in Galatians 3:8 this was the gospel being preached to Abraham.
Paul writes in Romans 4:13, “For the promise to Abraham or to his descendants that he would be heir of the world was not through the Law, but through the righteousness of faith [believing God and staying faithful to God].”
Are you aware that just like the descendants of faithful Abraham, you will have to step into your greatest challenge to reach your promised purpose. When you do you position yourself to change the entire world, or at the least your entire world.
In the Old Testament there were a select few of the priests chosen by God to carry the Ark of His Presence. In the New Testament every born again believer is a priest called to carry God’s presence.
Will you risk it all in front of all those following you?
If not, you disqualify yourself from being God’s leader! Why? If you are waiting on someone else to take the risk you are called to take you automatically become a follower!
On the surface the flooded River the children of Israel stood before looked scary, inconvenient and very risky. They did not realize under the turbulent surface was a place of rest!
Below the surface stood dry ground and stones of remembrance that were to remind them what deliverance is all about, as well as their part in participating in their deliverance.
Leaders must learn to rest in what God is saying so they can rest in where God says to take a stand.
Leaders take the maximum risk so that the rest of God’s people’s transition will be much less stressful. Welcome to the school of the Spirit in leadership training!
I can imagine the fear they had to face when the reality set in that the God who had delivered them from Egyptian bondage with a strong right hand of power and authority, and had kept them in their 40 year wilderness wanderings with that same power and authority, now was telling them they have to take a huge step of faith into their place of divine purpose, trusting they would not perish in the process of going from wandering and wondering in a wilderness to accepting full responsibility for possessing all the promises God had made to them while they were in bondage.
They were told manna would no longer fall from heaven! In the place of their purpose they would have to work the land that had unlimited resources. The land had full provision but they would have to labor in the land to extract it and benefit from it.
Provision would not fall from heaven. It would come from the land [promises] they were to live in and possess!
In the land of promise they would have to confront their enemies and dispossess them from what God had promised to them.
Making a decision to be proactive in uprooting everything in our lives that stands in opposition to and in the way of God’s perfect plan for us is a prerequisite to our possessing our possessions.
In the New Testament we learn we do not battle against flesh and blood. This is true! Our enemies are not other people.
Our primary enemy is ourselves! The devil is not our primary enemy. Our primary enemy is our own flesh [carnal, sinful, immature and irresponsible ways]! Paul says in Romans that our flesh is at enmity with our new true identity in Christ and that it wars against the Spirit of God, and the Spirit wars against it.
The devil is already dispossessed and he only has access to our possessions when we invite him to feed at our table of timidity and carnality.
Another way to look at God telling His leaders to step into and stand in the midst of the river is ‘rivers’ stand for moves of the Holy Spirit and the various anointing’s that are resident in the Holy Spirit, in you.
“Out of your belly shall flow rivers of living water. This Jesus spoke of the Holy Spirit who they had not yet received.”
Stepping into, standing in and resting in the moving of God’s Spirit and His anointing on your life is vital to functioning as one of His leaders. If we are not moving with God we become the clog that creates hinderances to where He is moving. The world we are called to transform will only be transformed after we are transformed by His Presence and anointing.
What is your greatest challenge in the context of and in conflict with what God has promised you?
What appears on the surface to be so unstable because it is constantly shifting that you stand shaking on the shoreline opposite your divine purpose?
What is sitting under all that appears shifting and unstable just waiting for you to step into the very substance that creates consternation, waiting for you to stand there, and to find a rest that you never thought you would find?
What world is waiting on you to transform as you tremble in fear facing what appears to be traumatically terrifying?
God delivered you from where you were in order to deliver you into your place of purpose where He has always seen you successfully possessing your possessions [promises]!
Will you face your greatest fear and fearlessly and faithfully move forward?
Dr. Kevin M. Drury, DMin