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Joshua 3






BY: Joe Ligon

The two spies had returned and reported.  One morning soon after that, perhaps the next morning, Joshua moved the people of Israel to the Jordan River.  The nation stayed there three days.  There were at least a couple of reasons for this three day stay. 

One was for the people of Israel to consecrate themselves.  The nation of Israel was poised to cross the Jordan River and engage in war with the people who inhabited Canaan.  You might think that preparing for that would mean the people would be sharpening their swords or checking their armor or building other weapons.  Instead they were going through ceremonially cleansing and spiritual preparation.  Why?  What they were about to witness was not a military action but a miracle of God.

The other reason for that three day stay might very well have been for the people of Israel to see the flooded Jordan River.  Surely they watched the strong currents move debris down river.  Surely they would have wondered how they were going to survive the crossing much less how the elderly or the very young could survive. So, Joshua told them they were about to see a “wonder” or a miracle.  They would see God do something that only two of them had ever seen anything similar before.

You might remember that the pillar of cloud by day had led the people of Israel for 40+ years in the wilderness.  Now that pillar of cloud was gone and the nation of Israel was to follow the Ark of the Covenant.  Remember the Ark of the Covenant was covered with the mercy seat which is where God’s presence would descend to.  So, the Ark of the Covenant represented the very presence of God.  Notice then that the nation of Israel did not follow Joshua across the river but they followed God.

It is also important to notice that the people were not to get too close to the Ark of the Covenant.  The distance, depending on your translation was about 2,000 cubits, about 1,000 yards, or about one-half mile.  There are at least a couple of reasons for this distance.  One practical reason was with the Ark of the Covenant that far in front of the people, more people would be able to see it and, therefore, follow it.  A spiritual reason is this distance speaks to the holiness of God.  It created a necessary barrier between sinful man and a righteous God.  We must never be casual or careless in our approaching God.

The plan was for the priests to carry the ark to the edge of the flooded Jordan.  When their feet touched the water, God would stop the river from flowing.  When we read this, many of us probably think about the Red Sea incident where God divided the sea and the people walked through on dry ground.  Remember that only two men that were standing with Israel in this chapter had seen that miracle: Joshua and Caleb.  All of the other people had only heard about that.  No doubt that increased the amount of courage they would need to trust God to hold the water back as they crossed over Jordan.

I want to leave you with two thoughts.  In verse 17, the priests carrying the Ark of the Covenant stood “firmly on dry ground” in the middle of that river bed.  God stopping the river from flowing was a miracle.  God immediately drying the ground so that there was no mud to slow the people was a miracle. 

The other thought is.  I don’t know how you picture this in your mind.  So, let me leave this with you.  There were millions of Israelites at this time.  Most estimates range between 2-4 million people.  Now imagine that many people scurrying across the river bed into the Promised Land.

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Joshua 2



Wednesday, DECEMBER 19 


BY: Joe Ligon

Chapter one rehearsed some of the background that informs this book as well as revealed to us the marvelous preparations God made to ready His man Joshua.  Now it is time for the journey to take us into the Promised Land.  But after crossing the Jordan River, the people of Israel would almost immediately face the problem of Jericho.  Jericho was a walled city and key military location.  Israel would have to determine a way to defeat and destroy the city in order to move on into the Promised Land.

Joshua’s plan was to send in two spies to check our Jericho.  You might remember several years earlier Moses sent in a group of men to spy out the Promised Land.  That didn’t turn out too well.  Only two of the spies that went in came out with a positive report: Caleb and Joshua.  The other men were scared because they had seen giants over there.  The people of Israel believed that report and that was the basis for the 40 years of wandering in the wilderness.

I have often wondered if Joshua thought about when he sent these two men to spy out Jericho.  Perhaps he did because verse one says he sent them secretly.  In other words, Israel didn’t know.

Upon arriving in Jericho, they met a lady named Rahab.  Actually she was a prostitute.  But her life was about to change in incredible ways.  She is going to be absolutely essential in helping the Israelites in their conquest of Jericho.  There is a most important lesson here.  It really doesn’t matter who you have been or what you have been.  God is able to use and, in fact, has a long history of using people of questionable backgrounds to do great things for Him.  It is not who you were but who God is going to make you.  It is not what you did but what you will do for God.

As you read the chapter, you probably noticed that Rahab lied to the men the king sent her way.  That always brings up a major question.  Is it OK to lie?  Was Rahab in the wrong when she lied to protect the two spies from Israel?  Space does not allow us to dive very deeply into this issue.  But, although I don’t condone lying (We should always be truth tellers.), there are obviously times that we would feel compelled not to tell the truth.  Imagine if some bad guys broke into your home and were intent on killing your children or grandchildren.  And those bad guys asked you where the kids were.  I can’t imagine any of us giving up the location of our kids.  In fact, I can imagine we would do everything we could including lying to lead those bad guys as far away from our kids as we could.  You can now think badly of me if you want. God has already judged Rahab and has forgiven her for that lie.  How do I know that?  She is in the Hall of Faith in Hebrews 11.

Another interesting thing about Rahab is that she would have been raised as a pagan.  But by the time we meet her she was a believer in the one, true God.  She knew that Yahweh is God in the heavens above and on the earth beneath. (verse 11).  The reason she knew that is she had heard of the great things God had done.

The plan to save Rahab and her family was agreed upon and the scarlet cord would be displayed in the window overlooking the wall.  It is no accident that the cord would be red.  It necessarily points to the scarlet blood of Jesus saving us from our great enemies: death, the grave, and hell.

As has been mentioned by great and wise theologians, this scarlet cord of redemption runs throughout the Bible and culminates in the person and work of Jesus Christ.  Praise God!

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