We Can Trust Him
*Message begins at approximately the 21 minute mark.
Good morning! Please turn with me in your Bibles to Joshua chapter 3. This morning we are going to be breaking up our Scripture reading a bit. We have a lot of territory to cover because the main portion of our text is chapter 4. But we need to cover some of chapter 3 too. So we are going to skip some portions to help make our text a little more manageable. And I can say that our passage is very repetitive. There are quite a few things repeated. So it’s not like we will be missing much from the text.
But I want to begin in chapter 3. And we will start with verse 9. Then we will read on through chapter 4, down to verse 7. Then we will skip the middle section of that chapter and then finish out with the last section.
But we are going to begin our reading in 3:19. Remember, we are talking about the crossing of the Jordan River. Last time we were together, we studied how the Israelites came down to the river and started across. This week we’ll read about how they crossed and came out the other side.
So let’s give our attention to the Spirit of God and what He has taught us here. Please follow along as I read.
[Read Joshua 4]
When I was about 11 years old I went to Cedar Point for my very first time. I call it my first time anyway because it was the first time I got to ride the major roller coasters. I believe I had been there before. I think my parents had taken me and my brothers, but I had to ride all the kiddie rides up to this point. This was my first time on the roller coasters that went upside-down and raced at high speeds and seemed to reach like skyscrapers up into the air.
I remember being in line for those roller coasters. I remember the butterflies in my stomach. I remember seeing the cars zipping down the track and the loud thundering roar and the clackity-clack of the cars on the track. As I stood there in line, I was having a good time, but deep down inside I was nervous. I tried to ignore it, but in the back of my mind there were questions: What will this be like? Will this car go flying off the track? Will I be able to handle the speed? Or will I end up up chucking my breakfast?
To an 11 year old who had never ridden a big boy roller coaster, there was excitement, but there was also a bit of fear and anxiety mixed with it.
I think you all can probably identify with that feeling. You’ve all probably had a similar experience. If not in roller coasters, you probably felt it somewhere else. Some of you probably feel that way when your children get behind the wheel of a car the first time.
I don’t doubt that this was the feeling that the Israelites had as they were getting ready to cross the Jordan. They probably were excited, but they may also have had some in trepidation. They were not just moving into vacant apartments. They were going to war. They were to bring the kingdom and they were going up against some tough enemies. The dominant forces of evil stood between them and their end goal.
All in all, I’m thinking they needed some affirmation. They needed some assurance that God was a God in whom they could trust. And I’m thinking that was what they needed because that is what God gave them. In the passage we are reading today, God gives us confidence. He shows himself to be a God who we can trust. We do not need to be hesitant or anxious because God proves himself to be reliable.
He goes to great lengths to reiterate that. And we can see it in the different things that go into this event of the crossing of the Jordan. And we can use three headings to hang our hats on. I want us to consider the teaching, timing, and testimony surrounding this event.
I. The teaching [9-10]
I want you to think about what this event teaches. You have to understand that this miracle was more than simply creating a nice walkway for the Israelites. This miracle preached. It spoke truth directly to the hearts and minds of the people of Israel.
As a matter of fact, back in chapter 3 Joshua says, “Come here and listen to the words of the LORD your God." 10 And Joshua said, "Here is how you shall know that the living God is among you and that he will without fail drive out from before you the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Hivites, the Perizzites, the Girgashites, the Amorites, and the Jebusites.”
So the one thing that this was teaching was that the Lord is the living God. And in this miracle they were going to be assured that God was going to throw down their enemies.
And while this is a sign of sheer power, there’s a deeper lesson. A lesson that further testifies to the fact that God will defeat his enemies.
You have to keep in mind that the Canaanite gods were often associated with different parts of the landscape. Baal in particular was the god of rain. Asherah was thought to walk on or live in water. And here you have the waters at flood stages. Baal has supposedly brought the spring rains and now the river which Asherah stands upon is maxed out.
But the river is instantaneously dried up. And there is the Ark of the Covenant sitting in the middle of the river bed the whole time. From the moment the ark hits the edge to the time the priests step out on the other side, the water is held back. The moment they climb out, the water gushes back into place.
That is why the ark sits in the middle of the river bed the whole time. It is a testimony that the Lord is holding back the waters. What’s more, the Lord is holding back Baal and Asherah. This is part of the reason the hearts of the Canaanites melted. They were put in fear because they saw that their gods had absolutely no power against the God of Israel.
The Israelites would have understood exactly what this event meant. They would have seen this as a clear display of the Lord’s power over the Canaanite defenses.
And this lesson fosters the trust of his people.
And it should do the same for us. We should be ready to move forward with kingdom domination because of God’s power over all. This is a clear demonstration that the gates of hell will not prevail. The work of God’s people to take dominion and advance kingdom activity should move forward with a robust attitude because there is nothing that can stand in the way of our God.
You know there is a tendency among many Christians to be like the Israelites. They look at the terrible things that happen in this world and the dominance of sin and sinners. And they begin to cower. They think that they cannot venture into those areas and become a dominating force. They doubt they can make a difference because the powers of evil seem so immense.
For instance, in the early 1900’s a lot of Christians began to pull back from the political world and they didn’t even venture into the world of media and entertainment. They said that these places were essentially satanic and they said that Christians should just stay out. So much of the Christian world didn’t venture into politics much, let alone seek offices. And it has only been in the last 50 years or so that Christians have started to use media for kingdom purposes.
There’s been this tendency to say, “There’s too much evil and we cannot bring God’s kingdom to bear on these things.” That shouldn’t be the case. We should have a mindset where we charge forward. We should be storming these realms and bringing Christ’s rule and reign to bear on them. Because nothing can stop him.
These cities that are currently burning and experiencing riots, we might be tempted to say that we must steer clear; we must run and hide. But the evil will only prevail with such an attitude. We are called to bring the kingdom: to be kingdom dominators. And through the power of God, we can have good hope and a firm expectation that our efforts will not be in vain. We have all the resources that we need in in Jesus Christ.
Listen to what it says in Colossians about Christ. It sums up this passage when it says that Christ has disarmed the powers and authorities and made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.”
This passage is teaching us that very thing. There is no power or authority that can stand against Christ. And we, his people, can advance into enemy territory with the hope and expectation that Christ will have the victory. His kingdom of sin and Satan cannot stand against us because Christ is greater.
Now that you know what’s being taught in the riverbed, let’s think about the timing.
II. The timing 
Now, you know that the Bible uses a lot of dates. It will talk about this month and this day of the month. And a lot of that flies by and we don’t really give it any kind of consideration. But I want you to take note of when exactly this event occurred.
If you look at verse 19, you see that the crossing of the Jordan took place on the 10th day of the first month. That probably doesn’t mean much to you. We are not familiar with the Jewish calendar. But this is the exact day that the Israelites came out of Egypt 40 years prior. In the book of Exodus we read that on the 10th day of the first month the Israelites were to take a lamb, slaughter it, and put it’s blood on the doorframes of their houses. And that was the night the Angel of the Lord came through and Pharoah was broken. He sent the Israelites out.
The whole exodus begins on this day, and it ends on this day. A new life began on this day, and a new life now begins again on this very same day. There is no coincidence here. God, in his providence, brings the people of God into their new land on the very day they came out of Egypt.
Basically he’s saying, “You can depend upon me. My promises to my people will not fail. I said that I would bring you out of Egypt. I said that I would give you the land I promised to Abraham. I have promised that I would redeem my people from their bondage and misery. You can depend upon me, and you can mark it by the day.”
This is why Sundays are so important to us. We call this the Lord’s Day, and for good reason. It’s the day we commemorate as the day Jesus rose from the dead. And this is why the early church switched from worshipping on the last day of the week to worshipping on the first day of the week. It was so that they could commemorate His resurrection and continually be reminded of it.
Now we in our day have been conditioned to think that every day is essentially the same. This is what is pitched by the atheists. There are no holy days and holidays are all just made up days to indulge your gluttonous desires. But when you get down to it there’s no real difference between days.
Unfortunately, Christians have fallen into this mindset too. You’ll hear Christians say that we can worship every day of the week. There’s nothing special about Sundays and Sunday worship because God sees all of life as worship and I can worship him on the golf course just as much as I can worship him in Church on Sunday.
But that’s not the mentality of Scripture. Scripture has set forth the fact that there is one day in seven that is to be regarded as holy. And this day has special significance to us as Christians because it is the commemoration of Christ’s victory over the grave.
We don’t have Easter just once a year. We have it every week. This is the day we remember that God has been faithful to his promise. He has made a pledge to bring us redemption; to bring us into communion with himself. And he has done that. By virtue of Christ’s resurrection we have the sure guarantee that the power of death has been broken. Each week we have the opportunity to hear and celebrate our salvation from death and damnation. And it is made more sure to us by the fact that our flesh now resides in heaven.
And this reality is impressed upon us every Sunday. Every Sunday proclaims the fact that there’s no sin that can stand in his way. There’s no enemy that will break his plan. With every passing Lord’s Day we should be reminded that the Lord is unstoppable in bringing about the work of his grace. Today is the anniversary where we remember that we will stand with him on the last day and that we shall be victorious over the grave.
The Israelites in Joshua’s day had that truth reinforced to them. In an exaggerated way through the calendar, the Lord points out that, from beginning to end, he is the God of Israel. He is the provider, protector, and deliverer of his people. And you can bank on that.
There’s one other thing that I want us to take note of from this passage. We know that we can trust him. We’ve seen it in the teaching and timing of this event. But we must also consider its testimony.
III. The testimony
In chapter 4 we read about how the Israelites erected a monument. There were 12 men who took 12 stones up out of the riverbed. They were hoisted up and carried to the shore. And then they were stacked there at the side of the Jordan. These stones became a memorial, a testimony to what the Lord had done here.
This was a common practice among the Israelites. From time to time they would erect such memorials. We even sing the Song, “Come thou fount” where we say, “Here I raise my Ebenezer.” The word Ebenezer simply means rock of Help. The Ebenezer was another bunch of stones that were raised up to recognize what God had done on a certain occasion.
And here God wanted them to create this monument that would be a perpetual reminder to the Israelites of this event. And the passage talks about how there would be times when children would ask, “What do these stones mean?” And they were to use that as an opportunity to talk about God’s care and how he had been faithful to his promises and brought them safely to himself.
What’s the purpose? It was simply a teaching tool; a perpetual reminder of God’s gracious dealings with them. It was something to help jog their minds and reinforce the fact that, no matter what happens in life, God will always be their God.
It’s his way of saying, “don’t forget! Our God is a Redeemer!”
It is the same testimony that we have in our sacraments. Why is it that we have the Lord’s supper so often? The reason is pretty clear. Jesus said, “Do this as often as you drink of it in remembrance of me.” What is the point of the Lord’s Supper? It is God’s post it note to you. It is your weekly reminder that there is no possible way that God can condemn you or rip the kingdom away from you. God has provided a way for you to enter into his kingdom, and it is through the once for all sacrifice of his Son for your sin.
Next week we have opportunity to witness some baptisms. Those rites are, among other things, memorials by which we are reminded of God’s good dealings with us. What is baptism? It is a visible sign of the fact that the Lord is our God and has adopted us into his family. It’s a testimony that God will never leave us nor forsake us. It is a religious rite that serves as a perpetual reminder that we should believe in him and trust that he will take care of us to all eternity.
When they are baptized we all are to have a recollection of our own baptism and the promises that were made to us. Every time someone is baptized it’s like God saying, “Don’t forget! Don’t ever doubt it. Our God is a Redeemer.”