Joshua 3 – REMOVING OBSTACLES
When in the army, one of the things we had to do in basic training was run an obstacle course. We had to go up, around and through things that were in our way!
In our Christian lives we will face many obstacles. There will be health problems, people problems, work problems, school problems and sin problems. Just as a regular obstacle course is beneficial for our bodies, the obstacles Christians face can also be valuable. As we face life’s obstacles we will develop stronger spiritual muscles, increase our spiritual endurance, and our spiritual agility. We must learn to remove the obstacles in our lives. We find out how to do this in our text.
The children of Israel were going over to the Promised Land, the Land of Canaan. They had an obstacle in front of them. Their obstacle was the Jordan River. This river was overflowing its banks during the spring thaw and spring rains. This was not a river that could be waded through. It was a formidable obstacle.
A WORD OF WARNING – Vss. 1-4
The warning here is actually two-fold:
- Be Ready When God Is – Vs. 3
The Ark of the Covenant was symbolic of God’s covenant with Israel. It was a symbol of the Lord’s presence. In essence when the ark moved, God moved. If the Ark moved, it meant that God was moving and Israel needed to follow.
The situation is still the same today. If God is moving, or leading in our lives, we need to follow. In dealing with an obstacle, our eyes must be on the Lord. As God opens doors, we must be ready, willing and able to move through them.
- Let God Go First – Vs 4
This was a large multitude. Jehovah was going to lead. By giving a distance between the ark and those following, the ark could be clearly seen by the people.
Very often Christians don’t give the Lord room to lead. They rush ahead without keeping their eyes on Him. Then they wonder why they fail!
When I was a home missionary I needed an office. In my own strength I tried very hard to find one. Finally, I gave up and asked the Lord to provide one. Once I got my eyes on Him, He answered.
The Lord provided an office within walking distance of my home and also provided the people who promised to pay the rent. This all happened in one day! And as a bonus the landlady was the local baker’s wife. If I was around at the end of the day I left with free baked goods.
A WORD FOR SANCTIFICATION – Vs. 5
If you were leading a military expedition in Joshua’s day, what would you tell your troops? You might say, “Make sure your sword is sharpened and your shield and helmet in good order. Instead Joshua tells the people, “Get yourselves ready spiritually!”
The word “sanctify” means to separate or to be set apart. Usually this separation is from that which is unholy. When we set ourselves apart from that which is unholy, we are setting ourselves apart for God. Although God does sanctify us at salvation, during our Christian lives and at death, He also expects us to set ourselves apart for him. If we expect Him to remove obstacles, we must set ourselves apart for Him! 2 Timothy 2:19-22, 2 Corinthians 6:16-7:1
A WORD OF ENCOURAGEMENT – Vs. 7
Notice that it was after Joshua told the people to sanctify themselves that god encouraged Joshua.
Have you ever noticed how some people receive more encouragement from the Lord than others? I personally think that it has to do with the amount that we are sold out to God. The more we obey, the more we are encouraged. The more we pray, the more answered prayer encourages us. The more we lift up Jesus Christ to our friends, the more people come to Christ.
A WORD OF DIRECTION – Vs. 8
In verse 8 the Lord gives Joshua specific instructions. The priests had to take the first step into the water. It was a step of faith. When facing obstacles the Lord will give you specific instructions to follow. It is up to you to take the first step of faith. If you lack wisdom God will give you wisdom (James 1:5). If you face temptation, God will provide the way to escape. You only have to take it (1 Corinthians 10:13).
A WORD OF PROMISE – Vss. 9-13
Vs. 9 – Notice that the promise was coming from God, not Joshua. This was not blind faith. Joshua and God’s people were to rest on God’s promises.
Vs. 10 – This removal of the Jordan River obstacle was to be a sign or a promise that god would remove even greater obstacles. God gives us little victories so we will trust Him for bigger ones.
Vs. 11 – The Lord was going ahead.
Vs. 13 – Dry ground was promised. No Israelite got stuck in the mud!
God hasn’t promised us a dry Jordan, but he has given us many promises on which to depend.
These promises include Matthew 7:7-8, Hebrews 13:5, Psalm 16:8, Isaiah 55:11 and many more.
AN ACT OF FAITH – Vss. 14-17
It was time to go forward by faith.
Wet feet lead to dry ground.
When God tells us to move forward it is time to move forward. Israel did. The obstacle was removed. Isaiah 43:2