Joshua 3:1-17

Crossing the Jordan

3 Early in the morning Joshua and all the Israelites set out from Shittim and went to the Jordan, where they camped before crossing over. 2 After three days the officers went throughout the camp, 3 giving orders to the people: "When you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, and the Levitical priests carrying it, you are to move out from your positions and follow it. 4 Then you will know which way to go, since you have never been this way before. But keep a distance of about two thousand cubits[a] between you and the ark; do not go near it."

5 Joshua told the people, "Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you."

6 Joshua said to the priests, "Take up the ark of the covenant and pass on ahead of the people." So they took it up and went ahead of them.

7 And the Lord said to Joshua, "Today I will begin to exalt you in the eyes of all Israel, so they may know that I am with you as I was with Moses. 8 Tell the priests who carry the ark of the covenant: ‘When you reach the edge of the Jordan's waters, go and stand in the river.'"

9 Joshua said to the Israelites, "Come here and listen to the words of the Lord your God. 10 This is how you will know that the living God is among you and that he will certainly drive out before you the Canaanites, Hittites, Hivites, Perizzites, Girgashites, Amorites and Jebusites. 11 See, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth will go into the Jordan ahead of you. 12 Now then, choose twelve men from the tribes of Israel, one from each tribe. 13 And as soon as the priests who carry the ark of the Lord—the Lord of all the earth—set foot in the Jordan, its waters flowing downstream will be cut off and stand up in a heap."

14 So when the people broke camp to cross the Jordan, the priests carrying the ark of the covenant went ahead of them. 15 Now the Jordan is at flood stage all during harvest. Yet as soon as the priests who carried the ark reached the Jordan and their feet touched the water's edge, 16 the water from upstream stopped flowing. It piled up in a heap a great distance away, at a town called Adam in the vicinity of Zarethan, while the water flowing down to the Sea of the Arabah (that is, the Dead Sea) was completely cut off. So the people crossed over opposite Jericho. 17 The priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord stopped in the middle of the Jordan and stood on dry ground, while all Israel passed by until the whole nation had completed the crossing on dry ground.


I want to finish this series on Exodus in Joshua 3 because this tells the story of exiting the desert where the people had wandered for 40 years and crossing the Jordan into the Promised Land.

Big Picture.
We began (weeks and weeks ago) in Egypt where the people were suffering under Pharaoh's oppression. Generational slavery. It was all they knew. They were then liberated as they passed through the Red Sea, and they wandered in the desert, this liminal space between what once was and what will be. Finally, as we read today they pass through Jordan River and enter into the promised land.

Egypt > Sea > Desert > River > Promised Land

Something formational has happened to this people in between the sea and the river. In the Bible the word ‘formation' is passive. In Genesis it is something that God does, forming humanity from the dust, and in the New Testament our transformation is a work of God. The Greek word Metamorphai where we get the word Metamorphosis is God's work by his Spirit. He is the potter, we are the clay.

However, we should look to be ready to responsive to how God is forming us.

The people are now ready to move from how it has been to the next thing God is calling them to (2).

The grumbling that we see throughout Exodus has stopped, 40 years later a new generation has emerged, one who hear and obey God. God is in their midst in his tabernacle. Joshua is exalted by God to lead this new change.

In Romans 6, Paul speaks of a similar pattern that takes place in the Christian life. He uses the language of being ‘in Adam' (Egypt) and being ‘in Christ' (the Promised Land). We live the Christian life in the inbetween of these two eons (the desert). Our whole lives are a formational journey between baptism and death.

Are you frustrated that things aren't moving as fast as you might like? That you continue to do what you wish you wouldn't. That your gifts or dreams don't match your vision. You're in good company.

Learn to embrace that somewhat liminal experience between one thing and the other. It is the reality that we all live in. The resurrection means that we will experience moments where the future seems to break into our present, pray for those moments, desire them. But trust the process and the one who is leading us. Cooperate and join with what God is doing in you. Be ready and responsive to him along the journey.

‘Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you.' (5)

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