Joshua 3:1-5 “And Joshua rose early in the morning; and they removed from Shittim, and came to Jordan, he and all the children of Israel, and lodged there before they passed over. And it came to pass after three days, that the officers went through the host; And they commanded the people, saying, When ye see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, and the priests the Levites bearing it, then ye shall remove from your place, and go after it. Yet there shall be a space between you and it, about two thousand cubits by measure: come not near unto it, that ye may know the way by which ye must go: for ye have not passed this way heretofore. And Joshua said unto the people, Sanctify yourselves: for to morrow the Lord will do wonders among you.”
When we come to Joshua 3, the nation of Israel stands on the threshold of a new way and a new day. Verse 4 makes this very clear; “for ye have not passed this way heretofore.” Like them, we too stand on the threshold of a new way and a new day. The outcome of this divine privilege will be determined, like them, in part by our reactions and responses to this privilege.
(I) The Opportunity Before Us – vs.4
The opportunity is revealed in the words “heretofore” and “way.” The word “heretofore” is made up of two Greek words. One means in time, day before yesterday. The other means ago, time since, especially yesterday, day before yesterday or these three days. The word “way” means road trodden, a course of life or mode of action. I believe that God wanted His people to understand that while they had been traveling or so-journeying, in all their travels, they had not passed this way before; they stood on the threshold of a new way and a new day.
What was true for the Children of Israel is true for all God’s people! Today you stand on the threshold of a new way and a new day. Even with all the places that life has taken you, you have never been where He is about to take you.
For the nation of Israel, they would settle in a new place. They had wandered in the wilderness and they were about to be led into the land of Canaan. They were about to settle in the land of promise; the land “flowing with milk and honey” (Exodus 3:8). In the divine providence of God, for each of us, there is new land to be claimed and new territory to be settled. For the Israelites, they were to serve a new purpose. The spies were to become soldiers and ultimately the soldiers were to become settlers. For thirty-eight years, they had been spies looking at the land. In the economy of God, they were to become settlers that lodged in the land. As they settled in a new place and began to serve a new purpose, they would see a new power; “for to morrow the Lord will do wonders among you.” God has manifested His power in a multitude ways, but as they crossed that Jordan in pursuit of God, they were to be exposed to an even greater manifestation of His power.
The reason some Christians are having little or no progress in their life is that they are trying to duplicate the past! God wants to lead you into new experiences with Him! No matter how great the events of the past, it is still a past event and God has placed before you a new way and a new day.
(II) The Opposition That Opposes Us – vs.1&15
There before them was the swollen Jordan River that opposed their progress. While they could see the opportunity that lay before them, the opposition must first be conquered if they were to possess all that God had for them. As we look at the nation of Israel, we discover that man’s opposition basically falls into two distinct areas and both are revealed in the bodies of water that impeded the movement of the Children of Israel. The two major bodies of water that opposed them were the Red Sea and the Jordan River. Both picture for us the basic tactics of the opposition that oppose the work of God in the lives of men.
The Red Sea opposed man’s exit from bondage. When you study the Children of Israel being delivered from the bondage of Egypt and the servitude of Pharaoh, it is a beautiful type of salvation and man’s deliverance from the bondage of sin and the servitude of Satan. Israel was delivered by the blood of the lamb and the mighty hand of God! We too are saved by the blood of the lamb.
The Jordan River opposed man’s entrance into blessings. God had purposed to bring them out that He might bring them in! Like the Children of Israel, we too have a land of victory provided for us by the power of the Beloved. Having been unable to prevent their exit, the opposition rises to oppose their entrance! If the opposition can keep them out, it means mere existence as opposed to excelling, it means stagnation rather than success.
God placed before them a great opportunity that would be met by the opposition. Whether it be opposing an exit or an entrance, the enemy is there limit to the blessings of God in behalf of man.
(III) The Outcome That Awaits Us- vs.3-4
If they are to enter into their blessings there are at least three areas that will demand their attention. If success is to be achieved, it will depend upon their focus; “Yet there shall be a space between you and it, about two thousand cubits by measure: come not near unto it, that ye may know the way by which ye must go.” God makes it perfectly clear as to why there is to be distance between them and the ark; “that ye may know the way.” The way would be determined by the Lord and they must be able to see Him if they were to follow Him. If the people got too close and bunched up; the only thing that they could see and ultimately follow was man! While we don’t glory in saying it, most people are following man and not the Master! We are living in a day in which many Christians are following the leadership of spiritual personalities and not a Sovereign Potentate! Is it any wonder that we have made shipwreck of the church as well as our faith?
Success would be determined by their forward progress, “ye shall remove from your place, and go after it.” Both the exit and the entrance is accomplished by moving forward (see Exodus 14:15&Joshua 2:3). All you have to do to just exist and ultimately stagnate is turn aside and stop moving forward. While the first generation didn’t go back into the bondage of the world (as seen in the country of Egypt), they did go into the bondage of the wilderness! There is an exit and an entrance, and the land in between is an existence!
Success would be determined by their faith. While I don’t know exactly how many people there were that were about to embark upon this event; I do know that there were four men present that had placed their feet in Canaan Land. Two had been there thirty-eight years ago and two had just returned. Both sets had advantages that issued forth from previous experience! Two had the advantage of past performances. They had witnessed the provision of substance, the punishment of sin, the protection of the Sovereign, and the presence of the Saviour. The other two had the advantage of present promises. As I pondered the advantages of the two groups, I was brought to the realization that even with all of those advantages, with the opportunity of a new way and a new day, it still came down to faith; just taking God at His Word.
We stand with a great opportunity before us and totally knowledgeable that there is opposition that will oppose us. What will be the outcome; success or stagnation? Only you can answer that! Before us is a new way and a new day.