The children of Israel were at the Jordan River. After 40 years of wandering in the wilderness they made it. The older generation refused to go over earlier, and because of that disobedience had died. Those who were children at that time were now adults, and they stood at the river on the other side of their promised land. God dried the river so they could cross. God wanted them to remember that the same God who parted the Red Sea years ago would now part the Jordan. One from each tribe would take a stone to the river to serve as a strong, enduring reminder that God was the God of Moses and of Joshua…and of us today. We need reminders on what God has brought us through. Joshua and Caleb were the only ones from the original adults still alive. They gave a good report on being able to take the land. Sometimes we feel like we’re going in circles and need a reminder.
Joshua 4: 19 And the people came up out of Jordan on the tenth day of the first month, and encamped in Gilgal, in the east border of Jericho. 20 And those twelve stones, which they took out of Jordan, did Joshua pitch in Gilgal. 21 And he spake unto the children of Israel, saying, When your children shall ask their fathers in time to come, saying, What mean these stones? 22 Then ye shall let your children know, saying, Israel came over this Jordan on dry land. 23 For the Lord your God dried up the waters of Jordan from before you, until ye were passed over, as the Lord your God did to the Red sea, which he dried up from before us, until we were gone over: 24 That all the people of the earth might know the hand of the Lord, that it is mighty: that ye might fear the Lord your God for ever.
This is a testament to the unchangeable God of Israel. When they approached, that river separated them from the land. The river was out of its banks. Some probably thought that they had come so far. God had taken care of them 40 years only to bring them to the river at the wrong time of year. God knows what he’s doing. There isn’t wrong timing with God. Don’t question what he does. He’s done more for us than we can imagine.
God had a plan to cross the river. The same God who opened the Red Sea can part our rivers. God saw them through the desert and was able to get them across this river. It was just as easy for him as the sea had been. God was not going to forsake them at the river bank. Sometimes we focus too much on what’s ahead. We think we can’t stand. Don’t walk away from the river. Remember what he has brought you through. Sometimes looking back helps us go forward.
The Ark of the Covenant was meant to be in the tabernacle and was carried along on the journey. As we go through our journey, no matter the obstacles God is with us—not behind us but ahead of us. The rod of Aaron that budded was a reminder that our life may be barren but God can make it bloom. The Ark contained what made them the people of God. Calvary identifies us as a people of God. Keep going forward and obey the Lord. He’ll get us through.
The priests were to go into the water first. It took courage. When they got to a certain point the river dried up. Sometimes you have to get in the water before God dries it up. The river stopped. It was left dry—passable. If God pulled us from the devil, keep following him. Step into the water. Is it hard for him to part our rivers? The people crossed. The water stayed up river until the last person crossed. They took the stones and placed them in the river. It was a sign that God parts rivers. Simple stones remind us that God did it again. He never fails his people. Jesus is the way maker and his Father is God Almighty. What God made, he controls. Being born of the Spirit we can make it. Look back where you came from and you can see where you’re going.
Gilgal was ordained as a place to meet God. No matter how many scary and hopeless Gilgal’s we come to, look around at what God has done. Your God will work again tomorrow just like he did in your days past. If we’d acknowledge God for all he does, we’d run out of stones. It’s all God’s doing. Without him we can’t take our next breath. May we always remember we can’t do without our God and Savior. We’ll see verse 24 come true. That all the people of the earth might know the hand of the Lord, that it is mighty: that ye might fear the Lord your God for ever.