“Go through the camp and tell the people to get their provisions ready. In three days you will cross the Jordan River and take possession of the land the LORD your God is giving you.” (Joshua 1:11) The Israelites had been camped on the plains of Moab on the east side of the Jordan River for many months. During that time Moses wrote the book of Deuteronomy, he was taken up onto Mt. Nebo to see the land that the Israelites would inhabit, he died, and God made Joshua their new leader. The Israelites had planted crops and were augmenting their meals of manna with fresh produce from the land. They had begun to put down modest roots. As a matter of fact, the tribes of Reuben, Gad and Manasseh had petitioned Moses to make their permanent dwelling place on this side of the Jordan, and God had permitted them to do so. So when Joshua sent out word that they were leaving in three days, it was very short notice for a move of that magnitude. Sure, they knew that the day would one day arrive, but until that moment they had no idea that it was only three days away.
Two things come to mind as i write this. First – the prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 60) describes the glorious kingdom that Christ will establish when He returns to earth to reign. At the end of that chapter, he writes, “I, the LORD, will hasten it in its time.” He will hasten the arrival of His Kingdom in His time, just as He hastened the time for the Israelites to cross over into the Promised Land – in His timing. And in the same way, He will hasten the time for you to cross over into the promise that He has given you. Though much time will have seemingly passed, when His timing is perfect, He will hasten it!
Second – the Israelites were crossing over into a new life three days hence. When i initially wrote this chapter it was just four days after Resurrection Sunday – and i was struck by this perfect picture of a death of a life as the Israelites knew it (Christ’s crucifixion) to be raised into a new life (Christ’s resurrection) in just three days time. What a perfect picture of the abundant life that awaited them on the other side of the Jordan! What a perfect picture of the abundant life that God has promised us. And the immediate promise He is leading you to possess is only a hint of what is to come. And He will hasten it in His time! Be prepared.
That preparation will require work. The Israelites needed to harvest and prepare the produce they would be taking. They needed to pack all of their belongings and break down their camp for travel. They were a people of over 600,000 fighting men plus women and children. Metro Richmond, where i live, has a population of approximately one million people. The Israelites numbered about twice that many. Imagine moving everyone out of Metro Richmond in three days’ time. Think about the coordination, the logistics and the preparation required. God’s promise to you may require just such a move – and it could entail just such a short timeframe, But the same God who is leading you to possess will enable you to make the needed preparations. Get to work!
Joshua told the people that they would cross the Jordan. But it is telling what he did not tell them! He did not tell them to craft any boats or prepare any rafts for a water crossing. They were to prepare their belongings but trust God for the mode of transport. He would make a way! Here they were three days out, needing to cross a river to get to where they needed to go, and didn’t have a clue as to how God was going to bring it about! What i love about this picture is that we don’t read that anyone was grumbling or complaining or wringing their hands over how they would cross the river. And let’s remember the Israelites were well known for complaining and grumbling – sounds like us, doesn’t it? And yet, not a hint of question or distrust! They trusted that the LORD who was leading them into the promise was able to accomplish all that was needed to fulfill the promise. Whatever the water is that is in the path leading to the place God is leading you to possess – trust Him! He knows it’s there. He will make the way.
They were to prepare. They were to trust God. And they were to adjust their lives – adjust to what God was telling them to do. They were to “take possession” of the land. They couldn’t do that from where they were. It has been said countless times and ways – “you can’t stay where you are and go with God.” That can sometimes mean a physical move, but it more often means a move to outside of our comfort zone – a move to do something we have never done before. The Lord is leading us to possess His promise – but we must take possession – we must make the needed adjustment in our lives – whatever it is. And He will be faithful to show us, just what that is!
And lastly, the LORD was giving the land to the people. This was a gift. The Israelites had done nothing to earn or deserve God’s favor. He was imparting His gift to His children according to His purpose for His glory. All that was left was for the people to gratefully receive the gift of His promised land. Yes, it would require them to continue to prepare and work and trust Him and adjust their lives – but the reality was that no amount of work, preparation and adjustment would elicit the promise on its own. The promise could only be possessed because of the graciousness of God. And His graciousness deserves our gratefulness.
So has the time come for you to enter into the promise that God has given you? Be ready. Trust Him. Adjust your life to Him. And gratefully receive His gift.
(Excerpt from “Lessons Learned In The Wilderness — Possessing The Promise”. For more information about the book see http://www.wildernesslessons.com/Possessing_The_Promise.html.)