Show me Your glory, I pray.
Early in the morning Joshua rose and set out from Shittim
with all the Israelites, and they came to the Jordan. They camped
there before crossing over. At the end of three days the officers went through the camp and commanded the people, “When you see the
ark of the covenant of the LORD your God being carried by the levitical priests, then you shall set out from your place. Follow it, so that you may know the way you should go, for you have not passed this way before.”
“You have not passed this way before.” Isn’t that true of us in so many situations? We’ve never faced this before. I remember thinking that when I got married: “I’ve never been married before.” Or, when our first child was born: “I’ve never been a dad before.” Or, when my wife died: “I’ve never lost my wife before.” There are so many unknowns, aren’t there! The way ahead is uncharted.
For the Israelites this day has been 40 years in the making. A generation has come and gone. All of the Israelites over the age of 20 when they left Egypt are dead, except for Joshua and Caleb (Deuteronomy 1:34-36; Numbers 14:38). When God led them into the Wilderness they soon rebelled against Him and wanted to return to Egypt. Lacking faith in the Lord, the known seemed better to them than the unknown. In the Wilderness they did not remember God’s wonders at the Red Sea, nor were they mindful of God’s daily provision for them. They turned back, losing their privilege of entering the Promised Land.
So finally, 40 years later, here are their sons and daughters at the River Jordan, “camped there before crossing over.” The “crossing over” nature of these people is emphasized in the repeated use of the words “cross over” (Hebrew: eber) 22 times in Joshua 3-4! The Israelites are to be known as people who are bold to cross over, bold to possess the riches of their inheritance. It is significant that the word “Hebrew” comes from the verb eber, signifying “one who has crossed over.” It was the Canaanites who first called Abraham, “the Hebrew,” literally “the one who crossed over” (eber: Genesis 14:13). Abraham left his birthplace in Ur and dared to cross over the Euphrates, a major demarcation line in the ancient world.
The Israelites are poised to cross over the Jordan, showing themselves ready to follow in the steps of Father Abraham who, by faith, dared to cross over into an unknown land of promise. This will mean crossing over into a new way of life as God’s daily provision of manna will cease (Joshua 5:12); and there will be no more mention of the glory cloud over their heads. But they go forward with faith in God’s promise: “for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9). They will forever be remembered as people who crossed over, and like Abraham, who by faith “set out, not knowing where he was going” (Hebrews 11:8).
In your Exodus story, you may not have passed this way before. You may face obstacles and daunting challenges. But the Lord’s promise stands: “I will be with you!”
- How might you sense the Spirit of God nudging you to “cross over” and be bold to step out in faith? What are your feelings and thoughts about this? Talk with God about this for a few moments.