Archive for January 7th, 2012

Joshua 4

Joshua 4 has the people in the middle of crossing the Jordan.  The priests were in the middle of the river with the ark of the covenant and God has backed the waters up.  God now asks Joshua to “take twelve stones from here out of the midst of the Jordan, from the very place where the priests’ feet stood firmly….bring them over….where you lodge tonight”.  Seems like a rather strange request doesn’t it?  After all, a raging and flooding river has been backed up and stopped, and there are hundreds of thousands of people crossing, and now Joshua wants twelve men, “a man from each tribe”, whom he has selected as the leader to take time to pick up a stone and carry it out.

What is up with that?  God wanted these stones to be assembled to answer this question: “What do these stones mean to you”?  He knew that even though this is a miracle of ginormous size, the people would quickly forget and go back to their ‘what have you done for me lately’ attitudes.  That is one of the sad but true realities about us as people, especially today.  We forget things so quickly.  God didn’t want that to happen – there was to be a reminder for the people to see.

The people passed over in haste” is probably an understatement.  Can you imagine entering a channel that is normally filled with raging water and lolly gagging your way across?  They were on a mission to get in and get out of that riverbed.  God was faithful and moved all the people through.  And one of His key objectives was accomplished: “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”.  In that one big action – God put Joshua firmly in place as the leader and replacement for one of the greatest leaders of all time.  Nothing like a little miracle to drive home the point.  The last of the people got across and then the priests, who had been standing firmly in the middle of the river with the ark, move out of the water.  Note what happens:  “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”.  Remember that the water didn’t stop until the priests stepped in and got wet in faith.  And as soon as they left, the water roared back.  Never doubt that God is in control and has a plan.

The big outcome of this event, beside getting to the other side, is the collection of stones.  Joshua created an altar to help with this situation: “When your children ask their fathers in times to come, “What do these stones mean?….then you shall let your children know, Israel passed over this Jordan on dry ground….the Lord your God dried up the waters….so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the Lord is mighty, that you may fear the Lord your God forever”.  This is about legacy.  This is about God creating something that we would know for eternity.  That He is mighty.  That He is worthy of our praise and worship.  That He is more powerful than a raging river.  God wants us to know Him.  He wants us to understand who He is and what He can do.  God wants us to remember.  He wants us to glorify Him.  This miracle begins life in the Promised Land.  What a way to start!

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