Even before the people of Israel left Egypt, they were dreaming of Caanan. God had promised them the fabled land flowing with milk and honey as their future home. By the time Moses had died and Joshua had assumed leadership of Israel, the dream destination was within striking distance. It was Israel’s moment. The people were ready. They had waited forty years. In Joshua they had a leader who was confident in God and capable of providing direction for the battles that lay ahead. All the problems and challenges that could be managed were well under control. A report from two spies had revealed that the even the enemy nations had been softened up by Israel’s reputation to such an extent that they were terrified (Joshua 2.8-13, 24). All told, the conditions were just right for a successful invasion of Canaan.
Except for one thing. There was a river between Israael and her destination, the river Jordan. And this just happened to be the time of year when it was in full flood -it was overflowing its banks (3.15). If they were going to land in Canaan, they had to cross the Jordan. To do that they needed a miracle. God had to do something. This was one obstacle that could not be overcome by capable leaders or well-thought out strategies. It had to be God.
When God gives us a promise or a vision or a dream, He leads us in ways that enable us to fulfil it. He puts us through training. He gives us insight and instruction. He gives us people who will help us and encourage us. Often, however, there are obstacles that we cannot manage or overcome with even our most spiritual ingenuity. There are times we need God to show His power. We need a move of God, because nothing else will do.
Our reaction to such obstacles is sometimes one of surprise. Surprise that we should find our way blocked since we are doing what God wants. And the surprise can lead us to discouragement and eventually to us abandoning the project.
If Joshua 3 teaches us anything, it teaches us that obstacles are par for the course when it comes to realising our inheritance or fulfillling our God-given dream. If you want to get into Canaan, you have to cross a Jordan.
Does Joshua’s experience at the Jordan provide any clues about crossing the rivers that lie between us and the promised land?
The short answer is that Joshua heard God and moved in faith (3.5-11).
He stated what he heard and he took steps to obey. Statements and steps.
We need a conviction that God is going to take us through the obstacle. And we need to verbalise that conviction. Our conversation needs to come into line with our conviction. And we need to act according to what we are saying.
We know how it all ended for Joshua and Israel. They made it to Canaan. But the Jordan crossing was a significant spritual landmark for them and remained so for generations to come. God’s action on that day that they crossed over was a witness to the surrounding nations and a reminder to His own people of His awesome power (4.23-24).
If you want to get into Canaan, you have to cross a Jordan.