Joshua 3

Crossing Over the Jordan


Dear Abby Story

A)The Book of Joshua presents for us – What can happen when Real people exercise Real faith in a real God


B)In Joshua 2 we examined the saving faith of an individual, the Canaanite woman Rahab.

1)Now in this passage the focus moves to the faith of an entire nation.


C)As we study, please keep in mind that this book deals with much more than the history of what God did centuries ago for the Jews.

1)It's also about each of our individual lives and the life of the church today, about what God wants to do here and now for those who trust him and who are open to his leading.


D) The book of Joshua is about the victory of faith and the glory that comes to God when his people trust him and obey him.

 After all, God didn't save us to make us statues and put us on display in a museum.

A)He saved us to make us soldiers, to move us forward by faith to claim our rich inheritance in Jesus Christ.


B) Moses described that process perfectly, speaking to the nation of Israel prior to the conquest in Deuteronomy 6:23: "... and [God] brought us out from there [Egypt] in order to bring us in, to give us the land which He had sworn to our fathers."


C)Many Christians  have the mistaken idea that salvation, being delivered from the bondage of Egypt, is all that is involved in the Christian life.

1)   But salvation is just the beginning. we can apply the word that God spoke to Joshua later, after the initial conquest of the land: "...There remains yet very much land to be possessed" (Josh 13:1).

Today as we consider this story we want to look at what was involved in the Having the Faith to Cross over the Jordan {4 things involved

A)1st They had to wait for God’s timing / 2nd they Had to wait for God’s Presence / 3rd they needed to be Sanctified / 4th They needed to Step out


B) 1st They needed to wait for God’s timing : When the spies returned from Jericho w/ their Report – Faith Booster   Ch.2 V.24

Truly the LORD has delivered all the land into our hands, for indeed all the inhabitants of the country are fainthearted because of us."


 C) After hearing that Joshua instructed the people to pack up – leave the Acacia grove & travel – a days journey about 10 miles to the Jordan

1) Once they arrived at the Jordan they were to wait 3 days for further instruction:


Purpose of the Waiting – Picture the Scene

A)From where they stood they could actually look across the Jordan   river and see Canaan.


B) We can only imagine the excitement and expectation they felt.

1) Their Forty years of wandering in the Sinai wilderness are about to end   and life in a land of abundance is so close that they can literally         almost reach out and touch it.


C) But Between the wilderness life and abundant life lies the flooded river Jordan. &  v.15 tells us it was at flood season

1) Normally - Jordan was 100 feet wide / but during flood season it would swell to almost  1 mile wide


D) It may as well have been named the river of impossibility.

1) Between them and blessing was what appeared to be an                    impossible barrier.


E) That is one way to look at it – Great Impossibility :


That describes many Christians today: Come to an Obstacle in the road – See it as a Great Impossibility

A)They recognize that they have been living a defeated life.


B) They recognize that they are living in a wilderness instead                    of a land of promise.

1) They see the possibility of a victorious and abundant Christian                 life..... Life on a totally new level.


C) They desire a Christian walk that is lived on a higher plane.

1) But they see the Jordan river / their river of impossibility & they shrink Back


D) That is one way to see it – Over whelming Obstacle { That discourages you /

1) But another way to see it is as a Wonderful opportunity for God to work in the Miraculous


AW Pink -

A glorious opportunity for exercising faith in the living God –An opportunity for God to work in the Miraculous / An occasion to prove afresh the Sufficiency of Him who never fails those who truly trust in Him



God will allow us to be in those type of situations today : Where when faced w/ the task – He wants us to realize that it is beyond us

A)Not so that we get discouraged but so that we are increased in faith – this has got to be a God thing !!!!


B) So the 3 days of waiting were meant to rid them of any  faith in themselves but also to Strengthen their faith in God { Eyes off of themselves on to God


There is also a symbolic aspect to the 3 days – Wed

A) 3 days is a significant # in Scripture it reminds us of the Rez – and in this Particular case is Symbolic of the Rez life we are called to live

B) It speaks of seeing ourselves as Risen w/ Christ / - they weren’t to Cross until after 3 days

1) The Church was not commissioned to go into the world or equipped and empowered to experience all that God has for it – until after the Rez


C) We are called to live a life of Rez – Living thru the Power of Christ in us

Eph 1 Know by experience the Power that is available to you – Power that brought Christ from the dead


D) Died w/ Christ = Baptism / He was raised and now lives in us – We are to walk in that Newness of Life

PINK: Rez life  is seeing myself as God sees me – viewing myself as one w/ Christ in His Death & Rez. Faith is appropriating His Victory over sin/ Death and Satan.


So first of all they were waiting for God’s timing/ 2nd They were waiting for God’s Presence   Josh 3:3-4

3 and they commanded the people, saying,"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. 4 Yet there shall be a space between you and it, about two thousand cubits by measure. Do not come near it, that you may know the way by which you must go, for you have not passed this way before."


A)They were to enter Canaan by FOLLOWING THE ARK.


B)There was no longer a cloud by day & pillar of fire by night to guide them.

     1)Those were signs of God's presence for them in the wilderness.


C) They were to move when the cloud or pillar moved and stay when the cloud or pillar stayed.

1) But now there is no more cloud, no more pillar.


D)They would enter the promised land by following the ARK OF THE        COVENANT

The ARK OF THE COVENANAT plays a central part in this Section

A)The ark of the covenant is mentioned fifteen times in chapters 3 and 4, which focus on the crossing of the Jordan and the arrival in Canaan.


B) The ark would be the ONE and ONLY thing that would lead them through the river of impossibility and show them the way to go.

1) The ARK represents several very important things to us in regards to the way into abundant life in Jesus.


1st The ARK  contained the Law of God.

A)Thus the ark symbolized both the covenant commitment that God had made to Israel and the covenant conditions that God had established for the people of Israel.


B) The whole covenant relationship, an entire way of life, would continue with them as they crossed the Jordan and entered Canaan.

1) Faith in the Word of God and obedience to the Word of God                    would point the way into the land and the way to Victory.


C) In the wilderness they trusted in what they could see of God.

1) The Cloud …./ Pillar of fire ……  But Not any more.


D) But now They would go into the land and win victories in the land by trusting and obeying the Word of God.

1) They were to LOOK to the Word for DIRECTION.


E) Learn that the way in to victory is Thru obedience to the Word.


2nd The ARK was to be IN FRONT of them  1000 yards

A)The instruction to keep a thousand yards away from the ark is fascinating.


B) It speaks for the need of some degree of separateness between the people and a holy God. Speaks of Reverence for the Lord 

1) The people were commanded to never touch the ark, to never treat the things of God lightly.

C) But a more Practical reason that the Ark was to be out in front of the people at such a distance is so that it could be seen by everyone

1) In this point we see that the Ark is a great picture of our Lord JC


D) The Ark – there in the Holy of Holies in the Tab - It was made of wood and covered with Gold.

1) Wood = His humanity/  Gold = His divinity


This ark, that represents the Lord Jesus Christ, went into the floods of Jordan.  To do the Impossible – make way for man to know God

A) As the Ark went into the river the floods parted.

     Impossibility was overcome!!


B) So too - There was a night when Jesus went into deep waters

   1) There in the Garden of Gethsemane


C) Then He went to a cross on Calvary where it APPEARED that the waters of death had  submerged Him.

1) There He died & they laid Him in a tomb./But Jesus rose from the grave

Became the way to Usher us into the Holy of Holies – Intimacy w/ God


Heb 12 Run the race looking unto Jesus the Author & Finisher of …


D)The One whom we are to follow through Jordan says to us: Isa 43:2

2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;  And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you.  When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned,  Nor shall the flame scorch you.


E) That is why they were to put the ARK out in front where it could be clearly seen by everyone. Get a clear view of Him!!


Many Christians NEVER cross the RIVER OF IMPOSSIBLITY because they NEVER get a clear view of Jesus.

A)They don't see Him seated at the right hand of God MAKING         

INTECESSION for them...... They don't see Him in His awesome power.

B)THAT is why Paul prayed in EPHESIANS:

19 and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power 20 which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places,  21 far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come.


C) So we see here that the eyes of the people would be focused on the presence and power of God

1) and not on their dangerous circumstances as they crossed the Jordan River.


D) The people were to follow the ark.- The ark was not to be behind them.

  1) So too Jesus is to lead the way in our lives./ We are not to get out in front of Him.         Following Joe


E) If you are FOLLOWING Jesus you will see HIM do the IMPOSSIBLE in your life.

Eph. 3:20   Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think


So they waited for His timing / They waited for His Presence / 3rd they were Sanctified

Verse 5: "And Joshua said to the people, 'Sanctify yourselves; for tomorrow the LORD will do wonders among you.' "


Some of God's promises are unconditional & all we have to do is believe them, while other promises have expectations & consequences attached. A)In meeting these expectations we are not earning God's blessing. Rather, we are making certain that our hearts are ready for God's blessing.


B) The promise was that God would demonstrate miraculous power, but it was contingent on the people's willingness to sanctify themselves.
1) In the Old Testament, sanctification was usually tied to ritual cleansing, and God gave very specific instructions for ceremonial cleanliness.

C) If the experience of Israel at Mount Sinai was the pattern, then "sanctify yourselves" meant that everyone was to bathe and change their clothes

1)   See  In the Bible this imagery of washing one's body and putting on fresh clothes symbolized a new beginning with the Lord.


D) Sin is a picture of defilement. God has to cleanse us before we can truly follow him.

1)When Jacob made a new beginning with the Lord and returned to Bethel, he and his entire family washed themselves and changed their garments.


E) And after King David confessed his sin with Bathsheba, he bathed, changed his clothes, and then worshiped God.

This imagery is carried over into the NT Col 3:9-10 speaks of the necessity of being forgiven for sin,

A) Of putting away the old patterns of behavior and attitudes, allowing those things to be washed away by the blood of Christ.


B) Then there is the wonderful invitation to put on the new person, to clothe ourselves in the righteousness of Jesus.

C) Whenever we face new opportunities, God's voice calls us to sanctify ourselves.

1)God calls his people to holiness, purity of life, and separation from sin.


D) It means opening ourselves to the convicting work of the Holy Spirit,

1) because after our confession of sin, repentance, and experiencing forgiveness, then the Holy Spirit enables us to be used by God.



Many Christians lack power, joy, fullness because living in sin and compromise/ They need to be  Emptied of sin!

A)Emptied of compromise / flesh /self


B) I am convinced that the problem with many people today is they are seeking to be filled before emptied

1) They want to move into ministry - they want to be used by the Lord


C) They want more power and fullness - they want to be blessed - seeking to be filled first need to be emptied

1) The need isn’t to get pumped up or psyched up or hyped up

it’s not - trying to get yourself together


D)The need is to be emptied of all our crud so we can be filled with the life of God


So they waited for God’s Timing / Waited for God’s Presence

They Sanctified themselves/ 4th They stepped out in Faith

A)Here is where I want to Contrast this Crossing w/ that of the Red Sea


B) Similarities: Red Sea – Obstacle: God’s Presence / God’s Promise

Enemy behind them


C) The Jordan they had Similar Obstacle/ God’s Presence/ they Had God’s Promise / Enemy was in front of them


D) But at the Red Sea they were Complaining & lacking Faith

They saw only the enemy & didn’t see the Lord

1) God’s word to them is to Be Quiet{ Stand still & See the Salvation of God


At the Jordan it is an entirely different story: There is no Complaining

A)The People see the obstacle / they are aware of the enemy – they prepare themselves & they are looking to the Lord


B) Result they get to participate in the Salvation: in the work of God

Step out get your feet wet


C) Let me close with some questions for you.

First, are you struggling with your own helplessness, impotence, or inadequacy as you face your own Jordan River or Jericho or Canaanite enemies?

In this season of waiting, is there impatience, frustration, and resentment in your heart that God is not moving more quickly and doing what you want him to do on your timetable?

Second, are you following the Lord Jesus unconditionally, completely, wholeheartedly; or are there other claims on you toward which you feel obligation and responsibility apart from the Lord, other leadership that you're following?

3rd are you willing to sanctify yourself today, to confess sin or uncleanness that needs to be washed by the blood of Jesus? Are you willing to consecrate yourself anew to God's purposes for you, to experience the wonders that he wants to accomplish in you and through you in the people that you live in community with and work with?


4th Will you take that step of faith – Feet Wet