So when the people broke camp to cross the Jordan, the priests carrying the ark of the covenant went ahead of them. Now the Jordan is at flood stage all during harvest. Yet as soon as the priests who carried the ark reached the Jordan and their feet touched the water’s edge, the water from upstream stopped flowing. It piled up in a heap a great distance away, at a town called Adam in the vicinity of Zarethan, while the water flowing down to the Sea of the Arabah (that is, the Dead Sea) was completely cut off. So the people crossed over opposite Jericho. The priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord stopped in the middle of the Jordan and stood on dry ground, while all Israel passed by until the whole nation had completed the crossing on dry ground. – Joshua 3:14-17
The LORD had promised. The LORD delivers on His promise. Experiencing the faithfulness of God in this miraculous way was intended to build up the faith of the Israelites and to give glory to God. One of the astonishing things about all of the great things that the LORD does for His people is that the covenant people seem to so quickly forget God’s power and faithfulness when faced with either great challenges or sustained ease. This means that a key part of living a faithful Christian life is actively remembering the faithfulness and goodness of the LORD acting on our behalf. We do this primarily through celebrating the means of grace, chiefly the word of God, the sacraments, and prayer. Adolph Harstad comments:
Like God’s NT miracles, the amazing act at the Jordan is not designed merely to entertain or provide physical benefit alone (See John 20:30-31). [The miracle the LORD performed] at the Jordan inspires faith in Him at the same time that it authenticates His chosen leader, whose primary ministry prepares for the greater NT “Joshua.”
God’s power over the waters that He created from nothing is emphasized in Scripture from the beginning. It is further seen in the flood account, the Red Sea miracle, the amazing act at Israel’s crossing of the Jordan, and Jesus’ ability to walk on water and to calm the waves made of it. Water, which is a basic substance of this creation and a necessity for life, must bow to the LORD to serve His purposes of both judgment and grace (e.g., the pursuing Egyptians were drowned, and the Canaanites will be conquered, whereas the Israelites pass through on their way to life with God). His people are to stand in awe and in faith.
Christians are reminded by this miracle that when we “tread the verge of Jordan” by God’s grace, our fears can sink and our faith can thrive. Ours is the powerful and gracious “Lord of all the earth,” who cause the waters of Jordan to rise in a heap to let His people pass. He is Jesus, “attested by God to you by miracles and portents and sign” (Acts 2:22). By his greatest miracle, His own resurrection from the dead, we inherit far more than the land of the Canaanites; we own “an inheritance imperishable and undefiled and unfading – kept in heaven for you” (1 Pet 1:4).
MEMORY WORK – Shorter Catechism Q/A 15
Q. What was the sin whereby our first parents fell from the estate wherein they were created?
A. The sin whereby our first parents fell from the estate wherein they were created was their eating the forbidden fruit.