Joshua 3 (ESV) 14 So when the people set out from their tents to pass over the Jordan with the priests bearing the ark of the covenant before the people, 15 and as soon as those bearing the ark had come as far as the Jordan, and the feet of the priests bearing the ark were dipped in the brink of the water (now the Jordan overflows all its banks throughout 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 Zarethan, and those flowing down toward the Sea of the Arabah, the 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, and all Israel was passing over on dry ground until all the nation finished passing over the Jordan.
The priests stood firmly on dry ground in the midst of the Jordan so all Israel passed them by. As the people arrived to the other side they continued carrying the Ark of the Covenant to the other side of the mighty river. They had the privilege of being both the first to cross and the last ones to arrive.
This reminds me of when Jesus made the statement “many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first” (Matthew 19:30) in the context of His encounter with the rich young ruler (Matthew 19:16–30). After the young man turned away from Jesus, unable to give up his great wealth (verse 22), Jesus’ disciples asked the Lord what reward they would have in heaven, since they had given up everything to follow Him (verses 27–30). Jesus promised them “a hundred times as much,” plus eternal life (verse 29). Then He said, “But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first” (verse 30).
Serving God gives you a privileged position in the Kingdom. Jesus himself said, “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many." (Mark 10:45)
Service opens a Way where there is no way
God instructed the people that ”when the soles of the feet of the priests bearing the ark of the Lord, the Lord of all the earth, shall rest in the waters of the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan shall be cut off from flowing, and the waters coming down from above shall stand in one heap.”
The obedience and service of a few open the way to a multitude. It’s not clear how many priests were carrying the Ark of the Covenant but all the people had the benefit of the service of just a few. Not everybody serves God with acts of faith but God honors our faith and service.
C.S. Lewis said, “Obedience is the key that opens every door.”
Are you ready to move into your promised land?
After the death of Moses Joshua leads the Jewish people for 28 years. The Book of Joshua describes the seven years of conquest and seven years of settlement of the Land of Israel. After the land is conquered is divided into separate tribal portions via a divinely guided lottery. The Book of Joshua also describes the Biblical boundaries of the Land of Israel.
At this time, the so-called Promised Land is bounded by the Egyptian empire to the south and the Mesopotamia to the north. But it is not ruled by either of them. In fact, there is no one power ruling this section of land, rather it is settled by seven Canaanite tribes who inhabit 31 fortified city-states scattered all over the map, each ruled by its own “king.”
(Jericho is one of these city-states, so is Ai, so is Jerusalem, where Canaanite tribesmen called Jebusites dwell.)
Before they enter the land, the Jewish people send an envoy to the Canaanites with the message, “God, the Creator of the Universe has promised this land to our forefathers. We are now here to claim our inheritance, and we ask you to leave peacefully.”
Needless to say most of the Canaanites don’t. (Only one tribe takes the offer and leaves.)
Meanwhile, Joshua has clear instructions from God that if the Canaanites don’t get out, the Jews must wipe them out, because if they remain in the land they are going to corrupt the Jews. It is made clear that the Canaanites are extremely immoral and idolatrous people and the Jews cannot live with them as neighbors.
The people go into the land and they fight a series of battles. The first is the battle of Jericho, the entrance to the heartland of Canaan.
The conquest of Canaan depended on Israel's obedience
This question is closely related to the question as to whether the Abrahamic covenant was conditional, since that covenant included the promise of the land, and the conquest is described (in Deuteronomy 9:5) as a fulfillment of that covenant. On the one hand Moses says, "Not because of your righteousness or the uprightness of your heart are you going in to possess their land" (Deuteronomy 9:5). On the other hand Moses says, "You shall do what is right and good in the sight of the Lord, that it may go well with you, and that you may go in and take possession of the goodland which the Lord swore to give to your fathers" (Deuteronomy 6:18). Similarly, God says to Joshua, "Be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law which Moses my servant commanded you; turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go" (Joshua 1:7).
The conquest of the promised land is a figure of the struggles we face after we start to walk with God.
The story of the walls of Jericho falling down, recorded in Joshua 6:1–27, is one that vividly demonstrates the miraculous power of God. But more than that, the utter destruction of Jericho teaches us several grand truths regarding God’s grace and our salvation.
Their challenge: take the land of Canaan, the Promised Land. However, their first obstacle was the city of Jericho (Joshua 6:1), an unconquerable, walled city. Excavations there reveal that its fortifications featured a stone wall 11 feet high and 14 feet wide. At its top was a smooth stone slope, angling upward at 35 degrees for 35 feet, where it joined massive stone walls that towered even higher. It was virtually impregnable.
In ancient warfare such cities were either taken by assault or surrounded and the people starved into submission. Its invaders might try to weaken the stone walls with fire or by tunneling, or they might simply heap up a mountain of earth to serve as a ramp. Each of these methods of assault took weeks or months, and the attacking force usually suffered heavy losses. However, the strategy to conquer the city of Jericho was unique in two ways. First, the strategy was laid out by God Himself, and, second, the strategy was a seemingly foolish plan. God simply told Joshua to have the people to march silently around Jericho for six days, and then, after seven circuits on the seventh day, to shout.
Though it seemed foolish, Joshua followed God’s instructions to the letter. When the people shout, the massive walls collapsed instantly, and Israel won an easy victory. In fact, God had given the city of Jericho to them before they even began to march around its walls. It was when the people of God, by faith, followed the commands of God that the walls of Jericho fell down (Joshua 6:20).
The apostle Paul assures us, “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope” (Romans 15:4). The description of the complete obliteration of Jericho was recorded in Scripture in order to teach us several lessons.
Most important is that obedience, even when God’s commands seem foolish, brings victory. When we are faced with seemingly insurmountable odds, we must learn that our Jericho victories are won only when our faithful obedience to God is complete (Hebrews 5:9; 1 John 2:3; 5:3).
How can we conquer our own obstacles?
We should learn that faith without works is dead (James 2:26). It is not enough to say, “I believe God,” and then live in an ungodly manner. If we truly believe God, our desire is to obey God. Our faith is put to work. We make every effort to do exactly what God says and keep His commandments. Joshua and the Israelites carried out the commands of God and conquered Jericho. God gave them victory over an enemy that was trying to keep them out of the Promised Land.
So it is with us today: if we have true faith, we are compelled to obey God, and God gives us victory over the enemies that we face throughout life. Obedience is the clear evidence of faith. Our faith is the evidence to others that we truly believe in Him. We can conquer and be victorious through life by faith, a faith that obeys the God who gives us that faith as a free gift
Speak to your mountain and move it !
Jesus instructed us to speak to our mountain, "For truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, 'Be removed and be thrown into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, he will have whatever he says" (Mark 11:23).
In this verse, He talks about the power of speaking to our mountains and having belief. He instructs us to "say." Say means to utter aloud, express in words or give a chance to speak. When we are in prayer, there needs to be times when we are praying aloud to our heavenly Father.
The Bible says, "Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit" (Prov. 18:21). We can talk all day long to people, but when it comes to using our authority and speaking aloud to the spiritual atmosphere and our heavenly Father, we don't embrace that death and life are in the power of the tongue.
• I call forth a good Christian job to come my way where I will have influence and favor in the marketplace.
• I call forth my loved ones to come into a relationship with Jesus Christ.
• I call forth doors to open on my behalf through which I can share my talents, giftings and love of the Lord.
• I command sickness and disease in my body to go in Jesus name.
• I command no delays on my God-given assignments.
• I command distractions in my life to go in Jesus name. Everything unproductive and unfruitful go now in the name of Jesus!
• I declare I am going to be happy, joyful and full of God's love today to all I encounter.
• I declare my marriage to be restored and I call forth unity, love and restoration.
• I declare my body is going to feel great today and I will be full of strength to accomplish
• I declare I am going to have favor in the sight of the Lord and with man today.
Luke 10:19, "Look, I give you authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy. And nothing shall by any means hurt you."
(c) Tony Silveira, 2017