Joshua 3 Ė 5

 

As we continue our study in this wonderful book of Joshua we pick up in chapter 3 where the children of Israel prepare to cross the Jordan to finally enter into the promise land.

 

Joshua 3:1 Then Joshua rose early in the morning; and they set out from Acacia Grove and came to the Jordan, he and all the children of Israel, and lodged there before they crossed over.

 

I want you to really think about this first verse. Notice the text says that Joshua rose early in the morning. I think the reason why he rose up so early was because of anticipation. Just think about everything thatJoshua has been through up to this point. He was born in Egypt and crossed the Red Sea. He was hand selected to be a spy and he saw the wonderful land that God promised them just to see it taken away because of the lack of trust and faith of the children of Israel. He has traveled the wilderness for 40 years and seen all those who 20 years old and older die and now here he stands so close to promise land with only a river standing in his way. He has been waiting for this his whole life so I feel confident is saying he woke up early because he couldnít hardly wait to get started on this new adventure. I think every person in this room can understand to degree what Joshua was going through at this time because we have all experienced waking up early because we were excited about getting started on a new adventure.

 

Now kids I am talking to you. When your parentstell you that youare going to six flags or some otherfun place I bet you get so excited that you wake up before everyone else and then precede to wake the entire house up donít you. Same things happen to us adults. Lets say we have been planning a vacationfor years and we finally get to go we to willwake up before our alarm clocks go off because we are so excited to begin.Well, I believe this is exactly what Joshua felt like and I am sure all the children of Israel felt this way also.

 

Joshua 3:2 So it was, after three days, that the officers went through the camp;3 and they commanded the people, saying, "When you see the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, and the priests, the Levites, bearing it, then you shall set out from your place and go after it.4 "Yet there shall be a space between you and it, about two thousand cubits by measure. Do not come near it, that you may know the way by which you must go, for you have not passed this way before."5 And Joshua said to the people, "Sanctify yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do wonders among you."6 Then Joshua spoke to the priests, saying, "Take up the ark of the covenant and cross over before the people." So they took up the ark of the covenant and went before the people.

 

Here the children of Israel are given instruction on what to do. They are to follow the ark but they are to keep about 3000 feet away from it. Now they were not keeping their distance because the ark was holy they were keeping their distance so they can easily follow the ark and not get lost. Joshua commands them to sanctify themselves. They were to physical cleanse themselves as Moses had commanded the children of Israel to do before receiving the 10 commandments. They were to be pure and clean before crossing over the Jordan into the promise land. The same is true for us today. A person must become sanctified by being baptized into Christ for the remission of their sins and then be willing to follow God instructions so they can enter in heaven. Now notice what God tells Joshua.

 

Joshua 3:7 And the LORD said to Joshua, "This day 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.8 "You shall command the priests who bear the ark of the covenant, saying, 'When you have come to the edge of the water of the Jordan, you shall stand in the Jordan.' "

 

If there was any doubt in the camp that Joshua was chosen by God to lead them this wouldprove beyond reasonable doubt that God was on his side.

 

Joshua 3:9 So Joshua said to the children of Israel, "Come here, and hear the words of the LORD your God."10 And Joshua said, "By this you shall know that the living God is among you, and that He will without fail drive out from before you the Canaanites and the Hittites and the Hivites and the Perizzites and the Girgashites and the Amorites and the Jebusites:11 "Behold, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth is crossing over before you into the Jordan.12 "Now therefore, take for yourselves twelve men from the tribes of Israel, one man from every tribe.13 "And it shall come to pass, as soon as the soles of the feet of the priests who bear the ark of the LORD, the Lord of all the earth, shall rest in the waters of the Jordan, that the waters of the Jordan shall be cut off, the waters that come down from upstream, and they shall stand as a heap."

 

Not only was this miracle going to prove Joshua as their leader it would also prove that God was with them and they would defeat their enemies and make the promise land their own.

 

Joshua 3:14 So it was, when the people set out from their camp to cross over the Jordan, with the priests bearing the ark of the covenant before the people,15 and as those who bore the ark came to the Jordan, and the feet of the priests who bore the ark dipped in the edge of the water (for the Jordan overflows all its banks during the whole time of harvest),16 that the waters which came down from upstream stood still, and rose in a heap very far away at Adam, the city that is beside Zaretan. So the waters that went down into the Sea of the Arabah, the Salt Sea, failed, and were cut off; and the people crossed over opposite Jericho.17 Then the priests who bore the ark of the covenant of the LORD stood firm on dry ground in the midst of the Jordan; and all Israel crossed over on dry ground, until all the people had crossed completely over the Jordan.

 

I want to talk about the Jordan river for just a minute. The Jordan river has played many significant roles in the Bible and it is mentioned some 200 times. Here is a satellite photo of the Jordan river. Just imagine if you will for moment being one of these children of Israel seeing the Jordan river flooded to its banks. Verse 15 lets us know that it was harvest time which would been around march or April. The snow would melt from mount Hermon and feed the Jordan along with seasonal rains causing it to flood it banks making it very dangerous to cross This river was about 200 miles long and made its way through lake Galiee and ended into the Dead Sea. The name Jordan litterly means the descender. This was good name because the river dropped on an average of 11 feet per mile and no doubt would be flowing very fast during this time of flooding. You know it had to take a lot faith for those priest to step out into that raging river and to know that God was about to do something amazing. When the text says the water rose up in heap this means that it was like someone setup a dam up river and completely cut off the water flow. This trulywas an amazing miracle however God wasnít finished yet because the text says that the people crossed the Jordan on dry ground. Folks I can promise you if did manage to stop a river and then you tried to cross it that same day it would not have time get dryon its own common sense would tells us this. So, God made dry and easy for the children of Israel to cross.

 

Joshua 4:1 And it came to pass, when all the people had completely crossed over the Jordan, that the LORD spoke to Joshua, saying:2 "Take for yourselves twelve men from the people, one man from every tribe,3 "and command them, saying, 'Take for yourselves twelve stones from here, out of the midst of the Jordan, from the place where the priests' feet stood firm. You shall carry them over with you and leave them in the lodging place where you lodge tonight.' "4 Then Joshua called the twelve men whom he had appointed from the children of Israel, one man from every tribe;5 and Joshua said to them: "Cross over before the ark of the LORD your God into the midst of the Jordan, and each one of you take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the children of Israel,6 "that this may be a sign among you when your children ask in time to come, saying, 'What do these stones mean to you?'7 "Then you shall answer them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD; when it crossed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. And these stones shall be for a memorial to the children of Israel forever."8 And the children of Israel did so, just as Joshua commanded, and took up twelve stones from the midst of the Jordan, as the LORD had spoken to Joshua, according to the number of the tribes of the children of Israel, and carried them over with them to the place where they lodged, and laid them down there.

Basically Joshua has the 12 men which represents the 12 tribes to gather up 12 stones that will be used latter to set up a memorial to be used as teaching tool for their children to remind them of what God had done for them. We have a similar memorial in the partaking of the Lords Supper because it used to remind us what God did for us through son.

 

Joshua 4:9 Then Joshua set up twelve stones in the midst of the Jordan, in the place where the feet of the priests who bore the ark of the covenant stood; and they are there to this day.10 So the priests who bore the ark stood in the midst of the Jordan until everything was finished that the LORD had commanded Joshua to speak to the people, according to all that Moses had commanded Joshua; and the people hurried and crossed over.11 Then it came to pass, when all the people had completely crossed over, that the ark of the LORD and the priests crossed over in the presence of the people.12 And the men of Reuben, the men of Gad, and half the tribe of Manasseh crossed over armed before the children of Israel, as Moses had spoken to them.13 About forty thousand prepared for war crossed over before the LORD for battle, to the plains of Jericho.14 On that day the LORD exalted Joshua in the sight of all Israel; and they feared him, as they had feared Moses, all the days of his life.15 Then the LORD spoke to Joshua, saying,16 "Command the priests who bear the ark of the Testimony to come up from the Jordan."17 Joshua therefore commanded the priests, saying, "Come up from the Jordan."18 And it came to pass, when the priests who bore the ark of the covenant of the LORD had come from the midst of the Jordan, and the soles of the priests' feet touched the dry land, that the waters of the Jordan returned to their place and overflowed all its banks as before.19 Now the people came up from the Jordan on the tenth day of the first month, and they camped in Gilgal on the east border of Jericho.20 And those twelve stones which they took out of the Jordan, Joshua set up in Gilgal.

 

We learn several things from these verses. First of Joshua also sets up 12 stones as memorialat the Jordan somewhere near where the priest were standing. Now it only makes logical sense that he set these stones up high enough were they could be seen other wise they wouldbe coveredwith water most of the time. Verse 13 tells us that there were 40,000 men prepared for battle and finally as soon as the priest left their feet from the dry river bed the water began to flow once again. I can just image the awe that came across the camp as they were nowacross this raging river.

 

In verses 21-24 Joshua reemphasizes to the parents to teach their children about God when they ask about the memorial stones. This is an important message to us as parents today as well. We need to take time out of our busy lives and teach our children about what God has done for us.

 

Joshua 5:1 So it was, when all the kings of the Amorites who were on the west side of the Jordan, and all the kings of the Canaanites who were by the sea, heard that the LORD had dried up the waters of the Jordan from before the children of Israel until we had crossed over, that their heart melted; and there was no spirit in them any longer because of the children of Israel.

 

You might remember that Rahab already said that their people were scared of the children of Israel and their God. Now they must have been petrified. When I put myself in their shoes I know I would be scared after hearing how they just crossed the Jordan on dry ground. These people didnít have any spirit left in them to defend themselves

 

Joshua 5:2 At that time the LORD said to Joshua, "Make flint knives for yourself, and circumcise the sons of Israel again the second time."3 So Joshua made flint knives for himself, and circumcised the sons of Israel at the hill of the foreskins.4 And this is the reason why Joshua circumcised them: All the people who came out of Egypt who were males, all the men of war, had died in the wilderness on the way, after they had come out of Egypt.5 For all the people who came out had been circumcised, but all the people born in the wilderness, on the way as they came out of Egypt, had not been circumcised.6 For the children of Israel walked forty years in the wilderness, till all the people who were men of war, who came out of Egypt, were consumed, because they did not obey the voice of the LORD -- to whom the LORD swore that He would not show them the land which the LORD had sworn to their fathers that He would give us, "a land flowing with milk and honey."7 Then Joshua circumcised their sons whom He raised up in their place; for they were uncircumcised, because they had not been circumcised on the way.8 So it was, when they had finished circumcising all the people, that they stayed in their places in the camp till they were healed.

 

Now the Lord commands the children of Israel to be circumcised. So Joshua makes some sharp knives made from rock and he circumcises those who had been born in the wilderness because they had never been circumcised. It amazes me of how many laws the children of Israel neglected while they were wandering in the wilderness. Nowif donít think about very much when you read these scripture you might think that they were completely defenseless against their enemies at this time. However, this is not true because not every single one ofthese men would have to be circumcised. We need to remember that those who 19 years old and younger would have been a part of this group and would have already been circumcised. It would have take at least 2 weeks for these men to recover from being circumcised and while this would have been the best time for their enemies to attack themthey did not.

 

9 Then the LORD said to Joshua, "This day I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you." Therefore the name of the place is called Gilgal to this day. 10 Now the children of Israel camped in Gilgal, and kept the Passover on the fourteenth day of the month at twilight on the plains of Jericho.

 

These men were about to observe the Passover. I want to point out that they could not observe it until they were circumcised. Moses made this clear inExodus 12:48For no uncircumcised person shall eat it. In a similar manner we are not to partake of the Lords supper until we have become a Christian which a type of circumcision

 

Colossians 2:11 In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ,12 buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.

 

In verse 9 we learn that God has named the place they were camped at Gilgal because it meant God had rolled away the reproach of Egypt. Their time of wandering through the wilderness was over.

 

 

11 And they ate of the produce of the land on the day after the Passover, unleavened bread and parched grain, on the very same day.12 Then the manna ceased on the day after they had eaten the produce of the land; and the children of Israel no longer had manna, but they ate the food of the land of Canaan that year.

 

Now I want you to think about this. For 40 years God had been providing the children of Israel with Manna. It became a common thing to themby now it stopped because they would no longer need it because they could now start living off the promise land. This goes to show you that God truly does provide for his people. This same concept is taught in the NT as well. Notice what Paul says in,

Philippians 4:19 And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

Jesus tells that if a God will take care of a bird then he will defiantly take care of us and that we shouldnít worry about our life in Mat. 6:25-34

 

Matthew 6:8 your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him.

 

So we can see that God will always take care of us and we have nothing to worry about when he is on our side.

 

13 And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted his eyes and looked, and behold, a Man stood opposite him with His sword drawn in His hand. And Joshua went to Him and said to Him, "Are You for us or for our adversaries?"14 So He said, "No, but as Commander of the army of the LORD I have now come." And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped, and said to Him, "What does my Lord say to His servant?"15 Then the Commander of the LORD's army said to Joshua, "Take your sandal off your foot, for the place where you stand is holy." And Joshua did so.

 

13-15

Here Joshua sees a man that he probably thought was a general or some officer from one of his enemies. This is why he ask him, are you for us or are you against us? When Joshua learns that this man is the commander of the Lordís Army Joshua falls on his face and worships him. In fact this commander tells Joshua the same thing that was told to Moses at the burning bush in Exodus 3:5-8 for him to take off his sandals because the place he was standing was holy ground. Who was this commander? Well, we know for certain that this wasnít a mere angel because John tried to worship an angel in Rev. 22: 8-9 and the angel told John do not worship me I am fellow servant instead worship God. This tells us that this commander was none other than deity himself because only deity could be worshiped. I personally believe that this was pre-incarnate Jesus Christ. In other words Jesus being active in the OT before he became flesh. But, one thing we know for sure was that God was on Joshua side and he would help defeat his enemies. The same thing is true for us today. As Christians God is on our side and he will help us in our spiritual battle against sin if we will simply put our faith and trust in him. I want to end this lesson with Paul said inRomans 8:31 If God is for us, who can be against us?