“Today you will know that the living God is among you.“ – Joshua 3:10a NLT
This day has been long in coming. For more than 40 years, the people of God have been waiting for this moment to take place – the crossing over into the land of Canaan, the long-awaited Promised Land. This is the event that all their decades of wandering has been leading to. They are getting ready to move from the wilderness to living in the land that was flowing with milk and honey. But before they could get there they were going to have to cross the Jordan. Once again, the people of God found themselves faced with a daunting task – somehow getting the tens of thousands of their people, not to mention livestock, from one side of the Jordan to the other. And at the time of year when the Jordan was at its highest and widest.
It is no coincidence that they had arrived at the Jordan when they did. This was God’s timing. The Israelites were to cross the Jordan when the river was at its widest, deepest, and swiftest, in late April or early May. At this time of year, the snow on Mt. Hermon melts and the rainy season ends. The Jordan rises to a depth of 10-12 feet and floods to a width of 300-360 feet at this point even today. This was not going to be easy. But God never said it would be. This was going to be an opportunity to see God work. It was going to be a chance for God to prove the reality of His presence.
The plan was simple. The Levites would carry the Ark of the Covenant into the waters of the Jordan. When they stopped in the middle of the river, the waters would cease to flow and the the people would walk across on dry land. This wasn’t just a miracle, as amazing as it was. It was a statement of God’s presence and a reminder of His covenant promise to deliver the people of Israel to the Land of Promise. The Ark was a visual representation of God. “The ark is the very symbol of the covenant of the Lord. Thus the full light falls on the redemptive significance of the event. No mere recalling of a miracle is envisaged. The miracle is to be viewed as an expression of covenant fidelity” (Martin H. Woudstra, The Book of Joshua). God was fulfilling His promise. He was doing what He said He would do.
Getting from one side of the Jordan to the other was an event. It was a day worthy of remembering and that is exactly why Joshua had the people set up two memorials. One in the middle of the river and one on the far bank of the river. One would be seen for generations and serve as a reminder of God’s covenant faithfulness. God does what He says He will do. God is present with His people. His power protects and provides for His people. The other memorial would be under the water of the Jordan – invisible to human eyes – except in times of drought. But even then, it would be a reminder that God is with them.
The conquest of the land had to begin with the crossing of the river. If they didn’t get over the river, they would never take possession of the land. It all began with God. That’s the way it has to be. Even for us. Our victories in this life all begin and end with God. He must go ahead of us, providing what we need every step of the way. God wants to prove that He is among us, even today. He wants to show His power. He wants to reveal His presence to us. He is still the covenant keeping God.
Father, You go ahead of me every day. You provide the way when there is no way. You do signs and wonders – even though sometimes I don’t even notice them. You are at work in my world. You are parting the waters of my life. Open my eyes so that I can see more clearly Your presence. Amen
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men