Joshua Chapter 3

The Israelites were commanded to prepare their things, because in three days time, they would be starting their movement into the promised land. The first city they were going to arrive at, would be Jericho. Joshua, as their leader, sent spies into the land, who returned to say that the people there had heard of the great and terrible things the Israelites had done, and feared them. God had told Moses and Joshua that this is how the nations would feel, and so with faith, the Israelites continued to prepare.

1 And Joshua rose early in the morning; and they removed from Shittim, and came to Jordan, he and all the children of Israel, and lodged there before they passed over.
2 And it came to pass after three days, that the officers went through the host;
3 And they commanded the people, saying, When ye see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, and the priests the Levites bearing it, then ye shall remove from your place, and go after it.
4 Yet there shall be a space between you and it, about two thousand cubits by measure: come not near unto it, that ye may know the way by which ye must go: for ye have not passed this way heretofore.
5 And Joshua said unto the people, Sanctify yourselves: for to morrow the Lord will do wonders among you.
6 And Joshua spake unto the priests, saying, Take up the ark of the covenant, and pass over before the people. And they took up the ark of the covenant, and went before the people.

Joshua and the people left the camp in Shittim and arrived at the shore of the Jordan River. They stayed there for three days. The instruction was given to the people, that when they saw the ark of the covenant and Levite priests go before them, they were to follow it. They were specifically instructed to have a distance between themselves and the ark, so that the Lord could lead them into this unknown land. The Lord was not going to send them into this land, without his guidance as to where they should go. He would lead them, much like he had led them before with the cloud that went before them in the wilderness. This reminds me of the story of the Book of Mormon, when the family of the prophet Lehi were guided to their promised land by the Liahona, which was a gift from God.

Joshua instructed the people to sanctify themselves because the Lord would do wonders for them. Finally, Joshua gave the command to the priests, to take the ark and go before the people, which they did. This command to be sanctified for the wonders of the Lord, was much like the commandment given to the Israelites at Mount Sinai, when they would witness the glory of the Lord on the mount. They had physically prepared themselves for the journey to come, and now they were being called to be spiritually prepared to receive the blessings of God. I imagine it is a lot like the call for us today, to become worthy to enter temples. The latter-day saint temples are dedicated houses of the Lord, in which the righteous can receive great blessings from the Lord. People must be sanctified to enter, because the spirit of the Lord dwells there.

7 And the Lord said unto Joshua, This day will I begin to magnify thee in the sight of all Israel, that they may know that, as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee.
8 And thou shalt command the priests that bear the ark of the covenant, saying, When ye are come to the brink of the water of Jordan, ye shall stand still in Jordan.

Joshua is given a promise that the Lord would show the Israelites that he was indeed the prophet of God, just as Moses had been. It is so important for us to have a testimony of the Lord’s prophet, so that we will not doubt that we are being guided by the words of God. I am grateful for the experiences that I have had in my life, which have strengthened my own testimony in the modern prophets, and help me to know that we have a living prophet on the earth today.

God told Joshua to tell the priests that bore the ark, to go into the first part of the water and stand still in it. This was to be an act of faith on the part of the priests. Moses, when he parted the Red Sea, had to first stretch out his hand as an act of faith in God. We can follow these examples in our own lives, by taking a step in the direction of the council we are given by the Lord and his servants. When we go forward in faith, rather than waiting for something to happen first, we can do great things, just as these worthy men of the priesthood would do.

9 And Joshua said unto the children of Israel, Come hither, and hear the words of the Lord your God.
10 And Joshua said, Hereby ye 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 passeth over before you into Jordan.
12 Now therefore take you twelve men out of the tribes of Israel, out of every tribe a man.
13 And it shall come to pass, as soon as the soles of the feet of the priests that bear the ark of the Lord, the Lord of all the earth, shall rest in the waters of Jordan, that the waters of Jordan shall be cut off from the waters that come down from above; and they shall stand upon an heap.

Joshua called the people forward and told them that the Lord would show them that he was there with them and would lead them to victory over the nations of the land. Then, he gave the instructions to the people that twelve men, one from each tribe, were to be chosen. He also told them that as the priests took the ark into the water, the Lord would cut the waters off and cause them to stand up in a heap. This would have been much like the waters of the Red Sea, when Moses parted them by the power of God.

14 And it came to pass, when the people removed from their tents, to pass over Jordan, and the priests bearing the ark of the covenant before the people;
15 And as they that bare the ark were come unto Jordan, and the feet of the priests that bare the ark were dipped in the brim of the water, (for Jordan overfloweth all his banks all the time of harvest,)
16 That the waters which came down from above stood and rose up upon an heap very far from the city Adam, that is beside Zaretan: and those that came down toward the sea of the plain, even the salt sea, failed, and were cut off: and the people passed over right against Jericho.
17 And the priests that bare the ark of the covenant of the Lord stood firm on dry ground in the midst of Jordan, and all the Israelites passed over on dry ground, until all the people were passed clean over Jordan.

The Jordan River, which is described here as being high water at the time of harvest, was stopped when the feet of the priests went into the brink. I think the additional description of the Jordan, was given so that we could know that the water was not some simple stream, but an overflowing river. Once the water stopped, the people of Israel crossed over on dry land. It is interesting to me to see that the waters mark the journey of the Israelites. The beginning of their journey through the wilderness, involved the parting of the Red Sea and the Israelites crossing the dry land. Then, their journey ends with the waters stopped in the Jordan, and the Israelites crossing the dry land again. Both times, the Lord, who is the living water, made the waters of the earth do His bidding. Both times proved to the people that the prophet was indeed a man of God, chosen to lead them forward. The water was the symbol of the next phase of their lives.

Baptism

Water is a very symbolic thing in the gospel. I can’t help but reflect on the most significant moment in my life that is relating to water, which was my baptism. In my own life, entering into the waters of baptism, marked the next phase of my existence. It is a time I can often reflect on, and remember the decision that was laid before me. Taking that faithful step into the water, has led me on a path of discipleship and great blessings. Additionally, the Lord caused that water to do His bidding, which was to cleanse me and give me new life. I am very grateful for that choice and the opportunities, lessons, and growth it has given to me.

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About My Scripture Study Buddy

I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I love the scriptures, but I am not a scriptorian. I've been told that I'm too "deep" for some, but if you are willing, I'd love to have others join me in my quest for a greater understanding of the gospel. Please feel free to leave me comments and hopefully we can help each other to learn.
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