So the first time Israel came to the Promise Land they were turned away because of their sin. Now, 40 years later, everyone over 20 has died off and they are back to the land. You would expect the worst is behind them, but it is not; the banks of the Jordan are overflowing! They now need to cross a lake to get in. Just when you think you will be getting a break, you find this huge obstacle in front of you. This chapter shows how to handle this in a most impressive way. Notice, the burden of faith rests upon the shoulders of the priests. They must take the first steps. This reminds me of the phrase in Gal 6:1 "...you who are spiritual, restore..." Who are the spiritual today? Are they standing in the water? Am I ready and willing to follow? What do I expect will happen if I do follow? And if find no one leading in this manner, might God be calling me to put on my boots and stand in the water? After all, He has done with lessor things. Have faith. Great expectations lay ahead my friend, great expectations lay ahead.
The Israelites Come To Jordan
Joshua 3:1-6 Then Joshua rose early in the morning; and he and all the sons of Israel set out from Shittim and came to the Jordan, and they lodged there before they crossed. 2 At the end of three days the officers went through the midst of the camp; 3 and they commanded the people, saying, “When you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God with the Levitical priests carrying it, then you shall set out from your place and go after it. 4 “However, there shall be between you and it a distance of about 2,000 cubits by measure. Do not come near it, that you may know the way by which you shall go, for you have not passed this way before.”
5 Then Joshua said to the people, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you.” 6 And Joshua spoke to the priests, saying, “Take up the ark of the covenant and cross over ahead of the people.” So they took up the ark of the covenant and went ahead of the people.
The Israelites came to Jordan in faith, having been told that they should pass it. In the way of duty, let us proceed as far as we can, and depend on the Lord. Joshua led them. Particular notice is taken of his early rising, as afterwards upon other occasions, which shows how little he sought his own ease. Those who would bring great things to pass, must rise early. Love not sleep, lest thou come to poverty. All in public stations should always attend to the duty of their place.
The people were to follow the ark. Thus must we walk after the rule of the word, and the direction of the Spirit, in everything; so shall peace be upon us as upon the Israel of God; but we must follow our ministers only as they follow Christ. All their way through the wilderness was an untrodden path, but most so this through Jordan. While we are here, we must expect and prepare to pass ways that we have not passed before; but in the path of duty we may proceed with boldness and cheerfulness. Whether we are called to suffer poverty, pain, labour, persecution, reproach, or death, we are following the Author and Finisher of our faith; nor can we set our feet in any dangerous or difficult spot, through our whole journey, but faith will there see the prints of the Redeemer’s feet, who trod that very path to glory above, and bids us follow him, that where he is, we may be also.
They were to sanctify themselves. Would we experience the effects of God’s love and power, we must put away sin, and be careful not to grieve the Holy Spirit of God.
The Lord Encourages Joshua-Joshua Encourages The People
Joshua 3:7-13 Now the Lord said to Joshua, “This day I will begin to exalt you in the sight of all Israel, that they may know that just as I have been with Moses, I will be with you. 8 “You shall, moreover, command the priests who are carrying the ark of the covenant, saying, ‘When you come to the edge of the waters of the Jordan, you shall stand still in the Jordan.'” 9 Then Joshua said to the sons of Israel, “Come here, and hear the words of the Lord your God.” 10 Joshua said, “By this you shall know that the living God is among you, and that He will assuredly dispossess from before you the Canaanite, the Hittite, the Hivite, the Perizzite, the Girgashite, the Amorite, and the Jebusite. 11 “Behold, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth is crossing over ahead of you into the Jordan. 12 “Now then, take for yourselves twelve men from the tribes of Israel, one man for each tribe. 13 “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, the waters of the Jordan will be cut off, and the waters which are flowing down from above will stand in one heap.”
The waters of Jordan shall be cut off. This must be done in such a way as never was done, but in the dividing of the Red sea. That miracle is here repeated; God has the same power to finish the salvation of his people, as to begin it; the WORD of the Lord was as truly with Joshua as with Moses. God’s appearances for his people ought to encourage faith and hope. God’s work is perfect, he will keep his people. Jordan’s flood cannot keep out Israel, Canaan’s force cannot turn them out again.
The Israelites Pass Through Jordan On Dry Land
Joshua 3:14-17 So when the people set out from their tents to cross the Jordan with the priests carrying the ark of the covenant before the people, 15 and when those who carried the ark came into the Jordan, and the feet of the priests carrying the ark were dipped in the edge of the water (for the Jordan overflows all its banks all the days of harvest), 16 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; and those which were flowing down toward the sea of the Arabah, the Salt Sea, were completely cut off. So the people crossed opposite Jericho. 17 And the priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord stood firm on dry ground in the middle of the Jordan while all Israel crossed on dry ground, until all the nation had finished crossing the Jordan.
Jordan overflowed all its banks. This magnified the power of God, and his kindness to Israel. Although those who oppose the salvation of God’s people have all advantages, yet God can and will conquer. This passage over Jordan, as an entrance to Canaan, after their long, weary wanderings in the wilderness, shadowed out the believer’s passage through death to heaven, after he has finished his wanderings in this sinful world. Jesus, typified by the ark, hath gone before, and he crossed the river when it most flooded the country around. Let us treasure up experiences of His faithful and tender care, that they may help our faith and hope in the last conflict.
Questions & Notes
These questions are from The NIV Serendipity Bible.
Exodus 25:12 “You shall cast four gold rings for it [the ark] and fasten them on its four feet, and two rings shall be on one side of it and two rings on the other side of it.
Numbers 4:5 “When the camp sets out, Aaron and his sons shall go in and they shall take down the veil of the screen and cover the ark of the testimony with it;
Numbers 10:35-36 Then it came about when the ark set out that Moses said, “Rise up, O Lord! And let Your enemies be scattered, And let those who hate You flee before You.” 36 When it came to rest, he said, “Return, O Lord, To the myriad thousands of Israel.”
Deuteronomy 10:8 At that time the Lord set apart the tribe of Levi to carry the ark of the covenant of the Lord, to stand before the Lord to serve Him and to bless in His name until this day.
Deuteronomy 31:26 “Take this book of the law and place it beside the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, that it may remain there as a witness against you.
So, how do you unite a people to their land? First, you have to have a people Genesis-Deuteronomy is the making of that people. Second, those delegated with spiritual authority among that people must believe and act and stand in the overflowing banks of the Jordan of their day. Three, you must have a people prepared in their heart to follow.
Click on the “MHCC-Joshua” tag below to see all the posts in this series. To go to the start of this series click here.