Hi. Welcome to Redeem the Commute. I’m Ryan, your host of the daily challenges. Today is Tuesday, the day we study the Bible together. This week we’re going to study how God parted the waters of the raging Jordan River so the Israelites could enter the Promised Land
When all the nation had finished passing over the Jordan, the LORD said to Joshua, “Take twelve men from the people, from each tribe a man, and command them, saying, ‘Take twelve stones from here out of the midst of the Jordan, from the very place where the priests’ feet stood firmly, and bring them over with you and lay them down in the place where you lodge tonight.’” Then Joshua called the twelve men from the people of Israel, whom he had appointed, a man from each tribe. And Joshua said to them, “Pass on before the ark of the LORD your God into the midst of the Jordan, and take up each of you a stone upon his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the people of Israel, that this may be a sign among you. When your children ask in time to come, ‘What do those stones mean to you?’ then you shall tell them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD. When it passed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. So these stones shall be to the people of Israel a memorial forever.”
And the people of Israel did just as Joshua commanded and took up twelve stones out of the midst of the Jordan, according to the number of the tribes of the people of Israel, just as the LORD told Joshua. And they carried them over with them to the place where they lodged and laid them down there. And Joshua set up twelve stones in the midst of the Jordan, in the place where the feet of the priests bearing the ark of the covenant had stood; and they are there to this day. For the priests bearing the ark stood in the midst of the Jordan until everything was finished that the LORD commanded Joshua to tell the people, according to all that Moses had commanded Joshua.
The people passed over in haste. And when all the people had finished passing over, the ark of the LORD and the priests passed over before the people. The sons of Reuben and the sons of Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh passed over armed before the people of Israel, as Moses had told them. About 40,000 ready for war passed over before the LORD for battle, to the plains of Jericho. On that day the LORD exalted Joshua in the sight of all Israel, and they stood in awe of him just as they had stood in awe of Moses, all the days of his life.
And the LORD said to Joshua, “Command the priests bearing the ark of the testimony to come up out of the Jordan.” So Joshua commanded the priests, “Come up out of the Jordan.” And when the priests bearing the ark of the covenant of the LORD came up from the midst of the Jordan, and the soles of the priests’ feet were lifted up on dry ground, the waters of the Jordan returned to their place and overflowed all its banks, as before. (Joshua 4:1-18 ESV)
Was this really necessary to cross a river? I’ve crossed rivers before, hopping across rocks, wading through, or finding a bridge. But the Jordan River was described here as being at “flood stage.” In the area of Jericho, it would have been 10 to 12 feet deep and the current quite strong. They were able to cross it because of God’s miraculous intervention.
They were being led by the Ark of the Covenant, which held the stone tablets inscribed with the Ten Commandments, which Moses smashed on the ground in his anger at seeing the Israelites breaking God’s laws as soon as he gave them. Following those broken tablets was a tangible reminder for them that they were a broken people, not deserving of anything, but still enjoying the love and care of a good God all the same.
The prominent place given to the ark in this particular story also makes it clear that the Israelites didn’t just get lucky, build a dam, find a bridge, or wade through. The waters only receded when the ark was in the river, and returned the moment the ark left the river.
Finally, they had to learn to trust God. They had to send their treasured possession, and the men carrying it, into the water first. The waters didn’t stop raging until that happened.
All this ended with the stone memorial, but we’ll learn more about that tomorrow.
Question: What was most memorable to you about this passage? Why? The rock memorial served as a way future generations could remember what God had done. Why was it important for people who weren’t even there to remember that event?