Joshua 3

1 Joshua got up early in the morning; and they moved from Shittim, and came to the Jordan, he and all the children of Israel. They camped there before they crossed over. 2 After three days, the officers went through the middle of the camp; 3 and they commanded the people, saying, “When you see the ark of the LORD your God’s covenant, and the priests the Levites bearing it, then leave your place, and follow it. 4 Yet there shall be a space between you and it, about two thousand cubits by measure. Don’t come near it, that you may know the way by which you must go; for you have not passed this way before.” 5 Joshua said to the people, “Sanctify yourselves; for tomorrow the LORD will do wonders amongst you.” 6 Joshua spoke to the priests, saying, “Take up the ark of the covenant, and cross over before the people.” They took up the ark of the covenant, and went before the people. 7 The LORD said to Joshua, “Today I will begin to magnify 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 come to the brink of the waters of the Jordan, you shall stand still in the Jordan.’” 9 Joshua said to the children of Israel, “Come here, and hear the words of the LORD your God.” 10 Joshua said, “By this you shall know that the living God is amongst you, and that he will without fail drive the Canaanite, and the Hittite, and the Hivite, and the Perizzite, and the Girgashite, and the Amorite, and the Jebusite out from before you. 11 Behold, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth passes over before you into the Jordan. 12 Now therefore take twelve men out of the tribes of Israel, for every tribe a man. 13 It shall be that when the soles of the feet of the priests who bear the ark of the LORD, the Lord of all the earth, rest in the waters of the Jordan, that the waters of the Jordan will be cut off. The waters that come down from above shall stand in one heap.” 14 When the people moved from their tents to pass over the Jordan, the priests who bore the ark of the covenant being before the people, 15 and when those who bore the ark had come to the Jordan, and the feet of the priests who bore the ark had dipped in the edge of the water (for the Jordan overflows all its banks all the time of harvest), 16 the waters which came down from above stood, and rose up in one heap, a great way off, at Adam, the city that is beside Zarethan; and those that went down towards the sea of the Arabah, even the Salt Sea, were wholly cut off. Then the people passed over near Jericho. 17 The priests who bore the ark of the LORD’s covenant stood firm on dry ground in the middle of the Jordan; and all Israel crossed over on dry ground, until all the nation had passed completely over the Jordan.

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Questions about today’s reading? See if Matthew Henry can help.
Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary, 1706

Verses 1–6

The Israelites came to Jordan in faith, having been told that they should pass it. In the way of duty, let us proceed as far as we can, and depend on the Lord. Joshua led them. Particular notice is taken of his early rising, as afterwards upon other occasions, which shows how little he sought his own ease. Those who would bring great things to pass, must rise early. Love not sleep, lest thou come to poverty. All in public stations should always attend to the duty of their place. The people were to follow the ark. Thus must we walk after the rule of the word, and the direction of the Spirit, in everything; so shall peace be upon us as upon the Israel of God; but we must follow our ministers only as they follow Christ. All their way through the wilderness was an untrodden path, but most so this through Jordan. While we are here, we must expect and prepare to pass ways that we have not passed before; but in the path of duty we may proceed with boldness and cheerfulness. Whether we are called to suffer poverty, pain, labour, persecution, reproach, or death, we are following the Author and Finisher of our faith; nor can we set our feet in any dangerous or difficult spot, through our whole journey, but faith will there see the prints of the Redeemer’s feet, who trod that very path to glory above, and bids us follow him, that where he is, we may be also. They were to sanctify themselves. Would we experience the effects of God’s love and power, we must put away sin, and be careful not to grieve the Holy Spirit of God.

Verses 7–13

The waters of Jordan shall be cut off. This must be done in such a way as never was done, but in the dividing of the Red sea. That miracle is here repeated; God has the same power to finish the salvation of his people, as to begin it; the WORD of the Lord was as truly with Joshua as with Moses. God’s appearances for his people ought to encourage faith and hope. God’s work is perfect, he will keep his people. Jordan’s flood cannot keep out Israel, Canaan’s force cannot turn them out again.

Verses 14–17

Jordan overflowed all its banks. This magnified the power of God, and his kindness to Israel. Although those who oppose the salvation of God’s people have all advantages, yet God can and will conquer. This passage over Jordan, as an entrance to Canaan, after their long, weary wanderings in the wilderness, shadowed out the believer’s passage through death to heaven, after he has finished his wanderings in this sinful world. Jesus, typified by the ark, hath gone before, and he crossed the river when it most flooded the country around. Let us treasure up experiences of His faithful and tender care, that they may help our faith and hope in the last conflict.

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