The LORD said to Joshua… “When you come to the edge of the waters of the Jordan, you shall stand still in the Jordan”… When the people set out from their tents to cross over the Jordan, the priests bearing the ark of the covenant were in front of the people. Now the Jordan overflows all its banks throughout the time of harvest. So when those who bore the ark had come to the Jordan, and the feet of the priests bearing the ark were dipped in the edge of the water, the waters flowing from above stood still, rising up in a single heap far off at Adam, the city that is beside Zarethan, while those flowing towards the sea of the Arabah, the Dead Sea, were wholly cut off. Then the people crossed over opposite Jericho. While all Israel were crossing over on dry ground, the priests who bore the ark of the covenant of the LORD stood on dry ground in the middle of the Jordan, until the entire nation finished crossing over the Jordan.
Joshua 3:7-8, 14-17
When I was a fledgling ministerial intern my supervising pastor gave me an assignment saying, “This will get your feet wet”. Today’s text gives new meaning to getting our feet wet. Here is more than just stepping into the pool, but a step of faith into the raging floodwaters of the Jordan. Faith often calls us to take a step without knowing where the next step will lead. What a test of faith this is!
Joshua doesn’t send the army corps of engineers to make a way for the people through the river. Rather, he sends the priests carrying the Ark of the Covenant, the visible sign of God’s presence and His leading. Earlier God had promised, “Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given you” (Joshua 1:3). So God is saying, “The land is already yours, start walking.” They have their marching orders.
Put yourself into the priests’ sandals. They hear Joshua telling them: “Walk into the river with the Ark of the Covenant and stand there”. Then turning to the people Joshua tells them: “You follow the priests into the river. Just put one foot in front of the other and see what God will do.”
Note in the text that it isn’t until the priests’ feet actually touch the water that God stops the river. The priests had to get their feet wet. That is the way faith operates, one foot in front of the other, following the Lord. It must have been a temptation for the priests to want to stand close to the water’s edge, and to pray, and to believe that God could stop the waters. But in faith “the feet of the priests bearing the ark were dipped in the edge of the water, the waters flowing from above stood still, rising up in a single heap”.
I often fear taking risks. I am prone to waiting for the waters to open for me before I’m ready to take a step. And when faced with difficulty I can want to retreat to safety. But faith says, “Take a step and watch God work”. In those times that I am afraid and my faith is small, I am often encouraged by the chorus of the old hymn, “Got Any Rivers”:
Got any rivers you think are uncrossable?
Got any mountains you can’t tunnel through?
God specializes in things thought impossible
And does the things that others cannot do.
(Words and music by Oscar C. Eliason)
Unless we are willing to risk, to step out in faith and get our feet wet, we will not get far in following the Lord. Step forward in faith. Watch the Lord turn your adversity into adventure. God honors wet feet, not cold feet.
- Are you facing an uncrossable river today? If you are, take some time to talk with God about it.
- Take some time to pray Scripture (Read, Reflect, Respond, Rest) with Isaiah 43:1-3:
Do not fear,
for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name,
you are mine.
When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and through the rivers,
they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire
you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you.
For I am the LORD your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Saviour.