The Israelites Cross the Jordan (Joshua 3-4)

In “The Israelites Cross the Jordan (Joshua 3-4),” you will uncover the inspiring story of Joshua and the Israelites as they prepare to enter the Promised Land. Leading the charge, Joshua follows God’s instructions to cross the daunting Jordan River, which at that time of year, is flooded and seems impossible to traverse.

With faith and courage, the Israelites witness a miraculous event as the waters of the Jordan stop flowing, allowing them to cross on dry ground. This turning point not only marks their entry into the Promised Land but also sets a foundation of faith for generations to come, captured beautifully in a video by Saddleback Kids.

The Israelites Cross the Jordan (Joshua 3-4)

Joshua Prepares the Israelites

Joshua Becomes the Leader of the Israelites

Imagine being handed the reins of leadership over an entire nation. That’s exactly what happened to Joshua. After Moses, a monumental figure, led the Israelites out of Egypt and through the wilderness, it was now Joshua’s turn to lead. God chose Joshua to take over and guide the Israelites into the Promised Land. The transition of power was both exciting and daunting, but Joshua embraced his new role with faith and determination. The Israelites, looking up to Joshua, trusted his leadership as they prepared for the next big chapter of their journey.

God’s Promise of the Promised Land

God had promised the Israelites a land flowing with milk and honey—a place where they could finally settle after years of wandering in the desert. This promised land was not just a physical location but a divine guarantee of rest, prosperity, and blessings. Joshua reminded the people of this promise, fueling their faith and hope. Knowing that God’s word was steadfast, the Israelites looked forward to the fulfillment of the promise with a sense of anticipation and joy, reinforcing their commitment to trust and follow Joshua’s leadership.

The Israelites Camp Beside the Jordan River

As you can picture, the Israelites camped beside the Jordan River, which was the only thing separating them from their promised inheritance. They stayed there for three days as instructed by the Lord, a period likely filled with a mix of prayer, preparation, and perhaps a bit of anxiety. Being so close yet so far from their destination must have been a test of their patience and faith. This was a crucial moment where the Israelites were asked to wait and trust in God’s timing, just as they had learned to do during their desert journey.

The Challenge of the Jordan River

Flooded and Impassable Conditions

During the time the Israelites arrived at the Jordan River, it was flooded and raging. The normally mild river had turned into a formidable barrier, making any thought of crossing on foot seem impossible. The swollen river symbolized a significant challenge that the Israelites had to overcome. The impassable conditions of the Jordan tested their resolve and faith, as they faced what seemed to be an insurmountable obstacle in their path to the Promised Land.

The Seemingly Impossible Task of Crossing

Standing at the bank of the flooded Jordan, you can imagine the Israelites feeling a mix of awe and trepidation. How could they possibly cross this raging river? The task seemed daunting and beyond human capability. However, it is in these seemingly impossible situations that faith is often tested and strengthened. The Israelites were about to witness yet another miraculous intervention, reminding them—and us—that faith in God can turn the impossible into possible.

God’s Instructions to Joshua

Command to Follow the Ark of the Covenant

God gave Joshua specific instructions that required absolute trust and obedience. The Israelites were to follow the Ark of the Covenant, the sacred chest that symbolized God’s presence among them. Joshua relayed this command to the people, instructing them to keep their eyes on the Ark as it was carried ahead by the priests. This act of following the Ark represented more than just physical movement; it was a demonstration of their faith and willingness to follow God’s lead, even when the path was unclear.

Role of the Priests in Leading the Way

The priests had a pivotal role in this miraculous event. God instructed them to carry the Ark of the Covenant and lead the way into the Jordan River. As spiritual leaders, the priests were to step into the turbulent waters first. This act required immense faith, not just from the priests but from all the people who were watching. Their courage and obedience set the stage for the miracle that was about to unfold, emphasizing the importance of spiritual leadership and trust in divine guidance.

The Role of the Ark of the Covenant

Symbolism and Significance of the Ark

The Ark of the Covenant wasn’t just a sacred artifact; it was a powerful symbol of God’s presence, promises, and guidance. Covered in gold and containing the Ten Commandments, Aaron’s rod, and a pot of manna, the Ark held deep historical and spiritual significance. By instructing the people to follow the Ark, God was essentially asking them to follow Him. The Ark’s role in the crossing of the Jordan highlighted the importance of divine presence and faithfulness in achieving what seemed humanly impossible.

Priests Carrying the Ark into the Water

The image of the priests carrying the Ark into the Jordan River is both powerful and profound. It wasn’t just about priests doing their duty; it was an act of profound faith. As they stepped into the water with the Ark, they demonstrated their absolute trust in God’s promise. This act set the precedent for the miracle that would follow and showed the people that stepping out in faith often requires first taking a step into the unknown.

Miraculous Halting of the Jordan River

Priests Stepping into the Water

As the priests obediently stepped into the flooded Jordan, something extraordinary happened. You can feel the tension and anticipation as the soles of the priests’ feet touched the water. Their faith-filled action was the catalyst for the miracle that God had planned. It was a clear demonstration that sometimes, one must step out in faith before witnessing God’s intervention.

Waters Stop Flowing and Create Dry Ground

Just as God had promised, the waters of the Jordan River stopped. They ceased to flow and piled up at a distance, creating dry ground where the riverbed had been. Imagine the awe and wonder that must have spread among the Israelites as they witnessed this divine act. The path to the Promised Land was now clear, illustrating that with God, barriers and obstacles can be removed in miraculous ways.

Crossing the Jordan River

Israelites Crossing on Dry Ground

With the river halted and the ground dry, the Israelites began their crossing. Picture the joy, the relief, and the awe as they walked across what was just moments before a raging, impassable river. Each step on the dry riverbed was a step of faith and a testament to God’s power and faithfulness. This wasn’t just a crossing; it was a fulfillment of God’s promise, a significant moment in their journey.

The Safety and Consistency of the Crossing

Despite the seemingly precarious situation, the crossing was marked by safety and consistency. Every Israelite, from the youngest child to the oldest elder, crossed securely. The priests continued to stand firm with the Ark until everyone had crossed, ensuring that God’s presence was with them every step of the way. This event reinforced the message that when God leads the way, His protection and provision are assured.

Significance of the Twelve Stones

Joshua’s Command to Select Twelve Men

To commemorate this miraculous event, Joshua received further instructions from God. He commanded twelve men, one from each tribe of Israel, to take up twelve stones from the place where the priests were standing in the middle of the Jordan River. These men were chosen as representatives of their tribes, symbolizing unity and collective memory.

Purpose of the Twelve Stones as Memorials

The twelve stones had a profound purpose—they were to serve as lasting memorials. These stones would be a tangible reminder of the miracle that God performed and the faithfulness He showed to His people. Whenever future generations saw these stones, they would recall the story of how God halted the Jordan River, allowing the Israelites to cross on dry ground. It was a way to preserve the memory of God’s providence and inspire faith in the generations to come.

Completion of the Crossing

Priests Leaving the Jordan River

Once all the Israelites had safely crossed, Joshua commanded the priests to come up from the Jordan. The moment was significant as it marked the completion of a miraculous journey. As the priests, carrying the Ark, stepped out of the riverbed, it symbolized the end of this divine intervention and the beginning of a new chapter in the Promised Land.

Waters Returning to Their Natural Flow

As soon as the priests’ feet left the Jordan River, the waters returned to their natural flow, resuming their place as they had been before. This immediate change back to the river’s natural state was yet another testament to the power of God. It was a clear message that the event was orchestrated by divine intervention, leaving no doubt about God’s hand in the miracle.

Establishing the Memorial at Gilgal

Setting Up the Twelve Stones at the Camp

The twelve stones taken from the Jordan River were carried to their camp at Gilgal, where Joshua set them up as a memorial. This act of setting up the stones was deeply symbolic. It was a physical manifestation of their journey, faith, and the fulfillment of God’s promise. The campsite at Gilgal thus became a place of remembrance and reflection for the Israelites.

Importance of the Memorial for Future Generations

The memorial at Gilgal wasn’t just for the present generation; it was for all future generations. It stood as a permanent reminder of God’s faithfulness and the miraculous crossing of the Jordan River. Whenever children asked about the stones, parents could recount the incredible story, thus passing down the legacy of faith and obedience. This memorial helped ensure that the mighty acts of God would never be forgotten and would continue to inspire faith in God for generations to come.


Reflection on the Significance of the Event

Reflecting on the crossing of the Jordan River, it’s clear that this event was much more than a physical passage. It was a profound act of faith, obedience, and divine intervention. Each step taken on the dry riverbed was a testament to God’s faithfulness and power. This crossing signified the beginning of the fulfillment of God’s promises to the Israelites, proving that He is indeed able to make a way where there seems to be no way.

Legacy of Faith and Obedience for Future Generations

The story of the Israelites crossing the Jordan River leaves a lasting legacy of faith and obedience that resonates through the ages. It’s a reminder that God’s promises are true and that He is always with us, guiding our steps, even when the path seems impossible. The memorial stones at Gilgal serve as a powerful symbol of this truth, encouraging each generation to trust in God’s leading and to walk in faith, just as the Israelites did. Through their story, we learn that with God at the helm, no obstacle is too great, and every promise will be fulfilled.

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