Last week in The Faith to Go Forward we left off with the Israelites still stuck out in the desert while Moses, their fearless leader, implored them to recall God’s faithfulness toward them over the past 40 years. As the Israelites looked forward to the land of promise, Moses reflected back on their wandering desert years and exhorted God’s children to remember all that the Lord had done for them – His rescue, His deliverance, His guidance, His protection, His provision, His teaching, and His tender love. This generation of Israelites, children of an unfaithful people, were about to take a step that required tremendous faith and Moses knew that in looking back they would find the faith required to go forward. The next step on their long journey would be the ultimate test of faith and Moses wanted them to be ready.
Let’s look at the climatic end to their 40 years of desert dwelling:
“So when the people broke camp to cross the Jordan, the priests carrying the ark of the covenant went ahead of them. 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, the water from upstream stopped flowing…while all Israel passed by until the whole nation had completed the crossing on dry ground.” Joshua 3:14-17
Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Where else have we seen the Israelites cross through a huge body of water on dry ground?
"Raise your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea to divide the water so that the Israelites can go through the sea on dry ground…Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and all that night the LORD drove the sea back with a strong east wind and turned it into dry land. The waters were divided, and the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground.” Exodus 14:16-22
Both generations experienced a miraculous crossing. Both witnessed a mighty miracle. Yet, as similar as these events were, there was one key difference. Did you notice it?
Let’s take a closer look -
“Raise your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea to divide the water..."
When the Israelites approached the Red Sea, Moses simply stretched out his staff and the waters divided. The word “divide” is baqa and it means “to break open”. It is the same word used in Genesis 22:3 when Abraham split the wood for the burnt offering that he would offer his son Isaac upon. The waters of the Red Sea split just like Abraham’s wood. After the Israelites had safely reached the other side, they turned around and watched the waters flow back, sweeping the Egyptians into the sea. The sight of their enemies sinking like lead in the mighty waters caused the Israelites to erupt into a song of praise – the first recorded song – proclaiming that the Lord was their “strength” and “defense” and “salvation”. They hailed Him a “warrior”. Exodus 15
Sadly, shortly thereafter, the music died as did their confidence in the One who had ransomed and redeemed them. Within days, they were grumbling and dreamt about returning to the place of their former bondage. That’s why I think the crossing of the Jordan some 40 years later had one tiny added detail that the crossing of the Red Sea didn’t:
“As soon as…their feet touched the water’s edge…”
Instead of parting the waters before their very eyes with the wave of a staff, God called them to the water’s edge. The word “touched” is tabal and it means “to dip”. It is the same word used in Genesis 37:31 when Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery, slaughtered a goat, and dipped his multi-colored robe into the blood. Just as the robe was covered with blood, the priests’ feet were covered with the rushing river water.
Why did the Lord deviate from the original instructions of how they crossed over? The Bible doesn’t tell us why. But, I believe it was because God wanted His children to connect their faith with their feet. Lip service alone wasn’t enough.
God could have parted the waters with an outstretched hand or blown them back with His breath. But, because He had been testing them these 40 years to know what was in their hearts, He knew that they would have to step forward and prove their trust in Him in this final act before their entrance into the land that He had promised long ago to their forefathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. So, at flood stage, with swelling, rushing waters, God called His children forward. And, the whole nation, united by their faith in God alone and undaunted by the perils that lay ahead, went.
By faith, they stepped into the water.
The common phrase “getting one’s feet wet” means to embark on a new venture, start into new territory; to have a first and testing experience of something. The dictionary says that its origin is the 16th century but I beg to differ. In my opinion, its origin dates back to the infamous day when God’s chosen people, carried forward by faith, immersed their feet into the waters of the Jordan and embarked on a new venture into a new land with a newfound faith in their always faithful Lord.
Their wet feet proved their big faith.
The same is true for us today. Whenever God calls us out onto the waters He calls us to step forward in faith. No matter how tall the waves nor how deep the waters we know that God's faithfulness is greater.
We trust Him for our future because we recall His faithfulness in our past.
If you are standing at the water’s edge today, the only thing that you need for the next step forward is faith. No matter your situation, God is enough. No matter your heartache, God is enough. No matter your pain, God is enough. No matter your past, God is enough. No matter how many fears surround you, God is enough.
How do I know this? Well, just look behind you.
Hasn’t He been enough so far?
The Lord Himself says that He will be with you. You can trust Him. All you have to do is, by faith, get your feet wet.
There's something grand and glorious waiting for you on the other side.
Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.
First, I am a child of God. And, like a child, I am always learning and growing. The more I know Him, the more I love Him. Second, I am a wife to a good man. Missions is his thing while teaching women to love God’s Word is mine. Third, I am a mama to three plus a sweet cockapoo who thinks he’s #4. My children are my ongoing sanctification. Fourth, I am a passionate advocate of all things healthy & natural and a dreamer/designer. Old friends call me Becky, newer ones call me Rebecca, and the most intimate ones call me Beck. You can just call me friend.
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