I find that the Lord often gives us instructions cleverly knit into the stories of the Bible. Without careful reading, we can sometimes miss some very important directions for life. That’s why I want to look closely at the Israelites crossing of the Jordan River into the Promised Land after 40 years of wandering in the wilderness.
“You shall, moreover, command the priests who are carrying the ark of the covenant, saying, ‘When you come to the edge of the waters of the Jordan, you shall stand still in the Jordan.’” (Josh. 3:8 NASB).
“So when the people set out from their tents to cross the Jordan with the priests carrying the ark of the covenant before the people, and when those who carried the ark came into the Jordan, and the feet of the priests carrying the ark were dipped in the edge of the water (for the Jordan overflows all its banks all the days of harvest), the waters which were flowing down from above stood and rose up in one heap, a great distance away at Adam, the city that is beside Zarethan; and those which were flowing down toward the sea of the Arabah, the Salt Sea, were completely cut off. So the people crossed opposite Jericho. And the priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord stood firm on dry ground in the middle of the Jordan while all Israel crossed on dry ground, until all the nation had finished crossing the Jordan.” (Josh. 3:14-17 NASB).
Now, there are several items that we have to understand:
- Based on other scriptures, a conservative estimate of the adults in Israel would be anywhere between 1.5 and 2 million. Add to that the children, and we could be talking in excess of 3 million people.
- It is difficult to guess at the amount of livestock in their possession, but at a minimum, there were several hundred thousand animals of various kinds
- All of the pieces of the tabernacle were going to have to be transported
All of this was to cross a Jordan River that was at flood stages. This seemed like an impossible event. But, the Bible proves to us over and over that what is impossible for us is mere child’s play with God. The priests were told to wade out into the water while carrying the ark. As soon as their feet touched the water, the water was dammed up by God’s had, a great distance away. It was approximately 20 miles from where the priests dipped their feet into the water. Can you imagine how long it took for the water to run those 20 miles from the city of Adam past where they were? That must have taken great faith for the priests to remain standing in the water waiting for the miracle to appear.
Often times, we are called on to stand in “the water” for someone, to be the ones who will be there to usher in the miracle for their lives. Sometimes that miracle happens as soon as we dip our feet into the situation (the water) but we don’t see the signs of it happening, yet. Just like the priests, we need to stay and see the miracle through. I have often wondered what would have happened if those priests had of looked around after a few minutes, and declared that nothing was happening, and stepped back out of the water. Would God have released the water to close back up? Look back at verse 8, it tells them to stand still in the Jordan.
I also take note of what happened once the water did drain past and they had dry ground. The priests stayed in the middle of the dry river bed while the entire nation crossed over. In other words, they remained actively involved until it was complete. They were the first in, and the last out. Again, I have to wonder what would have happened had they said, “Ah, the ground is dry, now. Let us cross; everyone else will follow.”
When we are called upon to stand in “the water” of someone’s life, we need to stay until the miracle has completed. What may look like a simple need to some of us is a desperate cry for someone else. If we are going to join with anyone in prayer for anything, no matter how big or small it may appear to us, we must see it through. The other person is counting on us.
I believe there are many character traits that exist in the Christian who will follow the Biblical pattern and stand in the water of people’s needs. However there are three that I would like to highlight:
- Boldness – As we face the impossible with someone, we need to remember, that with God, anything is possible. If anything is possible, then we do not have to be timid when we ask. In fact, whenever we ask anything of the Lord, we should do so expecting that it is going to be done.
- Obedience – Biblically, to obey means to listen to, and to act upon. In order to stand in the water of someone’s life, we must be attentive to what the Lord is telling us to do, and then we must take action as the Lord leads.
- Faith – This goes hand-in-hand with obedience. We can’t take action unless we have faith that God is going to come through.
As I said, these are just 3 qualities I see. There are many more. I would love it if other people would list some qualities they see in the Christian who stands in the water of people’s needs.