So when the people set out from their tents to pass over the Jordan with the priests bearing lthe ark of the covenant before the people, 15 and as soon as those bearing the ark had come as far as the Jordan, and mthe feet of the priests bearing the ark were dipped in the brink of the water (now nthe Jordan overflows all its banks othroughout the time of harvest), 16 the waters coming down from above stood and rose up in a heap very far away, at Adam, the city that is beside pZarethan, and those flowing down toward the Sea of qthe Arabah, rthe Salt Sea, were completely cut off. And the people passed over opposite Jericho. 17 Now the priests bearing the ark of the covenant of the Lord stood firmly on dry ground in the midst of the Jordan, sand all Israel was passing over on dry ground until all the nation finished passing over the Jordan. Joshua 3:14-17 (ESV)
I’m listening to the Bible in One Year on the YouVersion app. It’s been an easy do as I concoct our protein shakes each morning and listen intently to God’s Word. The last couple of days we finished up the longest sermon in the Bible as Moses speaks to the people in Deuteronomy. Besides a history lesson, he provides a “road map” for how they should approach the coming journey into the promised land. He also sets up Joshua to take the lead.
After Moses passes and Joshua steps in, we see an incredible miracle of God. As if we haven’t seen any during the prior 40 years. For some reason, this scene has stuck in my mind since I first heard the story told as a child. I love the imagery. Finally, the crew of wandering Jews gets to experience what was promised only a week after they first crossed the Red Sea. Unfortunately, an entire generation before them, except Joshua and Caleb, didn’t make their way across the Jordon River due to their disobedience. When faced with a certain victory they balked (10 out of 12 spies did) at walking in and taking what was rightfully theirs.
What saddens me more is how we as believers wander aimlessly in search of what is directly in front of us. Freedom. Freedom from the pain of being enslaved in our own self-interests. Waiting for us is a walk on dry land while the presence of God holds back the torrents of life the same way His presence, represented in the Ark, held back the Jordon. I can only liken this to standing on Holy Ground. Yet we resist.
When all the nation had finished passing tover the Jordan, the Lord said to Joshua, 2 u“Take twelve men from the people, from each tribe a man, 3 and command them, saying, ‘Take vtwelve stones from here out of the midst of the Jordan, from the very place wwhere the priests’ feet stood firmly, and bring them over with you and lay them down in xthe place where you lodge tonight.’ ” 4 Then Joshua called the twelve men from the people of Israel, whom he had appointed, a man from each tribe. 5 And Joshua said to them, “Pass on before the ark of the Lord your God into the midst of the Jordan, and take up each of you a stone upon his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the people of Israel, 6 that this may be a sign among you. yWhen your children ask in time to come, ‘What do those stones mean to you?’ 7 then you shall tell them that zthe waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it passed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. So these stones shall be to the people of Israel aa memorial forever.” Joshua 4: 1-7
Once Israel was purged of the nay-sayers, they experienced the land God had always intended for them to occupy. In so doing Joshua honored the moment in a Memorial that would stand forever. I suspect if you excavated the exact site the stones would still be in place.
I was challenged personally to memorialize moments in time. Moments when God reaches into my world and leads me by the hand. Loves me unconditionally. Shows me a part of Himself that otherwise would have gone unnoticed unless I “crossed the Jordon” into the land He promised me. Although Israel had tremendous hardships in Canaan, they also had miraculous victories; all when they followed God. Remember Jericho? The walls fell without them lifting a finger to fight. Only their trumpets and their voices. When Israel didn’t obey and Achan kept some of Jericho’s plunder, they experienced a huge loss in Ai. That’s sort of how it is when we disobey. Chances are pretty good we’ll experience loss. Sometimes in the physical but most times in the spiritual.
We laugh at how fickle they were but, let’s face it, they’re us and we’re them.
How do you memorialize the moments when God brings about victory in your life?
I journal. I take a stone and write a word on it. I take a shell by the sea and do the same. Like the 12 representatives of the tribes of Israel, start memorializing the moments when God does something tremendous in your life. Tremendous doesn’t have to be a miracle, as He did in damning up the Jordon River. It can be simple kisses from above. It can be a kind word from a stranger that made your day. It can be a message directly from God in His Word. It can be a word from a friend in a time of deep sorrow. It can be that career move you’ve been praying about for years or healing cancer in a relative. It can be a step toward a revelation of your true self and the destiny God has for you. It can be almost anything that improves our understanding of God and a truer understanding of ourselves – but always moves us closer to Him.
Take the ground that God showed you is yours to take. Don’t look back. It truly is Holy ground and as a child of God, you have a claim to it. Let’s not see the land before us and allow fear to take hold. Step into the destiny God has for you and memorialize it forever.