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Joshua Part 2: From Jordan to Jericho

Scripture: Joshua 1:1-9, Joshua 2:1-24, Joshua 3:1-17
Date: 02/10/2007 
The second in a six part series on Joshua. Here we move into the transition from Moses' leadership to Joshua. This sermon focuses on the capture of Jericho.
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Note: This is a verbatim transcript of the live broadcast. It is presented as spoken.

Good morning. Praise the Lord. God is good. I wasn’t even expecting that. That’s right. All the time… there you go. For our friends who may be visiting or if you were not here last Sabbath, we have just begun a series on the Bible hero of Joshua and we are doing part two in that series today. I don’t know how long it will go, but we’re not going to finish this Sabbath. I can just about tell you that. Dealing with one of the great characters Joshua, our message today is more specifically, Joshua part 2, from Jordan to Jericho. You notice it doesn’t say from Jordan through Jericho because we’re just going to get to Jericho today and in our next study we’ll probably be talking more about the walls of Jericho and that whole adventure. You know I, many times, have traveled through the Joshua Tree National Monument that you find down in Southern California. For one thing I used to live down in Palm Springs and that area, drove through a lot of the deserts. Our son was based in Twenty-nine Palms that is right on the outskirts of that Joshua Tree National Monument and they’ve got these very majestic looking tree cactus specimens that are there.

For a while there they were threatened with extinction because some of the miners that found precious metals in those deserts of the Mohave and the Sonora Deserts there are no trees to cut down for wood to fuel the ore machines and the engines and they started to just cut down all of the Joshua Trees. Eventually they made it a National Monument and protected them. There used to be some of them that were just enormous and many of the tallest ones were cut down. The trees were named by a band of Mormons who were passing through those deserts and they said that they reminded them of the biblical hero Joshua because they stood tall, their arms were reaching to heaven and they managed to thrive in a very hot, sterile environment. And of course our hero, Joshua, is one of the few who made it all the way from Egypt through the wilderness into the Promised Land so he is worthy character for us to study. Also beyond that we have seen that he is a type of our Savior not only in his deeds, but even in his name. The very first time that you find the name of Jesus in the Bible is when it is applied to the servant of Moses called Joshua the son of Nun.

Keep in mind, I always have to repeat this because some people miss it and they’re going to have a big question mark, Joshua or Yashua is the Hebrew name for Jesus. Jesus is the Greek pronunciation and all of the derivatives that we have in the world are mostly based on the Greek pronunciation but it was more accurately Yashua and it means Jehovah is salvation or Jehovah saves. Of course he was a savior in the Old Testament and the angel said to Mary, “You will call His name Jesus for He will save…” Our Joshua, our Jesus leads us out of Egypt through the wilderness into the Promised Land. And so where we take up our story today is a good place because we’ve sort of given the introduction and some of the experiences of Joshua that we’ve found in the wilderness with Moses. Now Moses is passing away, we get to the book of Joshua. The book of Joshua is really a bridge between the law and the books of the judges that you find. So we’re going to enter into Joshua chapter one.

Most of our study is going to be going through Joshua one through ten. A lot of it then breaks down into some of the specifics of the divisions of the Promised Land, but the best stories are going to be found in the first six or eight chapters in the book of Joshua. In Joshua chapter one we find where he really takes over as now the new commander of God’s people. He is given a mandate to have courage and that was in our memory verse or our scripture reading this morning. You remember that Moses told Joshua, Be strong, be courageous. Now we get into chapter one of Joshua, the Lord tells him again to be strong and be courageous. Why? Can you imagine trying to fill Moses’ shoes? A couple of times I have talked to pastors and individuals that have had to come into a church where this pastor just raised up a church from nothing, had thousands of members and someone has said, “You know you’ve got some big shoes to fill.”

I remember one pastor said, “Well, I’m going to be filling my own.” I remember when I came to Amazing Facts it was extremely intimidating for me because Joe Crews was sort of a living legend in his own day and there was this sudden transition with very little warning because of his untimely death. I’ll tell you I spent a lot of time in prayer because I just thought, “Boy, how can I do it?” Joshua even with the evidence of God in the camp must have felt some apprehension. Moses had some big sandals to fill, so to speak. Here he had stood before the Pharaoh and all of the plagues and mighty miracles and Moses is not deemed worthy to lead them over and God said, “Joshua, you do it.” And Joshua is thinking, “I was Moses’ servant. How could I be worthy?” What about the apprehension that Elisha felt when Elijah is going to heaven and Elisha feels like “How can I fill Elijah’s shoes? This is a man prays and fire comes down from heaven.” And Elijah says to Elisha, “Before I leave, is there something you’d like to request?” He didn’t feel fit for the job, did he? What did he ask for? “A double portion of your spirit. How can I do your work without your spirit?” So Joshua is feeling this element of apprehension. Moses is dead. They mourned for him thirty days and God reassures him. He says, “I am going to give you courage. You be strong. I am with you.” That’s a wonderful promise. Amen?

What is courage? According to the dictionary “Courage is the state or quality of mind or spirit that enables one to face danger, fear or vicissitudes with self possession, confidence, resolution and bravery.” Karen lent me a tape I was listening to this week. I haven’t found it in a book anywhere, but Pastor David Gates describes courage as someone who runs to do the right thing even though it looks like the impossible. Running towards the right thing is like David running to fight Goliath. That takes courage to run to fight a giant even though it looks like it’s impossible that you might win. I know sometimes there is a very thin line between courage and insanity. Many heroes are called crazy first and heroes later. Isn’t that right?

When you step out in faith sometimes you’re called crazy. When you succeed you’re called spiritual. So now God says to Joshua, I want you to cross the Jordan. He hasn’t told him how he’s going to do it because the river is flooding at this point. As they’re moving in that direction, you remember Moses died and was buried near Mt. Debo so they’re not too far from that place, he realizes that it would probably be a good idea to send a couple of individuals over in advance to sort of scout the area. They did have guarded crossings that were crossed by ferry where a few people and their oxen could maybe get on a raft and they were pulled across the Jordan. The Jordan used to flood during the harvest time. The snows of Lebanon were melting, Mt. Lebanon, they were running down. It’s not a mighty river like the Missouri, but it’s a pretty formidable stream this time of year and you can’t get across it. There’s no bridge, but a couple of spies could make it. He couldn’t send twelve like Moses did forty years earlier for a couple of reasons. One, it’s too obvious when you’ve got twelve spies traveling together to spot them. They sort of stand out.

The other thing is, Joshua did not want a repeat of the wrong men getting discouraged by the obstacles and bringing back an evil report. So he handpicked two individuals based on their faithfulness. Now there is some speculation. We don’t know who one of them is, but there is speculation that one of the spies’ names was Salmon. Salmon was the father of Boaz. He was the son of Nahshon. Nahshon was one of the twelve princes that had been chosen by Joshua to represent the tribes so this was a man of dignity, young trustworthy and he had a partner who is unnamed. They cross over. Now he’s given the charge of courage in chapter one. Go with me to chapter two and one of my favorite stories (I’m glad that I get to address it again here) is the story of Rahab and the two spies. Go with me to chapter 2 verse 1. “Now Joshua the son of Nun…” You remember we talked about Nun. Do you remember what the Hebrew interpretation of Nun is? A Catholic woman who is not married. No.

Nun was an eternal, it represents perpetual or eternal. So here Joshua, his name is Jehovah is savior, the son of the eternal. Alright and so “Joshua the son of Nun sent out” two spies, “two men from Acacia Grove…” They’re camped at this grove that’s not very far from Jericho. Jericho is right by the Jordan River. We’ve been there. And they came to the city and they “came to the house of a harlot.” Some of you might be thinking, Pastor Doug, aren’t these supposed to be godly men? What has this turned into a business trip? What’s going on here? They “came to the house of a harlot named Rahab, and lodged there.” Well, before you jump to conclusions about what these spies were doing, in Bible times it was a common practice that the inns, the hotels, were operated by families and it was something like a mom and pop operation with a bed and breakfast and sometimes there was a little more emphasis on the bed part because that was the oldest profession and it was just the way of life back then and people who operated these inns were automatically labeled as harlots and it didn’t necessarily mean it’s what they did. It meant that happened in their house.

You understand? But she is called, you can’t escape it, several times in the Bible Rahab the harlot. Of course Mary Magdalene was given that reputation as well. One reason they went there is first of all, when you go to one of those houses or ill repute or a bordello it’s a place where nobody asks questions because someone might ask you what you’re doing there. You understand? It’s a good place to mix in. How nervous were the people in Jericho at that time? Think about this. Right then the people who were in the city of Jericho could stand on the massive walls, look right across the river and they could see at night this glowing pillar of fire coming up from the tabernacle of God’s people. The evidence of God’s presence with His people was visible from their city on the other side of the Jordan. Would that make you nervous? Had they heard the story over the last forty years of the miraculous deliverance of Israel and all of the plagues that fell on the Egyptians?

How they were being fed? Can you imagine looking from your windows? Suppose you have a nice vantage point in the walls of Jericho and you see every morning children of Israel as soon as the sun comes up there they are fanning out picking up bread off the ground. Would it be evident to you that God is with them? And everybody knew that they had been told the land of Canaan was theirs and they were coming to take possession. That would make the people of Jericho very nervous. So they are on, what do you call it? We’ve got orange, yellow, red alert in North America, our security levels. They were on red alert, would you agree? And so here the guards are carefully watching the gates so these spies try to come in, they mingle. The other thing they’re wanting to do is the caravans that went from Europe to Africa and India through Asia often went through the Jordan Valley specifically Jericho. Jericho is one of the oldest cities in the world because it was by a great spring, it’s called the Spring of Elisha, it’s by a river and it was in a valley that was an easy natural trail through these continents. If you went too far one way you had the ocean, you went too far the other way you had a desert. It was the natural place to go and so caravans, great commerce went through Jericho. People from all over the world came through Jericho.

If you wanted to know what was happening in the newsroom you went to Jericho and if you wanted to know especially you would go to the hotel in Jericho so these men went there to do reconnaissance. They would sit there quietly, eat their food and listen to what people were saying. They could hear all the chatter of what was going on. But evidently something happened to blow their cover. Somebody noticed, “Didn’t I see them cross the Jordan? Weren’t they on the ferry with me? They’re dressed a little unusual. They’ve got that glow about them. They look suspicious.” Their clothing, something, somehow someone said, “I detected when we asked them a question they had an accent that sounded like Hebrew.” In any event people became suspicious. “And it was told the King of Jericho, saying, ‘Behold, men have come here tonight from the children of Israel to search out the country.’” Now by the way, if Joshua represents out Jesus who is it that has unrightfully taken possession of the Promised Land? What king? Who is called the prince of this world? Satan. Does Satan know what’s God’s representatives are doing? Does the devil have his eye on God’s messengers?

Is he threatened? You remember one time when, in the book of Acts, Paul was going out and he always traveled by two. God often sends His messengers two by two and Paul was casting out devils and seven sons of a Jewish priest or Levite wanted to cast out this devil and this devil beat up the seven boys and chased them away and this is what the devil said. “I know Jesus,” Joshua, “and I know Paul, but I don’t know who you are.” The devil said, “I know who Paul is.” The devil knows who God’s messengers are and he is on high alert. He’s watching what they’re doing and so a report came to him right away. “So the king of Jericho sent to Rahab, saying, ‘Bring out the men who have come to you, who have entered your house, for they have come to search out all the country.’” Now the reason the soldiers didn’t go marching right into Rahab’s house is because in Bible times a person’s house was their sanctuary. Even if it was the tent you said, “Bring them out.” Remember the men of Sodom said to Lot, “Send those two angels out.” When in the book of Judges the Levite stayed in that house in Benjamin the men of the city came and said, “Send him out, send the wife out.”

They didn’t go in because there was a very strong taboo to invade the sanctuary of someone’s home. You had to send them out. So he says to Rahab, “Send them out.” She says, “Well, the house is full of guests. Let me go find them.” So she runs and she’s a very quick thinker. She runs in the house. She “took the two men,” I’m in verse four, and she “hid them. …and she said, ‘Yes, the men came to me, but I did not know where they were from. And it happened as the gate was being shut, when it was dark, that the men went out. Where the men went I do not know; pursue them quickly, for you may overtake them.” I understand they’ve just left. She’s thinking very quickly. You know what else Rahab is doing? What would it be called if you fraternize with the enemy and you betray your country? Aren’t you called a traitor? Isn’t that treason? What is the punishment usually for treason? Even in America we have executed spies and traitors. She is putting her life on the line to deliver God’s messengers; she is willing to die to preserve the two messengers. Now you maybe picked up on it. I believe these two messengers represent the word of God. The word of God is compared to two witnesses. You get to Revelation 11 and there are two witnesses, right? And they’re a symbol of you could say the law and the prophets, the New and the Old Testament.

The word of God is often given in the context of something doable. It’s a sword with how many edges? A double edged sword. This is the word of God. These two messengers that came from Joshua represent the word of God, and what does she do? She hides them. “They word I have hid in my heart that I might not sin…” amen? And she’s doing it where she’s willing to die to preserve it. We all must be willing to take up our cross and to die. Now people always take issue with the part, they say, “She lied!” Yes, she did. She was also a harlot so give her a break. This was a pagan woman. God meets us where we’re at, isn’t that right? By the way, in war, I’m not saying the Bible condones it, but it is a fact that deception was frequently used for the enemy in war. Even Joshua later on uses deceptive tactics. He looks like he’s retreating from the city of Ai and then they come in and they charge. It was just a common practice back then. So, no, it’s not that God is endorsing lying and don’t ever use Rahab as your excuse. She is not the perfect example for you to use. Still God blessed her for that, and He said that it took faith.

She was willing to die to protect them. “(But she had brought them up to the roof and had hidden them with the stalks of flax, which she had laid in order on the roof.)” Now it was a common practice in Bible times that many families often had cottage businesses. They used to do different things to make ends meet. She not only had a bed and breakfast, she probably was making some kind of cloth on the roof. The fine part of the flax was made into clothing. The coarse part of flax was made into cord or rope. In the same way Lydia was a seller of purple, Rahab was probably a seller of scarlet because later she ends up hanging a scarlet rope or cord in the window. They would take it on the roof, they’d dye it, they’d dry it; the roof was the place to do that. She’s got this big pile of loose fabric on the roof and she hides them in it, scarlet colored fabric. Thy word I have hid in my roof. This is where you hide it, right? That I might not sin. It’s in the roof. You don’t hind it in your foot but you do want to walk with the Lord. You can hide it in your hand and you can do the deeds of the Lord, but this is the holy of holies. The very fact that they are probably hidden in scarlet fabric is the symbol for the blood of Christ, right? It’s in that context. So the men locked the gates. There’s no way of escape. They are scouring the city looking for them.

They’ve probably got a platoon that’s heading for the Jordan River trying to catch them before they escape with their secret reconnaissance information that they have gained. It says in verse seven, “Then the men pursued them by the road to the Jordan, to the fords. And as soon as those who pursued them had gone out, they shut the gate.” There’s no way out. “So before they lay down, she came up to them on the roof, and said to the men…” Now listen to this speech. “I know that the Lord has given you the land, that the terror of you has fallen on us, and that all the inhabitants of the land are fainthearted because of you. For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were on the other side of the Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom you utterly destroyed. And as soon as we heard these things, our hearts melted; neither did there remain any more courage in anyone because of you, for the Lord your God…” She uses the word Jehovah there. “…for the Lord your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath. Now therefore, I beg you, swear to me…” You know what she’s asking for? She’s saying, make a covenant with me. I have put my life on the line; I am willing to die to protect you. Make a covenant with me. These are the terms of salvation, friends.

We hear the word of God, we receive the word of God, we are willing to lay our lives down and accept the covenant that is made. She says make a covenant with me, “swear to me… since I have shown you kindness, that you also will show kindness to my father's house, and give me a true token,” give me a sign, “and spare my father, my mother, my brothers, my sisters, and all that they have, and deliver our lives from death.” We are under a death penalty because Joshua is coming. He is going to blow the trumpets and we’ll be doomed. Now is our Joshua coming? Are there going to be trumpets blowing? Those who are not in covenant with Him, what is their fate? They’ll perish. Do you see how important it is for us to make a covenant now? Did Rahab know exactly when Joshua was going to cross the Jordan? So you’d better make a covenant when you find the messengers. When you hear the word, you’d better be willing to receive the word and make the covenant now. And she says make a covenant. Verse 14 “So the men answered her, ‘Our lives for yours…’” This is called substitution in the Bible. It’s like when David said, “Absalom, my son, my son!

Would God I had died for thee!” Moses said, “Lord, let me perish that Israel might be saved.” Paul said, “I am willing to die that all of Israel might be saved.” Here the substitution is Jesus dying in our place. They said, “Our lives for yours…” You have put your life on the line to save our lives; we’re going to do all we can now with our lives to save yours. “…if none of you tell this business of ours. And it shall be, when…” You notice they don’t say if. Joshua has chosen two men of faith. Some of those first spies doubted. “…when the Lord has given us the land…” Do they have faith? “…that we will deal kindly and truly with you.” There’ll be truth and there’ll be grace. “Then she let them down by a rope through the window, for her house was on the city wall…”

Where is her house? What’s going to happen to those walls later? Alright I want you to pay attention to that. You have to remember that for when that subject comes. Because “her house was on the city wall… And she said to them, ‘Get to the mountain, lest the pursuers meet you. Hide there three days…’” When Jesus died, how long was it before He rose? You often find that three days there in these gospel stories somewhere in these allegories of Salvation. “‘Hide there three days, until the pursuers have returned. Afterward you may go your way.’

Then the men said to her: ‘We will be blameless of this oath of yours which you have made us swear, unless, when we come into the land, you bind this line…’” and the word line there is cord or rope, scarlet rope “in the window through which you let us down…” What was the token to be? Put a scarlet cord in the window. “…and unless you bring your father, your mother, your brothers,” your sisters “and all your father’s household into your own home. So it shall be that whoever goes outside the doors of your house into the street, his blood shall be on his own head, and we will be guiltless. And whoever is with you in the house, his blood shall be on our head if a hand is laid on him.” Ooh, this is such a good story! It’s the story of salvation. What was the criteria during the Passover if people wanted to survive that angel of death? They had to be in the house with the token. What the token? The red blood on the door or on the window of the house.

In this case only those who were in the house with the red cord will survive. Alright. What is the Lord trying to teach through this story? The allegory is very powerful. Some preachers dream things up and they just don’t match. I’m not dreaming this up, friends. This fits. This is truth. Our Joshua is coming. He is coming to judge those who wrongly possess the land that God gave to Abraham. This world was made by Jesus; it belongs to Him. It’s been kidnapped. Trumpets are going to blow. There’s going to be miraculous power. He’s coming with the ark, the law. Only those who are in the house, in Christ. Jesus says My body is the church. Only those that are in the house where that token is, that is the blood of the covenant that covers our sins. That’s not only talking about the church; it’s talking about in your heart. They will be saved. Everyone else was doomed to destruction. Everybody else and if they went out of the house they were doomed.

We’ll get to that more when we get to Jericho, but I just want you to be thinking about this because I don’t mind you hearing it twice. I want it to sink in. now what would you do if you were Rahab and you don’t know exactly when they’re coming back, but you know they’re coming back, but you know that only those who are in your house when they come are spared? Would you say, “You know, one of these days I’m going to have to tie that cord in my window”? And it says, “And if you tell this business of ours,” I’m in verse 20, “we will be free from your oath which you made us swear.’

Then she said, ‘According to your words, so be it.’ And she sent them away,” she let them down by this rope. “And she bound the scarlet cord in the window.” How soon after they left did she tie the scarlet cord in the window? Right away. She wanted the sign of that covenant right now. Best time to do God’s will is when you know His will. Best time to listen to His voice is when you’re hearing His voice. Friends, if you have not yet tied that scarlet cord in your window, do it today. Amen? Make a covenant. Joshua is coming and the walls are going to fall. “Then they departed and went to the mountain, and stayed there three days until the pursuers returned. The pursuers sought them all along the way, but did not find them.” God protected them.

Now suppose that you were Rahab and you know that when Joshua comes only those in your house are going to survive? How motivated would you be to get people in your house? I think that she probably went to all of her family members and all of her friends and she said, “Look, you need to come to my house. I’ve got something to tell you and it’s top secret, but I can’t tell you until you’re in my house.” She brought them all together and she said, “When Joshua comes we better be here when it happens. We don’t know exactly when it’s going to happen.” I bet they spent a lot of time at Rahab’s house. I also think she probably changed her occupation. Can’t prove that, but I bet that there were a lot of changes that came into her life. I’ll talk more about this when we get to Jericho. “So the two men returned, descended from the mountain, and crossed over; and they came to Joshua the son of Nun…” You notice it always mentions who he was the son of.

It doesn’t just say Joshua. We would have known who it was, but it always says “Joshua the son of Nun” why? Because he’s a very powerful type of Christ and it’s telling us Jehovah is salvation; He is eternal. That’s the name of Christ. Remember what Deuteronomy 18 says. God said to Moses, I’m going to send a Prophet like unto you; hear Him. He is the angel of the covenant and My name is in Him.” did you hear that? The “angel of the covenant in whom is His name,” that’s another name for Jesus. Truly, verse 24, now we’re at the last verse of chapter 2. I’d like to have spent more time here. “And they said to Joshua, ‘Truly the Lord has delivered all the land into our hands, for indeed all the inhabitants of the country are fainthearted because of us.’”

You know there are a number of major components to win a battle. One of them, they say, is the element of surprise. Another one is confidence and courage. Even in a football game what does the couch try to do during the halftime if they’re not playing well? Inspire them with faith, give them confidence. Here they come back and they said, “They have lost faith. They are defeated in their own minds. Their hearts are fainthearted. They’re going to run. It’ll be the mother of all surrenders when we get there and God is with us.” How different was the report of Joshua’s messengers, the two spies, than the ones who forty years earlier had gone out on their own volition at the request of the people? They came back and brought a negative report. There were only two positive reports among the twelve spies, Joshua and Caleb, there are only two positive reports that come back later. This is the symbol for the word of God.

Now we go to chapter three of the book of Joshua. This deals with crossing Jordan. The Jordan River in the Bible, the word Jordan means descending. It’s because it is one of the most radical rivers as far as highs and lows in the Bible. There is no river geographically anywhere like the Jordan anywhere in the world. It starts in the mountains of Lebanon thousands of feet above sea level where there is a snow line and it goes down to the hottest and lowest point on earth, the Dead Sea, in a comparatively span of space. So you can understand why they called it descending because it goes whoosh. In the Bible the Jordan River is a symbol of death. It’s a symbol of death and if you think I’m making that up, look through your hymnals sometime. Every time you find the word Jordan you’ll know that the great hymn writers had great theology and they understood that as Israel crossed the Jordan it was a symbol of death. Let me see if I can illustrate.

The Exodus experience is a type of salvation. Slaves of the pharaoh in Egypt, you go through the Red Sea that’s kind of like baptism, then you enter the wilderness. Justified by the lamb in Egypt, sanctified in the wilderness and then you cross the Jordan River. How do most people get from this life into Canaan? Don’t they die? And so it’s a symbol of that. Baptism is a symbol of death, burial and resurrection. Oh, and don’t miss this point. Before the children of Israel could leave Egypt there was a death. Not only was it the death of the firstborn, but there was the death of the Passover Lamb and they began their journey following a death. How does the book of Joshua begin? It says “after the death of Moses” they now began a new journey to a new phase. You know it’s often true in our lives sometimes a death marks a whole new phase. Sometimes it might be a death of a parent. Some of us realize after our last parent dies, we are now the patriarch in the family. It feels kind of weird. After my mother and father died I sort of thought, I’m now the oldest of the clan! And it’s like a new chapter in your life. Some of you have lost a spouse.

It represents a new journey, a new chapter. Death is one of the more traumatic things in life, but it often begins a new journey. Think of it that way and you might find some encouragement from that. So the Jordan River is a symbol for death. They’re getting ready to cross. God instructs them before they cross to prepare. He has not told them how it’s going to happen. How are we going to march this one and a half to three million people across this flooding river? There is no ferry that’s going to do it, but God said to Joshua, “Go forward.” And he said, “Okay, Lord. I remember when You parted the sea. I don’t know what’s going to happen, but we’re going to trust You, and we’re going to go forward.” They’re given instruction to gather provisions for three days because this was going to be a process. They’re also told that the ark must rise up and go before them. As always they follow. They said, You don’t know where we’re going this time and so it will lead the way.

They go forward and the ark is being carried by twelve priests. They said maintain a distance I think it’s called a thousand cubits in the Bible, the equivalent of half a mile. The people were to stay half a mile behind the ark. So twelve priests. Someone ought to, any of you any good at math you might calculate sometime what the ark might have weighed and figure out how that weight would be distributed among twelve priests because those priests had to hold that ark a long time that day. What they had is the ark had two long very strong poles that went through rings sticking out from the four corners and there would be three priests at each corner carrying it and so it was divided among them. What was it made of? It was wood overlaid with gold with we don’t know what kind of stone, some believe it was jasper stone that the Ten Commandments were written in because that was a blue stone, or was it sapphire? Sapphire stone, sorry, that the Ten Commandments were written on and so you’ve got gold and all that. It was probably a pretty good load. They go out ahead of them and as the priests go forward, have you got your Bibles here? God says in verse seven.

No, let’s read verse six. “And Joshua spoke to the priests,” I’m in chapter three. “‘Take up the ark of the covenant and cross over before the people.’ So they took up the ark of the covenant and went before the people. And the Lord said to Joshua, ‘This day I will begin to magnify you in the sight of all Israel, that they may know that, as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. You shall command the priests who bear the ark of the covenant, saying, “When you have come to the edge of the water of the Jordan, you shall stand in the Jordan.”’ So Joshua said to the children of Israel, ‘Come here, and hear the words of the Lord your God.’ And Joshua said, ‘By this you shall know that the living God is among you…’” They needed that confidence. Here was this nation that were still basically unarmed.

They had probably picked up some arms from the Egyptians that washed up on the seashore and the people they had conquered and they’re getting ready to go against seven nations that were mightier than them. “He will without fail drive out from before you the Canaanites and the Hittites and the Hivites and the Perizzites and the Girgashites and the Amorites and the Jebusites: Behold, the ark…” Some of you probably have wrestled with the intimidation of the “ites” in your life, huh? “‘Behold, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth is crossing over before you into the Jordan. Now therefore, take for yourselves twelve men from the tribes of Israel, one man from every tribe. And it shall come to pass, as soon as the soles of the feet of the priests who bear the ark of the Lord, the Lord of all the earth, shall rest in the waters of the Jordan, that the waters of the Jordan shall be cut off, the waters that come down from upstream, and they shall stand as a heap.’

So it was, when the people set out from their camp to cross over the Jordan, with the priests bearing the ark of the covenant before the people, and as those who bore the ark came to the Jordan, and the feet of the priests who bore the ark dipped in the edge of the water (for the Jordan overflows all its banks during the whole time of harvest),” it’s a flooding river, “that the waters which came down from upstream stood still, and rose in a heap very far away at Adam…” There was a town or village up the river named Adam miles up the river. It’s kind of like a beaver dam. It just stopped it and it just created a lake that went up. The waters coming down that were flooding, God performed His miracle. You notice He didn’t wait until it was the lowest time. God often does His miracle at the times of greatest extremity. It’s not just a furnace, the furnace was heated seven times hotter. Do you know what I’m saying? He often performs His miracles in times of great extremity.

It’s flooding. The waters come down, all of a sudden begin to congeal. They pile up higher and higher and then they begin to back up. Now remember when the children of Israel crossed the Red Sea the waters created a wall on the right and the left. Now when they’re crossing the Jordan it is just creating a wall, think about which way they’re going. The waters run from the north Lebanon down to the south. The waters are just walled up on their right hand because they’re crossing over from the east to the west into the Promised Land. Isn’t that right? If any of you know basic geography, you’ll know that’s true. They’ve just got one big wall of water. Before they’re looking at salt-water fish on both sides; now it’s just fresh-water fish on their right.

Before it was tuna, now it’s bass. I wonder if it was clear where you could look right into it or if it was a little murky. Not only does it say that, keep reading here. It says, “Then the priests who bore the ark of the covenant of the Lord stood firm on” muddy ground? “Dry.” Not only did the waters stop, God did something miraculous for it to be dry and the people crossed over opposite Jericho. Now the rest of the water just flowed down to the Dead Sea and just stopped. That must have been a sight to behold that the people would never forget. The twelve priests got down in the middle. Could you imagine being one of the priests? You’re carrying something that’s a lot heavier than a car battery. I mean, you’re going to sink if you’re carrying a great big old golden box with rocks inside. It’s like an anchor and you’re being told to walk out into the water. Those priests needed faith. They did not wait until the waters parted before they went forward.

They went forward and once their feet touched the water then they parted. Please don’t forget this very important point. Hear me now. This is how God often performs miracles for us. Do you know how many miracles you’ve missed because you didn’t put your feet in the water? You’ll never know. There’s the story of the ten lepers. They came to Jesus and they shouted, “Son of David! Have mercy on us! Have mercy on us!” They had leprosy, full of leprosy and God said, “Go show yourself to the priests and make the offering for cleansing from leprosy. They looked at each other and they said, “We’ve still got leprosy. Why would we give a thank offering for cleansing when we’ve still got leprosy, but He said do it.” And it says, “In going they were cleansed.” As they went to do what God told them to do, the miracle happened. Jesus went to the man by the pool of Bethesda. He had not walked in thirty-eight years, and He said, “Get up!” He could have argued with the Lord and said, “I can’t get up. I haven’t walked in thirty-eight years,” but he made an effort to do what he was being told to do and suddenly his limbs received strength miraculously.

Now God says to the priests, “Cross over.” They could have said, “We’re waiting for the waters to part and then we’ll start. We’re not going to carry this heavy old box down there and drown. Let’s not be crazy!” God said, “Go, you’ve got the word of God with you.” Isn’t that what was in the box? You’ve got the command of Joshua, “Go.” So they put their feet in the water. Can you imagine being on the front end? I would have wanted to be on the back probably. If these guys start to bubble, I’m dropping it. I don’t want to say that. Hopefully I’d have enough faith to go forward, but the first ones they really had to. You’d probably want the most faithful guys on the front of those poles, right? They put their feet in the water and all of a sudden it stopped and it began to back up and it dried before their feet. You know the Bible tells us there’s a couple of miracles. I’ve got about four miracles I can think of around the Jordan River. Of course the baptism of Jesus is one when the Holy Spirit came down. You’ve got where Elisha and Elijah crossed the Jordan and what made the Jordan part for Elijah and Elisha? The robe, it parted for the robe.

That robe of Elijah is a type of the grace of God, the robe of Christ’s righteousness. Now the Jordan River is parting for the ark. What’s in there? The law. you’ve got it parting for the law and you’ve got it parting for grace. You’ve got it for the word of God, and you’ve got it for the robe of Christ’s righteousness it’s parting. And then you’ve got Elisha. An ax head fell off in the Jordan River. He threw a stick in. A stick is a type of the cross in the Bible and it does the impossible. It now begins to swim or to float like a cork, an ax head in the water. Naturally the gravity of sin and our carnal natures brings us down, but through the cross we can walk on water. Amen? We can swim when we ought to sink. Isn’t that what happened with Peter when he kept his eyes on Joshua? He was able to walk on water, isn’t that right? So there is a lesson here for us that God will work miracles for us. Not only did they cross, it says they crossed on dry ground.

Elisha when he had struck the water it says the same thing, they went over on dry ground. Why dry? You ever slog through a muddy river? It gets you dirty. They came up clean on the other side. You know sometimes we go out riding in the hills on these four-wheelers and if you go riding after a rain or if you go riding up a wet river bed you’re just covered with mud. But it’s so much nicer when the water has been dried up but it’s not dusty yet. God did that for them. You can come up clean on the other side. The only way that you and I can cross the Jordan… What does the Jordan represent? Death. Thank you for the six of you who are listening. Jordan represents death. How do we get on the other side clean? It’s through a miracle of grace. For Elisha it was the robe of Elijah symbolizing the robe of Christ’s righteousness. But notice what happens. As they marched off into the Jordan River the ark stops. As long as the ark is there, the waters are a wall and the people march by with the ark between them and the waters. Everybody is passing in review before the ark of God and what is in the ark? The law of God.

Is there a day when we will all pass by that wall? You can read here in James 2:12 “So speak and so do as those” the people “who will be judged by the law of liberty.” And he specifically mentions two of the Ten Commandments when he says that. Does the Bible tell us that before our Joshua comes back another river is going to dry up? Have you read in Revelation that one of the last plagues is the Euphrates River dries up to make the way for the kings of the east? Christ our King, our Joshua is coming in the glory of the Father the King of the Universe or the cosmos and the Euphrates River is going to dry up to make room for our King to come. Revelation is best read in the context of some of these Old Testament stories. So they go across the river.

Finally, I don’t know how long it too, but it was a multimillion man march and all of these people went across. Probably first Joshua and the army came. Then in the vanguard right after that came the people across the river. After everybody has crossed the river the priests are still standing there. They have been out there all day, but the glory of God is sustaining them, right? The same way that Elijah went forty days and forty nights in the power of God and Moses stayed on the mountain when he got the Ten Commandments I think the Lord miraculously sustained those priests. They probably didn’t stop and put it down and take a coffee break. They stood there sustained by the glory of God all day long.

After everybody crossed over they still don’t come out because Joshua says, “Now we’re going to do something. We’re going to make a memorial.” And they’re told to get the ten strongest men (you can go to that slide there) building a memorial. Joshua is commanding them, he says, “Get ten strong men,” and we’re going to end up with twenty-four stones. Listen carefully. “Start with twelve stones that you take from the river.” The Jordan is like many rivers. There are these great big old water washed stones in there, and they picked out some of the most attractive and the biggest stones that could be carried. People are still living a hundred and twenty years back then. They were probably a little stouter than the average today. These strong men there; I mean this was the days of giants. These strongest men pick up these stones that you and I probably couldn’t even budge. I’ve seen a few of these contests they’ve got on TV where they’ve got the strong men, and they just pick up (these guys probably their backs are wrecked by the time they’re twenty-five) they pick up these great big, big Irish guys, they pick up these great big rocks.

You think, I couldn’t move that one inch if it was on the ground, and they picked the thing up! And so this is what I picture: these hefty men hoisting these great big boulders. They lift them out of the Jordan River, and they build a monument. They take twelve of them and they pile them up on the banks as a memorial so that they will remember what God has done for them to deliver them. Then Joshua says, “Take another twelve stones” and they are piled in the river. Some people have read this and where were the stones? Were the stones on the bank or were the stones in the river? They’re confused. There were two sets. So that when the waters went down, especially when it was clear, these twelve massive stones almost formed an island. Jordan is not that big. They could see this monument there in the river. In the logging industry they call this riffraff, the rocks that you use for creek crossings that will not wash away when they flood. There is a certain size stone that won’t move even in flooding waters. So they had this big riffraff in there that built an island and he did this as a memorial. You know why? Because we’re inclined to forget.

God had just worked a wonderful miracle of salvation for them, and he didn’t want them to forget. Like that man who went to his doctor, he said, “Doctor, you’ve got to do something. You’ve got to help me. I just can’t remember anything from one minute to the next.” The doctor said, “How long have you had this problem?” He said, “What problem?” That’s how we are with our memories. We just forget how God has led us and He’s performed miracles of deliverance for us and He supplies our needs and within a few weeks we’re already crying to go back to Egypt, right? Often forget we need some memorials in our lives. A lot of Bible scripture talks about remembering. You know I went through Psalm 119 and I found at least seven times just in that one Psalm on the word of God where it says, “I will delight myself in Your statutes. I will not forget Your word.” That’s verse 16. Verse 83, “Yet I do not forget Your statutes.” Verse 93, “I will never forget Your precepts for by them You have given me life.” Verse 109, “Yet I do not forget Your law.” Verse 141, “I do not forget Your precepts.” Verse 153, “I do not forget Your law.” Verse 176, “I do not forget Your commandments.” You know why it says that so often in Psalm 119? Because most people do forget. Now what is it that they make this altar out of, this monument with no chisel is lifted on it the natural stones.

They make it out of rock. What did Jesus compare His word to? It’s like a wise man who builds on a rock. What is Christ? Isn’t He the Rock of Ages? And so this was a memorial to help them remember God and His deliverance in their behalf. Now after they did this and they followed the instructions and they built the monument on the side, finally the priests, and the priests were standing there the whole time, they’re brought up out of the river. What happens as soon as their feet leave the river? The waters return. Can you imagine the wave? It must have been like a dam breaking. You’ve got a river at flood stage and it’s blocked all day long. It forms a virtual lake. Can you imagine being in Jericho? They can see this from there. It’s not that far. They can look from the walls and clearly see what’s going on. Talk about sweating. It was so obvious God was with them. They had the waters backing up probably waterfront property there by the city of Jericho. Then when they finally all crossed over and the ark leaves the water, whoosh! The flood comes. By the way, does the Bible tell another story of another ark that survived a flood? Those in the ark survived. We will all pass by that ark someday. We need to be in the word of God. Amen?

Now, when that River returned did they have a way of escape? Suppose they changed their mind about taking the Promised Land, was God going to perform another miracle for them to retreat? You know when that water rushed back there must have been a sense of trembling and commitment and resolution that swept through the camp. They said, “We’re here now. There’s no going back.” It reminds me of that story from history where Cortez when he was trying to conquer the new world, and I’m not trying to condone the brutality of some of these conquistadors, but still it was a brilliant act. After they unloaded the ships he commanded some of his servants to set the fleet on fire so they would not even think about turning back.

For God’s people there should be no turning back. Amen? Luke 9:61 “No man having put his hand to the plow and looking back is worthy of the kingdom.” And Jesus talking about the second coming, something for us to remember here at the end of time before our Joshua comes he says one thing, shortest verse in Luke 17:32, but it’s in the discourse on the second coming Jesus says, “Remember Lot’s wife.” What got Lot’s wife into trouble? She looked back. Don’t look back. When you decide to follow Jesus He is going to help you go forth and conquer. You’ve got two choices: overcome or be overcome. Isn’t that right? What you do not overcome will overcome you. We have made a decision to follow Christ. By His grace, we must be overcomers and the Lord can help you to do that.

Amen, friends? You’ve just got to remember how He has led you in the past. He’s worked miracles for you. He’s parted oceans, He’s stopped the flooding rivers, and He will do that for us. This is a relevant message for us because we are on the borders of the Promised Land right now. Some of us, you might not know it the Jordan is not far away either. We don’t know how much time we’ve got in this life, and we want to be ready to cross the Jordan, to follow our Joshua with the word of God before us as our guide. That’s what was in the ark and God will work miracles for us. He will help us to do the impossible if we trust Him. Satan knows that his days are numbered just like the king of Jericho. Christ is with us.

Do we have that red token? Do we have that scarlet rope in our windows? Have you accepted the blood of Christ to cover your sins? If you haven’t you can make that decision right now and decide to be in the house when Joshua comes that you can have total deliverance and victory and salvation. I’d like to encourage you to turn in your hymnals to number 620. I thought this would be a good hymn for us to close with. It’s an encouraging song. I want you to sing this with vigor. We’re soldiers that are marching to the Promised Land and we’re right there on the banks, the flooding banks, of the Jordan. Let’s stand together as we sing 620 “On Jordan’s Stormy Banks”.

On Jordan’s stormy banks I stand, And cast a wishful eye To Canaan’s fair and happy land, Where my possessions lie. I am bound for the promised land, I am bound for the promised land; Oh who will come and go with me? I am bound for the promised land.

I plan on being there, don’t you, friends? By His grace I’m going to be there. What are the alternatives? Do you want to perish in the wilderness, or do you want to make it all the way? And then I like what it says here in the chorus. Oh who will come and go with me? I want you to picture Rahab going up and down in the streets of Jericho talking to their friends and family saying, “Do you want to survive in Canaan land? Then you’ve got to be in the house with the scarlet thread. You’ve got to be in that place where the covenant is made with Joshua, and you’ll survive. That’s my desire, friends. Make your covenant with Him right now. Let’s sing verse 2 together.

O the transporting, rapturous scene, That rises to my sight! Sweet fields arrayed in living green, And rivers of delight! I am bound for the promised land, I am bound for the promised land; Oh who will come and go with me? I am bound for the promised land.

When I shall reach that happy place, I’ll be forever blest, For I shall see my Father’s face, And in His bosom rest. I am bound for the promised land, I am bound for the promised land; Oh who will come and go with me? I am bound for the promised land.

We have one verse left, and I’m going to make an appeal. Have you made your covenant with Joshua? Do you know that you’re in that house? Are you determined to bring others with you? There may be some here today maybe you’ve wandered, maybe you’ve lost faith. Sometimes the giants look too big and you wonder. Maybe you’ve been thinking of going back sometimes or you get discouraged and you want to say by His grace I want to be ready. There may be some here who have just some special burdens on their heart that you’d like to bring to the Lord and you need special prayer. As we sing this last verse I’d like you to come to the front and we’ll have prayer together. For the rest of you, it’s hard to sing you’re bound for the Promised Land while you’re frowning. Have you tried singing while you’re smiling? I want to see you. I’ll be watching. I want to see you sing while you’re smiling. You can watch me, okay? Verse four together. Come if you need special prayer.

Filled with delight my raptured soul Would here no longer stay; Though Jordan’s waves around me roll, Fearless I’d launch away. I am bound for the promised land, I am bound for the promised land; Oh who will come and go with me? I am bound for the promised land.

Alright. Who is going with me? Let’s pray together.

Loving Father in heaven and Lord, we come to You in the name of our Joshua Jesus our Savior, our General, our Commander. We want to thank You, Lord, and praise You for the miracles You’ve performed in the past. Forgive us for forgetting. Help us to establish memorials in our lives that we might remember the great things that You have done believing that You will also lead in the future. Lord, we know that You will finish the work You’ve started in our lives. Help us to capitalize on the offer You have made that covenant of salvation. I pray that each person here will make sure that we have that scarlet thread bound about our hearts, that we are covered by the blood of the lamb, and live a life where we know we can pass in review before the ark that contains Your Ten Commandments because by Your grace we are new creatures. Lord, I pray we’ll also have the faith that’s required to put our feet in the Jordan while it’s still at flood stage, be willing to move forward trusting in You to work miracles. Bless each of these people. Be with those who have come. If there are some who are accepting Christ and want to be part of His church for the first time bless them, Lord, with Your spirit and help them to begin the journey and finish it safely. Also, Lord, whatever the needs might be, for healing and their families, work miracles there as well. Bless this church. We thank You and we pray that we will all be found in the house when Jesus comes. In His name we ask. Amen.

You may be seated and if there are some who have come forward and you are accepting Christ, you’d like to visit with the elders or pastors, we’d be happy to visit with you. God bless you, friends, and happy Sabbath.

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