Wednesday, October 3, 2012

LXVII - Israel Enters the Promised Land - Joshua 3:1 - 5:13

Remember the last post when the spies were protected by Rahab the prostitute in chapter 2.  They made it back to camp and gave the report that all of Canaan is frightened by the Israelites.  So all of Israel is emboldened by this and can't wait to cross the Jordan River and possess the land God has given them.  {Owning land is special to most people all around the world even today.  Perhaps we take it too much for granted here in this country.  There are countries that do not allow individual possession of land.  Owning land would normally be little more than a pipe dream for such as these direct descendents of slaves.  I remember when I became a property owner as a young man.  There was something special about it.}

Chapter 3 would read as ceremonious.  But let's not forget God is delivering on His promise at this very moment.  Therefore He wants it to be memorable.  Now keep in mind that the Jordan was crested to flood stage at this time, which means the water was at its highest level.  The Levites who were assigned to carry the Ark of the Covenant were instructed to take the Ark and put their feet into the Jordan River.  When they did this God stopped the flow of water, rendering the river bottom dry.  When the ground was dry the Levites were to take the Ark of the Covenant to the middle of the river and stand there while all of Israel crossed the river on the dry ground God had made for them.
Chapter 4  -  All of the nation Israel along with their possessions have crossed into the Promised Land with the exception of the women, children, and livestock of  Reuben, Gad, and the half tribe of Manasseh.  The 40,000 men of war from those tribes had crossed with the rest of Israel.  Joshua called everyone together on the west side to take care of one more necessary order of business.  He selected one man from each of the twelve tribes.  These men were to go out where the Levites were holding the Ark and get a stone from that spot and carry it back to the west bank.  When this was done, Joshua piled the stones as a memorial to what God had done to the River Jordan, allowing Israel to cross on dry land.  Joshua also told Israel that these stones were to serve as a teaching tool to carry on the story to their descendants (vss 4-7).  Look at verse 14:  This would be the turning point for Joshua as a proven leader to take the place of the great Moses.  Joshua then instructed the Levites to bring the Ark of the Covenant the rest of the way across the Jordan.  When the Levites stepped out of the river bed and onto the bank, the water resumed flowing.

Chapter 5  -  All the Amorites and the Canaanites heard about all that has happened concerning the Israelites and "their hearts melted in fear".   This entire land was ripe for the picking for Joshua and this third generation of slave laborers.  But there was yet another order of business that must be done.  In verse 2 it tells what must be done, and then in the following verses it tells why.  Joshua must perform the ceremony of circumsision on all males eight days and older.  All of the men whom Moses had circumsized were dead, and circumcision was not done in the wilderness.  {Prior to this section of the Scripture, one would have assumed this rite was continued no matter what.}  So all of the males were circumcised and Joshua had them all rest until they were healed from it.  Verse 10 tells us that this date of the year was the time for them to observe Passover, which they did.  The day after that they ate of the fruit of the land.  How magnificent that must have been.  The manna stopped that day.  From that day forward they could eat from the land they could call their own.  This must have been a jubilant time for these travel weary people.  They must have wanted to just stay and enjoy the feeling for just a while, which was provided for them while the men and boys healed from the circumcision.
Next post:  Joshua fought the battle of Jericho  (do you remember that song?) And the walls came tumbling down.

1 comment:

  1. Our church is named after this event, the 12 Stones that were brought from the Jordan representing each tribe of Israel.