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Over Jordan at Last

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice
The Truth Network Radio
May 24, 2021 8:00 am

Over Jordan at Last

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice

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May 24, 2021 8:00 am

The Ark of the Covenant has always been an object of fascination, but this mysterious box is far more than a sought-after archeological relic. The Ark is symbolic of the presence, judgement, and mercy of the Living God. On The Bible Study Hour, Dr. James Boice discusses the Ark and the unchangeable nature of God

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The Ark of the covenant has always been an object of fascination, but this mysterious box is far more than a sought-after archaeological relic. The ark is symbolic of the presence judgments and mercy of the living God today on the Bible study our Dr. James Boyce discusses the ark and the unchangeable nature of God are welcome to the Bible study our radio and Internet broadcast with Dr. James Boyce preparing you to think and act quickly in Joshua's day the people had to follow behind the art which symbolize God's presence going before them.

Remember the Joshua's God is our God, and he does not change if we today are going to get anywhere in spiritual things God has to go before us as well. Dr. Boyce illustrates this in Joshua chapter 3. I'm sure every one of you can think you might have to think back quite a way of your older reps to your childhood but I'm sure every one of you can think of someday in your life that you waited for for a long long time and then eventually it came. It may have been Christmas, particularly as a child or birthday. Perhaps birth of a child something of that nature, but you waited and waited and waited and then finally at KI don't know how great your anticipation of the day like that would've been but I'm sure that it was nothing, however great it was to compare with anticipation of the Jewish people. When at last they stood on the banks of the Jordan River and were preparing to cross it in order to go in and possess the promised land. They had waited a long long time. Some of them had waited all their lives they had been.

There is a nation 38 years before and they had refused to believe that God could give them the land God to judge them by allowing them to wander in the desert for the 38 years in between and until all of the old generation were over 20 years old at the time, had died. So was a new generation were going in many of the most of them have been waiting for this moment as I say all their lives. Joshua and Caleb had waited even longer than that. They were about 80 years old at this time. They were the two spies is believed they were the only ones of that generation who had not died.

And so for approximately twice that. They had been waiting and what are we to say of the nation as a whole because the promises of the land were not just given by God through Moses. What they were given as far back as God's initial promise to Abraham when he led them out of the localities in the land.

He said that he would show him that he was going to give to his ancestors that was more than 500 years before this time. So where you have an expectation of half a millennium, the people waited for the land of promise and then finally the day arrived, Joshua told the people Joshua 35. Consecrate yourselves for tomorrow Lord is going to do amazing things among you, all this narration of the crossing of the Jordan really occupies three chapters begins in chapter 3 chapter 4 is closely attached to it, and after they cross the Jordan.

There are certain events that take place that are recorded in chapter 5, and all that belongs together as one narrative matter of fact there are verbal linking between these chapters, you notice in chapter 3 verse seven God says Joshua today I will begin to exalt you in the eyes of all Israel, so they may know that I am with you as I was with Moses and then you skip over to the fourth chapter verse 14 and you find a verse that picks up on that. That day the Lord exalted Joshua in the sight of all Israel, and they revered him all the days of his life just as they had revered most those chapters are linked together and that way again.

In the third chapter of verse 13 as Josh was giving instructions as to what the people are to do. He says verse 12 now then choose 12 men from the tribes of Israel, one from each tribe were not told their why they were to choose, but you go. Chapter later. The fourth chapter verse two the same phrase occurs.

Choose 12 men from among the people one from each tribe, but here it tells why there to take up 12 stones from the middle of the Jordan is a memorial then. In addition, all of this is the matter of the covenant theological doctrine that really does type all three chapters together thing that is most important, most prominent, especially in chapters 3 and four is the presence of the ark of the covenant.

We haven't seen the ark of the covenant up to this point, but suddenly here it is, as a focal point of the narrative and it is mentioned again and again is mentioned nine times in chapter 3, seven times in chapter 4 explicitly and for more additional times by reference of the pronoun so altogether you have a great list of the references to this ark of the covenant.

What was important about the art well.

It's described for us. The 25th chapter of Exodus 1st chapter of the Bible which it's mentioned, because that's the chapter which the instructions were given for building it. Ark of the covenant was the focal point of the nation of Israel. It was not very big as a box is about 3'9" long, 2 1/2 cubits and it was about cubit and 1/2 is a little over 2 feet high and deep just an oblong box was made out of wood special kind of wood and then it was covered with gold inside and out and had lid or cover lid was made of solid gold on either end of the cover were figures of cherubim like angels, which were facing each other, and each of these cherubim had wings went back behind them and then came upward over the ark, and nearly met above the ark over lid, which was called the mercy seat. Now that box symbolized the presence of God. He was understood symbolically to dwell in that space between the wings of the cherubim above the mercy seat, which was the covering of the ark. The ark was transported by the priests rings attached each side of it. Polls were inserted through the rings and then it was by means of the poles of the ark was lifted. Nobody was supposed to touch the ark. It's interesting and what specific terms, God was understood to dwell in that space or be represented by the ark.

For example, at the end of the 10th chapter of numbers is an interesting quotation of Moses were told there that whenever the ark set out, Moses said, rise up, O Lord, your enemies be scattered. May your foes flee before you end whenever the ark came to rest. Moses said return O Lord, to the countless thousands of Israel. So in that Ark was carried that presents the symbolic presence of God in the midst of his people. Now that ark as I say figures in the story because when the people were given instructions why God through Joshua to enter the land the ark of God which symbolized his presence was to go before that was to go a good bit before them.

The distance between the ark being carried by the priests and the people as a distance of over half a mile and the ark went forward.

They were to follow, but at a respectful distance. You know the story the priests carrying the ark step down in the Jordan River and as they stepped into the river. The water stopped flowing.

Work told that it piled up at a town upstream in a very short time the river had run dry. It was at flood stage.

There was a great deal of water at that time. The Jordan is not always that big River but it was harvest time is it was here and this water piled up in the river dried up, and then were told the people of Israel, all of them, every single one of them crossed over on dry ground after they had crossed over.

The priests were still standing there holding the ark went on across the Jordan themselves as they went across stepped up out the riverbed.

The waters returned in the Jordan flowed on as usual was no mere incidental arrangement when God gave instructions for that to be gone. It was symbolic, constructive, and there would not of been a single Jewish person who missed what God was teaching by that particular method of advance person God was teaching the obvious one is that if were going to get anywhere in spiritual things God has to go before us. See as they follow the arc of medication. They must've been thinking about occasion 38 years before when. First of all, God said he was ready to lead them in the land and they had refused to go and then when God judged them and said well they won't go into the land. The wonder in the wilderness until everyone. That was 20 years of age or older, died, and they decided while they were going to go in any way. And so they went ahead without the ark and they were defeated they were unable to make the conquest that must've been in everyone's mind. And the lesson was the simple one where he leads me.

I shall follow me is not leading me. I must not go in that direction because if I knew if I say to myself, well I think this we ought to do it together we discuss it. We think this would be a wise thing to do with God is not in that effort.

No matter how we baptize it matter what Christian language we use matter what our clichs that effort is not going to be blessed by God. One of the sad things and so much Christian effort.

As I look at it is that it's conceived out of human reasoning and according to human ideas and does transacted in the energy of the flesh, and spiritually speaking accomplishes nothing at all. We sometimes have trouble with that because we are in positions in life that we want to move forward we say look, we ought to do something and it's very hard to wait until we're sure the God is leading, but it is always better to wait no you look back over your lives that there open. Like that probably you can see it both ways. Where you got tired of waiting and you went ahead anyway got into trouble and periods where you waited, waited, witnessing horrible to wait wait wait wait. Anyway, perhaps because you really just didn't know what to do and then eventually God moved and it was obvious why he had you wait and it was obvious that he was moving and it became a great joy to follow, so I was the first lessons very important lesson for the Christian life. What the Jews learn here on this occasion when God was teaching them as a lesson we need to learn now.

The second thing is this a second great lesson. Not only must God go before us and is clear enough, but the God of those before us is the same God who is gone before his people at all times not to symbolized by the ark and by the passage you ask yourself who was as God went before the Jews well. He was the God of Moses, God of Moses was the God of the Exodus, who had brought judgment upon the Egyptians in that day and had the firstborn and had parted the Red Sea and will let the people out with a strong hand.

This was the same powerful sovereign God now who was leading them into the promised land.

Just as he had led them out of Egypt and the symbolism was clear, just as God had parted the waters of the Red Sea to lead them out of Egypt. So God part of the waters of the Jordan, in order to lead them into the promised that's the meaning of the verse says today, I will exalt you in the eyes of all Israel, and they will revere you as they revered Moses say Moses was the channel through whom God did that first miracle, and now Joshua is the channel through whom God works again. The point you say is that it is not Moses. On the one hand, or Joshua on the other hand, was important, but God himself who is the same yesterday today and forever, the God of Moses is the God of Joshua, the God of Joshua is our God to doesn't lack power today, just as he did not lack power that secondly that God was the same in his power is also the same in his holiness in order to explain that I have to tell you something else about the ark, the ark, as I said was a boxer chest with a lid called the mercy seat, but in that chest was The law of Moses, particularly the 10 Commandments, the stone tablets contains the summary and those words of the Decalogue of law. God that's symbolized and summarized God's standards. How shall have no other God before me.

Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.

Thou shalt not murder, thou shalt not commit adultery, thou shalt not steal, thou shalt not covet all laws were there to see it would be impossible I think for any thinking Israelite on that occasion to be starting out on the conquest of the land with the ark going before looking at it, watching as the waters parted without realizing that within that ark of the covenant was the law of God, law God, they were carrying in the ark in the land of promise was the same law of God that had been given to the people by the instrumentality of Moses on Mount Sinai's a lot. God does not change the holiness of God does not change as a way of saying that the moral nature of God does not change all we need to know that, especially in our relativistic gauge say we live in a time where we judge morality by consensus. What that means is whatever most of the people are doing must be right because after all, most of the people are doing it actually works the other way. What most of the people are doing is probably wrong because most of the people are doing it, but we think the other way and we get support by the fact that other people are doing what we would like to do it and they're doing it well we can do it. So morality is relative eyes because were sinners. The nature of the moral climate of our time goes down and down is our sinful natures Dragon it in the virtual oblivion.

You see, that was true the Jewish people as well.

They were no different than we are at that point they were sinners as well.

They tended constantly to violate the law of God and drag it down and when God led them into the promised land. He did so by going before them in a way which made perfectly clear that the standards of the God they were following the God was giving them the land had not changed if they were to find blessing it was going to be in obedience to the laws of that holy God. The third thing that was Before the eyes of the people in terms of the unchangeable character of God was his justice. This God was a God of judgment. They needed that they ran into trouble immediately and were going to see face of Aiken. Today I needed understand that you same picture about ark with God symbolically dwelling between the wings of the cherubim over the ark which contained the law of God is a picture of judgment, because here is a holy God righteously absolutely holy majestic God, staring down upon the law, the expression of his moral character which every single human being is violated picture. As I say is a picture of judgment it's meant to strike terror in the hearts of sinful men and women that God's standards do not change, and that God's standard of justice does not changed and that God judges and he will judge and all things will be judged in the end the all the universe has to ride and that means that the God of all the universe cannot overlook sin. All we see money violations of his holy law now there is a sense in which there is retribution in life. Certain sins produce certain consequences.

We see it, but it doesn't exhaust the justice of God. The day is coming when men and women will stand before him. As we know in our hearts we one day will and that God will pronounce judgment. The ark of the covenant symbolized that and finally, and this is really the great point, the ark of the covenant also symbolize the mercy of God in that way, which flows from the merciful heart of God by which men and women just like us who have violated the law of God could nevertheless be say and can enter into the presence of the one it was utterly holy matters because as I said a moment ago that covering on the ark that lit was called the mercy seat to the reason the lid was called the mercy seat because it was meant to symbolize the way in which God shows mercy to sinful men and women you see back in the law which we remember the people of Israel had by this time the been tautly understood but it indicated what was to happen on the day of atonement in Israel. The priest, after first of all, making a sacrifice for himself was to make another sacrifice for the people confessing the sins of the people the sins of the nation over the animal.

The animal that was sacrificed in place of the people who deserved that. Then the priest took a blood of this animal, one being a symbol of its life poured out taking this blood. He went forward into the tabernacle and stood before the ark of the covenant symbolizing the presence of God over the law of God picture of judgment, and obedience to the commands of God given in the law.

Sprinkle the blood of the animal upon the mercy seat you see what it symbolized here is a holy God with in the wings of the cherubim, staring down at the law which we are broken and not as a symbol of judgment.

But in between the presence of the holy God, the law, which is an expression of the character of a holy God which we are broken strands of mercy seat and upon the mercy seat sprinkled blood of the sacrifice was God know what happened.

The time of Jesus Christ when he died on the cross and his blood was shed, he being the perfect sacrifice which all the other sacrifices were just a symbol will not happen, God Almighty, we are told, tore the veil of the temple in two from top to bottom and in that symbolic way indicated that because of the death of Christ, the perfect atonement was now made.

The way was opened in the God's presence and all that would come in that way, not of their own self-righteousness, but trusting Christ and what he had done would find God merciful as he had always been. I think of something else that concerns the story that comes later in Israel's history. You would think at first reading had no relevance at all. You recall that in second Kings right at the beginning. There's a transition of authority between Elijah, the great prophet of first Kings to Elisha, one who was going to succeed.

Elisha was a young man, presumably a YG was older and we read there of how the transition took place. Elijah with Elisha following along beside was led of God out into the desert and they came to the Jordan River is very Jordan that the people across on this occasion and Elijah rolled up his mantle. His cloak and he struck the water with it and the water parted and Elijah walked across on dry ground and he went out into the desert and he kept saying to Elisha stay behind. The Lord's calling me Elisha wouldn't do it because he knew what was coming to Following following.

Finally they got on the very remote area and suddenly there were chariots of fire that swept down from heaven and carried Elijah up in the heaven. Elisha was left behind and the cloak of Elijah, the great prophet. His mentor fell the understood was the passing authority to him that he was now to be a prophet in Israel, and he picked it up, but he made his way back out of the desert and he came to the Jordan.

This is the great Sadie rolled up the cloak of Elijah and he struck water as Elijah had done and he said where now is the Lord, the God of Elijah.

The same God, the God of Elijah, who was his God parted water and he went across as Elijah had a dry ground.

That's what I challenge you to say I don't know what God will do for you I know is the same God.

And I know you have the right that question, you can say can you not where is the God of Moses, God elaborated so powerfully in Moses day, the God of miracles, the God of redemption God brought his people out of slavery you can say where is the God of Joshua, the God of conquest to lead his people into a promised land. You can say where is the God of Elijah, where is the God of Elisha, where is the God of Isaiah. Where is the God of any great character in the old and new Testaments because I God is the same God.

He does not change. I God who worked powerfully in the lives of his people in the past worked powerfully in the lives of people today is our privilege to follow that God is, he goes before us to give us the conquests has for us in our day.

Let us pray our father, we acknowledge that you're the same.

We need to remind ourselves of that and we have that we know in our hearts that you're the same you can't be gone.

If you change the same God. Our problem is that we really aren't willing many times to follow, or were afraid when it gets right down to the wire. We think that somehow you won't act as you have for others. Father, we don't want to be presumptuous.

We don't want to suppose that you're leading when you're not actually leaving all our father, where you delete we would ask for grace to follow in faith to believe that you are indeed the same and you ask the same for us as you did for others. Our father go before us.

We pray in a great way in our time and give victories in our time. Men and women might praise you know you to be a great God. You truly are. We pray in the name of Jesus Christ our Savior. A man you are listening to Bible study hour with the Bible teaching of Dr. James Boyce listener supported ministry of the alliance of confessing Evangelicals.

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