Crossing Into Your Destiny
Joshua told the people, "Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you."
Now this is why he did so: All those who came out of Egypt--all the men of military age--died in the desert on the way after leaving Egypt.
The move of Israelites from the wilderness into the Promised Land certainly marked a great leap for them as a people. No longer were they to be a group of nomads with their existence in the wilderness. No longer would they just get by, but in crossing the Jordan they were going to take their place as a nation in the world and begin to fulfill God's redemptive plan for the world.
When we read stories from the Bible we can gather principles to apply to our own lives. Just as the nation of Israel wandered aimlessly without fulfilling its God ordained destiny, so many believers also wander aimlessly without fulfilling the destiny that God has for them. If there ever was a challenge that God would make to the church of America, I believe it is Joshua 3:5:
And Joshua said to the people, "Sanctify yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you."
This morning we are going to look at the steps the Israelites took in their journey across the Jordan into the Promised Land and seek to apply them to our lives.
In reviewing these steps, we see in Joshua 3:5 the first step they took.
I. They sanctified themselves. (Joshua 3:5)
The word used in this passage for sanctify is the Hebrew word qâdâsh. This word literally means to be set apart, dedicate, or consecrate by purification. This word appears several times in scripture with two main contexts.
A. Being set apart-A call to be holy.
(Example the consecration of Aaron and his sons)
Exodus 29:21 And you shall take some of the blood that is on the altar, and some of the anointing oil, and sprinkle it on Aaron and on his garments shall be hallowed, and his sons' garments with him.
These priests went through this ceremony because God was showing them that they were set apart. Likewise, God was calling the nation of Israel to be set apart and even believers today to be set apart as holy priests.
1 Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.
Just as the blood of rams set the priests apart as holy, so the blood of Christ sets us apart as holy and thus we need to separate ourselves from that which is not holy.
Consider what is written in Exodus 28:36-37:
You shall make a plate of pure gold and engrave on it, like the engraving on a signet: Holiness to the Lord. And you shall put it on a blue cord, that it may be on the turban, it shall be on the front of the turban.
This was something only the head priest could wear in ancient times. When the priest wore it, this plate was evident for all to see. For those of us in Christ, however, this is something that has been engraved on all of our foreheads and we must live such lives that it is evident for all to see.
B. Sanctification by purification-
Often times when the Israelites were called to sanctify themselves they had to wash themselves and their clothing.
Exodus 19:10 The Lord said to Moses, "Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow, and let them wash their garments."
When Joshua called the Israelites to sanctify themselves, I believe that they went through a similar ritual. The reason for this was that the inward preparation for meeting with God was reflected in the outward actions of maintaining physical cleanliness.
"Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxieties."
II. They took the first step of faith in fulfilling their destiny-they crossed over. (Joshua 3:14-17)
14 So when the people broke camp to cross the Jordan, the priests carrying the ark of the covenant went ahead of them. 15 Now the Jordan is at flood stage all during harvest. Yet as soon as the priests who carried the ark reached the Jordan and their feet touched the water's edge, 16 the water from upstream stopped flowing. It piled up in a heap a great distance away, at a town called Adam in the vicinity of Zarethan, while the water flowing down to the Sea of the Arabah (the Salt Sea  ) was completely cut off. So the people crossed over opposite Jericho. 17 The priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord stood firm on dry ground in the middle of the Jordan, while all Israel passed by until the whole nation had completed the crossing on dry ground.
Indiana Jones Illustration: In the movie, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Indiana Jones has nearly completed his quest in finding the Holy Grail. Only one thing is separating him from his prize: a canyon between himself and the cave where it is located. He remembers the clues in finding the grail. The last clue was to take the leap of faith. He then proceeds to step off the cliff and then to his amazement a stone bridge appears between himself and the cave.
Like Indiana Jones, many times we too are called to make that step of faith. We don't know the outcome of what we are doing, but we are called to take that step. Only when we take that step does God's path often become clear. Like Indiana Jones, if we fail to take that initial step we might deprive ourselves of a great blessing.
Many people are afraid to step out in service to the Lord out of fear of what the outcome will be. That however is the mistake. The outcome isn't ours to worry about-the outcome belongs to God. God only desires that we step out in obedience and in faith. With the joyful assurance of His presence, we can be certain that whatever the outcome, God will be glorified in our actions if we are following His lead.
III. They chose to always remember their experience with God. (Joshua 4:6-7)
5. and said to them, "Go over before the ark of the Lord your God into the middle of the Jordan. Each of you is to take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the Israelites, 6. to serve as a sign among you. In the future, when your children ask you, 'What do these stones mean?' 7. tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord . When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever."
In Experiencing God, "you come to know God more intimately as He reveals Himself to you through your experiences with Him." It is in reflecting on our experiences with God that we grow in our faith and love for Him. It is these victories, these encounters with God that give us strength in the race we run.
Sometimes we as Christians need to stop along life's road and look back. Although it might have been winding and steep, we can see how God directed us by His faithfulness.
Here's what the Christian can see when he looks back:
The deliverances the Lord has wrought (Deut. ).
The way He has led (Deut. 8:2)
The blessings He has bestowed (Deut. 32:7-12).
The victories He has won (Deut. ll:2-7).
The encouragements He has given (Josh. ).
When we face difficulties, we sometimes forget God's past faithfulness. We see only the detours and the dangerous path. But look back and you will also see the joy of victory, the challenge of the climb, and the presence of your traveling Companion who has promised never to leave you nor forsake you.
IV. They cut away their flesh. (Joshua 5:2-4)
2 At that time the Lord said to Joshua, "Make flint knives and circumcise the Israelites again." 3 So Joshua made flint knives and circumcised the Israelites at Gibeath Haaraloth.
Circumcision was a picture of what we are to do with our hearts. It represented a cutting away of flesh. What is the flesh in spiritual terms? Anything that gets in the way of our relationship with God.
16 Circumcise your hearts, therefore, and do not be stiff-necked any longer.
In Hebrews 12:1, the author speaks of cutting off that which would hinder us in our race.
1. Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.
Illustration: Two men were riding on a two person bike going up a steep hill. They were panting and perspiring the whole distance as they crested the top of the hill. The first man said, "That was a tough climb." The second man said, "It certainly was. And if I hadn't kept the brake on, we would have slid down that hill backwards." We need to learn to cast off anything that hinders our progress!
V. They didn't campout at their experience-they moved forward! (Joshua 5:13-12:24)
God has called us to a spiritual journey--not a campout!
We can never stand still in the kingdom of God. We are either moving forward or falling backward. God didn't make us to back pedal! Note what we can learn from the emu and the kangaroo.
Illustration: The Australian coat of arms pictures two creatures--the emu, a flightless bird, and the kangaroo. The animals were chosen because they share a characteristic that appealed to the Australian citizens. Both the emu and kangaroo can move only forward, not back. The emu's three-toed foot causes it to fall if it tries to go backwards, and the kangaroo is prevented from moving in reverse by its large tail. Those who truly choose to follow Jesus become like the emu and kangaroo, moving only forward, never back (Luke 9:62).
In Joshua 3:5, God promised the Israelites that He would do wonders among them if they would only trust Him and follow His leading. God promises the same thing for us. All we need to do is follow.
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