This is a brief excerpt
of the Sermon given by Pastor Alexander Thomas during the Watch
Night Service on Sunday, December 31st, 11:30 PM 2017 at the
International Church, Atlanta, Georgia.
This New Year 2018 message was taken from
Joshua Chapter 3 Verses 1 - 10
The crossing of the
Jordan river by the Israelites was as significant as the Red Sea
crossing. The crossing of the Jordan takes up both the third and
fourth chapters of the book of Joshua. It will be helpful to
note that the records of Joshua 3 and 4 are not always given in
The hope of the Promised Land was first
given to Abraham and then to his son and grandson, Isaac and
Jacob. Through the patriarchs, the hope of the people was passed
down to all generations of Israelites. Down through the
centuries, true believers among the Israelites longed for the
land promised by God. Hope in the promised land of God was the
beat of their hearts, the motivating force that drove them
Ever since the birth of the Israelites
that began with their forefather Abraham, God had promised the
inheritance of the land to His people. The promised land and the
great hope it offered were the major theme of the teaching of
the Israelites. Now, finally, the long-awaited crossing of the
Jordan River was to take place. God's people were to enter the
promised land. The inheritance for which they had so long hoped
was finally to become their possession. Their faith in God was
now to be rewarded. This is the subject of this passage of
There was a serious problem confronting the
Israelites. The Jordan River was flooded. The promised land
represented a new life for the people of God, a victorious life.
The Jordan River stood as an obstacle,
a barrier to the believers hope of a new life in the promised
land. The Jordan River had to be crossed if the people were
going to claim their inheritance promised by God. But how?
The only way to cross the Jordan River and enter the
promised land is by faith. Faith was and is the way to conquer
the problems of life, the obstacles that stand between us and
the promised land. The promised land is the inheritance of every
genuine believer. But the only way to secure our inheritance is
The Jordan River is a
picture of the problems and difficulties, the trials and
temptations that confront us throughout life. Faith in God is
the only way to conquer the obstacles of life.
At this time of the year, we are especially conscious of
vows or resolutions which we have made. A "vow" is simply a
promise or an express desire of our determination to do better
for the Lord. The making of holy vows unto the Lord is
scriptural. In Psalm 76:11 we read, "Vow, and pay unto the Lord
your God." As we approach the New Year, our thoughts turn to new
What is your life today? What has your life
been the past year?
rose early in the morning… (Joshua 3:1-2)
arises early in the day just as our Greater than Joshua did
(Mark 1:35). Rising early says Joshua was not lazy nor was he
late at getting to his tasks. Those who lie around in bed late
into the morning will accomplish very little worthwhile in life.
Following three days of preparation, it was time for the people
of Israel to move off the banks of the Jordan and into the Land
of Promise. Time spent in preparation is time well spent.
As I read the passage of Scripture
above (Joshua 3: 1-5), I saw three new things for the New Year.
A New Way
"for you have not
passed this way before" (Joshua 3:4). The suggestion is not
human, but divine. It is God Himself that proposes to guide and
defend the lives of men. Yes, the way we go this year will be a
But He knows the way that I take; When He has
tested me, I shall come forth as gold. (Job 23:10), and God
promises us "that ye may know the way which ye must go ..."
We have His promise: "I will instruct thee
and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee
with mine eye"—Psalm 32:8. "Many things about tomorrow I don't
seem to understand; But I know Who holds tomorrow, and I know
Who holds my hand.
A New Walk
"Sanctify yourselves ..."—v. 5.
“sanctify” is quodosh in Hebrew. It means “to set apart” or to
prepare. This New Way for the New Year, God wants us to have a
New Walk. He wants His people to be cleansed from all sin—2
Corinthians 7:1; 2 Tim. 2:21; I John 1:7; 3:2, 3. If we want God
to work mightily on our behalf we must practice holiness.
tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you" v. 5b. If we would
"sanctify" ourselves in the sense of cleansing ourselves and
dedicating ourselves wholly to the Lord, He would do wonders
among us this year.
passage, Verses 1-10 four different instructions are given by
Joshua to continue to the new way and to receive the new
Four different instructions challenging
everyone to have faith, to trust God. By faith, God would
provide the way to cross over the Jordan. By faith, God would
show how to overcome the problem and obstacle of the Jordan. By
faith, God would make sure His people would receive the promised
inheritance, the victorious life of the Promised Land.
1. (Joshua 3:3-4) instructed the people to
follow the Ark. The Ark was a symbol of God's presence, a symbol
of His holy throne. Whenever the people saw the priest
pick up the Ark and begin to courageously march forth into the
Jordan River, the people were to move out and follow the Ark.
The ark was a symbol of the presence of God. God was leading the
Israelites here. Following the ark symbolically portrayed the
fact of following God. When and where the ark moved, they were
to move. We must follow God likewise.
"There shall be a
space between you and it, about two thousand cubits... come not
near unto it, that ye may know the way by which ye must go"
(Joshua 3:4). The spacing from the ark was so that all could see
the ark. The space between the ark and the people was little
over half a mile. They were no longer following a cloud which
all could easily see but an ark which was on ground level. Hence
the distance from the ark so all could see it and follow it.
The spacing from the Ark also was a picture of their showing
reverence for God. He will never leave us nor forsake us. No
matter what enemy, trial, or temptation may face us, no matter
the size, the strength—God will be with us. His unfailing
presence will never leave us nor forsake us.
2. There were the instructions to the
people (Joshua 3:5). Joshua ordered the people to sanctify,
consecrate, purify themselves. This meant that the people were
to prepare their hearts before the Lord. They were to pray,
confess, repent, rededicate, and recommit their lives to God.
3. There were the instructions of
Joshua to the people (Joshua 3:6). This was a challenge for the
priests to be strong in faith, to believe enough to take
up the Ark and move out ahead of the people. They were to
courageously lead the people into the swift, dangerous currents
of the flooding river.
were the instructions of God to Joshua (Joshua 3:7-8). Joshua
needed to learn that God was with him even as God had been with
Moses. Through the miraculous event about to take place,
Joshua would be exalted in the eyes of all the Israelites. The
people would know that he was truly chosen by God and that he
truly followed and trusted God. They would know that God was
with him even as He had been with Moses.
May this New Year for us be a "New Walk"
for this "New Way" so that we may see "New Wonders". God
loves and cares for us. He cares about every problem that
confronts us, and He wants to strengthen us to overcome all
problems. He wants to show us the way to triumph over the
obstacles that stand in our way. Believing God, trusting God,
having faith in God—this is the only way to become a conqueror
throughout life. Faith in God is the victory that overcomes the
world with all of its obstacles.
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