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October 24, 2021 | Doug Sauder
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“Joshua said to the Israelites, ‘Come here and listen to the words of the Lord your God. This is how you will know that the living God is among you and that he will certainly drive out before you the Canaanites, Hittites, Hivites, Perizzites, Girgashites, Amorites and Jebusites. See, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth will go into the Jordan ahead of you. Now then, choose twelve men from the tribes of Israel, one from each tribe. And as soon as the priests who carry the ark of the Lord—the Lord of all the earth—set foot in the Jordan, its waters flowing downstream will be cut off and stand up in a heap.’”—Joshua 3:9-13 (NIV)
We’re at a pivotal moment in the book of Joshua: The Israelites are about to cross the Jordan River after wandering in the desert for more than forty years. Imagine the setting for a moment. The entire nation of Israel is standing on the bank of a rushing river, and Joshua says they are all going to walk across it without getting wet.
If it sounds familiar, that’s because it’s reminiscent of Exodus 14 in which Moses led the people across the Red Sea. While it may seem like God is simply replicating the same miracle for the same group of people, it’s important to note that many—if not most—of the Israelites who walked across the Red Sea are not present in this scene.
Back in Numbers 32, we’re told God became angry with the people because, except for a few, they didn’t follow Him wholeheartedly. Most of them didn’t want to cross the Jordan River into the land God had promised them after hearing a negative report from some spies sent to survey it. As a result, God vowed that “none of the men who came up from Egypt, from 20 years old and above, shall see the land of which I swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob” (Numbers 32:11 NKJV). In other words, most of the Israelites who were delivered from Egypt died in the desert without ever seeing the Promised Land.
Why is this significant? Because Joshua was leading a new generation of Israelites who had not witnessed the crossing of the Red Sea, and they probably had some doubts about God’s method of taking them from point A to point B. So, what does Joshua do? He tells them, “Come here and listen to the words of the Lord your God.” Why?
The apostle Paul tells us in Romans 10:17 (NKJV) that “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” It’s also part of the reason the author of Hebrews encourages us to spur one another on in the faith, “not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another” (Hebrews 10:25 NIV).
You see, part of the reason it’s so important to be connected to a local church is because regularly hearing God’s Word and receiving encouragement from other believers builds up our faith and reminds us of what God has done. As Martin Luther put it: “We need to hear the gospel every day, because we forget it every day.”
DIG: Why is it so important to hear God’s Word on a regular basis? How does hearing the Word build up our faith?
DISCOVER: Does it seem like your faith is fading rather than growing? If so, how regularly are you reading the Bible, attending church, or spending time with other believers? Do you see a connection between them?
DISPLAY: As you dig into God’s Word at church and in your own quiet time, ask Him to speak to you, and then encourage someone else by what you hear!
Rob Nieminen is a seasoned writer and editor who has written devotionals for Calvary since 2015. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from Palm Beach Atlantic University in West Palm Beach, FL. He serves in the Worship Ministry at Calvary Boynton Beach and is an avid reader, an erratic golfer, and an aspiring photographer who loves to cook and spend time with his family.