Joshua stoop up before the entire Israelites. Everyone’s eyes fixated on Joshua. Joshua looked around the countlessly many people of Israel who covered the entire area of the east side of the Jordan River bank. The people were able to see Joshua, who had been always faithful under any circumstances for the last forty years, and even his face was radiating in his faith. At one glance of Joshua, they knew Joshua truly believed the God’s promise absolutely and without any doubts. Joshua and the Israelites saw together the faith in God each other, and together they slowly scanned the Promised Land with their own eyes on the other side of the Jordan River. Then Joshua told the people, “Purify yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do great wonders among you.” Joshua encouraged them they would surely see the power and great wonders of God, and ask them to purify themselves by separating them from sins.
Sunday, June 10, 2018
Faith -- Victory Over Impossibility
Greetings in the name of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him. (Hebrews 11:6)
Three days later Joshua saw the entire Israelites were ready before God. He mobilized the Israelite officers to go through the camp, giving these instructions to the people: “When you see the Levitical priests carrying the Ark of the Covenant of the LORD your God, move out from your positions and follow them. Since you have never traveled this way before, they will guide you. Stay about a half mile behind them, keeping a clear distance between you and the Ark. Make sure you don’t come any closer.” Joshua learned for the last forty years what was the most important: faith in God and having a complete trust in Him while believing the promise of God without any doubts. Joshua knew who the true leader was, which was not Joshua, himself, but God. Joshua humbled himself before God with the entire Israelites. He put God in front by making the Levitical priests to carry the Ark of the Covenant of the God, who faithfully followed. In his heart, he could see the presence of God in front of the formation of the Israelites although they had not made the formation yet. Joshua always dreamed about God who led the Israelites into the Promised Land. Yes, nobody but God was at the front. The mighty hand of God was leading the people of Israel, and the Israelites followed like sheep of a good and faithful shepherd.
In the morning Joshua said to the priests, “Lift up the Ark of the Covenant and lead the people across the river.” Following Joshua’s command, the priests started out and went ahead of the people. Then the people followed. It was the harvest season, and the Jordan was overflowing its banks. The river was deep and the water was fast. Anything dropped into the river would be immediately swept away with the strong flow of the river. Even so, nobody questioned about the command given by Joshua. Like Joshua, they also firmly believed the God’s promised without any doubts. The priests were leading the entire Israelites with the Ark of the Covenant of God, and the entire Israelites were following them toward the Jordan River overflowing because it was the harvest season. Please try to picture in your mind what the scene would be really like. The Israelites were blindly walking toward the overflowing river. To anybody with a rational mind, it must have had been completely absurd. For a third person, they were essentially suicidal. They were literally walk into (i.e., jumping into) the overflowing river. Soon they would be swept away by the dangerously fast moving water body of the river. Even so, no single complaint was heard, which was a stark contrast with what their parent generation did to God. The new generation of Israelites knew who God was, and absolutely believed God. Their faith was bigger than what they saw, touched and heard, which was what God wanted. And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him. (Hebrews 11:6) Yes, their faith was strong, which pleased God.
God told Joshua, “Today I will begin to make you a great leader in the eyes of all the Israelites. They will know that I am with you, just as I was with Moses. Give this command to the priests who carry the Ark of the Covenant: ‘When you reach the banks of the Jordan River, take a few steps into the river and stop there.’” (Joshua 3:8) Joshua believed. He did not question about the God’s command. God told Joshua continued marching into the overflowing Jordan River without stopping or hesitation. Joshua immediately called his people to share what God told to him.
Then Joshua told the entire Israelites, “Come and listen to what the LORD your God says. Today you will know that the living God is among you. He will surely drive out the Canaanites, Hittites, Hivites, Perizzites, Girgashites, Amorites, and Jebusites ahead of you. Look, the Ark of the Covenant, which belongs to the Lord of the whole earth, will lead you across the Jordan River! The priests will carry the Ark of the LORD, the Lord of all the earth. As soon as their feet touch the water, the flow of water will be cut off upstream, and the river will stand up like a wall.”
Joshua did not test whether the flow of water would really stop or not. However, he had an absolute trust in the God’s word. As the God’s leader, he encouraged the entire Israelites to follow the God’s word. Yes, what God told Joshua was irrationally absurd. Joshua faithfully followed God regardless this uncertain future as Abraham, the forefather of our faith, did. It was by faith that Abraham obeyed when God called him to leave home and go to another land that God would give him as his inheritance. He went without knowing where he was going. (Hebrews 11:8) Abraham believed and he left his home land without knowledge of the future except faith in God and His promise. This faith made him as the father of our faith.
So the people continued to marching toward the Jordan River, and the priests who were carrying the Ark of the Covenant went ahead of them. The priests absolutely believed and walked into the river. But as soon as the feet of the priests who were carrying the Ark touched the water at the river’s edge, the water stopped! The water above that point began backed up a great distance away at a town called Adam, which is near Zarethan because the Jordan River was overflowing during the harvest season. And the water below that point flowed on to the Dead Sea until the riverbed was dry. Then all the people crossed over near the town of Jericho.
Meanwhile, the priests who were carrying the Ark of the LORD’s Covenant stood on dry ground in the middle of the riverbed as the people passed by. They waited there until the whole nation of Israel had crossed the Jordan on dry ground.
This is the power of faith. Without faith, it is impossible to please God. Do we really believe the power of God?
The LORD your God will make you abundantly prosperous in all the work of your hand, in the fruit of your womb and in the fruit of your cattle and in the fruit of your ground. For the LORD will again take delight in prospering you, as he took delight in your fathers, when you obey the voice of the LORD your God, to keep his commandments and his statutes that are written in this Book of the Law, when you turn to the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. (Deuteronomy 30:8-9)
Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see. (Hebrews 11:1)