For instance, today I was reading in Joshua as the Israelites go to take the promised land. Joshua begins ordering the priests and Israelites of how they will proceed to take the land. He is proclaiming what God has told him about how to move across the land. Joshua tells the priests, the Levites, to take up the Ark of the Covenant of God and to walk with it. Then he tells the priests and the people that the priests will carry the ark into the Jordan river and stand there. That God will prove to them and all the people of the world that he is with them by causing the waters of the Jordan river to stand up on themselves when the priests set foot into the river.
Now, this is where I’d love to know more. I’d really love to be a fly on the wall in this scene.
I can only imagine what the priests must have thought, maybe even spoken to each other. “He wants us to do WHAT?!? What has he been smoking?!?”
I wonder if there was a lot of disbelief and discussion amongst the priests and the people before deciding to follow and trust Joshua’s word from God. We all know how many times God had proven himself to the Israelites with spectacular miracles. So they had good cause to have tremendous faith and follow without question. Yet they also were a people well known for doubting the Lord and choosing to live on their own strength.
The bible says that the Jordan was at flood stage when this took place. According to what I found online, the Jordan river is normally not very wide or very deep–easy to cross. But at flood stage? It is 150 feet wide and 20 feet deep, especially in the spot where the Israelites were. Plus, the spot is in a large gorge area with very steep sides and rushing water–so to enter it is essentially a death sentence for the Israelites. (The photo above is of the gorge, and the whole width of it would have been full with rushing water during floods.) Yet God, via Joshua, tells them to put their feet into the water and THEN he will stop the water for them.
Yeah, I’m not so sure I’d have enough faith for that.
At the most, I’d be very, very nervous. I’d be praying for incredible discernment, signs out the wazoo, and praying that my leader wasn’t totally nuts. This is why I want to see more description of the Israelites’ reactions; of their discussions. Because they must have had some doubts, even with all God had already done. I’ve read this story a number of times and always just thought “Well, sure. They’ve seen God move like crazy so they stepped out in faith.” I glossed right over this incredible act of faith. I wonder if the priests hesitated at all before putting their feet in the water. If they had a little conference first…”No YOU go first.” “No Jeb, I insist. You are the most senior of all of us. We must honor you by letting you be our leader.” Or, “Hey, junior! You’re the new guy! Come on, you get to go first!”
As the story goes, they stepped out in faith, and God not only parted the sea (as he had done once before for their parents)–he literally stopped the river at a point above them. The waters dried up about their feet and the whole of Israel stood in the Jordan river on a totally dry riverbed. It was dry all the way down to the Dead Sea. Simply amazing!