God's Dry Ground

Bible Book: Joshua  3 : 1-17
Subject: God, Power of; Miracles; Problems; Faith; Deliverance

God's Dry Ground

Dr. J. Mike Minnix

Joshua 3:1-17

Standing between the Promised Land and the children of Israel was the swelling, rolling Jordan River. They had an obstacle in their way and without the help of God they had no possible way of reaching their goal. Joshua remembered, no doubt, the great moment in the past when Jehovah had opened the Red Sea and provided His people an escape from the Egyptians. Would God do it again? Is the God of today the same mighty God of yesterday? That is a great question. Can God do for us now what He did for the others who preceded us?

Obstacles are a part of life and every believer faces them at one time or another. Is there something between you and the thing God desires for you to have? Perhaps it appears impossible for you to cross over the barrier before you? For all of us, there are some obstructions on the way to victory, but we need to think about the God who specializes in rivers too deep to cross, mountains too high to climb, debts too great to pay, and problems too hard to solve.

What does this story in Joshua's life tell us in our modern walk with God? I suggest three essential truths.

I. The Dry Ground Speaks of the Power of the Lord - Joshua 3:5

Joshua 3:5: And Joshua said to the people, “Sanctify yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do wonders among you.”

Our God is alive and He is still able to do wonders among His people. He can perform miracles. God does not operate according to the laws of nature, nature operates according to the laws of God. He is in control and He is not in bondage to His creation, His creation is in bondage to Him.

Let us think of a man who creates a computer program so that it performs according to his desires. He decides to change the program, so he fiddles with the coding and makes it conform to his will. Can he do that? Sure he can. He created the program and it works at his command. The computer does not run the man, the man runs the computer.

Let me assure you that God can reach inside this computer called nature and change any program He desires. He is God. Nature did not create God, God created nature.

Some people try to understand the power and works of God, but you and I can't explain nor understand His works. His ways are not our ways, nor are His thoughts our thoughts. There is no way to understand how God brought about the virgin birth, kept Jonah alive in the belly of a great fish, fed 5,000 people with 5 loaves and 3 fish, or raised Jesus from the dead. I assure you that these things are simply over the head of human beings.

We don't have to understand it, but we do have to accept the fact that God is in control, if in fact we wish to see His hand at work in our lives and situations. I don't understand how the radio works, but I listen to it – on my computer, no less. I don't fully understand electricity, but I turn on the lights in my house and watch my television. You might say that there are at least some people who do understand how these things operate. Yes, and God understands how His mighty work is done, but  you don't, I don't, and the greatest minds in history don't.

There are people who claim they will not believe in a God they cannot explain, but I submit that I will not believe in a God I can explain. My God is the living God and He can't be put in a box or fully rationalized in human terms. He is a wonder and the works of His hands are a marvel to behold.

Faith is required to accept how God can remove what appears to be unmovable objects in our path. If you wish to witness Him doing great things, you must first believe He can do it. Doubt restricts the purposes of God. Why is this so? It is true that skepticism regarding the power of God limits what He will do because He has chosen faith as the door through the impossible. We must never have any misgivings regarding the ability of God or any qualms about not deserving His work in our behalf. You have never deserved anything He has already done for you, and yet He has worked in your life in the past. If His miracle work was dependent on our human merits, not a person listening to me would be saved today. And, think about it, salvation is a miracle of miracles. That we poor creatures of clay, born in sin, might have a relationship with the God, who created this universe, is beyond explanation. So, be sure of this, you can trust the power of God to do what is best and seems unattainable.

II. The Dry Ground Speaks of the Purpose of the Lord - Joshua 3:6-10

Joshua 3:6-10 ...

Then Joshua spoke to the priests, saying, “Take up the ark of the covenant and cross over before the people.” So they took up the ark of the covenant and went before the people. And the LORD said to Joshua, “This day I will begin to exalt you in the sight of all Israel, that they may know that, as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. You shall command the priests who bear the ark of the covenant, saying, ‘When you have come to the edge of the water of the Jordan, you shall stand in the Jordan.’ So Joshua said to the children of Israel, 'Come here, and hear the words of the LORD your God.' And Joshua said, 'By this you shall know that the living God is among you, and that He will without fail drive out from before you the Canaanites and the Hittites and the Hivites and the Perizzites and the Girgashites and the Amorites and the Jebusites: ...'"

What was God's purpose in the miracle before us? For that matter, what is God's purpose for miracles in general? The first reason that God performed the miracle of opening up the Jordan River was so that His people could pass over to start something new. They were going in a way they had not been before and God did something to confirm it to them. These people would face great obstacles in the future and they needed to know that God was bigger than the walls of Jericho and the stronger than the giants in the Land. Many times the miracles of God are to confirm His glory in the beginning of a new thing which He is doing in and through His people. Look at how God performed miracles in bunches during the beginning of certain periods.

A. Creation

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”

Now creation is a miracle, indeed. His creation was meant to be one signpost for humans to consider when they questioned where they came from and what they're doing on this tiny ball spinning in space. If one accepts that God created all that we can see and all we can’t see, believing in His Word and other divine works becomes easier. God often did great miracles at the beginning of particular periods of history.

B. The Exodus

Note the miracles surrounding the Exodus of the Jews out of Egypt. The plagues were to reveal to the enemies of God that His will cannot be thwarted and to show His followers that He will not leave them to fend for themselves. The Passover was an amazing miracle, as was the opening of the Red Sea for His people to escape the Pharaoh.

C. Elijah and Elisha

Then the miracles of Elijah and Elisha stand out to us as a great turning point. The cruel Ahab and Jezebel thought they had the reins of power, but God was revealing to His people that He, the Lord, was actually in charge. Someone might ask, as did Elisha, “Where is the Lord God of Elijah?” I’ll tell you where He is – right where He has always been and just as powerful today as He was in the former days.

D. Ministry of Jesus

When we come to time of Jesus, the miracles pile up in a great heap before us. They confirm that He is the Messiah, the Lamb of God, the Son of God, and the Savior sent to redeem us from our sins.

E. Birth and Growth of the Church

The birth of the Church is yet another beginning period in the history of God’s people and God’s work. Just look at the miracles that occurred as the Spirit fell upon the people at Pentecost following our Lord’s ascension.

I suggest to you today that God did great miracles at the beginning of America, who recognized God as the Creator and the people as being free from government tyranny. America is no accident, but a part of God’s plan to use a nation as a great missionary base from which the gospel spread to the entire world.

We note, however, that when a people have been blessed with His amazing miracle work in their behalf but then turn away from Him, divine judgment follows as sure as night follows day. Again and again the great purpose that God has for a person or a people has been marred by the unbelief and rebellion of those individuals or leaders who enjoyed the benefit of God's miracle work. People cannot mock God and expect Him to continue to bless them. We must always be concerned that our foremost interest is His purpose for our lives, family, organization, or church. Listen, if you expect God to bless you by removing the obstacles in your path so that you can go on in a purpose contrary to His will you are playing a fool’s game.

Furthermore, we can see that God does the work of miracles to give authority to one of his faithful servants or to a faithful people. Joshua 3:7 states this clearly. God does mighty things to reveal His hand upon a leader and upon a people. If you want to see His hand in your life, you must be sure that He first has your heart.

God worked through Joshua and the people to show that He was with them. The crossing of the Jordan River was to show them that He is present even when He cannot be seen. God doesn’t do miracles at all times because it is His desire that we trust Him because of what He has already done for us. We don’t need to see a miracle to know that He is with us and that He is working in our behalf – everyone of us who is saved today is already a living miracle.

Look at Joshua 4:4ff. The stones mentioned here were a reminder that God had done great things and that His people were not alone. Each of us who knows Him as Savior and Lord have plenty of monuments in our past to remind us that God loves us and His desire is to work out His purpose in and through us. As you wait for God to do something mighty in your life today, look back at the "stones" or "memories" of His past works for you. Let those previous divine acts remind you that He is God, even when you cannot see the parting of the waters in your path at the moment. What He has done is a reminder of what He can and will do in the future as we wait upon Him through faith.

III. The Dry Ground Speaks of the Presence of the Lord - Joshua 3:11-17

Joshua 3:11-17 ...

"'Behold, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth is crossing over before you into the Jordan. Now therefore, take for yourselves twelve men from the tribes of Israel, one man from every tribe. And it shall come to pass, as soon as the soles of the feet of the priests who bear the ark of the LORD, the Lord of all the earth, shall rest in the waters of the Jordan, that the waters of the Jordan shall be cut off, the waters that come down from upstream, and they shall stand as a heap.' So it was, when the people set out from their camp to cross over the Jordan, with the priests bearing the ark of the covenant before the people, and as those who bore the ark came to the Jordan, and the feet of the priests who bore the ark dipped in the edge of the water (for the Jordan overflows all its banks during the whole time of harvest), that the waters which came down from upstream stood still, and rose in a heap very far away at Adam, the city that is beside Zaretan. So the waters that went down into the Sea of the Arabah, the Salt Sea, failed, and were cut off; and the people crossed over opposite Jericho. Then the priests who bore the ark of the covenant of the LORD stood firm on dry ground in the midst of the Jordan; and all Israel crossed over on dry ground, until all the people had crossed completely over the Jordan."

The word “Jordan” is made up of two words. The second part of the word, “dan,” means “judgment." The Ark they carried over the Jordan was a symbol of Jesus – God with us - judging those who were squatting on the Land that God had given to Abraham and his decedents.

In a New Testament sense, God is always with every believer. We do not meet Him at the Tabernacle or Temple, nor does He presently rest in the Ark of the Covenant. He lives in each one of us. He is present with us when we come to the “Jordans” – the obstacles that Satan places in our lives. The devil is a squatter in this world, sitting on the earth God made for us. It must irk the enemy relentlessly that we have this treasure, the treasure of God’s presence, in these earthen vessels – our bodies. What a miracle it is that God dwells in His people. We must remember that God, having given us His Son, will not withhold any good thing from us.

In a sense, we can say that every child of God, every saved person, has crossed over the Jordan and is free from the sins that blocked our way. The Ark, the presence of God, opened the way for Joshua and God's people to cross the Jordan in that day long ago. In a more permanent and marvelous way, Jesus passed through death and through the resurrection opened the way for us. It is as if the waters of judgment backed up all the way to Adam and Jesus opened them for us to pass into the Promised Land of eternal life.

What obstacle is before you right now? It is not too high, too deep, or too wide for the Lord to lead you through, across, or under. He is the way-maker! Always remember that the stone at the Tomb of Jesus was not opened to let Jesus out; it was opened to allow us to see that He is risen. Jesus didn't need a door to come out of the tomb - HE IS THE DOOR. He can make a way for you where there seems to be no way. Open your heart to faith and allow Him to open all the other doors blocking your way.


The God who forgives sin is able to do all things. Nothing is impossible for God. He will not, however, do things our way. We must be in submission to His will and purpose. When Jesus bowed in Gethsemane, He prayed, “Not by will, but thine be done!” He was in total submission to the will of the Father. Never forget this, the resurrection did not happen till Jesus had endured the cross. When you are looking at obstacles and wondering why God has not moved them, and when you are troubled by the fact that things aren't working the way you wish, always remember the cross of Christ. God is able to remove anything in the way of getting His people to the place of His purpose in their lives – but, we may have a cross to bear along the way.

Are you willing today to trust the God of miracles by saying, “Thy will be done!” God is not limited in what He can do, but you can be sure that He only does what is best for you along the way to revealing His mighty hand.

Someone here today needs to step into the will of God. You have never trusted Jesus as your Savior and it is His will for you to become a Christian. He can do a miracle for you right here today - He can bring you from death to life - from sin to righteousness. Why is He willing to do that? He loves you and gave His Son for your sins at Calvary. He raised Jesus on the third day – a miracle for your justification. Come to Him now.

Dear Christian – you who already know Him – trust Him now with whatever you are facing. The mighty Jordan rolling before you is no match for the Lord. The question we must ask is whether we can trust Him till the waters part and we cross over. Let’s make a new commitment to the Lord, His power, His purpose and His presence this morning.