Joshua 4 | Joshua | Ark Of The Covenant

Joshua 4 Introduction: This chapter describes how God commanded the men of Israel to take twelve stones out

of the middle of Jordan, and carry them to the first place they stationed at as a memorial of their passage over it. It also describes how Joshua set up twelve other stones in the river itself, and how many men from the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and Manasseh, went before the Israelites when they crossed over. Once this was done, the priests were ordered to come out of Jordan, and the waters then returned to their place. The time when this miracle happened is noted, and an account of Joshua's placing the twelve stones taken out of Jordan in Gilgal, and the use that they would have in the future time. A. The march through Jordan (vv. 12 -13, 10). 12 And the men of Reuben, the men of Gad, and half the tribe of Manasseh crossed over armed before the children of Israel, as Moses had spoken to them (Note 1, Q1).13 About forty thousand prepared for war crossed over before the LORD for battle, to the plains of Jericho. 10 So the priests who bore the ark stood in the midst of the Jordan until everything was finished that the LORD had commanded Joshua to speak to the people, according to all that Moses had commanded Joshua; and the people hurried and crossed over. Note 1: The two and one-half tribes chose to settle on the east side of the Jordan because they believe that the place is good enough for their families and cattles. In fact their wives, children, and livestocks stayed there and only the warriors went with the rest of the children of Israel into the Promised Land. Beyond Jordan would put their lives in danger, they could've just stayed behind with everything they have and yet they decided to go and crossed over with their brothers. Q1: Why? B. The command to set up a memorial (vv.1-9) 1 And it came to pass, when all the people had completely crossed over the Jordan (Q2), that the LORD spoke to Joshua, saying: 2 “Take for yourselves twelve men from the people, one man from every tribe, 3 and command them, saying, ‘Take for yourselves twelve stones from here, out of the midst of the Jordan, from the place where the priests’ feet stood firm. You shall carry them over with you and leave them in the lodging place where you lodge tonight.’ ” 4 Then Joshua called the twelve men whom he had appointed from the children of Israel, one man from every tribe; 5 and Joshua said to them: “Cross over before the ark of the LORD your God into the midst of the Jordan, and each 1

one of you take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the children of Israel, 6 that this may be a sign among you when your children ask in time to come, saying, ‘What do these stones mean to you?’ (Q3) 7 Then you shall answer them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD; when it crossed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. And these stones shall be for a memorial to the children of Israel forever.” 8 And the children of Israel did so, just as Joshua commanded, and took up twelve stones from the midst of the Jordan, as the LORD had spoken to Joshua, according to the number of the tribes of the children of Israel, and carried them over with them to the place where they lodged, and laid them down there. 9 Then Joshua set up twelve stones in the midst of the Jordan, in the place where the feet of the priests who bore the ark of the covenant stood; and they are there to this day (Note 2). Q2: Israel was now on the other side of the Jordan - in the Promised Land. But what is life in the Promised Land? What is that place? (Answer: It is a place of battle, but most of all, it is a place of trust. They have to trust God in everything because the challenges get bigger in the Promised Land, the same is true with the blessings of God.) Q3: What is the purpose of those memorial stones? (Answer: The purpose of this memorial stones was so that the people of Israel could teach their children about the great things God had done, so that the work of God would not be forgotten among the generations. But oftentimes we tend to forget the great things of God and what will happen is that we fail to trust Him. And also the faith of our children is weak because they have never been told how great God is and how real His working is in our lives.) Note 2: Jesus was baptized by John in the Jordan at Bethabara which means “house of passage.” Therefore, Jesus was baptized in the same place Joshua was as he passed over into the Promised Land. To the Pharisees and Sadducees who cynically watched John baptize, he said, “And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham” (Matthew 3:9). And no doubt he would have been pointing to the stones that would still be there in his day, the twelve stones placed as a memorial in Joshua’s day. C. The closing of the waters and God exalted Joshua (vv.15 -18, 11, 19, 14). 15 Then the LORD spoke to Joshua, saying, 16 “Command the priests who bear the ark of the Testimony to come up from the Jordan.” 17 Joshua therefore commanded the priests, saying, “Come up from the Jordan.” 18 And 2

it came to pass, when the priests who bore the ark of the covenant of the LORD had come from the midst of the Jordan, and the soles of the priests’ feet touched the dry land, that the waters of the Jordan returned to their place and overflowed all its banks as before. 11 Then it came to pass, when all the people had completely crossed over, that the ark of the LORD and the priests crossed over in the presence of the people. 19 Now the people came up from the Jordan on the tenth day of the first month, and they camped in Gilgal on the east border of Jericho. 14 On that day the LORD exalted Joshua in the sight of all Israel; and they feared him, as they had feared Moses, all the days of his life (Note 3). Note 3: Here God continues to exalt Joshua. In Jos.3:7, we have read there that God already exalted Joshua but that was just the beginning and this is now the second time. God always magnified him in the sight of the children of Israel all the days of his life. D. The setting up of the stone monument (vv. 20 -24). 20 And those twelve stones which they took out of the Jordan, Joshua set up in Gilgal (Q4). 21 Then he spoke to the children of Israel, saying: “When your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, ‘What are these stones?’ (Note 4) 22 then you shall let your children know, saying, ‘Israel crossed over this Jordan on dry land’; 23 for the LORD your God dried up the waters of the Jordan before you until you had crossed over, as the LORD your God did to the Red Sea, which He dried up before us until we had crossed over, 24 that all the peoples of the earth may know the hand of the LORD, that it is mighty, that you may fear the LORD your God forever.” Q4: In v.9 we are told that Joshua set up memorial stones in the midst of the Jordan and now, another memorial stones he set up in Gilgal. What do you think is the significance of that? (Answer: There were two monuments. One was visible. One was out of sight. And that’s the way it is with any work of the Spirit. The outward manifestations are only as valid as the inward or hidden work in one’s heart, Prov.21:2.) Note 4: Notice the fact that it was the parents, particularly fathers, who would talk to their children about God. There are cases that a child would learn about God from the outside but it should the case that their spirituality should start from their family. Hence, it is the responsibility of the parents to help their children learn the basics of their faith. Conclusion: It is good to memorialize the great acts of the Lord, provided that the memorials do not become idols. Each new generation must learn what God has 3

done for His people so that they will obey His Word and trust Him for the future (Ps. 78:1–8). When you have living faith in a living God, the past is not “dead history.” It throbs with living reality. “Crossing the Jordan” illustrates the teaching of Romans 6: death to the old self-life and identification with Christ in the power of resurrection. Nobody but God can see the stones in the middle of the Jordan, but the record bears witness that they are there. So it is with the death and resurrection of Christ: we believe the record and therefore experience the miracle. The stones on the shore reminded the people that the old life was buried and they should “walk in newness of life” (Rom. 6:4; Col. 3:1ff.). Have you already crossed the Jordan and set up your memorial of faith?


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