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Read Joshua 3

Crossing the Jordan

1 Early in the morning Joshua and all the Israelites set out from Shittim and went to the Jordan, where they camped before crossing over. After three days the officers went throughout the camp, giving orders to the people: “When you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, and the Levitical priests carrying it, you are to move out from your positions and follow it. Then you will know which way to go, since you have never been this way before. But keep a distance of about two thousand cubits between you and the ark; do not go near it.”

Joshua told the people, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you.”

Joshua said to the priests, “Take up the ark of the covenant and pass on ahead of the people.” So they took it up and went ahead of them.

And the Lord said to Joshua, “Today I will begin to exalt you in the eyes of all Israel, so they may know that I am with you as I was with Moses. Tell the priests who carry the ark of the covenant: ‘When you reach the edge of the Jordan’s waters, go and stand in the river.’”

Joshua said to the Israelites, “Come here and listen to the words of the Lord your God. 10 This is how you will know that the living God is among you and that he will certainly drive out before you the Canaanites, Hittites, Hivites, Perizzites, Girgashites, Amorites and Jebusites. 11 See, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth will go into the Jordan ahead of you. 12 Now then, choose twelve men from the tribes of Israel, one from each tribe. 13 And as soon as the priests who carry the ark of the Lord—the Lord of all the earth—set foot in the Jordan, its waters flowing downstream will be cut off and stand up in a heap.”

14 So when the people broke camp to cross the Jordan, the priests carrying the ark of the covenant went ahead of them.15 Now the Jordan is at flood stage all during harvest. Yet as soon as the priests who carried the ark reached the Jordan and their feet touched the water’s edge, 16 the water from upstream stopped flowing. It piled up in a heap a great distance away, at a town called Adam in the vicinity of Zarethan, while the water flowing down to the Sea of the Arabah (that is, the Dead Sea) was completely cut off. So the people crossed over opposite Jericho. 17 The priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord stopped in the middle of the Jordan and stood on dry ground, while all Israel passed by until the whole nation had completed the crossing on dry ground.

Go Deeper

This chapter ends with a familiar scene: the Israelites walking across dry ground through a parted sea. It is reminiscent of Exodus 14 when God parts the Red Sea, only this time the Israelites aren’t being chased. They’re moving on towards the land that God had promised them so long ago. This has to be one of those “exhale” moments for the Israelites as they look back on all that they have lived through.  

We would be missing something really important if we were only focused on the end of this chapter, though. Joshua gives the Israelites an interesting command in verse 5 when he says, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you.” Consecrate isn’t a word we use often. The best explanation of it is to wholly dedicate yourself to a purpose (in this case, to God). Joshua knew that everything that was about to happen was a spiritual issue. They couldn’t flippantly walk into the Promised Land. That would be missing the point. They had to first ensure that they were wholly and completely surrendered to God.

God works in and through people all the time. It is what He has done all throughout scripture. But we can’t be off on our own, wandering through life in unrepentant sin, living self-indulgent lives and expecting God to use us to further the Kingdom in the midst of that. We have to daily put sin to death. Put our desires to death. Put our selfishness to death. We have to daily consecrate ourselves to the Lord with the hope and expectation He will do amazing things among us. 2 Timothy 2:20-21 tells us that we’re like vessels or jars, ready to be used by the Master as long as we’re willing to purify and cleanse ourselves from all that is dishonorable. 

Today, let’s consecrate ourselves to God.

Questions

  1. What parallels do you see between this story and what happens in Exodus 14?
  2. What does it look like to practically consecrate yourself to God today? What needs to change from yesterday to today?
  3. What amazing things do you see God doing around you right now? Spend time thanking God for being on the move.

Did You Know?

The Israelites were instructed to keep about 1,000 yards of distance between them and the Ark. This was so that they could a) respect the holiness of the Ark of the Covenant but also b) ensure that everyone had a clear view of it.

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2 thoughts on “Joshua 3”

  1. The Israelites were deeply loved by God and the ark of the covenant represented his presence that would encourage, protect and spur them on in possessing the promised land. We see some amazing detail in v.15-17. God arranged for the Israelites to cross the Jordan River during the spring flood stage when water levels were at their highest, and the priests stood in the middle of the Jordan on dry ground. I don’t want to miss any of these details that exalt our Lord, in scripture or in my own life. I want to take in his magnificence, come close to his heart, and listen to every word he speaks, living a consecrated life to him. Paying attention because he truly does wonders all around us. Open our eyes, Lord!

  2. Crossing Over! Finally, after 40 years, God’s people were going to move forward into The Promised Land they had heard so much about. All the doubters had died and Joshua was leading a new generation to fulfill The Promise of a new land.
    This was the day of crossing…. Leaving their 40 year temporary home, for the permanency of The Promised Land; from comfortable, sustained living–into the exciting, yet frightening unknown.

    God had instructions—specific instructions for this momentous and memorable occasion.
    The Ark of The Covenant (His Presence) would precede them and He would prepare the way. Also, It would be positioned in a very visible fashion to remind the people who was guiding, guarding, and going with them.

    I can imagine the crowds crossing the dry riverbed, seeing the Ark, and remembering from their families the stories of the similar movement across the Red Sea where they had easy access to the other side, while those who pursued them…..perished.

    Our reading emphasizes the personal process of complete consecration–a preparatory, wholistic cleansing of mind, body, and spirit. This was an intentional (and somewhat rare) preparation for the sacredness of the moment and for the personal remembering of where they had been—and where they were going.

    I think it prepared each Crosser, as each sees the Ark, to indelibly remember The One who is their Guardian, Guide, and Redeemer….The ALL-Mighty God.

    Today, in the chaos and noise around us, we—as a people and church—we can take the time to remember, too. We can breathe a sigh of relief. We can wrap our fears in His peace and protection. And we can consecrate ourselves for the task at hand…. Fearlessly Loving people and Faithfully expanding His Kingdom.

    The unknown future certainly awaits…. and satan would have us live and linger in fear and trepidation.
    But we are called to lead and live in certainty.

    Our Ark, the empty cross, has gone before us as our personal reminder that we too have with us, a Guardian, Guide, and Redeemer.
    Let’s consecrate ourselves to Crossing Over together into the unknown—excited and determined…..faithful and secure–in Christ!

    “Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Never rely on what you think you know. Remember the Lord in everything you do, and he will show you the right way.”
    ‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭3:5-6‬ ‭GNTD‬‬

    Press in, Press on… together!
    —phil

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