Growing with God: A daily devotional with Tonia Slimm.
Joshua 3:14-16 (NIV)
So when the people broke camp to cross the Jordan, the priests carrying the ark of the covenant went ahead of them. 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, 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.
Joshua 3:14-16 (MSG)
And that’s what happened. The people left their tents to cross the Jordan, led by the priests carrying the Chest of the Covenant. When the priests got to the Jordan and their feet touched the water at the edge (the Jordan overflows its banks throughout the harvest), the flow of water stopped. It piled up in a heap—a long way off—at Adam, which is near Zarethan. The river went dry all the way down to the Arabah Sea (the Salt Sea). And the people crossed, facing Jericho.
“So when the people set out from their tents to cross over the Jordan with the priests who were carrying the ark of the covenant before the people, and when those who were carrying the ark came up to the Jordan, and the feet of the priests carrying the ark were submerged at the edge of the water (for the Jordan overflows all of its banks throughout the time of harvest), the waters which were flowing down from above stopped and rose up in one mass a great distance away at Adam, the city that is beside Zarethan. Those [waters] flowing downward toward the sea of the Arabah, the Salt Sea, were completely cut off. So the people crossed [the river] opposite Jericho.” -AMPLIFIED
The crossing of the Jordan during flood time is a reminder to us of the fact that God always goes before us and He protects us. We need to realize how dangerous this crossing was for the people. It was Spring time and the Spring rains were falling. The snow that had been on top of Mount Hermon all winter long was melting. The NIV footnote for Joshua 1:2 gives us a very good idea of what the situation was looking like: “The flow of the Jordan near Jericho was not large during most of the year (less than 100 feet wide.), but at flood stage in the spring it filled its wider bed, which at places was a mile wide and far more treacherous to cross.”
Remember what Joshua had said to the people in our text from yesterday? “Sanctify yourselves. Tomorrow God will work miracle-wonders among you.” (MSG) Today we are going to explore what truly happened, the miracle-wonder of that day.
Proceeding the crossing we find God and Joshua have a conversation. God, the Eternal One tells Joshua, “Today I will do wonders that will begin to show the Israelites that you have My special favor, that I am with you just as I was with Moses before you. At your command, the priests will carry the covenant chest into the edge of the Jordan water and they are to stand there in the Jordan, waiting.” -Joshua 3:7-8 (VOICE)
Joshua’s obedience in doing all that God commands him is of utmost importance. If he follows God’s instructions then he would have God’s special favor; just as Moses did. God tells Joshua what exactly it was that he was to do. Tell the priests to carry the covenant chest, the ark of the covenant, the representation of God’s dwelling among the people, to the edge of the Jordan water and wait there.
So, Joshua called the people together and spoke to them words of instruction, words of encouragement, basically a good old pep talk. “Then Joshua addressed the People of Israel: “Attention! Listen to what God, your God, has to say. This is how you’ll know that God is alive among you—he will completely dispossess before you the Canaanites, Hittites, Hivites, Perizzites, Girgashites, Amorites, and Jebusites. Look at what’s before you: the Chest of the Covenant. Think of it—the Master of the entire earth is crossing the Jordan as you watch. Now take twelve men from the tribes of Israel, one man from each tribe. When the soles of the feet of the priests carrying the Chest of God, Master of all the earth, touch the Jordan’s water, the flow of water will be stopped—the water coming from upstream will pile up in a heap.” -Joshua 3:9-13 (MSG)
Imagine, if you will, the priests hoisting the ark up onto their shoulders and carrying it to the edge of this roaring, rushing river. (If you have ever been near a flooded river you have a good idea of what they were experiencing.) The people would be watching from a distance. As the priests stepped to the edge of the water and their feet touched the waters, suddenly the waters stopped flowing. What a miracle! The placement of the ark there at the edge of the waters was significant; it was a very visual picture to the people that God was with them in this place of danger. He was watching over them and He was protecting them.
Lest we miss some powerful, pertinent information, let us not stop there; for the closing verse of chapter 3 holds some other valuable knowledge. Joshua 3:17 tells us, “And there they stood; those priests carrying the Chest of the Covenant stood firmly planted on dry ground in the middle of the Jordan while all Israel crossed on dry ground. Finally the whole nation was across the Jordan, and not one wet foot.” -(MSG) Once the waters stopped the priests moved to the middle of the river bed, carrying the ark of the Covenant on their shoulders. There they stood on a dry river bed that moments before had been a raging, roaring flooded river. “…firmly planted on dry ground in the middle of the Jordan…”
God, the Protector, the Miracle Maker, the Almighty had thought of everything. Not only did the waters stop, but He had dried the river bed so that the people could walk across without hindered. HALLELUJAH! God took care of every detail of this amazing miracle. Once again we see God’s power and presence revealed to His people.
Lord, God, you are so amazing! It gives me comfort and peace in knowing that you not only go before me, protect me and provide for me, but you are also a God who takes car of all the details. Help me to remember that fact. Help me to trust you to do for me the very best, just like you always do. You are still the Miracle working God; you have not changed, nor will you ever change. What you have done for others, you can still do for me. I will trust you with all the details of my life, Lord.