The day had finally come for the people of Israel to cross the Jordan River and begin to take possession of the Promised Land. This river crossing was highly symbolic and heavy with meaning for them: it was the fulfillment of a centuries-old promise God made to Abraham; it was an opportunity to be obedient to do what their parents had refused to do; and it represented the prospect of having a home to call their own — after four hundred years as slaves in Egypt and forty years as wandering nomads in the wilderness.
It seemed that this defining moment for the Israelites was poorly timed, as the Jordan was at flood-stage. How could the army hundreds of thousands of people, along with their families (possibly up to two million in all), their flocks and herds, and all their possessions cross the flooded river? God had a plan, and Joshua knew it was going to be miraculous (v.5): “Tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you!”
The plan featured the Ark of the Covenant. The Ark meant a great deal to Israel, for it was the place where once a year blood was sprinkled on its lid, called the “mercy seat,” to cover their sins. The Ark symbolized the covenant God had made with Israel and His constant presence with them. According to Hebrews 9:4, the Ark contained three items: a pot of manna, a symbol of God’s miraculous provision; Aaron’s rod that budded, a symbol of God’s wrath against rebellion (see Numbers 17:10); and the Tablets of the Covenant, the written record of God’s Law.
The priests carried the Ark to the water’s edge. Behind them at a distance was the nation of Israel, ready to cross over. As soon as the priests stepped into the river, the swift, flood-stage current abruptly reversed and began to flow backwards, standing in a “heap” (v.16), a great liquid wall rising up and retreating upriver! Immediately the riverbed dried and became firm, creating a path for the nation to cross over. It was a supernatural event, defying the laws of physics and hydrodynamics — it was unmistakably the hand of God working a miracle for His people. What a great God!
That same God will help you, too. He has plans for you, and He is able to remove the obstacles in your path. Just trust Him.
Remember the old gospel song by Oscar Eliason that was inspired by this chapter? Here are the lyrics:
Be of good courage God spoke unto Joshua
When o’er the river God pointed the way;
Jordan uncrossable, things seemed impossible,
Waters divide as they march and obey
Got any rivers you think are uncrossable?
Got any mountains you can’t tunnel through?
God specializes in things thought impossible
And does the things that others cannot do.
God is the same and His Word is dependable,
He’ll make a way through the waters for you.
Life’s situations by Him are amendable,
Mountains and Hills He will part for you, too!