Jordan River: Crossing into the Promised Land

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Jordan River: Crossing into the Promised Land

Location

 

1. The crossing place where the Israelites entered the Promised Land is just opposite Jericho. 

 

2. It’s amazing that it’s in the same area where John the Baptist baptized many, and where John baptized Jesus.

 

3. Today, it’s known as Qasr el Yahud (Kasser Al Yahud, Qaser, the Baptismal Site of Jesus.

 

4. It’s about 2 miles (3.3 km.) east from Hwy. 90, opposite Jericho.

 

Historical Background

 

1. The nation of Israel spent 430 years in Egypt. Four hundred of these years they were slaves (Gen. 15:13), and thirty years they enjoyed peace during the time Joseph was alive.

 

2. God supernaturally delivered the Israelites out of the hands of the Egyptians through Moses.

 

3. After the Exodus, they crossed the Red Sea on dry ground.

 

4. They spent a year at Mount Sinai receiving the Law and then headed to Kadesh Barnea to enter the Promised Land.

 

5. After the 12 spies returned from scouting out the land, 10 spies convinced the people that the inhabitants of the land were too strong for them to conquer and they should return to Egypt (Num. 13:25–33).

 

6. Because of their unbelief and disobedience, they were banned from entering the Promised Land and ordered to wander in the desert 40 years until every person 20 years old, and older, died (Num. 14:20–25).

 

7. During the 40 years of wandering in the desert, entering the Promised Land became a deep yearning within the souls of the new generation. Day after day they dreamt about a new life in the Promised Land, which would bring an end to their seemingly vain wandering in the desert eating Manna day after day.

 

8. After 40 long years, they were poised to enter the Promised Land, and their hearts were overflowing with enthusiasm and expectation as the time had finally arrived.

 

9. The word “Hebrew” means to cross over. Abraham crossed over from false gods to the one and only true God. He crossed over physically by leaving his homeland and coming to the Promised Land. The Israelites were delivered from the Egyptians as they crossed through the Red Sea, and then crossed through the Jordan River into the Promised Land. All these acts are pictures of deliverance and salvation. We also cross over from death to life through Christ.

 

Places of Interest

 

1. Crossing site of the Israelites into the Promised Land.

 

2. Baptismal Site of Jesus: The believed place where Jesus was baptized and where many are baptized today.

 

3. Adam: The place where the waters of the Jordan backed up to when the Israelites crossed the river (20 miles, 32 km., above the crossing site).

 

4. Shittim

 

5. Camp Gilgal

 

6. Jericho

 

Crossing the Jordan River in the Bible

 

1. The Israelites camped on the east side of the Jordan River, opposite Jericho, before entering the Promised Land.
Joshua 3:1: Then Joshua rose early in the morning, and they set out from Shittim. And they came to the Jordan, he and all the people of Israel, and lodged there before they passed over.

 

2. The Israelites crossed the Jordan River on dry ground as God miraculously parted the waters. 
Joshua 3:14–17: So when the people set out from their tents to pass over the Jordan with the priests bearing the ark of the covenant before the people, 15 and as soon as those bearing the ark had come as far as the Jordan, and the feet of the priests bearing the ark were dipped in the brink of the water (now the Jordan overflows all its banks throughout the time of harvest), 16 the waters coming down from above stood and rose up in a heap very far away, at Adam [20 miles, 32 km. north], the city that is beside Zarethan, and those flowing down toward the Sea of the Arabah, the Salt Sea [Dead Sea], were completely cut off. And the people passed over opposite Jericho. 17 Now the priests bearing the ark of the covenant of the Lord stood firmly on dry ground in the midst of the Jordan, and all Israel was passing over on dry ground until all the nation finished passing over the Jordan.

Using the geographical layout of the land from Adam to the crossing of the Jordan site, the body of water that would have accumulated would have been 20 miles (32 km.) long, 2 miles (3.2 km.) wide, and around 120 ft. (37 m.) high.

 

3. God ordered that 12 stones be taken out of the Jordan River for a monument.
Joshua 4:1–7: When all the nation had finished passing over the Jordan, the Lord said to Joshua, 2 “Take twelve men from the people, from each tribe a man, 3 and command them, saying, ‘Take twelve stones from here out of the midst of the Jordan, from the very place where the priests' feet stood firmly, and bring them over with you and lay them down in the place where you lodge tonight [Gilgal].’” 4 Then Joshua called the twelve men from the people of Israel, whom he had appointed, a man from each tribe. 5 And Joshua said to them, “Pass on before the ark of the Lord your God into the midst of the Jordan, and take up each of you a stone upon his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the people of Israel, 6 that this may be a sign among you. When your children ask in time to come, ‘What do those stones mean to you?’ 7 then you shall tell them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it passed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. So these stones shall be to the people of Israel a memorial forever.”

 

It appears that the 12-Stone Monument was later moved to the permanent Gilgal located about 7 miles north of Camp Gilgal. For more, please see Gilgal.

 

4. Joshua also erected a monument in the middle of the Jordan River.
Joshua 4:9–10: And Joshua set up twelve stones in the midst of the Jordan, in the place where the feet of the priests bearing the ark of the covenant had stood; and they are there to this day. 10 For the priests bearing the ark stood in the midst of the Jordan until everything was finished that the Lord commanded Joshua to tell the people, according to all that Moses had commanded Joshua.

 

5. After crossing the river, the water flowed again, and the Israelites arrived at Camp Gilgal.
Joshua 4:15–19: And the Lord said to Joshua, 16 “Command the priests bearing the ark of the testimony to come up out of the Jordan.” 17 So Joshua commanded the priests, “Come up out of the Jordan.” 18 And when the priests bearing the ark of the covenant of the Lord came up from the midst of the Jordan, and the soles of the priests' feet were lifted up on dry ground, the waters of the Jordan returned to their place and overflowed all its banks, as before. 19 The people came up out of the Jordan on the tenth day of the first month, and they encamped at Gilgal on the east border of Jericho.

 

6.  Joshua set up 12 stones as a monument of remembrance.
Joshua 4:20–24: And those twelve stones, which they took out of the Jordan, Joshua set up at Gilgal. 21 And he said to the people of Israel, “When your children ask their fathers in times to come, ‘What do these stones mean?’ 22 then you shall let your children know, ‘Israel passed over this Jordan on dry ground.’ 23 For the Lord your God dried up the waters of the Jordan for you until you passed over, as the Lord your God did to the Red Sea, which he dried up for us until we passed over, 24 so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the Lord is mighty, that you may fear the Lord your God forever.”

 

Faith Lesson from Crossing the Jordan River

 

1. Entering the Promised Land was a long-awaited dream for the Israelites after wandering in the desert for 40 years. It was also the fulfillment of the Abrahamic Covenant of promise, one of the foundational covenants in the Bible. Is there some hope and dream you have that seems like it will never happen? Do you also really believe that God will fulfill His promise of heaven and that one day you’ll actually be there? And are you living in such a way that shows this?

 

2. Crossing into the Promised Land is also a picture of living in victory. Many Christians today choose to live in the wilderness in defeat and disobedience. Are you living in obedience and victory, or living in the wilderness?

 

3. The crossing of the Jordan was a much bigger miracle than we think as the river was at flood stage, overflowing its banks. As mentioned, the body of water that would have accumulated would have been 20 miles (32 km.) long, 2 miles (3.2 km.) wide, and around 120 ft. (37 m.) high. This was a massive body and wall of water the 3 million or more Israelites would have witnessed as they walked alongside it for about 2 miles (3.2 km.). 

 

4. The miracle was similar to the crossing of the Red Sea after the Israelite’s Exodus from Egypt. God repeated this miracle to reveal His glory and faithfulness.     

 

5. The waters of the Jordan stopped flowing the moment the priests’ stepped into the water. God required the priests to take a step of faith, and then He acted. In the same way, God often asks us to take a step of faith before He moves. What step of faith do we need to take in our lives today?

 

6. God ordered Joshua to set up a memorial after crossing the Jordan. Do we have memorials in our minds as reminders of the miracles God has done for us, and do we pass these memorials on to our offspring?

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Jordan River: Crossing into the Promised Land

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