Daily D – Joshua 3:7
The LORD spoke to Joshua: “Today I will begin to exalt you in the sight of all Israel, so they will know that I will be with you just as I was with Moses.”
JOSHUA 3:7 (CSB)
The first time I heard the phrase same difference was from an older cousin. It stopped me in my tracks. How could those two words be paired? How could something be both the same and different? This expression is used to say two things are not really different in any important way.
In this chapter of Joshua, we find the story of Israel crossing the Jordan River during the season when it overflows its banks. As God led the people through the Red Sea, so he would lead them through the Jordan River. It would be the same, but different.
When Israel was stuck between the Egyptian army and the sea, God said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to break camp. As for you, lift up your staff, stretch out your hand over the sea, and divide it so that the Israelites can go through the sea on dry ground,” (Exodus 14:15, 16).
Now at the Jordan River at flood stage, Joshua received orders from God on how to execute the crossing. God did not say, “lift up your staff, stretch out your hand over the sea (river), and divide it so that the Israelites can go through on dry ground.” Instead, he said, “Command the priests carrying the ark of the covenant: When you reach the edge of the water, stand in the Jordan,” (verse 8).
Later in this chapter, we read, “Now the Jordan overflows its banks throughout the harvest season. But as soon as the priests carrying the ark reached the Jordan, their feet touched the water at its edge and the water flowing downstream stood still, rising up in a mass that extended as far as Adam, a city next to Zarethan. The water flowing downstream into the Sea of the Arabah—the Dead Sea—was completely cut off, and the people crossed over opposite Jericho,” (verses 15, 16).
Verse 17 tells us the priests carrying the ark of the covenant “stood firmly on dry ground in the middle of the Jordan.” It also says, “all Israel crossed on dry ground until the entire nation had finished crossing the Jordan.”
Red Sea? Jordan River? Both times Israel crossed on dry ground. Both times the waters stood in a heap. That is where the similarities end. Both times Israel crossed on dry ground. Each time the instructions were unique. The end result was the same; the method was different. Both times Israel crossed on dry ground. Same difference. Same result; different method.
There are times in our lives when we experience God in the same way again and again. For example, arising early each day to spend time alone with God in Bible reading and prayer. Then there are unique occasions when we have never been there before and we do not know what to do or how to proceed. As we lean on God to do what only he can do, he does.
We are currently in a season none of us have ever lived through before, and hopefully will never live through again. What is the same? What is different? What is God showing us? What is he teaching us? What is he doing and how can we join him in it?
Psalm 77:19 says, “Your way went through the sea and your path through the vast water, but your footprints were unseen.” The NLT puts it this way:
your pathway through the mighty waters—
a pathway no one knew was there!
God will make a way when there seems to be no way. Where God guides, God provides. One day we will look back on these days and see the truth of these ideas once again. As God has always led his dear children along, he will lead us now and forever. It will be the same as always, but different. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He is immanent and transcendent. He is Lord over all and Lord of this moment.
I will follow God wherever he leads even when it appears to be a dead end.
Our Father, thank you that when and where you lead, there are no dead ends. You make a way where there is no way. You provide what we need when we need it. Your mercy is new every morning. Your grace is abundant and amazing. Nothing we will ever face in your company can be defined as The End. Even now, you are making a way where there seems to be no way. Lead me along this way all the way. Amen.
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Deuteronomy 8:12-18 When you eat and are full, and build beautiful houses to live in, and your herds and flocks grow large, and your silver and gold multiply, and everything else you have increases, be careful that your heart doesn’t become proud and you forget the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the place of slavery. He led you through the great and terrible wilderness with its poisonous snakes and scorpions, a thirsty land where there was no water. He brought water out of the flint rock for you. He fed you in the wilderness with manna, which your ancestors had not known, in order to humble and test you, so that in the end he might cause you to prosper. You may say to yourself, ‘My power and my own ability have gained this wealth for me,’ but remember that the Lord your God gives you the power to gain wealth, in order to confirm his covenant he swore to your ancestors, as it is today.
Deuteronomy 6:4-9 “Listen, Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. These words that I am giving you today are to be in your heart. Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Bind them as a sign on your hand and let them be a symbol on your forehead. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your city gates.“
Deuteronomy 1:2, 3 It is an eleven-day journey from Horeb to Kadesh-barnea by way of Mount Seir. In the fortieth year, in the eleventh month, on the first of the month, Moses told the Israelites everything the Lord had commanded him to say to them.