Day 81: Israel Crosses the Jordan

Key Event 30: Israel Crosses the Jordan (Joshua 3-4)
Israel, led by Joshua, enters the Promised Land by crossing the Jordan River., concluding the journey begun in the Exodus. Once again God parts the waters, allowing the Israelites to walk across on dry land (Josh 4:23). This will be the very place that the New Testament "Joshua"--Jesus--will begin his public ministry (Mt 3)

Joshua 1:1-9 This book picks up where the Pentateuch left off, with the Israelites poised to cross over into the Promised Land and Joshua taking the leadership after the death of Moses. The names Joshua and Jesus reflect two different ways of transcribing “God Saves,” making Joshua a TYPE OF CHRIST (TYPOLOGY!!), who leads his faithful into the promised land of Heaven. (CCC 130)


Ch 1:8 Meditate on it day and night: Meditation consists in dwelling on the Word of God with the effort to penetrate its meaning. The meditative reading of Sacred Scripture, called LECTIO DIVINA, is part of our effort to listen to God, to discern his will, and to apply it in our lives. (CCC 2705-2706, 2742-2745)


Ch 1:10-18 It was important that all of the tribes participate in the conquest of Canaan. Even the tribes that had already settled in their land of Transjordan willingly sent their men to help cast out the Hittites and secure the Promised Land. All of the tribes recognized Joshua as having authority over Israel and therefore obeyed his mandates for the sake of the common good.


Ch 2:1-24 Like Moses, Joshua used spies to obtain advance knowledge of the enemy. Rahab, a Canaanite woman, acknowledged the Lord and hid the spies from the Canaanites in exchange for a promise of her personal safety in the coming siege; thus, Rahab is an example of JUSTIFICATION BY FAITH AND WORKS (cf. James 2:24-25). (CCC 1989-1996)


Ch 2:17-21 The scarlet cord in Rahab’s window was a signal to Israel’s soldiers to spare her household and is also reminiscent of the BLOOD OF THE PASCHAL LAMB that was placed on the doorposts and lintels of Israelite homes to spare them from the death of the firstborn sons in Egypt. (CCC 1339)


Ch 3:1-17 The Ark of the Covenant, carried by Levitical priests, led the way to the Jordan, thus symbolizing that God himself delivered Israel to the Promised Land. As the Israelites were about to cross the river, the flow of the Jordan was interrupted to allow the people to cross on dry ground, much as the Red Sea had been parted during Israel’s escape from Egypt. This crossing of the Jordan, through which Israel entered the Promised Land, is a type of the waters of the Sacrament of Baptism (TYPOLOGY!!) that would open the gates of Heaven, our eternal home. (CCC 1222)


Ch 3:10 The First Commandment forbids the worship, veneration, or belief in any gods other than the ONE TRUE GOD. The pagans who worshiped idols, Scripture tells us, worshipped inanimate objects, images made by human hands: “They have mouths, but do not speak; eyes, but do not see” (Ps 115:4-7). By contrast, the one true God is a LIVING GOD-Eternal, All-powerful, All-seeing, All-knowing-who speaks to his people throughout history and exercises his providence in human affairs. He is both a living and a life giving God, who created all things. (CCC 2112)


Ch 4:1-25 The twelve stones taken from the Jordan served as a monument to remind future generations of Israel’s miraculous crossing of the river. Gilgal was the site where Saul would later be anointed as the first King of Israel (cf. 1 Sam 11:15)


Psalm 123 Christ called the eye the “lamp of the body,” saying that “if your eye is sound, your whole body will be full of light; but if your eye is not sound, your whole body will be full of darkness” (Mt 6:22-23). The eyes have been described traditionally as the windows of the soul; the eyes in a sense reveal the heart of the person. As we contemplate God through the eyes of our mind and heart, we become filled with the light of his wisdom and mercy. (Cf. Pope Benedict XVI, General Audience, June 15, 2005)


  • The story of the Conquest begins with three closely interrelated stories that revolve around Israel’s interaction with three key characters: Rahab, Achan, and the inhabitants of Gibeon.

  • To grasp the deeper plot, we must understand how all three stories connect and contrast a subtle pattern of hiding and discovery, concealment and revelation.

  • Before Joshua leads Israel across the Jordan River, he sends out spies to view the land and the city of Jericho in particular (Jos 2:1).

  • Joshua’s intelligence strategy follows that of Moses (Nm 13), but this time Joshua sends only two spies, symbolic of the two spies who were faithful to Moses.

  • Joshua has learned from Israel’s failures.

  • The two spies lodge in the house of a harlot named Rahab.

  • However, after Jericho’s king uncovers their reconnaissance mission, enemy soldiers are sent to seek them out.

  • Rahab hides the spies on her roof, and confesses that she will try to save them because she fears the God of Israel:


“I know that the Lord has given you the land, and that the fear of you has fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land melt away before you. For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites that were beyond the Jordan … And as soon as we heard it, our hearts melted, and there was no courage left in any man, because of you; for the Lord your God is he who is God in heaven above and on earth beneath.” (Jos 2:9-11)


  • To understand Rahab’s full meaning, we must hear her words in light of the Exodus.

  • Her opening words “I know” hearken back to Pharaoh who refused to “know” Yahweh, and to the plagues sent so that Egypt and its king would “know” that Yahweh is the one true God.

  • Rahab, a Canaanite harlot, confesses to both know and believe the lesson of the Exodus that Yahweh is “God in heaven above and on earth beneath.”

  • Not only will her confession of faith save her life, but as we shall see later, it will graft her into the very bloodline of Abrahamic blessing that brings salvation for the world.

  • Rahab demands that the spies swear to spare her and her father’s house.

  • They agree, and the sign of this oath is a scarlet cord marking and preserving her and her family from death.

  • Rahab’s report illustrates an important piece of intelligence that Moses’ twelve spies had missed.

  • The people of the land, however strong they were in numbers, arms, and fortifications, had lost all courage because they had heard what God had done for Israel.

  • The people whom Israel feared to fight were themselves trembling in terror and ready to “melt away” if only Israel had crossed into the land (see Ex 15:14-16).

  • The failure of Israel and the ten spies is only now fully realized. (In the words of the immortal Homer J. Simpson….D’OH!!!!)

  • God’s miraculous deeds had set Israel up for taking the land without much of a fight.

  • But now a generation has passed, and the golden opportunity is gone.

  • What Israel could have won with simple obedience will now have to be taken by force.

  • Joshua leads the people across the Jordan, hoping that upon seeing the turning back of the waters Israel will “know” that the living God is among them (Jos 3:10).

(*Walking With God: A Journey Through The Bible by Tim Gray and Jeff Cavins)


  • So the Book of Joshua gets off to a pretty fast start, eh

  • Joshua is established as THE NEW MOSES

  • Moses ORDAINED Joshua

  • God also said the Israelites would follow Joshua

  • Joshua leads the Israelites over the Jordan River into the Promised Land

  • God parted the waters AGAIN

  • This is SO IMPORTANT for us

  • We are following this narrative and need to understand a couple of things

  • God is REITERATING TO JOSHUA, “BE STRONG AND OF GOOD COURAGE.” (Hmmmm 🤔 sounds familiar doesn’t it?)

  • Joshua NEEDED to hear this

  • The Israelites NEEDED to hear this too

  • These words are repeated often throughout Scripture

  • God says, “Have I not commanded you? Be not frightened, neither be dismayed.”

  • Why?

  • Because “The Lord, your God, is with you WHEREVER YOU GO.”

  • When God is with us, there is a change

  • Even in the midst of struggles and trials and battles and failure, when God is with us we can STILL BE STRONG AND OF VERY GOOD COURAGE

  • Because God is the Lord of our hearts

  • Courage comes from “Cor” which in Latin means “Heart”

  • To be DISCOURAGED is to LOSE HEART

  • To be ENCOURAGED is to HAVE STRENGTH OF HEART

  • Let our hearts not be AFRAID

  • Let our hearts not be WEARY

  • Let our hearts not be DISCOURAGED

  • KNOW THAT GOD IS WITH YOU EVEN IN THE MIDST OF TRIALS, STRUGGLES, BATTLES, AND FAILURE

  • We can be like Joshua

  • We are called to be like Joshua

  • Why can we be strong?

  • Because it says, “The Lord, your God, IS WITH YOU”

  • The Israelites were passing through the Jordan River ON DRY GROUND

  • Remember, these were the CHILDREN of the Israelites who passed through the Red Sea ON DRY GROUND

  • These Israelites had never SEEN that miracle, they may have heard of it

  • So what is God doing?

  • He is giving THESE Israelites an experience of his POWER

  • He is giving them an experience of his MIGHT

  • He is giving them an experience that they can now, as they go into the Promised Land, that they can look back on and REMEMBER that God brought them to the Promised Land

  • They can remember that this is the way God wants them to be

  • They can remember that God is willing to FIGHT FOR THEM

  • They can remember that God is willing to ACT FOR THEM

  • They KNOW this

  • WHY?

  • BECAUSE THEY SAW IT WITH THEIR OWN EYES

  • BUT…

  • Even when we have seen things WITH OUR OWN EYES

  • Even when we KNOW THE THINGS GOD HAS DONE FOR US PERSONALLY

  • WE CAN SOON FORGET

  • WE CAN EVEN FORGET MIRACLES IN OUR LIVES!!!

  • If you’ve ever experienced a true miracle happening in your life, we are often TEMPTED to FORGET IN THE DARK what we KNEW WAS TRUE IN THE LIGHT

  • We are often tempted to FORGET IN THE NEW TRIAL what we LEARNED FROM THE OLD TRIAL

  • We are often tempted to FORGET THAT GOD IS FIGHTING US WHEN WE ARE IN THE MIDST OF BATTLE

  • What is the command?

  • “Take these stones from the center of the Jordan and stack them up into an altar reminding these people for as long as they live.”

  • Where did these stones come from?

  • They came from the MIDDLE OF THE RIVER

  • That was how DEEP GOD WENT FOR THE ISRAELITES

  • As often as they saw this pile of stones, they remembered what God did for them

  • As we go through the Bible in a Year, one incredible thing you can do is to WRITE DOWN the insights that you receive when you listen

  • Write them down

  • So that you can always come back (hmmmm….this seems very meta to me 😉)

  • It is so easy to forget

  • So stack up these insights like those stones that came from an impossible place, where God was fighting for you and revealing his heart to you and when you knew that God was PRESENT TO YOU (so far 369 pages of stones 😉)

  • These will be like our 12 stones from the middle of the Jordan River

  • These “12 Stones” will REMIND you to BE STRONG AND OF GOOD COURAGE BECAUSE GOD IS WITH US

  • Pray for Fr. Mike

  • Pray for each other


Prayer by Fr. Mike: “Father in Heaven, we thank you and give you praise. We glorify your name. We just are reminded, Lord God, of your goodness. We are reminded of your faithfulness. We are reminded of the need to be reminded. We are reminded of the need to remember. Lord God, this day, as we hear these words and as we pray and we let your Word shape us, Lord God, let our lives be a memorial. Let our lives be one that our hearts be one, our minds be one, that remembers who you are and what you have done in this world and in our lives. Help us never ever to forget your goodness, and to never ever forget your presence. We make this prayer in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.”