- Sermon Notes
Enter Into God’s Promises
August 20, 2023
After 40 years of wandering in the desert, the Israelites finally come to the edge of the promised land. Moses is dead, and Joshua has taken over the leadership of Israel.
All those who have been unfaithful and did not want to enter the promised land 40 years before, had by now died in the desert; all except Joshua and Caleb who were already ready 40 years before to enter the promised land, trusting God that He would give them the land as promised.
So, as they get to the river Jordan, they again face an obstacle like their fathers did at the Red Sea. It was flood season, and the river Jordan was overflowing its banks. There was no way to cross over to the promised land.
This time, Moses wasn’t there to put his staff in the water. This time the presence of God represented by the ark of the covenant would be what would part the waters.
So as the priests stepped into the water, the river backed up and they crossed over on dry land. God told them to take 12 stones, one for each tribe of Israel, from the riverbed and place it on the riverbank as a sign or memorial for generations to come, to commemorate how God brought them through the river into the promised land.
By now we know that the whole journey from Egypt to the promised land is a type of a person coming to Christ and growing into a mature believer while taking hold of the promises of God.
In the section following this, we once again find important principles of how to enter into God’s promises. We see that God revealed himself to them with this miracle at the Jordan. This then produces a response from them.
Many today come to Christ but never take hold of the promises of God. How do we do this? In this section, we find some insight on how to enter into God’s promises.
I. Experience God Personally
- The first thing we see is that none of these people, except Joshua and Caleb, had actually been in Egypt. So, they never saw the mighty move of the hand of God and what God did at the Red Sea. These were things that God did to show himself strong and reveal himself to Israel.
- These people that now had to cross into the promised land were all born in the desert. It is all they knew. Even the manna that they ate every morning might not even be seen as a sign of God anymore. It had become so consistent that it was almost as natural as rain is to us, not supernatural.
- Before they could enter the promised land, they would have to experience God for themselves.
- For this to happen, they had to experience a challenge for themselves so that God could use it to show His greatness and His power.
Illus – I was very fortunate and blessed to grow up in a house with parents that loved the Lord. Many times, I would hear stories of wonderful things God did…
A. God reveals Himself
- In chapter 4 God almost replicates the same Red Sea miracle at the Jordan. God reveals Himself and shows His mighty hand. He gives the reason why in verses 22 to 24.
Joshua 4:22-24, then you shall inform your children, saying, ‘Israel crossed this Jordan on dry ground.’ For the Lord your God dried up the waters of the Jordan before you until you had crossed, just as the Lord your God had done to the Red Sea, which He dried up before us until we had crossed; that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the Lord is mighty, so that you may fear the Lord your God forever.”
- God could have brought them through the Jordan in a dryer season, but God did this for their benefit so that their faith would be strengthened, knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt that God existed and that He was their God.
- This would not only be a sign to them. It would also be a sign to their descendants. Their descendants would not go back to Egypt or the Red Sea to see the monuments there, but they would regularly pass by this point and be reminded of what God is done.
- Not only this, but it was also to stir a fear, or more appropriately a reverent awe of God in them and their descendants, being reminded of God’s power.
- It is important for every person to come to that place where they have a personal revelation of Jesus Christ. Many times, this happens when people are confronted with a difficulty or a challenge, something that they cannot handle on their own. God can use these moments if you turn your heart to Him to reveal Himself strong on a personal level.
- There is a moment of wrestling alone with God.
Illus- A great illustration of this is when Jacob was heading back home toward his brother. It was a great challenge and an obstacle as He feared that his brother would want to kill him. So, we see that he sends the whole party traveling with him ahead so that he can be alone with God. There he wrestled with God. God revealed to him who he was and who God was changing him into.
Isaiah 1:18-20, “Come now, and let us reason together,” says the Lord, “Though your sins are as scarlet, they will be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they will be like wool. If you consent and obey, you will eat the best of the land; but if you refuse and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword.”
- I like the word ‘reason’. I get the idea that God to an extent entertains our reasonings. People can be so clever. When they come to God, there are many reasons, or excuses for this or that or how they are living their lives. But when you are reasoning with the Truth, at the end you have to relent and face the truth.
- The wonderful thing is that it is at that point that you see God for who He really is, when Jesus reveals himself as the merciful One, wanting to draw you in with His grace, forgive you, wash you, and make you new. Then the Truth, the real Truth, sets you free.
- The third result flowing from this event is that it would be a sign to all the peoples of the earth that the Lord God is mighty and with Israel.
- We see this in chapter 5 where it says that their enemies’ hearts melted like wax and there was no spirit in them anymore because of the Israelites. In other words, they were disheartened. It was almost as if any battle against the Israelites would be a lost cause even before it began because of God’s power.
- This is an important note to take hold of. When you come to Christ and he becomes your Lord and Savior, the enemy’s heart melts like wax. He knows that he has been disarmed and cannot stand against the power of Jesus Christ in your life. He can only influence that which you allow him, by placing your faith in his lies.
1 John 4:4, You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.
B. Respond to God’s revelation
- Revelation of God does ask for a response. God didn’t just stop with his miracle revelation, but he told them to circumcise themselves. This was a sign of being in a covenant with God, yet none of them in the 40 years have been circumcised.
- So here we see that God makes this a personal thing. Each one of the men had to be circumcised. Yet I do not read that any of them resisted. I believe the reason for this is that they now had a personal encounter with God, seeing who He was and what He could do. Their faith was strengthened. Who could argue with that?
- They also knew that they needed God. They could not fight the battles ahead without Him.
- This once again becomes a type of our personal surrender to God. We already have God’s general revelation. He reveals Himself through His word, through creation, He revealed Himself through Jesus Christ, and we know that He is true seeing that he proves Himself by writing the end from the beginning (Isaiah 48).
- This, however, cannot stay head knowledge, but everyone needs a circumcision of the heart. God even promised in the Old Testament that He would do this eventually, brought forth by repentance and trusting in the name of Jesus.
Deuteronomy 30:6, “Moreover the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, so that you may live.
Romans 2:29, But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter.
- Circumcision of the heart means to remove the cold, dead, calloused, stiff-necked part of the heart that marks those who stand in their own pride.
- It results in a heart that is tender, alive to God, living in surrender to his will and his purpose.
Illus – Nabeel Qureshi in his book, Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus describes this process of surrender in his own life…
II. Receive Your Identity
- When they were circumcised, something happened. Now they carried the mark of God on their bodies. They were God’s people, God’s property. This was their identity. Not a mark of slavery, but a mark of being special, appointed, set apart, and different.
- This might speak to the fact that they had lost their identity. Their fathers were circumcised, and they were supposed to do the same with the children, teaching them about who God was and who they were. But somewhere in the desert, it all got lost. God was restoring them to their identity.
- The restoration of identity is God’s plan for every person. Every person was made in the image of God to stand in a relationship with God like Adam and Eve. Sin stole and corrupted this identity.
- Many people, even after they were taken out of Egypt or their sinful walk, still do not stand in and operate in their new identity in Christ.
- God wants to restore this and bring you into His promises so you can stand with confidence in His name as His son and His daughter.
A. Receive forgiveness
- The first important thing is to receive forgiveness.
- Verse 9 – Then the Lord said to Joshua, “Today I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you.”
- Reproach speaks of shame. The shame of your past. The shame of your time in the world. But not only this, the shame of your wanderings in the desert. Times when you’ve stumbled and struggled even while being a child of God.
- God wants to remove all shame from you. Shame has the effect that you want to hide, afraid of what will happen when it comes to light.
- God shines His light on the dark recesses of your heart, but the difference is that his light doesn’t shine to condemn so that He can destroy you or shame you. He brings it to light so that you can surrender it and His grace and mercy can wash away and forgive it. He wants to take away all shame.
Illus – We see this from the first moment of sin. Adam and Eve were ashamed and covered themselves with leaves. When God came upon them, He did not rip off the leaves and destroy them. No, He made them clothes from animal skin which speaks of the sacrifice of Jesus that would take away our sin and shame.
Isaiah 54: 4“Fear not, for you will not be put to shame; and do not feel humiliated, for you will not be disgraced; But you will forget the shame of your youth.
Zephaniah 3:19, I will save the lame and gather the outcast, and I will turn their shame into praise and renown in all the earth.
- God can turn that shameful ting into a shout of praise to Him. I once was lost…
- The effect of this is, that we now have a new identity because now we are the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus. We need to receive this truth.
B. Eat of the fruit
- Verse 10 – after they were circumcised, they observed the Passover at Gilgal, which means rolling away, and they ate some of the produce of the land. The manna stopped the day after they held Passover. They no longer had manna, but they ate from the yield of the land of Canaan.
- This reminds us of the promise God made earlier.
Deuteronomy 11:11, But the land into which you are about to cross to possess it, a land of hills and valleys, drinks water from the rain of heaven, a land for which the LORD your God cares; the eyes of the LORD your God are always on it, from the beginning even to the end of the year. “It shall come about, if you listen obediently to my commandments which I am commanding you today, to love the LORD your God and to serve Him with all your heart and all your soul, that He will give the rain for your land in its season, the early and late rain, that you may gather in your grain and your new wine and your oil. He will give grass in your fields for your cattle, and you will eat and be satisfied.
- There is a deep spiritual application here. The moment they stepped into this personal relationship with God, commemorating the Passover, they started receiving from the hand of God the blessing from the land. God was the one watching over this land and providing what they needed.
- When we step into our personal relationship with Jesus, we step into the promised land of His provision and Lordship over our lives.
- Living in a personal relationship with Jesus is not just a side note acknowledgment of the fact that He is there, and then continuing our lives toiling and planning by our own power.
- He now becomes my provider, sustainer, guide, comfort, and all else which He promises to be.
Illus – As a father, when my kids need some help, guidance, provision, they come to me…
- We now live in the favor of the Lord, not having to strive and struggle on our own, but living under His care and direction.
- It is a critical mindset change that needs to happen. He now is my life, He is my source, and my exceedingly great reward.
- To understand this and receive this is what it means to live a life grounded in our identity of who we are in Christ.
2 Corinthians 5:17, Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
- This is the beautiful promise that we have in Him. We find these treasures and truths in His word. As we study it and receive it, it is applied to our lives and we eat from the fruit of the promised land.
2 Corinthians 1: 20, For as many as are the promises of God, in Him they are yes; therefore also through Him is our Amen to the glory of God through us.
- This is God’s heart for us. To live in that unbroken fellowship in Him where we see victory over sin and death and live in His purpose and promises, guided and directed by His Spirit living in us.
Illus – Imagine a princess that was stolen, living on the street, and then found…
- God is saying,
- I Love you
- I am for you
- I have blessed you
- I have chosen you
- Child, you are Mine.
Joshua 4:1-24,5:1-12 NASB
4 Now when all the nation had finished crossing the Jordan, the Lord spoke to Joshua, saying, 2 “Take for yourselves twelve men from the people, one man from each tribe, 3 and command them, saying, ‘Take up for yourselves twelve stones from here out of the middle of the Jordan, from the place where the priests’ feet are standing firm, and carry them over with you and lay them down in the lodging place where you will lodge tonight.’” 4 So Joshua called the twelve men whom he had appointed from the sons of Israel, one man from each tribe; 5 and Joshua said to them, “Cross again to the ark of the Lord your God into the middle of the Jordan, and each of you take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Israel. 6 Let this be a sign among you, so that when your children ask later, saying, ‘What do these stones mean to you?’ 7 then you shall say to them, ‘Because the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord; when it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off.’ So these stones shall become a memorial to the sons of Israel forever.”
8 Thus the sons of Israel did as Joshua commanded, and took up twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan, just as the Lord spoke to Joshua, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Israel; and they carried them over with them to the lodging place and put them down there. 9 Then Joshua set up twelve stones in the middle of the Jordan at the place where the feet of the priests who carried the ark of the covenant were standing, and they are there to this day. 10 For the priests who carried the ark were standing in the middle of the Jordan until everything was completed that the Lord had commanded Joshua to speak to the people, according to all that Moses had commanded Joshua. And the people hurried and crossed; 11 and when all the people had finished crossing, the ark of the Lord and the priests crossed before the people. 12 The sons of Reuben and the sons of Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh crossed over in battle array before the sons of Israel, just as Moses had spoken to them; 13 about 40,000 equipped for war, crossed for battle before the Lord to the desert plains of Jericho.
14 On that day the Lord exalted Joshua in the sight of all Israel; so that they revered him, just as they had revered Moses all the days of his life.
15 Now the Lord said to Joshua, 16 “Command the priests who carry the ark of the testimony that they come up from the Jordan.” 17 So Joshua commanded the priests, saying, “Come up from the Jordan.” 18 It came about when the priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord had come up from the middle of the Jordan, and the soles of the priests’ feet were lifted up to the dry ground, that the waters of the Jordan returned to their place, and went over all its banks as before.
19 Now the people came up from the Jordan on the tenth of the first month and camped at Gilgal on the eastern edge of Jericho. 20 Those twelve stones which they had taken from the Jordan, Joshua set up at Gilgal. 21 He said to the sons of Israel, “When your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, ‘What are these stones?’ 22 then you shall inform your children, saying, ‘Israel crossed this Jordan on dry ground.’ 23 For the Lord your God dried up the waters of the Jordan before you until you had crossed, just as the Lord your God had done to the Red Sea, which He dried up before us until we had crossed; 24 that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the Lord is mighty, so that you may fear the Lord your God forever.”
5 Now it came about when all the kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan to the west, and all the kings of the Canaanites who were by the sea, heard how the Lord had dried up the waters of the Jordan before the sons of Israel until they had crossed, that their hearts melted, and there was no spirit in them any longer because of the sons of Israel.
2 At that time the Lord said to Joshua, “Make for yourself flint knives and circumcise again the sons of Israel the second time.” 3 So Joshua made himself flint knives and circumcised the sons of Israel at Gibeath-haaraloth. 4 This is the reason why Joshua circumcised them: all the people who came out of Egypt who were males, all the men of war, died in the wilderness along the way after they came out of Egypt. 5 For all the people who came out were circumcised, but all the people who were born in the wilderness along the way as they came out of Egypt had not been circumcised. 6 For the sons of Israel walked forty years in the wilderness, until all the nation, that is, the men of war who came out of Egypt, perished because they did not listen to the voice of the Lord, to whom the Lord had sworn that He would not let them see the land which the Lord had sworn to their fathers to give us, a land flowing with milk and honey. 7 Their children whom He raised up in their place, Joshua circumcised; for they were uncircumcised, because they had not circumcised them along the way.
8 Now when they had finished circumcising all the nation, they remained in their places in the camp until they were healed. 9 Then the Lord said to Joshua, “Today I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you.” So the name of that place is called Gilgal to this day.
10 While the sons of Israel camped at Gilgal they observed the Passover on the evening of the fourteenth day of the month on the desert plains of Jericho. 11 On the day after the Passover, on that very day, they ate some of the produce of the land, unleavened cakes and parched grain. 12 The manna ceased on the day after they had eaten some of the produce of the land, so that the sons of Israel no longer had manna, but they ate some of the yield of the land of Canaan during that year.