Israel Crosses the Jordan

Part 2 of a 7 part series. View series intro and index.

Last time, we saw that the meta-narrative of the Bible is that God is making a people for himself from all the families of the earth.  There’s so many chapters to this story, but let’s move ahead a few books to Joshua 3-4. The background is that Moses has died and Joshua is now the leader of Israel. He has been a faithful constant in wicked Israel and now it is his opportunity to lead God’s people to the promise land. In Joshua 3, Israel is about to cross the Jordan River.

He gives instructions to the Israelites for what to do. He tells them that God is going to go before them in the ark of the covenant. As they follow, the waters will rise and where they walk will be dry ground. Joshua 3:17 says that “all Israel was passing over on dry ground until all the nation finished passing over the Jordan.”

During chapter 4, Israel set up two memorial stones for the Lord. Joshua said to the people, “When your children ask their fathers in times to come, ‘What do those stones mean?’ then you shall let your children know, Israel passed over the Jordan on dry ground” (v. 21).

But did God simply do that to bring Israel into the Promise Land? Wasn’t there a greater purpose? Verse 23 begins with the word “For” to let us know why God did it. Here’s what it says:

For the LORD your God dried up the waters of the Jordan for you until you passed over, as the LORD your God did to the Red Sea, which he dried up for us until we passed over, so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the LORD is mighty, that you may fear the LORD your God forever.

Joshua tells the Israelites the same thing that God tells Abraham in Genesis 12. God delivered his people so his bigger purpose would take place. God wants Israel to know that it’s not about them. It’s about the God of ultimate diversity bringing all people everywhere into white-hot worship of the LORD God as the supreme treasure of the universe.

This story is going beyond Israel. Physical real estate will not be able to contain it. It won’t be limited to race or nation. It’s going to be an unshakable kingdom, and as we said last time, it will be for every kind of person in every kind of race in every of nation for all time.