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Tuesday, February 21 2012

The Jordan Crossing

Upon the death of Moses (see also What Does The Bible Really Say About Your Soul?), the LORD (see The First Christian Church) transferred the political leadership of the people of Israel to Joshua. If the Israelites had entered the Promised Land, at their first opportunity forty years earlier, Moses would have led them. But during the forty years of wandering for the rebellious generation (see A Journey Without A Destination and The Mount Sinai Riot), Moses made a serious error of judgment at the waters of Meribah that cost him the crossing into the western tribal lands ("27:12 And the LORD said unto Moses, Get thee up into this mount Abarim, and see the land which I have given unto the children of Israel. 27:13 And when thou hast seen it, thou also shalt be gathered unto thy people, as Aaron thy brother was gathered. 27:14 For ye rebelled against my commandment in the desert of Zin, in the strife of the congregation, to sanctify me at the water before their eyes: that is the water of Meribah in Kadesh in the wilderness of Zin" Numbers 27:12-14 KJV) - although Moses is buried in Israelite territory, east of the Jordan River (see Why Did Joshua Lead Israel Across The Jordan?).

Tribal Map

"1:1 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, 1:2 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. 1:3 Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you, as I said unto Moses. 1:4 From the wilderness and this Lebanon even unto the great river, the river Euphrates [see also Abraham's Seed: From The Nile To The Euphrates], all the land of the Hittites, and unto the great sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your coast. 1:5 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.

1:6 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. 1:7 Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee [see The Stones Of Mount Sinai]: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest. 1:8 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. 1:9 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." (Joshua 1:1-9 KJV)

The crossing was to be done in an orderly way, by means of the LORD leading the Way (see also The Shortest Way Home).

"1:10 Then Joshua commanded the officers of the people, saying, 1:11 Pass through the host, and command the people, saying, Prepare you victuals; for within three days ye shall pass over this Jordan, to go in to possess the land, which the LORD your God giveth you to possess it." (Joshua 1:10-11 KJV)

The Reubenites, the Gadites, and half of the tribe of Manasseh had already taken possession of their territory, east of the Jordan (where Moses is buried), however they were to cross the Jordan to assist the other tribes take possession of their territories, west of the Jordan, just as the others had assisted them (i.e. the staging area for the attack across the Jordan was from the Israelite territory already taken), after which the eastern tribes were to cross back through the Jordan and return home.

"1:12 And to the Reubenites, and to the Gadites, and to half the tribe of Manasseh, spake Joshua, saying, 1:13 Remember the word which Moses the servant of the LORD commanded you, saying, The LORD your God hath given you rest, and hath given you this land. 1:14 Your wives, your little ones, and your cattle, shall remain in the land which Moses gave you on this side Jordan; but ye shall pass before your brethren armed, all the mighty men of valour, and help them; 1:15 Until the LORD have given your brethren rest, as he hath given you, and they also have possessed the land which the LORD your God giveth them: then ye shall return unto the land of your possession, and enjoy it, which Moses the LORD servant gave you on this side Jordan toward the sunrising.

1:16 And they answered Joshua, saying, All that thou commandest us we will do, and whithersoever thou sendest us, we will go. 1:17 According as we hearkened unto Moses in all things, so will we hearken unto thee: only the LORD thy God be with thee, as he was with Moses. 1:18 Whosoever he be that doth rebel against thy commandment, and will not hearken unto thy words in all that thou commandest him, he shall be put to death: only be strong and of a good courage." (Joshua 1:12-18 KJV)

"The waters of Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD"

The legal justification for the crossing would be what it had always been - the LORD, the Creator and Owner of all of the Earth, had commanded them to move - the reason that the Ark of the Covenant of the LORD would lead the crossing.

Crossing The Jordan River

"3:1 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. 3:2 And it came to pass after three days, that the officers went through the host; 3:3 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. 3:4 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.

3:5 And Joshua said unto the people, Sanctify yourselves: for tomorrow the LORD will do wonders among you." (Joshua 3:1-5 KJV)

As with the crossing of the "Red Sea" out of Egypt (see The Night Crossing to understand where and how it actually happened, according to the Word of God), so too the crossing of the Jordan would be miraculous.

"3:7 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. 3:8 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." (Joshua 3:7-8 KJV)

At the moment that the Ark-carrying Levites' feet touched the water (which was also then at spring-flood stage), the river was stopped.

"3:14 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; 3:15 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,) 3:16 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. 3:17 And 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." (Joshua 3:14-17 KJV)

The Ark Crossing The Jordan

A monument was then built, by representatives of all of the tribes, of the crossing of the Ark of the LORD.

"4:1 And it came to pass, when all the people were clean passed over Jordan, that the LORD spake unto Joshua, saying, 4:2 Take you twelve men out of the people, out of every tribe a man, 4:3 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.

4:4 Then Joshua called the twelve men, whom he had prepared of the children of Israel, out of every tribe a man: 4:5 And Joshua said unto them, Pass over before the ark of the LORD your God into the midst of Jordan, and take you up every man of you a stone upon his shoulder, according unto the number of the tribes of the children of Israel: 4:6 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? 4:7 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.

4:8 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. 4:9 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." (Joshua 4:1-9 KJV)

The Levites and the Ark remained in the stopped river, while "forty thousand prepared for war passed over before the LORD unto battle" - and then "the priests that bare the ark of the covenant of the LORD were come up out of the midst of Jordan." As soon as the Levites crossed over, "the waters of Jordan returned unto their place."

The Jordan River

"4:10 For the priests which bare the ark stood in the midst of Jordan, until every thing was finished that the LORD commanded Joshua to speak unto the people, according to all that Moses commanded Joshua: and the people hasted and passed over. 4:11 And it came to pass, when all the people were clean passed over, that the ark of the LORD passed over, and the priests, in the presence of the people. 4:12 And the children of Reuben, and the children of Gad, and half the tribe of Manasseh, passed over armed before the children of Israel, as Moses spake unto them: 4:13 About forty thousand prepared for war passed over before the LORD unto battle, to the plains of Jericho.

4:14 On that day the LORD magnified Joshua in the sight of all Israel; and they feared him, as they feared Moses, all the days of his life.

4:15 And the LORD spake unto Joshua, saying, 4:16 Command the priests that bear the ark of the testimony, that they come up out of Jordan.

4:17 Joshua therefore commanded the priests, saying, Come ye up out of Jordan.

4:18 And it came to pass, when the priests that bare the ark of the covenant of the LORD were come up out of the midst of Jordan, and the soles of the priests' feet were lifted up unto the dry land, that the waters of Jordan returned unto their place, and flowed over all his banks, as they did before." (Joshua 4:10-18 KJV)

The crossing of the Jordan River occurred "on the tenth day of the first month," around the time of Passover - the same time of year as the Exodus out of Egypt.

"4:19 And the people came up out of Jordan on the tenth day of the first month, and encamped in Gilgal, in the east border of Jericho. 4:20 And those twelve stones, which they took out of Jordan, did Joshua pitch in Gilgal. 4:21 And he spake unto the children of Israel, saying, When your children shall ask their fathers in time to come, saying, What mean these stones? 4:22 Then ye shall let your children know, saying, Israel came over this Jordan on dry land. 4:23 For the LORD your God dried up the waters of Jordan from before you, until ye were passed over, as the LORD your God did to the Red sea, which he dried up from before us, until we were gone over: 4:24 That all the people of the earth might know the hand of the LORD, that it is mighty: that ye might fear the LORD your God for ever." (Joshua 4:19-24 KJV)

Fact Finder: What does "milk and honey" mean in regard to the Promised Land?
See Milk and Honey


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This Day In History, February 21

1173: Pope Alexander III canonized Thomas Becket. As Archbishop of Canterbury, Becket was martyred 3 years before by King Henry II.

1437: After the king's efforts to break the influence of the Scottish nobility, King James I of Scotland was assassinated by conspirators led by Walter of Atholl.

1613: Michael Romanov became czar (the Russian form of "Caesar"; see also Caesar) of Russia, beginning the Romanov dynasty.

1715: Charles Calvert, 3rd Baron Baltimore, died at age 78. He was commissioned governor of Maryland in 1661 and succeeded as proprietor of the colony in 1665. Like his grandfather, George Calvert, 1st Baron Baltimore, he was a staunch Roman Catholic and faced anti-Catholic feeling which was strong among Maryland's protestant majority.

1744: The British blockade of Toulon was broken by 27 French and Spanish warships attacking the 29 British ships.

1804: The world's first steam locomotive was completed, in Wales.

1848: Karl Marx (born of a wealthy family in Germany) and Friedrich Engels (a wealthy German industrialist) published their famous Communist Manifesto. Considering that both of them were very wealthy, and were never "workers," their Communist Manifesto is regarded by many historians to have been written by two hypocrites, not two social economists.

1849: In the Second British-Sikh War, the British defeated a force of 50,000 Sikhs at the Battle of Gujerat.

1915: During the First World War (listen to our Sermon The European World Wars), the Germans under Hindenberg heavily defeated the Russians under Baron Siever at the Winter Battle of Masuria which ended this day. Over 200,000 Russians were lost.

1916: During the First World War, German forces launched an attack on the French fortress at Verdun. The battle ended December 18, with 434,000 German and 543,000 French casualties.

1918: During the First World War, while British forces were advancing on Jerusalem (see A History Of Jerusalem: The British Mandate), Australian cavalry captured Jericho from the Ottomans (listen also to our Sermons The Ottoman Empire and The Balfour Declaration).

1940: The Nazis begin construction of the concentration camp at Auschwitz (see Presidential Quotes On War, Terrorism, Religion).

1941: Frederick Banting died at age 50. The Canadian physician (from Alliston, Ontario), with Charles Best of Toronto, discovered insulin in 1921 (which led to the effective treatment for diabetes). Banting was co-recipient (along with Scottish researcher John Macleod) of the 1923 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine. Knighted in 1934, Banting was killed in a plane crash while on a war mission in the Second World War.

1944: Hideki Tojo became chief of staff of the Japanese army. "Tojo" thereafter became an epithet of Japan during the remainder of the Second World War.

1945: Eric Liddell died at age 43. The Scottish Olympic champion runner, later a missionary to China, was captured by the Japanese during the Second World War and died of a brain tumor while imprisoned. His college running days were portrayed in the 1981 film "Chariots of Fire."

1965: U.S. African-American Muslim leader Malcolm X (actual name Malcolm Little) was assassinated in New York by members of the so-called "Nation of Islam."

1973: An Israeli fighter plane shot down the civilian Libyan Arab Airlines Flight 114 over the Sinai Desert, killing 108 passengers and crew.

1975: United States Attorney General John N. Mitchell (the highest law-enforcement officer in the country) and White House officials H.R. Haldeman and John Ehrlichman were sentenced to prison for their criminal involvement in the Watergate burglary.


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