Crossover Times

Crossover Times
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Joshua 3:1-5

I’m interested in the last phrase of vs 4 where it says, “for ye have not passed this way heretofore”. The word “passed” is the Hebrew word “abar,” which means to crossover or to pass over. The children of Israel were preparing to crossover into the land of Canaan. Everything for them was about to change. Most of the people that day had been born in the last 40 years of wilderness journeys. Joshua and Caleb had seen the land to which they were headed, but that was 40 years earlier. Two spies had been sent into the land to check out the city of Jericho, but there were a lot of unknowns about Canaan. It was promised by God to Abraham and to them, but all they would face when they got there was unknown in many ways. There would be enemies to encounter, battles to be fought, victories to be enjoyed, problems to be encountered, and many other things. The fact remained that it was a way that they had never been before. As this year has progressed probably many of you have already seen the uncertainty of the way. People and families have crossed over into a way they have never been before. The fact is, we all have times that we cross over into ways we’ve never been before. Surely, this year, we’ll face some crossover times of family challenges, some financial challenges, some occupational challenges, and surely, there will be some who face physical challenges. There are a few things I want to share with you about those crossover times of life. Things that the Lord told them to help us.

After spending all those years in the wilderness wandering from place to place, they were surely anticipating crossing over into the land of Canaan. I’m sure there was a measure of excitement mixed with a measure of fear of what they would encounter. After all, this was the land of God’s promise, and Moses had warned them of the dangers that would be facing them. So, the Lord has Joshua move from Shittim, where they had been camped, and come to Jordan and lodge there before passing over. In vs 2, it says, “After three days….” They were to wait by the river till the Lord said it was time to cross, and they waited there for three days.

Here’s the thing, the Jordan River which normally wouldn’t be very difficult to cross over most of the time is now a flowing river several feet wide and several feet deep, see vs 15b. It was overflowing its banks at this time of year. So, the Lord brings them to the Jordan and says stay here for three days. Every day that came out of their tents they looked at the river and they saw the impossibility of crossing over it. As they looked at it, they realized they could not cross over it in their own ability. That’s often how the Lord works in our lives. He brings us to overflowing rivers and insurmountable obstacles that we can’t handle to reveal to us how much we need His help and to prepare us for what lies ahead. When we find ourselves standing at some Jordan River in our lives that seems bigger than we can handle, the Lord wants us to realize that He is able to make a way through. It may be a river of disease, disappointment, danger, doubt, or even death. Sometimes, He makes us sit by the river and wait for Him to give guidance and work in our lives. They were to wait by the river.

After the three days came the command. It was simply when they saw the Ark of the Covenant and the priests bearing it, they were to remove from their place and go after it. What was so significant about the Ark of the Covenant and them following it? The Ark symbolized God’s presence among the people. Here’s why that was so important for them.

It was letting them know that God was going before them into the land. We need to know that as well. We need to know that before we ever stepped one day into 2024 that the Lord had already preceded us. It was “the ark of the LORD your God.” That word “LORD” is the name Jehovah; the I AM THAT I AM. Remember what God said to Joshua back in chapter 1:9? As He was with Joshua and Israel that day, so He is with us in our days. Hebrews 13:8-“Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and forever.” I have no idea what this year may hold for any of us, but there is a God in heaven who has said He would walk with us through it all. But there is another important part.

They were to go after it, vs 3b—the idea is to follow His leadership. If we are going to be able to face all that this year brings, we need to keep our eyes on the Lord. They were to watch the Ark and they were to follow the Ark, vs 4. The idea is to discern and know fully the way that they were to go. The word “way” means the course of life. The only way we’re going to be able to make it through life and this year is by keeping our eyes on the Lord. The Ark symbolized God’s presence; it symbolized God’s power; it symbolized God’s mercy, with the mercy seat; it symbolized the unchanging character of God. If we are going to be able to handle the crossover times in our lives this year, we will need to wait on Him and watch for His leading. The Lord hasn’t told them yet how they would cross the Jordan, He just says to follow the priests bearing the Ark. That involves the step of faith. It has been said that faith gathers up all our cares and anxieties in the knowledge that He has taken responsibility for our future and every step ahead of us, and faith leaves it all with God.

We must never give up what we do know because of what we don’t know. Even though we don’t know how God’s faithfulness and power will be revealed or how he will order our circumstances, what we do know is that he is our God, committed to us by his unbreakable covenant promise, and His love is as great as His power and knows neither measure nor end. They were to wait by the river; they were to watch for the
Ark, and then…

We need to get the picture so far—they were to keep their eyes on the Lord (the Ark) instead of looking at the river. There are a lot of “river” obstacles that we have in life. There are physical things, emotional things, financial things, and marital things that we all face. There are decisions that we’ll face at times. There are dangers that we’ll encounter at times. It’s so easy to get our focus only on the “river” of our situations and never get our eyes on the Lord. There are times that the Lord will let us sit by the river of some dilemma to cause us to realize we are facing things we can’t handle in our own abilities and then if we’ll focus on Him and keep our hearts clean before Him (sanctify yourselves, vs 5a) then we can experience the witnessing of the Lord’s wonders in our lives. He may have you wait by a river in a hospital bed. He may have you wait by a river in the unemployment line. He may have you wait by a river in a hundred various things. But as we wait on Him and listen to His voice with a heart set upon Him, He will guide us and make a way through our rivers. Does that mean that all will be easy? Not at all. Read the rest of the book, and you’ll find they fought some hard battles and experienced some disappointing times. But the Lord was with them through it all.

What is the challenge to our hearts facing a way we’ve never been before? The challenge is patience as the Lord may have us sitting by the river of some obstacle. Something bigger than we can handle. He will lead us and make a way when the timing is right. He will not fail to work His wonders and accomplish His work and will in our lives. It all came down to the fact of having faith in Him and so it is with us today.

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