Joshua 3

Joshua 3

Israel Crosses the Jordan

Then Joshua rose early in the morning and they set out from Shittim. And they came to the Jordan, he and all the people of Israel, and lodged there before they passed over. At the end of three days the officers went through the camp and commanded the people, “As soon as you see the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God being carried by the Levitical priests, then you shall set out from your place and follow it. Yet there shall be a distance between you and it, about 2,000 cubits in length. Do not come near it, in order that you may know the way you shall go, for you have not passed this way before.” Then Joshua said to the people, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do wonders among you.” And Joshua said to the priests, “Take up the ark of the covenant and pass on before the people.” So they took up the ark of the covenant and went before the people.

The LORD said to Joshua, “Today 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. And as for you, command the priests who bear the ark of the covenant, ‘When you come to the brink of the waters of the Jordan, you shall stand still in the Jordan.’” And Joshua said to the people of Israel, “Come here and listen to the words of the LORD your God.” And Joshua said, “Here is how you shall know that the living God is among you and that he will without fail drive out from before you the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Hivites, the Perizzites, the Girgashites, the Amorites, and the Jebusites. Behold, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth is passing over before you into the Jordan. Now therefore take twelve men from the tribes of Israel, from each tribe a man. And when the soles of the feet of the priests bearing the ark of the LORD, the Lord of all the earth, shall rest in the waters of the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan shall be cut off from flowing, and the waters coming down from above shall stand in one heap.”

So when the people set out from their tents to pass over the Jordan with the priests bearing the ark of the covenant before the people, and as soon as those bearing the ark had come as far as the Jordan, and the feet of the priests bearing the ark were dipped in the brink of the water (now the Jordan overflows all its banks throughout the time of harvest), the waters coming down from above stood and rose up in a heap very far away, at Adam, the city that is beside Zarethan, and those flowing down toward the Sea of the Arabah, the Salt Sea, were completely cut off. And the people passed over opposite Jericho. Now the priests bearing the ark of the covenant of the LORD stood firmly on dry ground in the midst of the Jordan, and all Israel was passing over on dry ground until all the nation finished passing over the Jordan.


Joshua 3 Commentary

by Brad Boyles

There are many great applications we can take from this chapter. First, we must understand the problem at hand. A whole nation is trying to cross a rushing river swollen with spring rains. Most likely, we are talking about hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of people. Joshua is in command of them and the responsibility of this problem rests squarely on his shoulders. Not unlike Moses’ time, I’m sure there were doubters and complainers among the people. The text does not mention that, but regardless, this is a huge task and a terrible roadblock.

Why does God allow for roadblocks in our life? So many times in life, when detours pop up, God does His best work. While we tend to focus on ourselves, He is focused on the big-picture journey. This was not just any journey. This was a promise of God that would be fulfilled. The people had many reasons to believe God would deliver them from any and all complications.

Joshua Listens For God

First, we see that Joshua does not handle the problem by coming up with a solution on His own. He knows the physical problem that stands between them must require a spiritual response. Crossing the Jordan was not something he came up with, it was something God had promised. Therefore, Joshua knew the glory and honor must start with God.

This is why the ark is called upon as the first to be sent. Joshua set the tone for the entire nation by proclaiming that their eyes will not be set on human wisdom, but on the glory of God. God’s presence would lead the way. He would go before them.

Through The Waters

But let’s consider another truth. Just as in Exodus, the Lord took them into the waters. Their path was not around, or over, but through. Let’s be honest, we don’t like going through the waters. Maybe you do, but I definitely do not. Give me a boat so I can safely float above. Give me a map so I can take another route. But God’s plan for His people was to show them that even though they walked through the valley, He was there providing the path to safety.

You are the God who works wonders; You revealed Your strength among the peoples.  15  With power You redeemed Your people, the descendants of Jacob and Joseph. Selah.  16  The waters saw You, God. The waters saw You; they trembled. Even the depths shook.  17  The clouds poured down water. The storm clouds thundered; Your arrows flashed back and forth.  18  The sound of Your thunder was in the whirlwind; lightning lit up the world. The earth shook and quaked.  19  Your way went through the sea and Your path through the great waters, but Your footprints were unseen.

Psalms 77:14-19 HCSB

His way goes through the waters. They do not frighten Him. They do not overwhelm Him. The roadblocks that mess with our lives and cause all kinds of anxiety and stress for the human mind are merely another path that God uses to accomplish His will. What does this mean for you today? What roadblock or detour is causing you great pain and anguish?

When the waters saw God, they trembled. Even the depths shook.

Footprints Unseen

The final point to reflect on here is the fact that God was present even though His footprints were unseen. This is the reality of life with Jesus. We question. We wonder. We complain. We cry. We struggle. We don’t see God in the moment even though He is right there working. Even though it seems our God has left us, we know He is near to us because we witness the evidence of Him working. We must not look down to search for His footprints, but up to His face to see His glory.

“God’s way is in the sea-it is impossible to track His footsteps-but it is also in the sanctuary! In other words, however perplexing His providences may appear, they are governed by His redeeming love for His own, and are consistent with His perfect holiness. His ways may be veiled in mystery, but He leads His people as the shepherd His flock. Do not look down at your path, but up into His face.”

F.B. Meyer

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