Crossing Over Celebration Sunday Joshua 3 2002
One critical moment characterizes most human endeavor: the moment of crossing over.
Just as a sanctuary has a vestibule, a speech an introduction, or a book a foreword, there is the time of preparation and then the thing itself.
>>>>>Unless our lives become permanently paralyzed by procrastination, anticipation must move to the actual thing done.
An engagement with marriage
‘When a jetliner reaches the runway speed of120 miles per hour, the pilot may rotate the nose of the craft upward and commit to the takeoff.
As the jet sprints down the runway there comes a moment when a decision must be made: commit or abort.
This “crossover principle” finds an arresting illustration in the lives of God’s Old Testament people.
God intended the Exodus from Egypt to act as a prelude to the entry into the Promised Land. In the most famous period of procrastination of human history, that brief prelude became a 40-year-long detour in the desert. An entire generation of Israelites disappeared into the sands until the moment came to cross over.
Joshua 3 finds God’s people waiting for that moment after a preparation of 40 years. They could no longer evade, avoid, step over or step around the crisis of their history ***It was time to cross over.
Our congregation has taken a journey of preparation.
It began quietly and inwardly among leaders…grew to Space Needs Committee
We have prayed, organized, testified, visited, mailed, and preached.
Yet all of this is only anticipation; we are now at the moment of crossing over.!!!
Humans procrastinate but God always completes.
Did you ever see a sunset and remark, “That is only half a sunset?” Did you ever see a seascape and ask, “Why did God not complete the sea?” You never saw half a snowflake or half a mountain. What God begins God completes: “He who has begun a good work in you will complete it” (Philippians 1:6).
A COMMITMENT TO CROSS OVER REQUIRES A CERTAINTY OF GOD’S DIRECTION
When God’s people cross over, they need a certain indication of God’s leadership: “When you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, and the priests, the Levites, bearing it, then you shall set out from your place and go after it” (Joshua 3:3).
The twelve Hebrew tribes had camped on the far side of the Jordan in anticipation of crossing over. The Hebrews had been desert-bound slaves. They had no experience with flooding rivers.
They had not been that way before.
**Believers have the written Word of God and the unseen but nevertheless real Holy Spirit of God.
**In the presence of these realities we should have an even greater sense of God’s guidance in our lives.
Mighty acts for God take place because of the certainty of that unseen but nevertheless real leadership.
After weeks of preparation, we stand on the brink of our own Jordan. The decision we make in the hours ahead will determine much about God’s work in this place for the years to come.
We need God’s leadership not only as a certain indication, but we also need God’s leadership because of the truth: “You have not passed this way before” (v 4).
>>>The Israelites had never seen what rested before them. Not only did they face the Jordan at flood stage, but also on the other side they faced walled cities of fierce Canaanite fighters. The unfolding saga of a land to be conquered held unknown perils to this docile slave people.
>>>As each family of our congregation makes its decision about a Faith Commitment to fulfill our vision, none of us knows what rests on the other side.
Nationally, economically medically vocationally, and familiarly— we cannot know that future. Only God knows.
It was his chore to go to the barn in the dark to secure the farm animals before the family bedtime. He dreaded what lurked in the shadows on the way to the distant barn. His father gave him unforgettable advice.
The lantern from the farmhouse would cast its light to the yard gate and no further. When he came to the yard gate, the lantern cast its light to the corral fence and no further. When he came to the corral fence, the lantern cast its light to the windmill and no further. When he came to the windmill, the lantern cast its light to the barn door. The wise father reminded the frightened lad that he had only to go as far as the light took him, with the assurance that the light would take him further at the next point of need.
We cannot see all the way no more than Israel could see the battles and victories before them that day of crossing over the Jordan.
But the ark that went before them over the Jordan would go before them to Jericho and every other place, giving the assurance of God’s victory
**The Holy Spirit is with us and goes before us!!!
A COMMITMENT TO CROSS OVER REQUIRES AN Activity OF PERSONAL CONSECRATION
On great occasions it is noteworthy that God’s people take time for personal consecration. On the eve of crossing over, Joshua commanded the people: “Sanctify yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you” (v 5).
Among the Hebrew people the word root for consecration was kadcsh Preeminently the Lord God was kad~h. The Hebrew word for consecrated or holy reflects something more akin to our concept of radioactivity than anything else. The word refers to a positive, kinetic energy that can either bless or blast.
Ø The Lord God comes to us as the wholly holy other.
Ø When we deal with God we face absolute transcendence.
Ø We know God as much as God can be known to mere humans through the face of the Lord Jesus.
Yet beyond that knowledge is the mystery of holiness.
We are to prepare ourselves in order to approach that mystery
Just as Israel paused for a significant time of spiritual preparation before crossing over, so must we.
Daily time in meditation and prayer was the habit of Jesus: “Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed” (Mark 1:35).
The decision that rests before every family and individual in our congregation calls for our best in prayer.
If we ever prayed, should it not be now?
Has there ever been a time in the corporate life of our church, which more called for prayer?
Ask God for specific direction. We do not face generalities; we face specifics.
A COMMITMENT TO CROSS OVER REQUIRES A DEPENDENCY ON DIVINE INTERVENTION
We can step Out in that dependency on the intervention of God.
When Israel crossed over, first the leaders (Joshua 3:8) and then the people (v 17) stepped out into the Jordan.
They braved the unfamiliar future with nothing but the spoken promise of God. One can hardly minimize the human drama of the situation. These former slaves had been desert-bound wanderers for 40 years. The sandal-clad feet knew the seething, searing heat of the desert sands. Now at the crest of the Jordan’s annual flood, they step into its waters behind the ark of God.
Our personal lives are a series of crossing-over.
Ø When first we leave home we cross a line that changes life permanently.. We may go back, but it is not the same.
Ø When we stand at the marital altar we cross another line that altars life forever.
Ø When we join the armed services, change careers, or move across the country we may cross lines that shape life permanently thereafter.
Churches also come to the moment of crossing lines.
Some chose to move forward in dependency on the intervention of God and they know of glorious victory
Others came to the riverbank of their own peculiar Jordan and retreated.
Behind them rests an interminable desert of decline, a meaningless movement into mediocrity
***Future generations will look back at this moment as the critical moment in the life of our congregation.