• Pastor Bowler

Obstacles to Faith

As Israel moved forward, they faced impossible situations. First of all, there was the Jordan before them which was then at flood stage. Beyond the river were seven great nations, all of them larger than Israel. Back of those seven nations, encouraging them and energizing them, were the forces of Satan, the spirit world of evil that he controls, which is mightier than any man. This whole historical setting is a perfect analogy of the warfare faced by every child of God.


We must ever remember that our wrestling is not against flesh and blood beings. We are up against principalities and powers in heavenly places. Ours is a warfare that lasts as long as life lasts. It rages between the forces of heaven and the forces of hell. On the one hand is Satan seeking to possess us and control us for evil. On the other hand is God who though Christ Jesus is seeking to possess our life for righteousness. The battle rages even in our very hearts, for Galatians 5:17 says, “For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.”


God has a master plan for victory and this plan is centred in Jesus Christ our Lord. This is not something that we do ourselves, but it is in Christ who, by becoming man and dying on our behalf, being buried and raised again has overcome Satan. We are identified with Him in His death and burial and resurrection. Thus there is nothing that can stand in the way of God’s plan for absolute and complete victory for us if we will lay hold of what is ours by faith.


Just as the overflowing Jordan River could not stop Israel when God told them to move forward, neither can the gates of hell prevail against the Church of Jesus Christ. You and I are members of that family of believers.


We have already see something of the significance of the Ark in the life of the Israelites. It plays a prominent part in the third chapter of Joshua. The ten references to it are the key to the victory Israel had over the Jordan River.


The Ark represented the presence of God with the Israelites. It was a visible evidence of that presence which God had promised to Joshua. As God had been with Moses, so He would be with Israel’s new leader. A similar promise lies for us in the assurances and instructions our Saviour gave the disciples. He promised to lead then out and to be with the wherever they went. In His final instructions to them to go into all the world and preach the gospel, He also added that He would be with the and empower them. These are promises for us also. He has promised never to leave us nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5).


The Ark represents Christ who is the centre of our spiritual life. He is the Alpha and the Omega of our salvation. He is the Author and Finisher of our faith. He is the One who began our spiritual life and He is the One who is going to bring it to completion. Our eyes must be upon Him just as the Israelites were instructed to watch the Ark. The effectiveness and growth of our spiritual lives will depend upon the attention which we give to Christ.


The instructions given to Israel for crossing the Jordan were from God and these form the background for the spiritual lessons we will draw for our own benefit and learning. We read in Joshua 3:1, “And Joshua rose early in the morning; and they removed from Shittim, and came to Jordan, he and all the children of Israel, and lodged there before they passed over.” The distance from Shittim to the Jordan River was a distance of some six or eight miles. Then they were brought up against the overflowing waters of the Jordan which formed an impossible barrier, marking Jordan as a place of possible passage for the Israelites. The people had been in camp but now they were made to move. Just as a bicycle cannot be steered unless it is moving, even so we must be moving before God can direct the path we are to take. If we merely sit and wait, we need not expect God to do something.


In the first two chapters of Joshua, we have the preparation both of Joshua and the people for this step forward. The third chapter is one of action as God prepares His people to move. There was a brief delay of three days, but when this was over the officers of the nation went among the people and instructed them as to what they were to do. In more than one place in Scripture we are told to wait on the Lord. And not all waiting is of the same nature. Israel had already started the journey to Canaan so this halt was only temporary. There was a great deal of activity of different kinds involved in preparation for that tremendous crossing.


Have we gone forward to follow the Lord? We must make a decision. We are called to go forth with Him. If you have not made that decision as yet, make it now. Tell the Lord, “Lord I am going to enter into this land. I do not know all that is ahead, but I am waiting for Your orders.”


Tianmen Mountain in Zhangjiajie, China, is considered one of the most beautiful mountains in the world. To view its towering cliffs in all their glorious splendour, you must take the Tianmen Shan cable car, which covers a distance of 7,455 meters (4.5 miles). It’s amazing how this cable car can travel such long distances and scale such steep mountains without any motor on the car itself. Yet it moves safely up these spectacular heights by keeping a strong grip on a cable that is moved by a powerful motor.


In our journey of faith, how can we finish the race well and “press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus”? (Philippians 3:14). Like the cable car, we keep a strong grip on Christ, which is what Paul meant when he said “stand fast in the Lord” (4:1). We have no resources of our own. We depend fully on Christ to keep us moving forward. He will take us through the greatest challenges or obstacles and lead us safely home.

“Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses” (1Timothy 6:12).

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