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Study Resources :: Text Commentaries :: F.E. Marsh :: Readings 101-150 (Countenance - For)

F.E. Marsh :: 105. Crossing the Jordan

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JOSHUA 3:5-17

ISRAEL’S crossing the Jordan was a new epoch in their history. The wilderness with its zigzag path of unbelief was to be left behind, while Canaan with its abundant supply was about to be possessed. The typical teaching for the believer in Christ is, that when he sees the river of God’s judgment rolling over his old sinful self, as the stones which represented Israel were placed in the bed of the Jordan (Josh. 4:9), and as he beholds himself seated with Christ in heavenly places, as illustrated in the stones which were placed in Gilgal (Josh. 4:20), then he is enabled to walk in newness of life (Rom. 6:4).

  1. A Sanctified People (Josh. 3:5). It was essential that the people should be sanctified, before the Lord could do wonders among them. The wonders of God’s power are performed through a people who are separated to Himself; and the wonders of His grace are exhibited when He is sanctified as Lord in the heart (1 Pet. 3:15).
  2. The Obedient Priests (Josh. 3:6-17). The priests acted according to the instructions given to them by Joshua. They were to take up the ark, pass over before the people, and stand in the bed of the Jordan till all the people had gone over. The priests in their priestly service were first and they were last. Thus, those who are believers in Christ are to remember that the priestly service of prayer, supplication, thanksgiving, and communion with the Lord come before more active service, and must come after it. As the ark of the covenant was seen by the people because it was on the shoulders of the priests, so Christ should always be seen in our work for the Lord.
  3. An Honoured Leader (Josh. 3:7). Joshua had been a faithful servant of the Lord, and now the Lord is about to honour him by working a wondrous miracle through him in causing the Jordan to roll back. Those who magnify the Lord by their loving obedience and praise (Psalm 34:3; 1 Chron. 17:24), the Lord will magnify with His favour and power (Joshua 4:14; 1 Chron. 29:25).
  4. A Listening Servant (Josh. 3:8). Joshua listens attentively to the voice of the Lord as He directs him what he is to do. We must wait before we run (Isaiah 40:31), tarry (Luke 24:49) before we are empowered (Acts 2:1-2), receive before we can give (Acts 1:8), be taught before we can teach (Isaiah 50:4, R.V.), and listen before we speak (Luke 10:39).
  5. A Faithful Messenger (Josh. 3:9). Having received the message, Joshua gives it to Israel. There were no deductions or additions, there was simply a reproduction. In like manner, when we receive the message of the Lord, as given in His Word, we must not add to it nor take from it (Deut. 12:32; Rev. 22:18). People are apt to do one of three things in connection with God’s Word, namely, take from, add to, or alter. Notice that Eve did all three. She took from when she left out the word “freely” (see Gen. 3:2, and 2:16); she added to when she put in the word “touch” (see Gen. 3:3. and 2:17); and she altered when she said, “lest ye die” (Gen. 3:3), when God had said, “Thou shalt surely die” (Gen. 2:17).
  6. The Almighty Conqueror (Josh. 3:10). The living God was to be the One who would drive out their enemies. It was not a question of their skill or of their power, but of the Lord’s doings. The one essential is to be strong in the power of His might (Eph. 6:10), and to have faith in Him to overcome (1 John 5:4), then no giant can stand before us (1 Sam. 17:45).
  7. The Symbolic Ark (Josh. 3:11). The ark is the symbol of Jehovah’s presence. Six times the ark is called “the ark of the covenant” (Josh. 3:3, 6, 8, 11, 14, 17); twice it is called “the ark” (Josh. 3:15); once it is called “the ark of the Lord” (Josh. 3:13); once it is called “the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth” (Josh. 3:11); and once there is the addition to the words “the ark of the Lord” of the expression, “The Lord of all the earth.” “The ark” is so called because there is only one; “the ark of the covenant” is so called because it contained the law; “the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth” is so designated because He possesses all things; and “the ark of the Lord, the Lord of all the earth,” is so described because no power can stand before Him. All this can be applied to Christ.
  8. Representative Men (Josh. 3:12). The twelve men taken from the twelve tribes, from each tribe a man, signifies that these men were each acting in the place of the tribe. Christ is the Representative Man for the believer. He acts on our behalf (Hebrews 9:24).
  9. The Supreme Power (Josh. 3:13-17). The waters of Jordan could not stand before the fiat and presence of Jehovah (Psalm 104:7); neither can the waters of judgment nor the waters of trouble (Isaiah 43:2) immerse the child of God. “No condemnation” and “no separation” are the two pillars of the temple of truth. As long as we are behind the omnipotent power of Jehovah no force of earth, no might of hell, and no weapon forged by man can touch or harm us.
104. Covetousness ← Prior Section
106. David and Goliath Next Section →

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.


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