Sabbath, January 1, 2005
• To understand that the Lord is our supreme Leader and that if we do not lean on Him, even for a single moment, we shall fail.
• To consider that obstacles may be beneficial at the right moment.
• To remember God’s wonders of the past in order to have sufficient confidence and obedience for present emergencies.
A NEW LEADER
1. Who was called by the Lord to be the leader of His people at the end of their journey? What great mission was appointed to him?
Joshua 1:1, 2 Now after the death of Moses the servant of the Lord it came to pass, that the Lord spake unto Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ minister, saying, Moses my servant is dead; now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, thou, and all this people, unto the land which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel.
“Joshua was now the acknowledged leader of Israel.… Courageous, resolute, and persevering, prompt, incorruptible, unmindful of selfish interests in his care for those committed to his charge, and, above all, inspired by a living faith in God–such was the character of the man divinely chosen to conduct the armies of Israel in their entrance upon the Promised Land. During the sojourn in the wilderness he had acted as prime minister to Moses, and by his quiet, unpretending fidelity, his steadfastness when others wavered, his firmness to maintain the truth in the midst of danger, he had given evidence of his fitness to succeed Moses, even before he was called to the position by the voice of God.” – Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 481, 482.
2. What words of encouragement did the Lord tell His servant?
Joshua 1:5-9 There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee. Be strong and of a good courage: for unto this people shalt thou divide for an inheritance the land, which I sware unto their fathers to give them. Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest. This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success. Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.
FORETELLING THE SEPARATION OF THE WATERS
3. What was necessary before the Lord would manifest His wonders among the people?
Joshua 3:1-5 And Joshua rose early in the morning; and they removed from Shittim, and came to Jordan, he and all the children of Israel, and lodged there before they passed over. And it came to pass after three days, that the officers went through the host; And they commanded the people, saying, When ye see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, and the priests the Levites bearing it, then ye shall remove from your place, and go after it. Yet there shall be a space between you and it, about two thousand cubits by measure: come not near unto it, that ye may know the way by which ye must go: for ye have not passed this way heretofore. And Joshua said unto the people, Sanctify yourselves: for to morrow the Lord will do wonders among you.
“Orders were now issued to make ready for an advance.… ”Leaving their encampment in the acacia groves of Shittim, the host descended to the border of the Jordan. All knew, however, that without divine aid they could not hope to make the passage. At this time of the year–in the spring season–the melting snows of the mountains had so raised the Jordan that the river overflowed its banks, making it impossible to cross at the usual fording places. God willed that the passage of Israel over Jordan should be miraculous. Joshua, by divine direction, commanded the people to sanctify themselves; they must put away their sins and free themselves from all outward impurity; ‘for tomorrow,’ he said, ‘the Lord will do wonders among you.’” – Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 483.
4. What exact instructions were given to the people before the divine miracle was to be performed?
Joshua 3:6-13 And Joshua spake unto the priests, saying, Take up the ark of the covenant, And pass over before the people. And they took up the ark of the covenant, and went before the people. And the Lord said unto Joshua, This day will I begin to magnify thee in the sight of all Israel, that they may know that, as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee. And thou shalt command the priests that bear the ark of the covenant, saying, When ye are come to the brink of the water of Jordan, ye shall stand still in Jordan. And Joshua said unto the children of Israel, Come hither, and hear the words of the Lord your God. And Joshua said, Hereby ye shall know that the living God is among you, and that he will without fail drive out from before you the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Hivites, and the Perizzites, and the Girgashites, and the Amorites, and the Jebusites. Behold, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth passeth over before you into Jordan. Now therefore take you twelve men out of the tribes of Israel, out of every tribe a man. And it shall come to pass, as soon as the soles of the feet of the priests that bear the ark of the Lord, the Lord of all the earth, shall rest in the waters of Jordan, that the waters of Jordan shall be cut off from the waters that come down from above; and they shall stand upon an heap.
“The ‘ark of the covenant’ was to lead the way before the host. When they should see the token of Jehovah’s presence, born by the priests, remove from its place in the center of the camp, and advance toward the river, then they were to remove from their place, ‘and go after it.’ The circumstances of the passage were minutely foretold; and said Joshua, ‘Hereby ye shall know that the living God is among you, and that he will without fail drive out from before you the Canaanites.… Behold, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth passeth over before you into Jordan.’” – Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 483, 484.
THE MIRACULOUS CROSSING OF THE JORDAN
5. How was the impressive miracle of the waters that rose and heaped up performed?
Joshua 3:14-16 And it came to pass, when the people removed from their tents, to pass over Jordan, and the priests bearing the ark of the covenant before the people; And as they that bare the ark were come unto Jordan, and the feet of the priests that bare the ark were dipped in the brim of the water, (for Jordan overfloweth all his banks all the time of harvest,) That the waters which came down from above stood and rose up upon an heap very far from the city Adam, that is beside Zaretan: and those that came down toward the sea of the plain, even the salt sea, failed, and were cut off: and the people passed over right against Jericho.
“All watched with deep interest as the priests advanced down the bank of the Jordan. They saw them with the sacred ark move steadily forward toward the angry, surging stream, till the feet of the bearers were dipped into the waters. Then suddenly the tide above was swept back, while the current below flowed on, and the bed of the river was laid bare.
“At the divine command the priests advanced to the middle of the channel and stood there while the entire host descended and crossed to the farther side. Thus was impressed upon the minds of all Israel the fact that the power that stayed the waters of Jordan was the same that had opened the Red Sea to their fathers forty years before. When the people had all passed over, the ark itself was borne to the western shore. No sooner had it reached a place of security, and ‘the soles of the priests’ feet were lifted up unto the dry land,’ than the imprisoned waters, being set free, rushed down, a resistless flood, in the natural channel of the stream.” – Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 484.
6. What do we think of this marvelous crossing of the dry river without a bridge or a boat?
Joshua 3:17And the priests that bare the ark of the covenant of the Lord stood firm on dry ground in the midst of Jordan, and all the Israelites passed over on dry ground, until all the people were passed clean over Jordan.
“The influence of this miracle, both upon the Hebrews and upon their enemies, was of great importance. It was an assurance to Israel of God’s continued presence and protection–an evidence that He would work for them through Joshua as He had wrought through Moses. Such an assurance was needed to strengthen their hearts as they entered upon the conquest of the land–the stupendous task that had staggered the faith of their fathers forty years before.…
“This exercise of divine power in behalf of Israel was designed also to increase the fear with which they were regarded by the surrounding nations, and thus prepare the way for their easier and complete triumph.…
To the Canaanites, to all Israel, and to Joshua himself, unmistakable evidence had been given that the living God, the King of heaven and earth, was among His people, and that He would not fail them nor forsake them.” – Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 484, 485.
7. In the ages to come, who was to receive the knowledge of God’s miracles on behalf of His people?
Joshua 4:1-9 And it came to pass, when all the people were clean passed over Jordan, that the Lord spake unto Joshua, saying, Take you twelve men out of the people, out of every tribe a man, And command ye them, saying, Take you hence out of the midst of Jordan, out of the place where the priests’ feet stood firm, twelve stones, and ye shall carry them over with you, and leave them in the lodging place, where ye shall lodge this night. Then Joshua called the twelve men, whom he had prepared of the children of Israel, out of every tribe a man: And Joshua said unto them, Pass over before the ark of the Lord your God into the midst of Jordan, and take ye up every man of you a stone upon his shoulder, according unto the number of the tribes of the children of Israel: That this may be a sign among you, that when your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, What mean ye by these stones? Then ye shall answer them, That the waters of Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord; when it passed over Jordan, the waters of Jordan were cut off: and these stones shall be for a memorial unto the children of Israel for ever. And the children of Israel did so as Joshua commanded, and took up twelve stones out of the midst of Jordan, as the Lord spake unto Joshua, according to the number of the tribes of the children of Israel, and carried them over with them unto the place where they lodged, and laid them down there. And Joshua set up twelve stones in the midst of Jordan, in the place where the feet of the priests which bare the ark of the covenant stood: and they are there unto this day.
“Coming generations were not to be without a witness to this great miracle.” –Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 484.
“Study carefully the experiences of Israel… Study the third and fourth chapters of Joshua, recording their preparation for the passage over the Jordan into the promised land. We need to keep the heart and mind in training by refreshing the memory with the lessons that the Lord taught His ancient people. Then, to us, as He designed it should be to them, the teachings of His Word will ever be interesting and impressive.” –Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol.2, p. 994.
THE PURPOSE OF THE MIRACLE
• To give the people divine assistance.
• To confirm Joshua as the leader of Israel.
• To cause their enemies to fear.
• To leave a memorial for future generations.
FOR OUR SPIRITUAL LIFE
• What elements are there in the history of the election of Joshua that can be a lesson for us?
• Are we also near “Canaan,” at the bank of a “river” that has to be crossed?
• What do we learn from the experience of Israel at the Jordan River?
“Through His people Israel, God designed to give to the world a knowledge of His will. His promises and threats, His instructions and reproofs, the wonderful manifestation of His power among them, in blessing for obedience, and judgment for transgression and apostasy,–all were designed for the education and development of religious principle among the people of God until the close of time. Therefore it is important that we acquaint ourselves with the history of the Hebrew host, and ponder with care the dealings of God with them.” –Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 2, p. 994.