For years prior to this moment, the Israelites had been carrying in their midst the “Ark of the Covenant.” This “Ark” was essentially a box, which represented God’s presence and carried some special items from their spiritual history. God and the Ark was present with them in the desert as they wandered for those 40 years.
Now as Joshua and the nation of Israel are poised to go into the Promised Land, they will follow God into it. (Incidentally, whether in the Old Testament or New Testament, we are always instructed that our lives are about following God.)
See, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth will go into the Jordan ahead of you. (Joshua 3:11 NIV)
The ark is on the shoulders of a delegation of spiritual leaders and when they step into the river the amazing happens: 20 miles up river, the water stands up, and the riverbed empties as the water rushes by to the Dead Sea. Then the people of Israel walk over this wide swath of dry ground where moments ago a river ran 10 feet deep!
God was first in, and He went into the place of the most danger. As pictured by the Ark, He’s first, He’s in the middle, and He’s the last out. He leads and has us covered…always!
As the Ark remained in the middle after all the people had crossed, Joshua was instructed to have a representative from each tribe grab a stone from the riverbed to make a memorial. These 12 stones were piled together to make sure that the people remembered what God had done. As people, we need to have reminders and often we really need to remember a “place” where God broke into our lives.
What are the stories in your life where God invaded your life?
How have you set up a memorial so you can remember His work? Tell the stories of God’s work — again and again and again!
“When your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, ‘What are these stones?’ then you shall inform your children, saying, ‘Israel crossed this Jordan on dry ground.’ For the Lord YOUR God dried up the waters of the Jordan before you until you had crossed, just as the Lord your God had done to the Red Sea, which He dried up before us until we had crossed; that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the Lord is mighty, so that you may fear the Lord your God forever.” (Joshua 4:21-24 emphasis mine)