This is Episode #70 and today we’ll read Joshua chapters 1-4 together. The Israelites cross the Jordan in a miraculous fashion and God commands Joshua to mark the event with memorial stones. Joshua sends two spies to check out Jericho.
Joy: You’re listening to Season 2 of the Lifting Her Voice podcast. This is Episode #70 and today we’ll read Joshua chapters 1-4 together. The Israelites cross the Jordan in a miraculous fashion and God commands Joshua to mark the event with memorial stones. Joshua sends two spies to check out Jericho.
Welcome to the Lifting Her Voice podcast, Season 2! I’m your host, Joy Miller, and I invite you to grab your Bible and join me – from the beginning – simply reading God’s word together. We built some spiritual muscles in 2020 with just the New Testament. But this year we’re going all out, cover-to-cover, Old Testament and New. So, whether with your first cup in the morning, your commute to work, or as the last thing on your mind before sleep, God’s Word will equip you for every good work. I’m really glad you’re here!
Intro to Joshua
Welcome to the book of Joshua. This book is every little boy’s adventure story. It’s got it all…swords, battles, victories, and conquests. That said, it may offend those of us with more peace-loving sensibilities and who are always the first to ask, “Wait…I thought God was a God of love…?” At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I would direct you to the overview video at The Bible Project. Jon gives what I think is an excellent explanation of all the violence. The book of Joshua is the first of twelve in the History section of the Old Testament.
It’s about 1400-ish BC., Moses is dead, and under his protegee, Joshua’s, command, the Israelites cross the Jordan in Red-Sea-out-of-Egypt style to begin conquering the land the Lord has been promising for about 500 years. You’re probably already familiar with two very familiar verses: Joshua 1:9 Haven’t I commanded you: be strong and courageous? Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go and the ever-popular Joshua 24:15(b) As for me and my family, we will worship the Lord. So, let’s dive in and join them. Please buckle your seat belts. It could get bumpy.
Joshua Chapter 1
Encouragement of Joshua
After the death of Moses the Lord’s servant, the Lord spoke to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’s assistant: “Moses my servant is dead. Now you and all the people prepare to cross over the Jordan to the land I am giving the Israelites. I have given you every place where the sole of your foot treads, just as I promised Moses. Your territory will be from the wilderness and Lebanon to the great river, the Euphrates River — all the land of the Hittites — and west to the Mediterranean Sea. No one will be able to stand against you as long as you live. I will be with you, just as I was with Moses. I will not leave you or abandon you.
“Be strong and courageous, for you will distribute the land I swore to their ancestors to give them as an inheritance. Above all, be strong and very courageous to observe carefully the whole instruction my servant Moses commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right or the left, so that you will have success wherever you go. This book of instruction must not depart from your mouth; you are to meditate on it day and night so that you may carefully observe everything written in it. For then you will prosper and succeed in whatever you do. Haven’t I commanded you: be strong and courageous? Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
Joshua Prepares the People
Then Joshua commanded the officers of the people, “Go through the camp and tell the people, ‘Get provisions ready for yourselves, for within three days you will be crossing the Jordan to go in and take possession of the land the Lord your God is giving you to inherit.’”
Joshua said to the Reubenites, the Gadites, and half the tribe of Manasseh, “Remember what Moses the Lord’s servant commanded you when he said, ‘The Lord your God will give you rest, and he will give you this land.’ Your wives, dependents, and livestock may remain in the land Moses gave you on this side of the Jordan. But your best soldiers must cross over in battle formation ahead of your brothers and help them until the Lord gives your brothers rest, as he has given you, and they too possess the land the Lord your God is giving them. You may then return to the land of your inheritance and take possession of what Moses the Lord’s servant gave you on the east side of the Jordan.”
They answered Joshua, “Everything you have commanded us we will do, and everywhere you send us we will go. We will obey you, just as we obeyed Moses in everything. Certainly the Lord your God will be with you, as he was with Moses. Anyone who rebels against your order and does not obey your words in all that you command him, will be put to death. Above all, be strong and courageous!”
Joshua Chapter 2
Spies Sent to Jericho
Joshua son of Nun secretly sent two men as spies from the Acacia Grove, saying, “Go and scout the land, especially Jericho.” So they left, and they came to the house of a prostitute named Rahab, and stayed there.
The king of Jericho was told, “Look, some of the Israelite men have come here tonight to investigate the land.” Then the king of Jericho sent word to Rahab and said, “Bring out the men who came to you and entered your house, for they came to investigate the entire land.”
But the woman had taken the two men and hidden them. So she said, “Yes, the men did come to me, but I didn’t know where they were from. At nightfall, when the city gate was about to close, the men went out, and I don’t know where they were going. Chase after them quickly, and you can catch up with them!” But she had taken them up to the roof and hidden them among the stalks of flax that she had arranged on the roof. The men pursued them along the road to the fords of the Jordan, and as soon as they left to pursue them, the city gate was shut.
The Promise to Rahab
Before the men fell asleep, she went up on the roof and said to them, “I know that the Lord has given you this land and that the terror of you has fallen on us, and everyone who lives in the land is panicking because of you. For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to Sihon and Og, the two Amorite kings you completely destroyed across the Jordan. When we heard this, we lost heart, and everyone’s courage failed because of you, for the Lord your God is God in heaven above and on earth below.
“Now please swear to me by the Lord that you will also show kindness to my father’s family, because I showed kindness to you. Give me a sure sign that you will spare the lives of my father, mother, brothers, sisters, and all who belong to them, and save us from death.”
The men answered her, “We will give our lives for yours. If you don’t report our mission, we will show kindness and faithfulness to you when the Lord gives us the land.”
Then she let them down by a rope through the window, since she lived in a house that was built into the wall of the city. “Go to the hill country so that the men pursuing you won’t find you,” she said to them. “Hide there for three days until they return; afterward, go on your way.”
The men said to her, “We will be free from this oath you made us swear, unless, when we enter the land, you tie this scarlet cord to the window through which you let us down. Bring your father, mother, brothers, and all your father’s family into your house. If anyone goes out the doors of your house, his death will be his own fault, and we will be innocent. But if anyone with you in the house should be harmed, his death will be our fault. And if you report our mission, we are free from the oath you made us swear.”
“Let it be as you say,” she replied, and she sent them away. After they had gone, she tied the scarlet cord to the window.
So the two men went into the hill country and stayed there three days until the pursuers had returned. They searched all along the way, but did not find them. Then the men returned, came down from the hill country, and crossed the Jordan. They went to Joshua son of Nun and reported everything that had happened to them. They told Joshua, “The Lord has handed over the entire land to us. Everyone who lives in the land is also panicking because of us.”
Joshua Chapter 3
Crossing the Jordan
Joshua started early the next morning and left the Acacia Grove with all the Israelites. They went as far as the Jordan and stayed there before crossing. After three days the officers went through the camp and commanded the people, “When you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God carried by the Levitical priests, you are to break camp and follow it. But keep a distance of about a thousand yards between yourselves and the ark. Don’t go near it, so that you can see the way to go, for you haven’t traveled this way before.”
Joshua told the people, “Consecrate yourselves, because the Lord will do wonders among you tomorrow.” Then he said to the priests, “Carry the ark of the covenant and go on ahead of the people.” So they carried the ark of the covenant and went ahead of them.
The Lord spoke to Joshua: “Today I will begin to exalt you in the sight of all Israel, so they will know that I will be with you just as I was with Moses. Command the priests carrying the ark of the covenant: When you reach the edge of the water, stand in the Jordan.”
The Water Will be Cut Off
Then Joshua told the Israelites, “Come closer and listen to the words of the Lord your God.” He said, “You will know that the living God is among you and that he will certainly dispossess before you the Canaanites, Hethites, Hivites, Perizzites, Girgashites, Amorites, and Jebusites when the ark of the covenant of the Lord of the whole earth goes ahead of you into the Jordan. Now choose twelve men from the tribes of Israel, one man for each tribe. When the feet of the priests who carry the ark of the Lord, the Lord of the whole earth, come to rest in the Jordan’s water, its water will be cut off. The water flowing downstream will stand up in a mass.”
When the people broke camp to cross the Jordan, the priests carried the ark of the covenant ahead of the people. Now the Jordan overflows its banks throughout the harvest season. But as soon as the priests carrying the ark reached the Jordan, their feet touched the water at its edge and the water flowing downstream stood still, rising up in a mass that extended as far as Adam, a city next to Zarethan. The water flowing downstream into the Sea of the Arabah — the Dead Sea — was completely cut off, and the people crossed opposite Jericho. The priests carrying the ark of the Lord’s covenant stood firmly on dry ground in the middle of the Jordan, while all Israel crossed on dry ground until the entire nation had finished crossing the Jordan.
Joshua Chapter 4
The Memorial Stones
After the entire nation had finished crossing the Jordan, the Lord spoke to Joshua: “Choose twelve men from the people, one man for each tribe, and command them: Take twelve stones from this place in the middle of the Jordan where the priests are standing, carry them with you, and set them down at the place where you spend the night.”
So Joshua summoned the twelve men he had selected from the Israelites, one man for each tribe, and said to them, “Go across to the ark of the Lord your God in the middle of the Jordan. Each of you lift a stone onto his shoulder, one for each of the Israelite tribes, so that this will be a sign among you. In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean to you? ’ you should tell them, ‘The water of the Jordan was cut off in front of the ark of the Lord’s covenant. When it crossed the Jordan, the Jordan’s water was cut off.’ Therefore these stones will always be a memorial for the Israelites.”
The Israelites did just as Joshua had commanded them. The twelve men took stones from the middle of the Jordan, one for each of the Israelite tribes, just as the Lord had told Joshua. They carried them to the camp and set them down there. Joshua also set up twelve stones in the middle of the Jordan where the priests who carried the ark of the covenant were standing. The stones are still there today.
Joshua was Revered
The priests carrying the ark continued standing in the middle of the Jordan until everything was completed that the Lord had commanded Joshua to tell the people, in keeping with all that Moses had commanded Joshua. The people hurried across, and after everyone had finished crossing, the priests with the ark of the Lord crossed in the sight of the people. The Reubenites, Gadites, and half the tribe of Manasseh went in battle formation in front of the Israelites, as Moses had instructed them. About forty thousand equipped for war crossed to the plains of Jericho in the Lord’s presence.
On that day the Lord exalted Joshua in the sight of all Israel, and they revered him throughout his life, as they had revered Moses. The Lord told Joshua, “Command the priests who carry the ark of the testimony to come up from the Jordan.”
So Joshua commanded the priests, “Come up from the Jordan.” When the priests carrying the ark of the Lord’s covenant came up from the middle of the Jordan, and their feet stepped out on solid ground, the water of the Jordan resumed its course, flowing over all the banks as before.
The Lord’s Hand is Strong
The people came up from the Jordan on the tenth day of the first month, and camped at Gilgal on the eastern limits of Jericho. Then Joshua set up in Gilgal the twelve stones they had taken from the Jordan, and he said to the Israelites, “In the future, when your children ask their fathers, ‘What is the meaning of these stones?’ you should tell your children, ‘Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground.’ For the Lord your God dried up the water of the Jordan before you until you had crossed over, just as the Lord your God did to the Red Sea, which he dried up before us until we had crossed over. This is so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the Lord’s hand is strong, and so that you may always fear the Lord your God.”
So there stood the Israelites, facing the Jordan River at flood stage. With Moses’ words still ringing in their ears, they knew they could reject God…again. However, the first rejection cost them forty years of wandering and the loss of an entire generation. So this time they chose to trust that God would be with them. And He was. What a wonderful picture of the incredible things that can happen if we simply take God at his word.
Something I didn’t point out back in Genesis when we read about Tamar’s little stunt with Judah, I want to say here as Rahab enters the picture. If you read the genealogy of Jesus in Matthew 1, you will see Tamar who acted like a prostitute, Rahab who actually was a prostitute, and Ruth, who was not an Israelite but a foreigner – a Moabitess. Go ahead, get your gasps and disapproval out. It’s time to rethink all those times we thought everyone in the Bible was perfect. And newsflash, if He can use them, He can and will use us. As 2 Corinthians 12:9 tells us, His grace is sufficient.
See You Tomorrow!
Thank you for joining me here today. I pray that by spending time in His Word every day, you will by changed. Visit me at Lifting Her Voice.com with your comments and questions. And don’t forget to visit the Blog page while you’re there. If you like the podcast, it would be great if you’d give it a five-star review and share it with everyone you know. Don’t forget to subscribe wherever you get your podcasts. See you tomorrow!
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Christian Standard Bible(r), Copyright (c) 2017 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Christian Standard Bible(r) and CSB(r) are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.
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