Stepping Into The Water

Bible Book: Joshua  3 : 1-7
Subject: Faith; Obedience; Trust; Leadership; Promises of God

Sometimes we step into trouble by our choices. David is a good example of a man stepping into trouble when he committed adultery with Bathsheba. Sometimes God leads us into trials to test us. According to our text, Joshua and the Israelites were facing a trial. They had to cross the Jordon River to enter into the Promised Land. In Joshua 3:15, we learn the river was overflowing all its banks. The Israelites had to take a step of faith into the water to be obedient to God.


A. PREPARATION. (1:11; 3:1-4)

Joshua commanded the officers to instruct the people to prepare themselves for the crossing of the Jordon. While they waited on the Lord, the people were to prepare food. The Israelites would be crossing the Jordon River in three days according to Joshua 1:11. They waited three days watching the rushing river. The travelers had to cross with their children and with those who were weak and sickly. They had to get all their belongings as well as their flocks across also.

We are not going to cross the Jordon River, but we are going to cross over into glory some day if we know the Lord. We need to be prepared to hear the trumpet sound and the Lord say, "Come up here."


In verse 5, Joshua tells the people to sanctify themselves. The Hebrew word for "sanctify" means "to prepare, to dedicate, to be hallowed, to be holy, to be separate or set apart." They were not to allow anything that would cause them to lose their focus on the Lord or cause them to be defiled. They were to prepare themselves spiritually as well as physically. On the third day, the Israelites would be in the presence of God and see the wonders of the Lord among them.

In order for the Israelites to be spiritually prepared, they had to consecrate themselves. In the Old Testament, part of the sanctification involved washing their clothes. The importance of this command to sanctify was not about personal hygiene. It is a picture of cleansing oneself from sin's defilement from within. Before Israel would see the power of God performed, they had to be clean before Him.

For a person to be prepared spiritually and separated to God, he must personally repent of every known sin. Sin is the greatest hindrance that keeps God's people from being blessed in the manner in which God would like to bless. Isaiah is a reminder. Isaiah 59:2 states: "But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear." You cannot cross your Jordan if you are not right with God. You have to be on praying ground with Him. You do not want God hiding His face from you during your trials.

As Christians, we are to be a holy people.  We should be separated from the world.  We read in 2 Corinthians 6:17, "Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you." Separation is critical in our relationship with God. Paul said in Romans 12:1-2 for us not "to be conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God." We are to live holy and faithful lives to bring glory to God.



Joshua sent officers throughout the camp instructing the people to keep their eyes on the Ark of the Covenant of God. The Ark of the Covenant was the visible representation of God’s presence and power with His people. It was a sacred treasure to God's people. The Ark represented all the covenant promises made by God. It was to be held in high esteem in the eyes of all Israel. The Israelites were to keep a space between them and the Ark of the Covenant of about 1,000 yards. According to verse 3, when they saw the Ark of the Covenant move, they were to leave their place, and follow it. The Levite priests carried the Ark on their shoulders making it possible for all to see even those at a distance. They were to watch God and move when He moved. God gave specific guidance from His presence (the Ark) and from His Word (the Law). They needed to learn this to live by faith in the Promised Land.


Joshua was a man of faith, and God was leading him. The priests were to follow Joshua as he followed the Lord. The priests were to take up the Ark of the Covenant and cross over before the people. Notice, the priests were to stand still in the Jordon River. They were waiting on the power of God. Joshua and the priests knew if Israel crossed the swollen Jordon, it would have to be of God and God alone.


God told Joshua he was to be a man of the book. He was to meditate therein day and night. God also told him to observe and to do according to all that was written in the Law. The Lord promised Joshua that if he would stay in the book, his way would be prosperous and he would have good success. (Joshua 1:8-9)

Joshua called all the children of Israel together and told them to, "hear the words of the LORD your God." The Israelites needed to know all that God was saying to them. Joshua 3: 10-11 states: "And Joshua said, Hereby ye shall know that the living God is among you, and that he will without fail drive out from before you the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Hivites, and the Perizzites, and the Girgashites, and the Amorites, and the Jebusites. Behold, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth passeth over before you into Jordan."

This reminds us again of the importance of the Word of God. You will never be able to cross your Jordon in your own strength. The truths of God's Word must be the foundation for your faith. Sin will cause God to hide His face from you. Your weak faith will keep you from receiving all God has for you.


The crossing of the Jordon is another of God's miracles. It was impossible for the nation of Israel to cross over to the other side and remain safe without God's intervention. The Jordon River is normally about 100 feet wide except in the spring when the floods came. During the floods, the river overflows its banks and can be up to a mile wide. Crossing the Jordan was not a feat of human engineering, but it was by the awesome power of a Mighty God.


When God performs a miracle, it is always with a purpose. This miracle is no different. God had a reason for this miracle just as His miracle of the Israelites crossing the Red Sea years earlier.

1. Lord's promotion of Joshua. (v. 7)

One of the reasons for the miracle was the Lord's promotion of Joshua. Joshua 3:7 states: "And the LORD said unto Joshua, This day will I begin to magnify thee in the sight of all Israel, that they may know that, as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee." This miracle would be an encouragement to Joshua as well as to all the Israelites. The miracle confirmed God's presence with Joshua as He had been with Moses

2. Lord's presence with Israel. (v. 10)

Another purpose for this miracle was to insure the Israelites of the presence of God. They would witness God's power in driving out their enemies.  Remember Joshua 3:10 states: "Hereby ye shall know that the living God is among you, and that he will without fail drive out from before you the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Hivites, and the Perizzites, and the Girgashites, and the Amorites, and the Jebusites."

3. Lord's promise to Israel. (v. 10)

In Joshua 1:10, God told Joshua they would cross over the Jordon to possess the land the "LORD your God giveth you to posses it." This miracle would confirm the Lord's promise.  He promised He would drive out the inhabitants from the Promised Land and the land would be theirs. God kept His promise to them.


The miracle was astounding. The power of God was evident. Joshua 3:15-16 states: "And as they that bare the ark were come unto Jordan, and the feet of the priests that bare the ark were dipped in the brim of the water, (for Jordan overfloweth all his banks all the time of harvest,) That the waters which came down from above stood and rose up upon an heap very far from the city Adam, that is beside Zaretan: and those that came down toward the sea of the plain, even the salt sea, failed, and were cut off: and the people passed over right against Jericho." God stopped the flow of the Jordan River. The God who spoke the universe into existence could easily stop the Jordon River.


The priests took up the Ark of the Covenant and stepped into the river. God stopped the water from flowing upstream and caused it to stand like a wall about twenty miles away near a city called Adam. As the priests stood firm on dry ground in the midst of the Jordan, all the Israelites passed over also on dry ground. God had parted the Red Sea to get His people out of Egypt and now He backs up the Jordan River to allow them entrance into the Promised Land. God fulfilled His promise by performing the miracle at the Jordan River for the people to cross over.

If we want to see the wonders and miracles of God, our hearts have to be right with God. If we want to be used of God, we must be yielded to God. Christians filled with the Holy Spirit as well as the Word of God are spiritually prepared for the blessings of God.

We need to be prepared spiritually to confront the challenges in our lives.  We need to keep our sins confessed, and be clean vessels for Him to use. Our faith must be in Jesus as we follow Him. Hebrews 12:2 encourages us to look "unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God." We have to be constantly on guard spiritually.

If we are to move forward in our walk with the Lord, it becomes possible only as God guides us. The Bible must be much more than a mere book to us. It must be God's word to you and me personally. Our response must be prompt and sincere as we yield to the commands of God's Word.

Just as Joshua and Israel faced the raging river, we will, also. As we trust in Jesus and are guided by His Word, we can move forward to higher ground of God's blessings.


1. We cross our Jordon as Israel did with faith in God's presence and power with us.

2. God is still able to perform miracles because nothing is impossible with Him.

3. Jesus is our ark. We must keep our eyes on Him and follow Him as our Good Shepherd.

4. Faith leads us to Christ and on to victory.