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Crossing The Jordan

Text: Joshua 3

1. Then Joshua rose early in the morning; and they set out from Acacia Grove and came to the Jordan, he and all the children of Israel, and lodged there before they crossed over.
2. So it was, after three days, that the officers went through the camp;
3. and they commanded the people, saying, "When you see the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, and the priests, the Levites, bearing it, then you shall set out from your place and go after it.
4. "Yet there shall be a space between you and it, about two thousand cubits by measure. Do not come near it, that you may know the way by which you must go, for you have not passed this way before."
5. And Joshua said to the people, "Sanctify yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do wonders among you."
6. Then Joshua spoke to the priests, saying, "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.
7. And the LORD said to Joshua, "This day I will begin to exalt you in the sight of all Israel, that they may know that, as I was with Moses, so I will be with you.
8. "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.'"
9. So Joshua said to the children of Israel, "Come here, and hear the words of the LORD your God."
10. And Joshua said, "By this you shall know that the living God is among you, and that 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:
11. "Behold, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth is crossing over before you into the Jordan.
12. "Now therefore, take for yourselves twelve men from the tribes of Israel, one man from every tribe.
13. "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."
14. 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,
15. 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),
16. that the waters which came down from upstream stood still, and rose in a heap very far away at Adam, the city that is beside Zaretan. So the waters that went down into the Sea of the Arabah, the Salt Sea, failed, and were cut off; and the people crossed over opposite Jericho.
17. Then the priests who bore the ark of the covenant of the LORD stood firm on dry ground in the midst of the Jordan; and all Israel crossed over on dry ground, until all the people had crossed completely over the Jordan.

The Israelites had one sea and one river to cross - the Red Sea and the Jordan River.

In both crossings over dry ground, they witnessed the miracles of God.

Their first "crossing over" was when they witnessed the salvation of the LORD as they crossed the Red Sea. On the first Passover, God delivered the children of Israel from the slavery of Egypt. He redeemed them and set them free by the blood of the Passover Lamb. As they camped besides the Sea, the Egyptians pursued them. They became afraid, and murmured against Moses. Moses said to them in Exodus 14:13, "Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which He will accomplish for you today."

God wanted them to place their trust in Him in the midst of adverse circumstances. By simply obeying God and His prophet, Moses, the children had to believe that the LORD was able to deliver them. That day, they saw the salvation of the LORD as He became their Saviour in parting the sea for them. They crossed over on dry ground. It was not their physical act of crossing that brought them salvation, but their trust in God and their act of obedience that did it. They crossed over from the slavery in Egypt into the freedom in God.

The second "crossing over" happened much later when the Israelites were about to enter their Promised Land. After crossing the Red Sea, they kept wandering in circles in the wilderness for 40 years as they kept disobeying God.

'Surely none of the men who came up from Egypt, from twenty years old and above, shall see the land of which I swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, because they have not wholly followed Me, except Caleb the son of Jephunneh, the Kenizzite, and Joshua the son of Nun, for they have wholly followed the LORD.' So the LORD'S anger was aroused against Israel, and He made them wander in the wilderness forty years, until all the generation that had done evil in the sight of the LORD was gone. Num 32:11-13

Their disobedience granted them no entry into the promise of God. Until they were fully agreeable with God's terms and conditions of living in the Promised Land - His Torah, they remained disobedient. Only the obedient ones entered in and received their inheritance. The obedient ones will wholeheartedly acknowledge God as their LORD and His Lordship over them.

Salvation means crossing over from the kingdom of Satan into the kingdom of God. But to fully enjoy the benefits and inheritance of the promises of God, we have to cross over the Jordan River into the Promised Land where we take God at His Word and act upon it - being doers of the Word, and not hearers only (James 1:22).

There are two Hebrew words that are crucial in understanding the second crossing. They are "Jordan" and "Joshua."

"Jordan" (yarden) means "descending, flowing river." The last part of Hebrew word of "Jordan" (dan) means "judgement." It is possible that River Jordan means "a river that flows down from judgement." Geographically, the Jordan River also flows down from the tribe of Dan who was originally allocated the north of Israel. From Dan, it flows southwards into the Sea of Galilee, and continues its journey and ends in the Salt Sea, currently known as the Dead Sea.

"Joshua" (Yeshua) means "salvation." Yeshua represents salvation to the people. They are to follow Yeshua wherever they go in their inheritance. In Yeshua, they conquered, and in Yeshua, they find their rest!

Putting these two words together, we see a beautiful Torah picture unfolding. Since "Jordan" means "down from judgment," then the flow of the river would mean the people are still under the judgements of God. These judgements were still there even though they have already been saved and redeemed from Egypt.

The Jordan River posed a barrier from entering the Promised Land. How can they stop the judgements of God? The only way is to stop the flow of Jordan River. Only God can do that!

God did stopped the flow of Jordan River, at a place called Adam, 30 kilometres (18 miles) upstream north of Jericho (the crossing point of the Israelites). By no coincidence, God chooses this amazing spot to be the place where the Jordan River stopped flowing. If Jordan poses the flow of God's judgement, then Jordan stops flowing from the place Adam would mean that the judgement of God would stop flowing from our very first forefather, Adam. The curse of sin since Adam is being stopped!

To fully enjoy the promise and inheritance of God, we need to see the judgement of God ceases flowing. The judgement, in fact, ceases flowing in the second Adam (Yeshua or Jesus).

But before that could take place, the Ark of the Covenant had to be brought forward and put in place in the Jordan River. As this was being done, the Jordan River stopped its flow at Adam. Following the Torah (as what the Ark of the Covenant represents), we can now enjoy the blessings of obedience and the fruits that it bears - the blessed rest in the Promised Land. We are not talking about salvation here, but about sanctification as we enter into God's rest. These blessings can only come about through obedience in the Word of God - His Torah!

Following Joshua into the Promised Land means following Yeshua (Jesus) everywhere into the promise of God. Only then, our souls will find rest in God as we put His Torah in our minds, and write it on our hearts; and He will be our God, and we shall be His people.

Further insights about Jordan:
1. Besides Joshua, there are two other persons who parted the Jordan. They are Elijah and Elisha (2 Kings 2:7-8, 14).
2. Elijah means "The LORD is my God".
3. He was an influential prophet who lived during the ninth century BC.
4. Elijah's prophetic activities emphasized the unconditional loyalty to God and His Word required of the nation of Israel.
5. Elijah was opposed to the accepted standards of his day, when nationwide idolatry was prevalent.
6. He challenged Baal worshippers at Mount Carmel.
7. He prayed for a drought that lasted 31/2 years.
8. Elijah's views were in conflict with those of King Ahab. Ahab had attempted to cultivate economic ties with Israel's neighbors, especially Tyre.
9. Upon his flight from Jezebel, he came to the desert south of Beersheba, eventually arriving at Mount Horeb-- the mountain where Moses received the Ten Commandments - the Torah. It is significant that this loyal follower of the Law came at last to the place where the commandments were first given.
10. Like Moses and Jesus, Elijah was sustained for 40 days and nights in the wilderness.
11. While Elijah was at Mount Horeb, the Lord revealed Himself in a low, murmuring sound. The prophet received a revelation of the coming doom on Ahab and Israel (1 Kin. 19:14). Then Elijah was given a threefold charge: he was instructed to anoint Hazael as king of Syria, Jehu as the future king of Israel, and Elisha as the prophet who would take his place (1 Kin. 19:16).
12. Elijah did not die. He was carried bodily to heaven in a whirlwind (2 Kin. 2:1-11). This was an honor previously bestowed only upon Enoch (Gen. 5:24).
13. Elijah understood that the nation of Israel had a mission to preserve its religious system-- the worship of the one true God-- in a pure form without any mixture with idol worship.
14. Elijah's impact on the prophetic movement among the Hebrew people was extensive. Like the prophets who followed him, Elijah emphasized Israel's responsibility for total commitment to their God and the covenant responsibilities which God and His people had sworn to each other.
15. The Old Testament spoke of the reappearance of Elijah. The prophet Malachi prophesied that the Lord would send Elijah before the day of the Lord arrived.
16. According to the New Testament, this prophecy was fulfilled in the coming of John The Baptist (Matt. 11:4; 17:10-13; Luke 1:17).
17. During Jesus' earthly ministry, some identified him with Elijah (Matt. 16:14; Luke 9:8).
18. The New Testament also mentions the reappearance of Elijah in person. Along with Moses, he appeared with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration (Matt. 17:3).
19. Because of his true obedience to God and His Torah, Elijah was able to have the authority and anointing to part the Jordan.
20. This was passed down to his disciple, Elisha who was able to do the same.

About Jordan In the New Testament

  • John the Baptist carried out his ministry in the Jordan River region (Matt. 3:5-6; Mark 1:5; Luke 3:3; John 1:28; 3:26).
  • Jesus' ministry was initiated by His baptism in the waters of the Jordan (Matt. 3:13; Mark 1:9; Luke 4:1).
  • When Jesus had been baptized, He came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased" (Matthew 3:16-17).
  • Note that the judgement had ceased flowing when Jeshua (Jesus) was in the Jordan waters. In fact, God was well pleased.
  • Jesus carried out His ministry on both sides of the Jordan (Matt. 4:15,25; Mark 3:8; John 10:40).

Take Hold by Ariel & D'vorah Berkowitz
A Ministry of First Fruits Of Zion