Sometimes, it is just about taking the first step. The step of obedience. The step of trust. The step of faith.
13 And it shall come to pass, as soon as the soles of the feet of the priests that bear the ark of the Lord, the Lord of all the earth, shall rest in the waters of Jordan, that the waters of Jordan shall be cut off from the waters that come down from above; and they shall stand upon an heap.
14 And it came to pass, when the people removed from their tents, to pass over Jordan, and the priests bearing the ark of the covenant before the people;
15 and as soon as those bearing the ark had come as far as the Jordan, and the feet of the priests bearing the ark were dipped in the brink of the water (now the Jordan overflows all its banks throughout the time of harvest),
16 That the waters which came down from above stood and rose up upon an heap very far from the city Adam, that is beside Zaretan: and those that came down toward the sea of the plain, even the salt sea, failed, and were cut off: and the people passed over right against Jericho.
17 And the priests that bare the ark of the covenant of the Lord stood firm on dry ground in the midst of Jordan, and all the Israelites passed over on dry ground, until all the people were passed clean over Jordan.
Moses chose Joshua to replace him as the leader of the Israelites after he passed away. As Joshua faced this new door of opportunity and leadership, God assured him of the following: “Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9). What a promise! Now, after wandering in the wilderness for forty years, God’s people were ready to follow Joshua into the Promised Land. They were ready to conquer in the name of the LORD. They were ready to see and retrieve the wonderful land that God had promised to give them.
Point 1: Consecrate your life
First things first, though, they were commanded to purify themselves. According to the commentary in my Life Application Study Bible, “The consecration ceremony pictured the importance of approaching God with a pure heart.”
What about you? Have you consecrated or given your life completely to Christ’s control? Are you bearing Christ’s name wherever you go? Have you obeyed God before you take the next step, before you expect Him to answer your prayers or give you a blessing? Are you walking in all the light God has shown you (1 John 1:7) before you claim the promise in Romans 8:28 that “ALL things work together for good to those who LOVE God”? You can’t live for yourself and expect to reap the benefits of being God’s child.
Point 2: Listen to God’s voice
Next, Joshua commanded the people to – before commencing battle – come together and listen to what God had to say (Joshua 3:9).
When was the last time you TOOK the time to stop and listen to what God has to say to you before you rushed into a decision, gave an opinion, etc.? According to my Bible’s commentary, “Before making your schedule, take time to focus on what God wants from ALL your activities.” Wow! God should rule and reign in your daily choices and activities.
Point 3: Take the first step
Then, God gave His people “specific instructions” (Joshua 3:13) on how they were supposed to start their journey to overtaking their enemies, which happened to be crossing over the Jordan River, currently in flooding season. The priests who were carrying the ark of the covenant were supposed to STEP into the water. When their soles – bottoms of their feet – NOT just tiptoes – were in the water — then, and ONLY then, would God perform His miracle. He was going to PART the huge Jordan river. Say, what?! Yes, for the second time in their history, God was showing His people who was boss. He controls the winds, the waves, and even the weather… Everything!
What difficult task has God ordered you to do? What step has God commanded you to take? What situation is facing you that has you shaking in your boots? Sometimes it is just about taking the first step. Surrender your life to God’s control. Choose serving God over everyone and anything else. Read the Bible. Listen to what God has to say to you, and then. . . OBEY. Do whatever God wants you to do. It might be something simple. It might be something complex. Either way, you MUST take that first step. If the priests had decided they were going to stand on the bank of the Jordan River until God parted the waters, they would STILL be standing there. They had to step into the raging river before God performed the miracle – before He stopped the waters. It might seem foggy in your life right now. That first step might be incredibly scary. HOWEVER – don’t let that stop you! Don’t “tiptoe” into what God tells you to do – plunge into the river. Trust that God is with you. Obey quickly and fully. Then, the waters will be part, the skies will become clear, and the presence of God will surround you.
The first step is the hardest. If you never take it, though, you’ll never know what miracles God was going to perform in your life. Take that first step of faith.
Life Application Study Bible, New American Standard Bible – Updated Edition. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2000.