Crossing Into the Promised Land

Joshua 1-4    Review Activities for this Lesson

The people of Israel wept for Moses in the plains of Moab for thirty days. It must have been hard to say good-bye to their great leader. Because of his great faith, Moses had led them out of slavery in Egypt, then through forty long years’ wandering in the wilderness. Now their weary journey was finally over - - they were ready to go into the promised land at last.

The Lord told Moses their new leader would be Joshua, a man with the Spirit of God. Do you remember the two times Joshua has shown his wonderful faith? The first time was at Rephidim. There he fought against the Amalekites while Aaron and Hur held up Moses’ hands. And later at Kadesh Barnea when the other ten spies were frightened and panicked, Joshua stood with Caleb to tell them God would surely help them take the land.

Many older Israelites must have thought about that sad time now. People they loved had died in the wilderness because they lacked faith in God. This time the whole group was ready to follow their leader. They told Joshua, “All that you command us we will do, and wherever you send us we will go.”

Moses had reminded Joshua he would not be alone, saying “Be strong and of good courage … And the Lord, He is the one who goes before you. He will be with you, He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed.”

Joshua knew that taking the land of Canaan would not be easy. The wicked people living there were fierce and would fight with all their might to keep their homes. Many of their cities were protected by high thick walls with heavily guarded gates. But God told Joshua not to be afraid, saying “Now, therefore, arise and go over this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them… No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so will I be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you.” God had chosen Joshua to divide the land that he had promised fathers He would give them.

Before Joshua could lead the armies against the wicked people, though, he had another problem. Looking on the map of the land of Moab will help you see what the problem was - - how would he ever get all the people of Israel across the Jordan River? It must have looked impossible as they stood and watched the muddy torrent rushing by. At that time of the year, melting snows from nearby mountains had caused the Jordan to flood its banks and become a great surge of water. There were no boats and only the strongest would be able to swim it. What would happen now?

If thoughts like this occurred to Joshua, something else must have come to his mind, too. Can you think of another time when the huge crowd had crossed a wide body of water? Yes, when they crossed the Red Sea. Remembering that, would make Joshua know that the Lord would see them through.

Soon God gave Joshua directions and he passed them on to the people. “When you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, and the priests, the Levites, bearing it, then you shall set out from your place and go after it.” A man from each tribe was to carry a stone from the river to Gilgal where they would camp that night. When Joshua had herded all the people to Jordan’s bank, the priests carrying the ark started out.

Imagine everyone’s surprise to see the river roll back into a big heap as soon as the priests’ feet touched the water! While the priests stood in the middle of the riverbed twelve men found stones nearby and the people went through on dry land. When everyone was safely across, Joshua set up twelve other stones in the middle of the river.

Later, at Gilgal he made a memorial of the stones the men brought, saying, “When your children ask their fathers in time to come saying, ‘What are these stones?’ then you shall let your children know, saying, “Isreal crossed over this Jordan on dry land!” God had dried up the waters of the Jordan, just as He had dried up the Red Sea, that all men might know His mighty hand.

Talking it Over

1. Should one country try to attack another to get their lands? No. But all the lands of the world belong to God. When there are enough people in a nation trying to do right, God blesses them. But if the time comes that most sin, He may punish them by giving their country to someone else. Genesis 15:13-16 tells why God waited 400 years to give Canaan to Isreal.
2. Why did God give Canaan to Isreal? See Deut. 9:3-5.
3. Before God’s words were written down, He used miracles to prove that His leaders spoke His word. What did the miracle at Jordan show about Joshua?

Memory Verse:
“Do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Josh 1:9
How can these words to Joshua help us?

Text by Betty Belue Haynes, originally published in Bible Talk Times. Used here with the kind permission of the author. Users are free to reproduce for use, but not for publication.