Monday, August 11, 2008

Old Testament Violence (14) - Crossing the Jordan

Joshua’s first task was to lead Israel over the Jordan River. God brought them to a river that was in flooded and dangerous, so that he could exalt Joshua as leader and set the tone of ministry. He told Joshua exactly what to do, but not what would happen.

And the LORD said to Joshua, "Today I will begin to exalt you in the eyes of all Israel, so they may know that I am with you as I was with Moses. 8 Tell the priests who carry the ark of the covenant: 'When you reach the edge of the Jordan's waters, go and stand in the river' " (Jos 3:7-8).
Joshua explained to the people what would follow.
And as soon as the priests who carry the ark of the LORD -the Lord of all the earth—set foot in the Jordan, its waters flowing downstream will be cut off and stand up in a heap (Jos 3:13).
He also explained the reason for this event.
This is how you will know that the living God is among you and that he will certainly drive out before you the Canaanites, Hittites, Hivites, Perizzites, Girgashites, Amorites and Jebusites (Jos 3:10).
This is an amazing statement. God dried up the Jordan river to prove that he would drive the Canaanites our of the land. God confirmed what he was planning to do. Joshua knew that God wanted them driven out. He must have known that God did not want them slaughtered.

God also tried to set the tone for Joshua’s ministry. By doing a repeat of the crossing of the Red Sea, God showed that Joshua had the same gift of miracles as Moses. He showed that Joshua could win a great victory by just obeying God. He did not have to anything but stand and watch do his work. That is what God intended for him. He intended that Joshua would make a declaration to release his power. The Canaanites would see the power of God and flee in fear. The Israelites would take the land as God undertook his works of power.

Joshua did not understand this. He worked one mighty miracle at Jericho, but slipped straight back into military action and slaughter. Despite seeing a great miracle of God at the Jordan River, Joshua quickly fell back to trusting in human strength and military power.

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