The Israelites Cross the Jordan River – Joshua 3-4
The time had come for the Israelites to cross the Jordan river into the promised land. Joshua rose up early in the morning and they all came to the Jordan river, and stayed there before passing over. And after three days the people were told that when they would see the ark of the covenant being carried by the priests, they were to follow. Joshua told them “Sanctify yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do wonders among you.” (that means that they were to think upon the Lord and make themselves ready.)
The next day the priests took up the ark of the covenant and went before the people..and the LORD said to Joshua “this day I will begin to make you great in the sight of all Israel so they will know that as I was with Moses, so I will be with you.”
After that Joshua told the people to take 12 men out of each tribe of Israel, and that it would come to pass that as soon as the feet of the priests rested in the Jordan, the water would separate so the priests would be standing on dry ground. So it happened that as they carried the ark of the covenant, when the priests feet were dipped in the water of the Jordan, the water separated and the priests stood on dry ground in the middle of the Jordan until all the people of Israel were passed over.
And then the LORD spoke to Joshua again, and Joshua called the 12 men from each tribe and told them to go into the middle of the Jordan and each man was to take up a stone so that it would be a sign for the time to come, that the children would say that when the ark of the covenant passed over the Jordan, the waters were separated. and the stones were (to be) a memorial to the children of Israel forever.
So the children of Israel did as Joshua commanded them, and they took 12 stones out of the middle of the Jordan. And Joshua set up 12 stones where the feet of the priests that carried the ark of the covenant stood, and they are there unto this day.
The priests that carried the ark stood in the middle of the Jordan until everything was finished that the LORD had commanded. On that day the LORD made Joshua great in the sight of all Israel, and they feared him as they feared Moses, all the days of his life. Then the LORD spoke to Joshua and said “command the priests that carry the ark to come up out of the Jordan”. So Joshua did as the LORD commanded and when the priests came up out of the middle of the Jordan and the soles of their feet were lifted up to the dry land, the water of the Jordan river returned to its place and the river flowed as it had done before.
Joshua told the people “when your children ask about the stones, say “Israel came over this Jordan on dry ground..for the LORD your God dried up the waters of Jordan from before you until you were passed over, as the LORD your God did to the Red Sea..that all the people of the earth might know that the hand of the LORD is mighty: that you might fear the LORD your God forever.” (this is a reverential fear – one of respect and awe at his mighty power.)
Memory Verse: Joshua 4:24 “that all the people of the earth might know the hand of the LORD, that it is mighty: that ye might fear the LORD your God for ever.” (KJV)
1. How many days did the people stay at the Jordan river before they passed over? Answer: three days
2. What were the priests carrying? Answer: the ark of the covenant
3. When did the waters of the Jordan separate? Answer: when the priests’ feet touched the water
4. How many stones did Joshua tell the people to take? Answer: 12 – one for each tribe
5. When did the waters of the Jordan flow again? Answer: when the priests came out of the Jordan and touched the land.
6. What were they to remember about the LORD God? Answer: that the hand of the LORD is mighty, and they should fear the LORD their God forever.