Lectionary Calendar
Friday, May 24th, 2024
the Week of Proper 2 / Ordinary 7
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Bible Commentaries
Joshua 3

Gaebelein's Annotated BibleGaebelein's Annotated

Verses 1-17

3. The Passage of Jordan


1. The Ark of Jehovah going before (Joshua 3:1-6 )

2. Jehovah’s words to Joshua (Joshua 3:7-8 )

3. Joshua’s words to the people (Joshua 3:9-13 )

4. The passage accomplished (Joshua 3:14-17 )

The River Jordan divided the people from the promised land. To be in the land Jordan had to be crossed. Jordan, overflowing all its banks at that time (verse 15), rolled its dark waters between them and their God-given possession. Only the power of God could bring them through those dark waters. It was a miracle which took place, when a way was opened and “the waters which came down from above stood and rose up upon an heap ... and those that came down toward the sea of the plain, even the salt-sea, failed and were cut off” (verse 16). Unbelief has always branded this miracle as a legend. The destructive criticism has done the same. This is the second time the Lord made a way for His people through the waters. He made first a way for them through the Red Sea, by which Israel was separated from Egypt and from their enemies. The passage of Jordan separated them from the wilderness and brought them into the land.

Both, the Red Sea and Jordan, are types of the death of Christ in its blessed results for His people. The Red Sea experience typifies the fact that the believer, through the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, is dead to sin and dead to the law. The passage through Jordan is the type of the fact, that the death and resurrection of Christ brings us into the heavenly places; we are seated together in Christ in heavenly places.

And how was the passage accomplished? We read now nothing more of the movement of the pillar of cloud and of fire, so prominent at the Red Sea and during the wilderness journey. The ark of the covenant of the Lord appears in the foreground to lead the way and made a way through the overflowing waters. Taken up by the priests, carried towards the river, as soon as the priests touched the brim of it, the waters were stemmed back, till all the people had passed over on dry ground. The ark with the blood-sprinkled mercy seat is the type of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is the type of our Lord going into the deep waters of death to make a way through them for His people. The distance between the ark and the people was to be two thousand cubits. It illustrates the fact that our Lord had to do this work alone. Peter declared that he would go with Him into death, but the Lord told him, “Thou canst not follow Me now, but thou shalt follow Me hereafter.” There was none with Him, when He made the way, but He takes all His people through death into resurrection life and glory.

In the midst of Jordan, the mighty waters standing as a heap above, the priests that bare the ark of the covenant of the Lord stood firm on dry ground, until all the people were passed clean over Jordan. It was a dry way, not a drop of the dark, muddy waters were left. It shows the truth, that the power of death (typified by the waters of Jordan) is completely gone; nothing is left of it. The work is accomplished for all His people. Not one is left behind; the weakest and the smallest pass over. What effect it must have had upon the enemies, and especially upon Jericho! Jericho was but five miles away. No doubt they watched the hosts of Israel before the passage. They felt secure on account of the mighty waters of Jordan, which seemed to bar the Israelitish invasion. How panic-stricken they must have become when they saw or heard of the great miracle and that God’s people had reached the other shore! But one person was calm in Jericho. One enjoyed peace and rest and did not fear. The one from whose window there streamed the scarlet line.

Bibliographical Information
Gaebelein, Arno Clemens. "Commentary on Joshua 3". "Gaebelein's Annotated Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/gab/joshua-3.html. 1913-1922.
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