|Landscape in the land of Jordan.|
So Joshua called together the twelve men he had appointed from the Israelites, one from each tribe, 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, to serve as a sign among you. In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ 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.” Joshua 4:4-7 NIV
Ministries, churches, and leaders experience certain seasons and times of particularly powerful manifestations of God. In such times, the miracles and the victories seem to come easier. There seems to be little effort or faith needed except to follow the cloud. But these same ministries, churches and leaders must enter new depths of faith and relationship with God. The Holy Spirit will nudge us to cross over into territory where more participation in faith and action is required from us, the believers. As the times change, the miraculous may be less obvious, the victories less poignant, and the methods and manifestations different. You are in new territory. You are in territory where greater levels of faith and action are required. You must leave some things behind in order to possess that which lies ahead. You remember what God did in previous times to help you trust Him in current times. But…you must move forward!
Israel experienced this kind of crossing over. They had a miraculous 40 years of following the presence of God and God providing for them in the wilderness. After the supernatural crossing of the Jordan River, the Lord told Joshua to build a memorial at Gilgal. This was to be a remembrance of God’s role in stopping the flow of the Jordan so that the entire nation could cross into the Promised Land. ‘Joshua said to the Israelites, “In the future when your descendants ask their parents, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them, ‘Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground.’ For the Lord your God dried up the Jordan before you until you had crossed over. The Lord your God did to the Jordan what he had done to the Red Sea when he dried it up before us until we had crossed over. He did this so that all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the Lord is powerful and so that you might always fear the Lord your God.” Joshua 4:22-24 NIV. God knew the nation would need a new level of faith to contend for and retain the new territory. That faith would be passed on to future generations as the territory was possessed.
While the people rested and memorialized the crossing of the Jordan River, Joshua was contemplating the challenge of Jericho, the first city-state that stood before them. They had never encountered such imposing walls in the wilderness! Battles were different there! But Joshua had made the mental transition to contend for what stood before him, not lingering on what stood behind him. The manna stopped flowing from heaven and the people harvested food from the land they now entered. It was a new way of provision. God’s provision of food would now come from the land He promised rather than from heaven. Something had changed in how God would be involved in the life of the nation. They had crossed over.
We know from the rest of the Book of Joshua that Jericho was conquered as Joshua partnered in faith and action with the Lord. We know city after city fell to the nation of Israel as they went from battle to battle and from victory to victory. Each battle was different. It took years to accomplish the first phase of dominion in the Promised Land. Israel could remember, but they could not return to the other side of the Jordan River. It never dried up again. They could only move forward into new territory, a land of promise.
The lesson for us is that we must remember the past, participate in the present and anticipate the future. The Lord will be with us always, but how He operates and partners with our faith changes as we cross over. He expects, and even demands, a level of faith and action not needed before the crossing.