Preparing for war is not easy. The troops must be in top mental and physical shape, the weapons must be secured, and a strategy must be in place to overcome the enemy. This chapter, Joshua 3, is about preparation for war to move a nation into a new land. It is the most unusual preparation for war in the history of the nations. Joshua and the troops are on their way to battle. They have camped by the Jordan River. The enemy is on the other side. But to get to the other side, they are not organizing rafts and boats. They are going with a box that contains two stone tablets with the ten commandments that God gave to Moses, called the “Ark of the Covenant.” Those leading the troops are not army commanders but priests carrying the Ark of the Covenant.
At this time, the river was overflowing – at any moment, floods can wash through the land (verse 15). Yet, the priests leading the battle are told to step into the river, carrying the Ark of the Covenant. The priests trust God, obey God, and walk into the river (verse 15). The troops and the people trust that God will part the waters as He promised, and they are ready to walk forward, obeying God. As the priests’ step into the river, the river water backs up, not even near them but in a town far away from away (verse 16). The riverbed is now dry. The priests and the people cross over to the promised land.
If it were me at the flooded riverbank, I would be afraid to take those steps into the water. Like the Israelites, I will move forward only when I trust God at His word. When we are sure of God’s calling, we can move forward in obedience only when we trust God during insurmountable circumstances. In all our circumstances, we can be sure of two things that God has called us to do. The first is to love one another (John 15:2), and the second is to take the good news of God’s love to people all over the world (Matthew 28:19). We can freely love others only when we trust God. We will have the courage to tell others, all over our world, that God loves them only when we trust God.