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Go Stand in the River

Words of Faith Final

Go Stand in the River

Words of Faith 8-20-2020

Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2020

Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL

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Joshua 3

    [6] Joshua said to the priests, "Take up the ark of the covenant and pass on ahead of the people." So they took it up and went ahead of them.

    [7] And the Lord said to Joshua, "Today I will begin to exalt you in the eyes of all Israel, so they may know that I am with you as I was with Moses. [8] Tell the priests who carry the Ark of the covenant: 'When you reach the edge of the Jordan's waters, go and stand in the river.'" 

    [9] Joshua said to the Israelites, "Come here and listen to the words of the Lord your God. [10] This is how you will know that the living God is among you and that he will certainly drive out before you the Canaanites, Hittites, Hivites, Perizzites, Girgashites, Amorites and Jebusites. [11] See, the Ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth will go into the Jordan ahead of you. [12] Now then, choose twelve men from the tribes of Israel, one from each tribe. [13] And as soon as the priests who carry the Ark of the Lord--the Lord of all the earth--set foot in the Jordan, its waters flowing downstream will be cut off and stand up in a heap." 


      It must have been quite a sight!  About 2 million people were gathered on the east bank of the Jordan River.  Finally!  They were just a few hundred yards away was the Promised Land!  This was the strangest looking invasion force ever assembled because it was primarily a civilian migration, not a military force.  Priests were carrying a strange gold box held on poles at the front, rather than chariots or shock troops.

      The Lord spoke to Joshua, telling him that this would be the day when Joshua would be exalted in the eyes of Israel to a place similar to Moses.  The Lord gave Him the plan for crossing the Jordan.  Send the priests out to stand in the middle of the river with the Ark of the Covenant.   Tell the priests to lead the way in doing something impossible and deadly.  How do you tell people to step into the impossible?  "Okay, guys, go jump in the river…"

      Joshua passed on the words of the Lord but with two obvious differences inspired by the Spirit.  Joshua’s words to the people did not include the intention of the Lord to exalt Joshua to a place equal to Moses.  This was apparently a private word from the Lord just for Joshua.  The second difference was that Joshua now predicted for the people the powerful work of the Lord to pile up the water of the Jordan allowing them to cross. All of this would require a leader.

       Leadership is a difficult task, especially in such a critical and strategic situation.  The Lord was clearly more interested in building the confidence of the people in Joshua as their leader than in the in the logistics of troop movements.  There would be many battles ahead.  Just as the Lord concretized the trust of the people in Moses at the edge of the Red Sea, now He would make their trust in Joshua just as solid. 

       The truth is that visionary leaders see things that the people do not.  Joshua could see the miracle that was about to happen.  He pronounced that miracle to the people and then called for their trust.  Remember, this generation had not seen the miracles of the plagues, the parting of the sea or the defeat of the Egyptian army.

         What do we gain from this part of the story?  How about the critical importance of biblical leadership?  Historic biblical leadership was visionary and decisive, even if sometimes flawed.  Historic biblical leadership in the Old Testament was always prophetic rather than democratic.  The vision was given to a leader, not to the nation.  The concept of a group of leaders coming to consensus came much later in the New Testament after the Lord poured out His Spirit on all flesh (Acts 2:17).  Voting is virtually non-existent in the Bible. 

          So, what do modern biblical leaders look like?  They are deeply devoted to the people they are called to lead.  They are servants.  They are not hirelings.  They are devoted shepherds.  And they sometimes call us to step forward when we cannot see what God is doing.  “Go carry this heavy box into the middle of that raging river.”  We may have structures today for confirming decisions and reaching consensus. Still, fundamentally, God's direction comes to a leader who calls us to step into places that may not make sense.

         Why is this important?  It is critical for us to learn that the Body of Christ's movement is not about expressing our wants and voting for our desires. It is about following the Lord, serving one another, and finding unity in His Spirit.

        We are reminded of how the Apostle Paul put it--   "If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility, consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:  Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant.” (Philippians 2:1-7a).


       Lord, give me Your grace to see Your anointing upon the leaders of Your people.  Give me the humility to follow and serve.  Give me faith to hear and trust.  Give me the grace to the needs of others as more important than mine.  Give me the courage to walk in places that do not appear to make sense.  Give me the confirming presence of Your Holy Spirit.  In Jesus’ name.