June 9, 2013 - Pastor Dale Lloyd Scripture Reading: Joshua 3
The series theme is: Closures & New Beginnings. I cannot go back each Sunday and recap the series; I would suggest that you get copies of the messages or go to the church website to read the manuscripts. Today I want to deal with a critical point in this crossing over journey from the old to the new. I will do so by looking at the Joshua experience.
My theme will appear a bit awkward but hopefully will make sense in the end: “When it Has but Hasn’t but Has.”
Let me begin with this: the prophesying cannot go on forever; the stating, declaring and articulating of the promises cannot go on forever; the repeated confirmation and affirmation cannot go on forever. That entire season was only a season and was never meant to be eternal. It was designed to move the leadership and community along to a very specific moment and experience. At some point the leadership has got to step into the Jordan and get their feet wet. Failure to do so indicates that we never actually believed the prophetic promises we merely enjoyed the emotional excitement of them.
The Joshua experience tells us something about that moment: Now the Jordan is at flood stage all during harvest. (Josh.3:15) God could have had them cross that river at any other season; in fact there are seasons when the river is reduced to little more than a good stream. So why now; why this season when the river is at flood stage?
This is not about God playing some kind of a cruel game with us. It’s about the core lessons we are to learn and live out of. First when your personal Jordan is violently riled, in a rage and at flood stage it is a prophetic indication that God is about to do something miraculous.Second we need to note that the Jordan was at flood stage during the season of harvest. Let us conclude that when the flood stage arrives, it means the harvest is ready; it’s harvest time regardless of the intimidation of the river. Third (and this it seems to me is the great lesson here), God desires us to know that faith is neither determined by nor dependent upon the appearance of things in the physical realm. Faith has nothing to do with the state of the Jordan. It transcends the “Jordan conditions.” Fourth engaging the Jordan in flood stage teaches us that whatever is about to happen is not happeningby our might and our power, but by the Spirit of the Lord of Hosts. The result of this is that we will not touch the glory but give all the glory to this sovereign almighty God.
For these reasons God leads us into the Jordan at flood stage; the time that makes the least sense to our sense realm. Our future is not about the state of the Jordan; it’s about the state of our faith, but we need to properly interpret God’s purpose in the Jordan’s flood stage.
Before the priests ever got their feet wet God made a couple of things very clear to Joshua. He was meticulous in telling Joshua what was going to happen and the timing of that happening. Here is what would happen: “…the waters of the Jordan will be cut off, and the waters which are flowing down from above will stand in one heap.” (Josh.3:13)
This was about cutting off the old flow. If we intend to enter into a new flow we must first cut off and break through the old flow. Whatever else the Jordan River did it served as a boundary and defined the limitation of present experience. In front of Joshua was a new flow – expressed by God in the words, “A land flowing with milk and honey.” Behind him was the old flow – the wilderness with all its losses and gains. Between the old and the new was a hostile river at flood stage. The whole scene begs the question: How much do you really want to enter into God’s new flow, or do you want to stick with the old flow?
But here is some wonderful news: Only God can work the miracle required to cut off the old flow. You can’t build a dam, you can’t redirect this old flow by your efforts; God alone has to do this. If all of that sounds romantic here is where the romance ends: “It shall come about when the soles of the feet of the priests who carry the ark of the Lord, the Lord of all the earth, rest in the waters of the Jordan…” God will not manifest the miracle until the leadership He has appointed steps into the Jordan.
This is a difficult and critical moment. You cannot merely stand on the bank and preach about what has to change with that old flow. Someone has to step into the old flow. When that happens, the questions begin: Why are you messing with the present flow of things? Look, the old flow is stronger than it’s ever been and is overflowing in abundance; why can’t we be satisfied with that? As long as there is current and movement and things are flowing why can’t we accept things as they are?
I want us now to consider the timing of the miracle and the timing of the manifestation of the miracle. And in many respects this is exactly where KCF is corporately.
According to the promise in verse 13 God made it emphatically clear that the precise moment the feet of the priest came to a place of rest in the waters the miracle would occur and the old flow would be cut off. Many of the various translations read – ‘and as soon as...’ In other words there was no time gap, no pause, no transition of time between when the priests stepped into the water and the occurrence of the miracle. It was immediate; it was instantaneous.
However, at verse 16 we read this: ‘…the waters which were flowing down from above stood and rose up in one heap, a great distance away at Adam, the city that is beside Zarethan…’ The place where the miracle occurred was about 20 miles upstream from where the priests got wet feet. How long does it take for a particular volume of water to pass a stationary point 20 miles away?
Please understand what this experience must have been like. These priests have believed. They have obeyed. They are carrying the weight of the Divine Presence upon their shoulders. They are wet and cold. They are standing right in the flow, feeling the pressure of the current and being bumped by everything being swept along in that old flow.
It is all well and good that, 20 miles away God has kept His word and performed His promised miracle. But in the place where those priests stood – within the realm of their personal experience there was absolutely no evidence that anything was happening much less something miraculous.
This is the experience I referenced in my awkwardly worded theme: “When It Has but Hasn’t but Has.” The miracle has taken place. The full evidence of it has not yet manifested in our personal experience. But our refusal to abandon our position of standing in the Jordan is the ongoing expression of our faith that the miracle has occurred.
Where is our story in this Joshua story? Where do we find ourselves? I do not want to cut the lines too thin, but in a few broad strokes of the brush let me suggest where I feel we are.
Unlike Joshua we have actually witnessed the miracle in some measure. But not unlike Joshua we are still waiting for the full manifestation of what God has promised.
The significant part of our miracle was coming from the little white church to this present building and doing so debt free. I don’t care how you cut it this whole experience has been supernatural, miraculous and a demonstration of the power of God. I shall always see it as such and describe it as such and give God all the glory, all the honour, all the praise, all the majesty and all the worship.
But the promise attached to the miracle is not about buildings and budgets and program structures. The miracle was and is about people – the souls of men and women from our city to the nations of the world. The promise attached to the miracle is the expansion of the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of God is a kingdom of the transformed hearts of those who come to faith in Christ. That is the part of the promise we are not yet fully experiencing.
This is not about my ego. This is not about pride of denomination/local church. But here is where I have to continue to stand in my faith: God intends to fill this building (including the overflow) with people who are truly hungry for and committed to Himself. And through this enlarged body God intends to touch the nations as we release the new flow of His outpoured Spirit and sovereign purpose.
So “When It Has but Hasn’t but Has” we must not abandon our present position of faith. Having done all to stand, continue to stand. In the absence of the evidence of the miracle we must insist upon remaining in our present posture of faith.