Yesterday, the spies returned from Jericho with this report: “Truly the Lord has given all the land into our hands. And also, all the inhabitants of the land melt away because of us.” This melting of the hearts of Canaan was predicted in Moses’ song in Exodus 15, but the last time spies returned from Canaan, Deuteronomy 1 records that it was the Israelites’ hearts that melted. It appears that things have been set right, and that Israel is finally ready for this.
This leads into the LORD’s commands, at the beginning of today’s reading, regarding crossing the Jordan. Had they entered from the south 40 years ago, there would have been no dramatic crossing. But now they approach from the east, and this generation gets its own parting of the waters moment.
Go back and read Exodus 14 again, and compare the details of the two events. The first one was chaotic – Pharaoh’s army and the angel of the LORD and people panicking and Moses promising “Stand firm! The LORD will fight for you!”
The Joshua crossing contains much less drama but no less significance. The LORD promises that today, He will “begin to exalt Joshua before all Israel.” The priests and the ark play a central role. And by this parting of the river, the people will know “that the living God is among you and He will without fail drive out the Canaanites.”
So they cross, as promised. And the manna ceases, also as promised. And they celebrate the Passover – close readers yesterday would have noticed we’re in the middle of the first month of the year. And they are circumcised, prepared for battle and covenant occupation of the promised land.
We close today with one of my favorite texts in all the Bible. At the end of chapter 5, Joshua heads out toward Jericho alone. The text doesn’t tell us why he was out there. Perhaps he was praying, working up his courage, or preparing plans for battle… He looks up, and sees a man with drawn sword. Joshua asks a binary question: “Are you for us, or for our adversaries?” Let the man’s answer sink in, and consider, once again, the type of God we are dealing with.
Our verse for this week is Galatians 3:29: And if you are Christ’s then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to the promise.
Joshua chapters 3 through 5. Now let’s read it!
And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise.