The Israelites are about to enter the Promised Land. Joshua, Caleb, and some others who were youngsters when Moses led them out of Egypt, probably remembered the parting of the Red Sea. Here, they were facing the Jordan River. It wasn’t as big as the Red Sea, but at this time of year, it was overflowing its banks, which means the current was strong. The Jordan also had a u-shaped bottom, not a gradual v-shape, as most rivers do. As soon as one steps in it, it’s deep. They needed a miracle. Thankfully, God is a God of Miracles.
Joshua 3 – The Israelites Cross the Jordan River
Early the next morning Joshua and all the Israelites left Acacia Grove and arrived at the banks of the Jordan River, where they camped before crossing. 2 Three days later the Israelite officers went through the camp, 3 giving these instructions to the people: “When you see the Levitical priests carrying the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord your God, move out from your positions and follow them. 4 Since you have never traveled this way before, they will guide you. Stay about half a mile behind them, keeping a clear distance between you and the Ark. Make sure you don’t come any closer.”
5 Then Joshua told the people, “Purify yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do great wonders among you.”
6 In the morning Joshua said to the priests, “Lift up the Ark of the Covenant and lead the people across the river.” And so they started out and went ahead of the people.
7 The Lord told Joshua, “Today I will begin to make you a great leader in the eyes of all the Israelites. They will know that I am with you, just as I was with Moses. 8 Give this command to the priests who carry the Ark of the Covenant: ‘When you reach the banks of the Jordan River, take a few steps into the river and stop there.’”
9 So Joshua told the Israelites, “Come and listen to what the Lord your God says. 10 Today you will know that the living God is among you. He will surely drive out the Canaanites, Hittites, Hivites, Perizzites, Girgashites, Amorites, and Jebusites ahead of you. 11 Look, the Ark of the Covenant, which belongs to the Lord of the whole earth, will lead you across the Jordan River! 12 Now choose twelve men from the tribes of Israel, one from each tribe. 13 The priests will carry the Ark of the Lord, the Lord of all the earth. As soon as their feet touch the water, the flow of water will be cut off upstream, and the river will stand up like a wall.”
14 So the people left their camp to cross the Jordan, and the priests who were carrying the Ark of the Covenant went ahead of them. 15 It was the harvest season, and the Jordan was overflowing its banks. But as soon as the feet of the priests who were carrying the Ark touched the water at the river’s edge, 16 the water above that point began backing up a great distance away at a town called Adam, which is near Zarethan. And the water below that point flowed on to the Dead Sea until the riverbed was dry. Then all the people crossed over near the town of Jericho.
17 Meanwhile, the priests who were carrying the Ark of the Lord’s Covenant stood on dry ground in the middle of the riverbed as the people passed by. They waited there until the whole nation of Israel had crossed the Jordan on dry ground.
If you look at other Bible translations, instead of the word “purify” in verse 5, you find “consecrate” and “sanctify” yourselves. In other words, God was willing to do a miracle for the people, but they had to cleanse themselves first from their sin. What did that entail? Taking a bath? Probably not. It required them going to the tabernacle and sacrificing something. If you want to get an idea of what that was like, go back to the Book of Leviticus.
If we need a miracle to get us out of the deep water messes that we inevitably find ourselves in, we need to remember that Jesus did that for us already at the cross — He OVERCAME, thank God! He took away our sins purifying us with His blood when He died and He conquered death when He rose after 3 days! That’s a miracle!
When you repent of your sins and become a born-again believer, He gives you the Holy Spirit in your heart. You become a temple (tabernacle) of the Holy Spirit. You have His Holy Presence inside of you!
One of the jobs of the Holy Spirit is to hit you with a guilt trip when you sin so you don’t do it again. Understand that when you repent, you’re supposed to STOP SINNING! However, we humans tend to sin anyway. It’s our nature.
Paul told us…
16 So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves.Galatians 5:16 NLT
He also wrote…
7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.2 Timothy 1:7 NLT
God Himself said…
“Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you.Isaiah 43:1-3 NLT
I have called you by name; you are mine.
2 When you go through deep waters,
I will be with you.
When you go through rivers of difficulty,
you will not drown.
When you walk through the fire of oppression,
you will not be burned up;
the flames will not consume you.
3 For I am the Lord, your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
Let’s go on….
Joshua 4 – Memorials to the Jordan Crossing
When all the people had crossed the Jordan, the Lord said to Joshua, 2 “Now choose twelve men, one from each tribe. 3 Tell them, ‘Take twelve stones from the very place where the priests are standing in the middle of the Jordan. Carry them out and pile them up at the place where you will camp tonight.’”
4 So Joshua called together the twelve men he had chosen—one from each of the tribes of Israel. 5 He told them, “Go into the middle of the Jordan, in front of the Ark of the Lord your God. Each of you must pick up one stone and carry it out on your shoulder—twelve stones in all, one for each of the twelve tribes of Israel. 6 We will use these stones to build a memorial. In the future your children will ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ 7 Then you can tell them, ‘They remind us that the Jordan River stopped flowing when the Ark of the Lord’s Covenant went across.’ These stones will stand as a memorial among the people of Israel forever.”
8 So the men did as Joshua had commanded them. They took twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan River, one for each tribe, just as the Lord had told Joshua. They carried them to the place where they camped for the night and constructed the memorial there.
9 Joshua also set up another pile of twelve stones in the middle of the Jordan, at the place where the priests who carried the Ark of the Covenant were standing. And they are there to this day.
10 The priests who were carrying the Ark stood in the middle of the river until all of the Lord’s commands that Moses had given to Joshua were carried out. Meanwhile, the people hurried across the riverbed. 11 And when everyone was safely on the other side, the priests crossed over with the Ark of the Lord as the people watched.
12 The armed warriors from the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh led the Israelites across the Jordan, just as Moses had directed. 13 These armed men—about 40,000 strong—were ready for battle, and the Lord was with them as they crossed over to the plains of Jericho.
14 That day the Lord made Joshua a great leader in the eyes of all the Israelites, and for the rest of his life they revered him as much as they had revered Moses.
15 The Lord had said to Joshua, 16 “Command the priests carrying the Ark of the Covenant to come up out of the riverbed.” 17 So Joshua gave the command. 18 As soon as the priests carrying the Ark of the Lord’s Covenant came up out of the riverbed and their feet were on high ground, the water of the Jordan returned and overflowed its banks as before.
19 The people crossed the Jordan on the tenth day of the first month. Then they camped at Gilgal, just east of Jericho. 20 It was there at Gilgal that Joshua piled up the twelve stones taken from the Jordan River.
21 Then Joshua said to the Israelites, “In the future your children will ask, ‘What do these stones mean?’ 22 Then you can tell them, ‘This is where the Israelites crossed the Jordan on dry ground.’ 23 For the Lord your God dried up the river right before your eyes, and he kept it dry until you were all across, just as he did at the Red Sea when he dried it up until we had all crossed over. 24 He did this so all the nations of the earth might know that the Lord’s hand is powerful, and so you might fear the Lord your God forever.”Joshua 4 NLT
We don’t need a tower of rocks to remind us that God is great and He works miracles every day. We have the Bible. As God told Joshua in the first chapter…
8 “Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do. 9 This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”Joshua 1:8-9 NLT
Read the Bible when you first get up, during your lunch break and then right before bed. You’ll have spiritual nourishment and peaceful sleep. Try it, it works! You’ve got nothing lose and a closer relationship with God to gain!
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I’ve mentioned before that Jesus’ Hebrew name is “Joshua”. This is from Spoken Gospel….
Jesus is literally a new Joshua who brings us into his Promised Land and establishes the Kingdom of God by his death. And just as Joshua obeyed God and walked into the Jordan river, Jesus walked into the Jordan as a sign of obedience as well (Matthew 3:15).
But instead of the river parting, the sky breaks open (Mark 1:10). And the Holy Spirit rests on Jesus like a dove, the way the spirit of wisdom filled Joshua. God then recognizes Jesus not only as a chosen servant but as his chosen Son (Matthew 3:17).
Like Israel, we are on the edge of a kingdom and looking for a new leader. Just as Israel stood in awe of Joshua when the Jordan parted, we are to stand in awe of Jesus when we read how God parted the skies.
Israel had a long history of slavery, wandering, and exile. But God used leaders like Moses and Joshua to liberate them and give them a home.
We are just as enslaved and wandering as Israel was. We are enslaved to sin and death. We find ourselves in countries, cultures, and families that don’t feel like home. The day we stand in awe of Jesus as God’s chosen Son is the day we enter into a new Kingdom. It is a Kingdom not marked by the abuse and slavery of our past but marked by the sky-rending power of God’s voice and the death-defeating hope in God’s Son.
Jesus is our new Joshua and he is ready to lead us into his Kingdom.“Jesus in all of Joshua” by Spoken Gospel
Invite Jesus into Your Heart and Receive the Gift of Grace, Joy, Peace, and the Confident Hope of Eternal Life…
Soli Deo Gloria! To God Alone Be the Glory!
Top image by Sweet Publishing from FreeBibleImages.org, (CC BY-SA 3.0)