CROSSING OVER Joshua 3 October 2007
Life is continually presenting us with new experiences and fresh challenges.
..For some of us, these new experiences and fresh challenges are easy to identify. …..Some in our midst are preparing for marriage.
…..Others are expecting their first child; some have recently added a child/children into their family. (adoption)
Maybe the challenge for you is being in a new grade in school, adjusting to new friends, a new teacher, a new class, maybe even a new school.
…Maybe some of you are making adjustments in your work schedule. Certainly we as a church are making adjustments
New challenges, new experiences, they are all around us
_Now, maybe some of you are questioning that.
Life, to you, is one big and boring rut. Well, it’s easy to get into a rut, isn’t it? We can wear that rut so deep that it’s almost impossible to get out.
Someone: "A rut is a grave with the ends kicked out."
*It’s easy for us to get into a rut. How sad it is when we are so much in a rut that we lose our enthusiasm for discovery and adventure!
**Regardless of the challenges you face, no matter how deep a rut you might be in, you’ll have to admit that each day brings a totally new set of circumstances and experiences. In a very real sense,
"WE HAVE NEVER BEEN THIS WAY BEFORE."
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.
‘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.
…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?” 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.
3:3 Chapter 3 emphasizes the significance of the Ark of the Covenant, mentioning it more than eleven times.
The priests were responsible for carrying it (v. 3) in accordance with the rules given to Moses (Deut. 10:8; 31:9). They were to carry the ark with poles and not to touch it (Ex. 25:12, 13; 37:3–5; Num. 4:4–15).
The ark symbolized God’s presence. Everyone had to be careful to keep a healthy distance from it (3:4).
3:4 The Hebrew word for yet is emphatic and might be translated “be very sure.” This emphasizes the importance of the command to keep one’s distance from the ark. Two thousand cubits was more than half a mile. that you may know:
The miraculous events are a source of emphasis in chs. 3 and 4, and their value in making the people “know” is important (compare v. 7).
**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.
>>>none of us knows what rests on the other side.
*************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).
3:5, 6 Sanctify yourselves: The Book of Joshua emphasizes the idea of holiness.
The basic meaning of holiness (Heb. qadash) is “separation” from things that are unclean or common. Wonders translates the Hebrew word (niphlaô˒t) for what today are called miracles. These mighty acts of God astonished people and prompted them to praise Him (Pss. 9:1; 96:3).
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.
Drawn to the Difference
But as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, "Be holy, for I am holy."
1 Peter 1:15-16
People are often surprised when they meet a genuine, relatable, down-to-earth Christian. It is unexpected that someone with such high morals could be so real and likeable. This is no doubt the result of a gross misinterpretation of the Christian's call to holiness, and it is why we must change our perspective on how to live according to Jesus.
Christ never commanded us to be holier-than-thou, which by definition means "excessively or hypocritically pious." On the contrary, when He tells us to "Be holy, for I am holy," He is referring to His ability to connect with sinners and yet keep His character and integrity intact.
That is the key to being an effective witness; and when we learn to accept people where they are while standing firm in our convictions, they will be drawn to the difference in our life.
Few things are more infectious than a godly lifestyle. The people you rub shoulders with every day need that kind of challenge. Not prudish. Not preachy; just Cracker Jack—clean living; just honest to goodness, bone-deep, non-hypocritical integrity.
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.