Joshua: “Winning Walk”

Joshua • “Winning Walk”

Joshua 3:1-17

October 9-13, 2017


When Barb and I first moved to Celina in 2009, we had no idea we would be here except for a short time. A major storm can through Celina that year and tore down trees, blew shingles off houses and knocked down fences. As some of you know, our aunt and uncle owned two houses in Celina… our home and the one across the street…a third home for them. They offered us what is now “Our House” as a temporary place to stay during an unexpected relocation from Arizona back to Texas until we could determine what God had planned for us next. After viewing all the storm damage to both houses, Aunt Frances asked me if I’d take the time ‘since I didn’t have anything else to do’ to work with the insurance companies, adjusters, vendors, to get bids and to oversee the work of new roofs, new paint and construction of new fences. Our house was a dirty tan color with little character (photo on left). The makeover still makes us smile (photo on right).


I gladly agreed to manage the project and sometime during the 4-6 months it took to finish all that work, Barb and I looked at each other and said, “You know, we kinda like it here, why don’t we see if we can make a deal for this house with our aunt.” And we could and we did. We did not choose Celina…God chose it for us. It has been 8 years now and we are blessed indeed.


During the construction, a local resident stopped by the front of our house one afternoon and rolled down his window. “You new here, boy?” he said. I told him that anybody who called me “BOY” got my attention. At 69 years of age, I could not remember the last time anybody called me BOY.


He said, “Get in the truck, I’m going to show you the town.” As we drove he pointed out homes and gave colorful descriptions of the people who lived there. He took me to City Hall and to the Police Station and introduced me around.


On the way back to the house, he gave me his philosophy about living in Celina. His words of advice:

· When you talk to young people around town, talk about progress.

· When you talk to old people in town, talk about tradition.

· Then there are only three words you need to know to live in Celina…Football, FOOTBALL, and FOOTBALL!


This time of year we anticipate certain football matchups. The mess in the NFL has accelerated interest in both local high school and NCAA football. There is great build up to those games with all the sports media surrounding the games. Texas-OU is upon us. Celina’s Bobcats have played all the non-district games, and now five district games are ahead of us. The energy, the excitement, and the anticipation that builds up to each kick-off leads ultimately to an explosion of noise that rocks a stadium. The anticipation of the air horn at Bobcat Stadium is all about tradition. Is this the year we win State Championship #9?


After 40 years of wandering in the wilderness and hearing about it, the children of Israel were anticipating finally entering the Promised Land. Anticipation must have been at a boiling point, but the children of Israel could not just go running into the Promised Land like a football team running into a stadium because there was one final obstacle they had to overcome before they could reach the Promised Land…they had to cross the Jordan River. In spite all the anticipation building up, they could not run into the Promised Land, they had to walk. Yes….walk. Because of the obstacle in front of them they had to walk, but that was what the Lord was teaching them … to walk. In this case they were not to run to win but rather walk to win. Why do you suppose that was true? That’s what we will discover this week. The title of this week’s study is “Winning Walk.”



MONDAY: God Did Not Want His People To Believe They Were Conquering The Promised Land In Their Own Strength.

1 Then Joshua rose early in the morning and they set out from Shittim. And they came to the Jordan, he and all the people of Israel, and lodged there before they passed over. 2 At the end of three days the officers went through the camp 3 and commanded the people, “As soon as you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God being carried by the Levitical priests, then you shall set out from your place and follow it. 4 Yet there shall be a distance between you and it, about 2,000 cubits in length [about 1000 yards]. Do not come near it, in order that you may know the way you shall go, for you have not passéd this way before.” 5 Then Joshua said to the people, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you.” 6 And Joshua said to the priests, “Take up the Ark of the Covenant and pass on before the people.” So they took up the Ark of the Covenant and went before the people. 7 The Lord said to Joshua, “Today I will begin to exalt you in the sight of all Israel, that they may know that, as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. 8 And as for you, command the priests who bear the Ark of the Covenant, ‘When you come to the brink of the waters of the Jordan, you shall stand still in the Jordan.’ ” 9 And Joshua said to the people of Israel, “Come here and listen to the words of the Lord your God.” 10 And Joshua said, “Here is how you shall know that the living God is among you and that he will without fail drive out from before you the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Hivites, the Perizzites, the Girgashites, the Amorites, and the Jebusites. 11 Behold, the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord of all the earth is passing over before you into the Jordan. 12 Now therefore take twelve men from the tribes of Israel, from each tribe a man. 13 And when the soles of the feet of the priests bearing the Ark of the Lord, the Lord of all the earth, shall rest in the waters of the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan shall be cut off from flowing, and the waters coming down from above shall stand in one heap.” 14 So when the people set out from their tents to pass over the Jordan with the priests bearing the Ark of the Covenant before the people, 15 and as soon as those bearing the ark had come as far as the Jordan, and the feet of the priests bearing the ark were dipped in the brink of the water (now the Jordan overflows all its banks throughout the time of harvest), 16 the waters coming down from above stood and rose up in a heap very far away, at Adam, the city that is beside Zarethan, and those flowing down toward the Sea of the Arabah, the Salt Sea, were completely cut off. And the people passed over opposite Jericho. 17 Now the priests bearing the ark of the covenant of the Lord stood firmly on dry ground in the midst of the Jordan, and all Israel was passing over on dry ground until all the nation finished passing over the Jordan.

The Ark of the Covenant, takes a primary role in crossing the Jordan River being mentioned 10 times according to my count. The Ark of the Covenant was always a reminder of God’s Presence with them.


Let’s run down a rabbit trail for just a minute. As you review the Wikipedia article above, note that there came a day when the second Temple was destroyed that the Ark disappeared, and contrary to Indiana Jones, it is not squirreled away in some archival storage in Washington DC. Many believe that it was taken to Ethiopia, a contention held by the Messianic Jews who frequently minister there. The monks who live in the small church of Saint Mary of Zion — also known as the “Chapel of the Ark” — in the sacred Ethiopian city of Aksum are forbidden to go beyond the bars surrounding the chapel.


Tradition says they cannot abandon the task entrusted to them: to watch over the “Tabot,” as the Tables of the Law are known in Ethiopia, until the day they die. Abba Gebre Meskel, who is 56 years old, has been on watch for three decades.


Archaeology and Legend

According to the Book of Exodus, the Tables of the Law contain the ten commandments God gave Moses high atop Mount Sinai. Some would date the event to the year 1440 BC.


Apocryphal legends, part of common knowledge and tradition in northern Africa and some regions in the Middle East, attribute supernatural powers to the Tables. Around these legends, some others were woven, including the alleged Nazi obsession with occultism and relics that would give Indiana Jones one of his most famous missions.


But the truth is that, after the destruction of Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem, nobody knows for sure where the Ark of the Covenant ended up. After disappearing without a trace – and with no known register of its whereabouts – its whereabouts (assuming it survived the destruction of the Temple) is still one of archaeology’s greatest mysteries.


Nevertheless, almost 45 million Orthodox Christian Ethiopians are certain that the Ark of the Covenant was taken, almost 3000 years ago, to Aksum, in northern Ethiopia, and that it has been guarded ever since by these monks in the humble church of Saint Mary of Zion.


Menelik, Solomon’s Son

According to the Coptic tradition, the Queen of Sheba and King Solomon had a child: Menelik I, the founder of a dynasty of Solomonic Emperors that ruled Ethiopia. He would have been in charge of moving the precious chest, made out of gold and acacia wood.


In an interview with National Geographic, the temple’s Deacon, Zemikael Brhane, said “God Himself chose this land, and Aksum is our holiest city. Westerners always demand visible proof, but we Ethiopians do not need to see the Ark to know it is here: we just feel it, we know it.”


Who can get into the church?

No one aside from the guardian monks is allowed to enter the church. One of the few people even permitted to talk to these monks is the historian Ephrem Brhane, who has devoted himself to guiding pilgrims, faithful and tourists from all over the globe around Aksum. He claims that “Abba Gebre Meskel is 100% convinced it is the authentic Ark: it not only has the exact shape described in the Bible but, moreover, it shines with an enormous light.”


Can the Ark be seen?

For seven days a month, before the sun rises, the monks of Saint Mary of Zion take a copy of the Ark out in procession. Each and every one of the Orthodox churches in Ethiopia has a copy of the Ark. Routinely, almost a thousand faithful attend the processions every month. However, the old Chapel of Our Lady of Zion seems to have fulfilled its duty: several leaks in its roofs have forced the monks to start the construction of a new temple, right next to the actual one into which, in the utmost secret, the monks will take the Ark.


No one will know that the Ark has been moved once again, into this new temple, until the day after the deed is done.


Now back on track. Notice the obstacle in front of the Israelites…the Jordan River. Verse 15 includes an important note about the Jordan River, (now the Jordan overflows all its banks throughout the time of the harvest…) While the Jordan River is not normally an impressively large river, at the time of year that the Israelites were approaching it, the river was at flood stage. Dale Ralph Davis whom we quoted last week says in his No Falling Words: Expositions on the Book of Joshua, if it was similar to today’s proportions it was from 90 to 100 feet wide with a flood plain from 200 yards to 1 mile wide. The river channel may vary in depth from 3 feet to 12 feet at different points. With the Jordan River draining from the Sea of Galilee in the north to the Dead Sea in the south, there is an average drop in elevation of this river of about 9 feet per mile.[i] Therefore, it was not a quiet little river, but a raging torrent of water.


It was a river of impossibility for them to cross on their own ability.


Whatever obstacle you are facing both the size and the timing are determined by God.

If it were any other time of the year, then the children of Israel would have had no problem crossing the Jordan. But God brought them to that place at that time, with the river at flood stage, and made crossing on their own ability beyond them. When you encounter obstacles in life, you must know that the both the size and timing are determined by God. It will never be convenient for you but it will be providential for you.


Remember that:

· God does whatever He pleases,

· With whomever He chooses,

· Whenever He wishes


As with all obstacles that God permits into your lives, there was a purpose to the obstacles in the life of the nation of Israel. Verse 7 tells us one purpose was to clearly demonstrate to the nation that the Lord was with Joshua. But verse 10, points us to what I believe is the primary purpose of the obstacle of the Jordan River, “And Joshua said,

10Here is how you shall know that the living God is among you and that he will without fail drive out from before you the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Hivites, the Perizzites, the Girgashites, the Amorites, and the Jebusites.”


The purpose: they would know with all assurance that the living God was present with them AND that He would conquer all their enemies thus giving them the Promised Land.



TUESDAY: God’s Victory Over The Present Obstacle Was To Give Them Faithful Courage For Dealing With Future Obstacles.

The miracle of overcoming this obstacle was intended to encourage their faith in claiming the Promised Land. Whenever they encountered the obstacles of facing the people in battle, then they were to look back to the Jordan River and be encouraged in faith. Since the Lord overcame a raging river, He would overcome their enemies…and He will do the same for you.


Now let’s get back to the heart of the matter with this encounter with this obstacle. To overcome this obstacle, God gave them some very specific instructions to follow.

· He told them to consecrate themselves in v. 5. In other words they were to prepare themselves spiritually to overcome the obstacle of the Jordan River.

· Next, he told them to let the priests to walk towards the raging river and step into it and then He would split the waters.

· Finally, they were told to let the priests with the Ark of the Covenant go in before them.


Look back at verse 4,

“Yet there shall be a distance between you and it, about 2,000 cubits in length. Do not come near it, in order that you may know the way you shall go, for you have not passed this way before.”


The Ark was to go before them so that they would KNOW the way to go. The Ark of the Lord was to go before them so that they would KNOW the way to walk in overcoming the obstacle of the Jordan River but also other obstacles in their future.


Walking was both physical and spiritual here. Walking was physical because they needed to know the exact place to cross the river. But, walking was also spiritual. They were to walk in the ways of God to overcome the obstacle. In both the Old and New Testaments you are to WALK in a spiritual walk with the Lord.

20 and you shall warn them about the statutes and the laws, and make them know the way in which they must walk and what they must do. Exodus 18:20


1 I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called. Ephesians 4:1


Both the physical walk and the spiritual walk were then and are now important to what the Lord was doing in the hearts of the people teaching them to overcome obstacles. Did you notice the difference between this miracle and the parting of the Red Sea? In parting the Red Sea, Moses held up his staff and the Lord spit the Red Sea before the people entered in. Here they are told to step into the raging river. Why do you suppose there was a difference? Perhaps, because they were in a spiritual WALK of faith learning to trust and obey.


A winning walk is one of trust and obedience in the Lord.

Your life is much like the Israelites standing on the banks of the Jordan River when you face obstacles. In the Christian life there are times when the Lord leads you to overwhelming obstacles to living in the area of the world that is your Promised Land. Is there a lesson here for you to learn in overcoming the obstacles that God puts before you and to win?


For You To Win God’s Way You Must Have A Winning Walk Of Trust And Obedience To The Lord In This World.


How can you do that?


Living the Word Applications: How YOU Can Develop a Winning Walk This Week!



WEDNESDAY: Being Spiritually Prepared v. 5.

In verse 5, they were told to consecrate” themselves. This referred to spiritual preparations that included ritual cleansings in pools of water, abstinence from marital relations and fasting from certain foods.[ii] All of this was to prepare them spiritually to walk in trust and obedience to the Lord. In the Promised Land, there were spiritual battles as well because the land was filled with idolatry and sinfulness. In your daily walk with the Lord, trust and obedience are not things that just happen. You must be spiritually prepared because you are in spiritual warfare every day in the Promised Land where you live, where you work, and where you play.

Most of you know that Barb and I coach marriages…new ones, good ones and those in jeopardy. In every case, when we send couples back home, we remind them that the Powers of Evil do not want them doing well in their homes. We encourage them to be alert and on guard for the onslaughts of the Devil every day. We encourage them to watch Priscilla Shirer’s WAR ROOM movie again and again. It is an uphill battle every day. Evil does not take time off…ever, and you cannot afford to either.


10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. Ephesians 6:10-11


Prayer and fasting on a regular basis are always good ways to prepare yourself spiritually. Spending time in prayer each day should be a habit, but also consider regular fasting. Consider fasting one day a week or a month. Consider fasting as you are dealing with difficult obstacles and need the guidance of the Lord. Develop a winning walk of trust and obedience by being spiritually prepared. Do everything you can do to prepare and then trust the Lord for the outcomes. He can see in the dark, wherever He leads you.



THURSDAY: Seeking Counsel In The Right Place v. 5-12.

The people of Israel received counsel from Joshua in crossing the Jordan so they heard God’s Word from a godly man. Be selective in where you seek counsel. Listen to godly people by seeking counsel from people you know have a close walk with the Lord. Listen to God’s Word by reading slowly and attentively; paying attention to how the Holy Spirit pricks your heart on specific words or phrases and then trust and obey. Develop a winning walk of trust and obedience by seeking counsel in the right place.


An old Chinese proverb says, “Man sit for long time with mouth open waiting for roast duck to fly in.”


Wise counsel must be sought vigorously. Study your Bible topically about whatever obstacle is in front of you. Consult with people you know are walking with God vigorously and daily. Read devotional books. Ask for help. Then when you have to decide what trust and obey means, be willing to pray this prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, I have sought your word, I have consulted with people whom I am confident are seeking your best for their lives, I have prayed diligently for wisdom…now I am ready to take action. It seems to me that THIS is the way You want me to go and I’m willing to step out on faith to make that happen. If this is not the way You want me to go, then please make it crystal clear that I’m on the wrong path. I just want to be what you want me to be and I’ll go wherever you lead. Please hear this prayer because I make it in the strong name of Jesus. Amen.



FRIDAY: Having A Victorious Attitude v. 10.

The children of Israel were to have the attitude that God had already given them victory over all the Promised Land. God gave them these visual reminders that they could hark back to whenever they were fearful in the future. Repeatedly God gave them miracles like the plagues of Egypt, the parting of the Red Sea, manna and quail in the desert, water where there was none. But those were signs of God’s favor to their parents and God in His infinite wisdom gave them a sign of their own for them to remember as they faced other obstacles in conquering the Promised Land. They could look back to the miracle of the Jordan River and know that it was through trust and obedience that the Lord would continue to overcome obstacles.


In your Promised Land, where you live, where you work, and where you play there will always be obstacles to overcome, but you don’t need a defeated attitude. I have read the end of the book and WE WIN.


You are to have a victorious attitude by looking back to the cross and the resurrection because the victory is already yours and mine in our Promised Land. What Christ did on the cross and the resurrection lets us know that we have victory in our Promised Land where we live, where work, and where we play no matter what obstacles we face. Have a victorious attitude and keep trusting and obeying.


33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. John 16:33


5 Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? 1 John 5:5


He is the living God who dwells in you and He who is in you in greater than the world so we keep trusting and obeying. Develop a winning walk of trust and obedience by having a victorious attitude. You can do this!


[i] Davis, Dale Ralph. No Falling Words: Expositions of the Book of Joshua. Baker Book House, 1988. 38.

[ii] Howard, David M. The New American Commentary: Joshua. Broadman and Holman Publishing, 1998. 122-123.