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  The Great Bible Story #44
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Crossing the Jordan

Jacob Ninan
The River Jordan was overflowing the banks at this time. The children of Israel were on the east side of the river, and they were to cross over to the west side to take possession of the land of Canaan as God had promised. When the people had prepared themselves for three days and got ready, Joshua told the Levitical priests to carry the ark of the covenant and go in front of the people, and the people were to follow, keeping a good distance from the ark. God told Joshua that when the soles of the priests touched the water, the Jordan would stop flowing.

Joshua declared to the people what was going to happen. He told them God was doing this to reassure them that He would deliver all the nations of the Canaanites into their hands. God did this also to show the people how He was with Joshua as He was with Moses. So the priests started walking carrying the ark, and as soon as their feet touched the water, the river stopped flowing. The water rose up in a heap for a long distance ahead of them. The priests stood in the river bed with the ark, till all the people walked and crossed to the other side.

Then God asked one man each from every tribe to go to where the priests stood, to each collect a big stone from the river bed, and to carry them to where the people were going to camp. They set up the stones in that place called Gilgal. God told them that whenever any of the children asked them later why the stones were there, they should tell them the story of how God had held up the Jordan for the people to cross on dry ground. Joshua picked up another twelve stones and set them up where the feet of the priests had stood on the river bed. After everyone had crossed over, the priests walked to the other side carrying the ark, and as soon as their feet were on dry ground, the river started flowing again as usual.

The general understanding many Christians have is that the Promised Land represents heaven, and Jordan death through which we pass to heaven. But it could also signify the spiritual life of a believer. After being saved from the life of sin (Egypt) and wandering in the desert (carnal living) which they could have avoided if they trusted God, crossing the river is to choose death to self and life with God. Occupying the Promised Land points to getting victory over the desires of the flesh just as the people of Israel had to fight to conquer the land and then occupy it. If we trust God, we too can avoid carnal living.


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Comfort & Counsel