Into the Promised Land

KEY VERSE: “Behold the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord of all the earth passeth over before you into Jordan.” —Joshua 3:11

SELECTED SCRIPTURE: Joshua 3:14; 4:7

AFTER the Israelites had received the Law Covenant at Mount Sinai, God brought them to the wilderness of Paran, where he instructed Moses to send representatives from all the tribes into the land of Canaan, the Promised Land, to search out the land. The purpose was to “see the land, what it is; and the people that dwelleth therein, whether they be strong or weak, few or many; and what the land is that they dwell in, whether it be good or bad; and what cities they be that they dwell in, whether in tents, or in strongholds.” (Num. 13:18,19) We know that as a result of this excursion, the Israelites returned completely demoralized by what they perceived to be insurmountable obstacles in taking over the land. The cities were fortified, and the people were giants.

There were only two out of the twelve Israelites who went into the land who came back with a favorable report. These were Joshua and Caleb. These faithful servants had faith in the overruling of the Lord and his ability to deliver them as he had so wonderfully done in the land of Egypt. They, together with Moses and Aaran, did everything they could to convince the people that God would preserve them and give them the victory. But the people did not have faith and they rebelled against the Lord. Because of this, he pronounced this decree upon them: “All those men which have seen my glory, and my miracles, which I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and have tempted me now these ten times and have not hearkened to my voice, surely they shall not see the land which I sware unto their fathers, neither shall any of them that provoked [despised, Strong’s Concordance] me see it.” (Num. 14:22,23) The entire nation was turned back from the land and was forced to wander in the wilderness for forty years, until all those who had rebelled had died in the desert land.

At the end of the forty years, and after Moses had died, the Lord spoke to Joshua and told him that it was time to deliver the children of Israel into the Promised Land. However, the Lord had arranged another test of faith for the Israelites. The Jordan River was at flood stage and the raging torrent presented almost as great an obstacle to entering the land as before, for the Israelites did not have boats and the water was too swift and too deep to wade. But apparently the children of Israel had learned their lesson of faith, because there was no hesitancy when the order was given for them to assemble on the banks in preparation for the crossing over to the Promised Land. Joshua instructed the people, “Sanctify yourselves; for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you.”—Josh. 3:5

The Lord instructed that the priests bearing the Ark of the Covenant should precede the people and when the priests’ feet touched the water, the flow of water would stop, and the priests were to stand in the center of the stream while the children of Israel passed over on dry ground to the Promised Land. As a memorial and a reminder to the children of Israel of this wonderful miracle performed on their behalf, the Lord instructed that a member of each tribe take a stone from the riverbed on the bank of the Promised Land and they were to build an altar.

A general lesson is taught by this experience of the nation of Israel. First, it pictures the world of mankind being delivered from sin and death into the promised kingdom of the Messiah. Second, the fact that the Ark preceded and remained in the riverbed until all of the people had passed over into the Promised Land is an illustration of the fact that the entrance into the kingdom is only through the power and love of God.

The lesson for the footstep followers of Jesus now should be: “In all thy ways acknowledge him and he shall direct thy paths”; and, “Without me ye can do nothing”; and, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me”; and again, “All things are yours, … and ye are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.” (Prov. 3:6; John 15:5; Phil. 4:13; I Cor. 3:21-23) Let us, in the strength of these divine promises, enter into the blessings of the Lord more and more each day, claiming them and acting upon them.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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