Last we looked at how fear keeps us from entering the promised land. This week we are going to look at a few other keys things that God had Israel do before they took on their first city battle. These things are foundational to entering the new territory God has given us and staying in this place of abundance and blessing.
I. Steps of Faith
Joshua 3:14-17: So the people left their camp to cross the Jordan, and the priests who were carrying the Ark of the Covenant went ahead of them. It was the harvest season, and the Jordan was overflowing its banks. But as soon as the feet of the priests who were carrying the Ark touched the water at the river’s edge, the water above that point began backing up a great distance away at a town called Adam, which is near Zarethan. 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.
Walking into the promised land took steps of faith. Moses held his staff out, and then the waters were parted. After the waters were parted, the Israelites crossed the Red Sea. Joshua had the priests carry the Ark of the Covenant into the water. After stepping into the water the Jordan river was parted.
The Jordan river was overflowing because of the time of the year. It was harvest time. The only way they were going to get on the other side was for God to part the water.
When you decided to give your life to Christ, it was a step of faith. You are completely surrendering your life to Him and are following His plan for your life. That takes a step of faith. This is the first step and then God continues to build off this step to take us further into His plan for our lives and to a deeper place of knowing Him.
Taking a step of faith always requires us knowing what God is telling us to do. It means stepping into the waters before they have parted. Things usually open up after we take our step in faith.
II. Memorials for Landmarks of our Faith
Joshua 4:8-9: So the men did as Joshua had commanded them. They took twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan River, one for each tribe, just as the Lord had told Joshua. They carried them to the place where they camped for the night and constructed the memorial there. Joshua also set up another pile of twelve stones in the middle of the Jordan, at the place where the priests who carried the Ark of the Covenant were standing. And they are there to this day.
God knew we would need reminders of His power at work in our lives. God told the Israelites to set up two memorials - one in the middle of the river where the rest stood with the Ark of the Covenant and the other where they would set up camp. The memorial in the river represents water baptism while the memorial by the camp represents Communion.
Memorials are to remind us. God wants us to be reminded of the power that is at work in our lives. Water Baptism, The Baptism of the Holy Spirit, Healings, Miracles, Words from the Lord, Prophetic Visions - anytime God does significant things in our lives. Angeles Temple has a room full of crutches, wheel chairs, and casts to remind us that God still heals.
Joshua 4:21-24: Then Joshua said to the Israelites, “In the future your children will ask, ‘What do these stones mean?’ Then you can tell them, ‘This is where the Israelites crossed the Jordan on dry ground.’ For the Lord your God dried up the river right before your eyes, and he kept it dry until you were all across, just as he did at the Red Sea when he dried it up until we had all crossed over. He did this so all the nations of the earth might know that the Lord’s hand is powerful, and so you might fear the Lord your God forever.”
Our Testimonies are powerful and should be shards that others can be encouraged to put their faith in our Almighty God! People need to see God at work in our lives! These memorials also remind our enemy that he is defeated.
Colossians 2:15: In this way, he disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by his victory over them on the cross.
Walking into the territory that God has given us is not just about our receiving His blessing. It is also about His Kingdom advancing and the enemy's kingdom decreasing.
III. Covenant Identity
Joshua 5:7-9: So Joshua circumcised their sons—those who had grown up to take their fathers’ places—for they had not been circumcised on the way to the Promised Land. After all the males had been circumcised, they rested in the camp until they were healed. Then the Lord said to Joshua, “Today I have rolled away the shame of your slavery in Egypt.” So that place has been called Gilgal to this day.
Circumcision was to be a sign of covenant relationship with God. This was set up in Genesis 17 between God and Abraham (and all of his descendants). They were committing to obedience to God's law.
The Israelites failed to circumcise their sons born during their forty years in the wilderness, because they were not walking in obedience to God. God wanted to reestablish His covenant with them before they started battling for their land. They also celebrated Passover to remind that they were free from their bondage from Egypt.
Deuteronomy 30:6 (NKJV): And the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live.
God established a new circumcision with the new covenant. It was the circumcision of our hearts, so that we would love the Lord with all our hearts.
Romans 2:29: No, a true Jew is one whose heart is right with God. And true circumcision is not merely obeying the letter of the law; rather, it is a change of heart produced by the Spirit. And a person with a changed heart seeks praise from God, not from people.
God gives us a new heart. He gives us a heart that is responsive to Him because His Spirit is deposited into our lives. We don’t follow God's ways because we have to. Instead we follow His ways because we love Him and want to bring glory and honor to Him.
Covenant is about oneness with God. It is about relationship and Identity. If we don’t know who we are in Christ and that we belong to Him, we will never make it in the territory that God has given us.
We become easy prey to the enemy and his lies and deception. Covenant helps us to see and to walk in God's truth. We know God’s voice, we know His will, and we see where He is leading us. We know the authority that He has given us and we walk in His power to advance His Kingdom.
We don’t need to worry about the enemy, but we do need to ready for when he comes against us. He is a trickster and a deceiver. He never plays by the rules and is always looking for ways to keep us from walking in the things that God has for our lives. If you haven’t been shaken to the core of your faith yet, you will be at some point. That is why we set up these memorials to remind us of the powerful God who we have fighting on our behalf. We are His kids and we are one with Him. God will always be there with us and He will always show us they way. It's up to us to keep our eyes on Him and grow in intimacy with Him. Intimacy will always help us to see ourselves in His eyes and help us to walk in His truth. He has given us His authority and power to walk out His will for our lives.