Seven Lessons From Israel Crossing The Jordan

Last week I preached on Joshua 1-4 where Israel after 40 years wandering through the wilderness finally crosses the Jordan River into the Promised Land. It was the first big act of leadership for Joshua. Reading through this wonderful event I see seven great leadership transition principles that we can draw from this which we can learn from and apply within our own context.

  1. Trust your leaders. Why did Israel follow Joshua across the Jordan? They followed Joshua just as they followed Moses, because Moses had laid his hands on him. The text doesn’t say whether or not they trusted Joshua, but they trusted Moses, and that was enough for them. In any leadership transition it is vitally important to trust the current leaders in the decisions they make.
  2. Leaders trust in God. Right from the start we see Joshua going to God for all his instructions, listening to His every word, and obeying them without delay. As leaders especially, we need to stay in tune with God, and seek His will not only for our own lives, but also for that of the church.
  3. Be strong and courageous.  The book of Joshua starts off with God telling Joshua twice to be strong and courageous (Jos. 1:6-9), but then we read at the end of the first chapter that the people told Joshua that they will follow him, but that he needs to be strong and courageous. Pray for them for sure, but encourage them as well.
  4. Unity is essential.  All throughout this story, but also the rest of Joshua, we see that Israel as a nation is united. As one they follow Joshua. As one they follow God. As one they cross the Jordan. As one they remember what God has done. Unity is essential.
  5. Keep our eyes on God.  The priests, representing God, were walking up front, leading the way. The nation was to keep their eyes on God, have Him lead the way (even when it seems impossible or crazy, like crossing the Jordan when it overflows most with over a million people). Focusing your eyes on God will keep our focus off of your own circumstances.
  6. Big challenges will come. Even with keeping your eyes on God, big challenges will come. When Israel crossed the Jordan they were faced with many enemies and much bigger challenges than the crossing itself. Big challenges will come, and these challenges can be hard and difficult work, but keeping your eyes on God will make all the difference.
  7. Remember what God has done. When Israel crossed the Jordan, they set up these twelve stones, these foundational stones, as a remembrance for themselves and generations to come. Remembering what God has done is a great way of keeping your focus on Him and to recognize and realize these big milestones in your past and how God has come through on His promises. This builds faith for what’s to come.

 

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Bibliology #4 – Sufficiency

The sufficiency of Scripture answers the question if we are to look for other words from God in addition to those we have in Scripture, or is the Bible enough for knowing what God wants us to think or do? The definition can be described that Scripture contained all the Words of God He intended His people to have at each stage of redemptive history, and that it now contains everything we need God to tell for salvation, for trusting Him perfectly, and for obeying Him perfectly.

Salvation
Paul mentions in 2 Timothy 3:15 that “from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus,” which means that in Scripture we have all the words of God we need in order to be saved.

Trust
David says in Psalm 9:10 that “and those who know Your name will put their trust in You. For You, O Lord, have not forsaken those you seek You,” which means that in Scripture we have all the words of God we need in order to trust Him.

Obedience
In Jeremiah 7:23 it is said that “this is what I commanded them, saying, ‘Obey My voice, and I will be your God, and you will be My people; and you will walk in all the way which I command you, that it will may be well with you’,” which means that in Scripture we have all the words of God we need in order to obey Him.

The sufficiency of Scripture implies that God has not spoken to mankind any more words which He requires us to believe or obey other than those which we have now in the Bible. It does not imply that God cannot add any more words to those He has already spoken to His people. It rather implies that man cannot add on his own initiative any words that God has already spoken (Deuteronomy 4:2; 12:32, Proverbs 30:5-6, Revelation 22:18-19). Practically it should encourage us as we try to discover what God would have us to think or to do. We should be encouraged that everything God wants to tell us about for our salvation, trust and obedience is to be found in Scripture. This doesn’t mean that the Bible answers all questions that we might think up, for “the secret things belong to the Lord our God” (Deuteronomy 29:29). It does mean that when we are facing a problem of genuine importance to our Christian life, we can approach Scripture with the confidence that from it God will provide us with guidance for that problem.

Summary and Conclusion
What then can we say in summary? It ultimately comes down to a desire for wisdom, for “the beginning of wisdom is: acquire wisdom; and with all your acquiring, get understanding” (Proverbs 4:7), and a step of faith “so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:7). We must not forget the importance of the role of the Holy Spirit in overcoming the effects of our fallen condition, and to give us revelation of the truth of the Bible. We have in the Bible God’s very words, and we must not try to improve on them in some way, for this cannot be done. Rather, we should seek to understand, approach them with an open and humble heart and mind, and then trust them and obey them with our whole heart.

Does Bibliology help you in your understanding of the Bible? In other words, to what extent does the Bible have authority in your life? Do you feel encouraged that Scripture is meant to be understood by all, although sometimes it takes effort? Does understanding the necessity of Scripture stir you to more study of it? Do you feel that the Bible provides sufficient answers for your life? If not, is that because of a lack of understanding, of trust or of obedience? How does this help you in sharing your faith with non-believers? All these questions are so relevant to our every day life that I think it is sometimes good to understand the theory (doctrine) behind these things so that we can be more focused and determined in our efforts.