Joshua leads Israel

Published 4:02 pm Friday, January 16, 2009

Scripture: Joshua 3:1-17

Aim: To help the pupil understand of position of Joshua over the Israelites since Moses had died. To show how Joshua took over as leader on Israel.

Golden Text: “Moses, My servant is dead; now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, thou, and all this people, unto the land which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel” (Joshua 1:2). “On that day the Lord magnified Joshua in the sight of all Israel; and they feared him, as they feared Moses, all the days of his life” (Joshua 4:14).

Joshua had been the second in command of Israel under Moses. Jehovah had informed Moses, and Moses prepared Joshua to take over command of Israel upon his own death. As the book of Joshua opens Moses had already died. Chapter One tells us that Jehovah installed Joshua as Israel’s leader while they were still on the eastern side of the Jordan River.

Joshua had sent out the spies in order to get ready for a fight against Jericho when they crossed the land. They had returned with their report. Joshua prepared the people to pass over the Jordan River, which was overflowing its banks during spring flood stage.

I. The officers were instructed by Joshua (Joshua 3:1-4). They instructed the people to watch the ark of the covenant, the priests and the Levites (vs. 3-4). They were to follow the leadership of the priests and the ark; however, they were to remain about 3,700 feet behind the procession (vs. 4). In that position they could know precisely where they were going. (Remember there were probably one and a half million people at least.)

II. Joshua instructed the people to sanctify themselves (3:5). He instructed the priests to take up the ark and proceed across the river (vs. 6).

III. Jehovah God instructed Joshua (3:7-8). First, He was that day going to magnify Joshua so Israel would follow him (vs. 7). Second, the priests who bore the ark were instructed to stop when they came to the brink of the water (vs. 8).

Two lessons are very important at this point. First, it was vital that the people obeyed the instructions that were given to them. Obedience is always vital in every situation. Second, the directions given by Jehovah God are paramount. The Christian must be led by the Lord and His Word. And the Christian must be faithful to “do” the Word.

III. Joshua instructed the people that the living God would drive the inhabitants from the land of Canaan before Israel (vs. 9-10). They were to be faithful and trust God.

IV. Israel was reminded that their real leader was Jehovah God, the Lord of all the earth (3:11-13). Thus His identity was given, and His position as leader was given.

V. The people passed over the Jordan (3:14-17). The priests carrying the ark stood in the midst of the Jordan and the waters rolled back and the river bed became dry land. The priests stood in the river until all passed over on dry ground. Twelve men, one from each tribe, picked up a stone in the river bed and carried it to the other side to make a memorial. After all had passed over, the priests took the ark out of the river onto the western side of the river.

The nation of Israel passed over the swollen river on dry ground. What a testimony it must have been for Israel and all inhabitants who were watching! God still honors the faith and obedience of His people. As then, He has promised to be with us and never forsake us. We are still instructed to “trust and obey.”