Joshua 3 tells the story of the Crossing of the Jordan. JOSHUA is a picture of JESUS, the Captain of our Salvation, Who leads us victoriously into our promised Inheritance (Land). Jericho was the key enemy stronghold guarding the entrance to the Land. Israel had to conquer this stronghold, if they were to possess the land. But first they had to cross the Jordan River, which was then in full flood, and seemed to create a impassable barrier.
Joshua 3:6-8: “Joshua spoke to the Priests, saying, “Take up the Ark of the Covenant and cross over before the people.” So they took up the Ark of the Covenant and went before the people. And the LORD said to Joshua, “This day I will begin to exalt you in the sight of all Israel, that they may know that, as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. You shall command the priests who bear the Ark of the Covenant, saying, ‘When you have come to the edge of the water of the Jordan, you shall stand in the Jordan.”
Then Joshua spoke to the people, assuring them that they were going in to possess the Land, and he then gave them instructions.
Joshua 3:11: “Behold, the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord of all the earth is crossing over before you into the Jordan.”
Joshua 3:13: “And it shall come to pass, as soon as the soles of the feet of the priests who bear the Ark of the LORD, the Lord of all the earth, shall rest in the waters of the Jordan, that the waters of the Jordan shall be cut off, the waters that come down from upstream, and they shall stand as a heap.”
Joshua 3:14,15: “So it was, when the people set out from their camp to cross over the Jordan, with the priests bearing the Ark of the Covenant before the people, and as those who bore the Ark came to the Jordan, and the feet of the priests who bore the Ark dipped in the edge of the water (for the Jordan overflows all its banks during the whole time of harvest).”
Joshua 3:16: “that the waters which came down from upstream stood still, and rose in a heap very far away at Adam, the city that is beside Zaretan. So the waters that went down into the Sea of the Arabah, the Salt Sea, failed, and were cut off; and the people crossed over opposite Jericho.”
Joshua 3:17: “Then the priests who bore the Ark of the Covenant of the LORD stood firm on dry ground in the midst of the Jordan; and all Israel crossed over on dry ground,
until all the people had crossed completely over the Jordan.”
It was flood season for the Jordan because of the Spring rains,
and so the River that flowed down from Adam seemed an impossible barrier to their progress into the Promised Land. Likewise our old-life and inheritance that flows down from Adam seems to form a barrier preventing us entering and abiding in our Promised Land and enjoying all of God’s blessings and victory.
The key was the Ark of the Covenant, where God dwelt in the midst of Israel. When the priests carried it by faith into the River, the waters were stopped, and they could over into the Promised Land, that God had prepared for them. Likewise, as believers, we possess the Holy-Spirit in our midst (just as Israel had the Ark), Who is greater than anything flowing from Adam. He is leading us step by step into our Promised Land (victory and abundant life). As we follow Him and walk in the Spirit, the flesh has no power over us. The power of the Spirit holds it back and nullifies it, and we can enter into the fullness of God. Thus Israel entered into the Land by following and trusting in the power of God’s Spirit.
Joshua 3 teaches us that as we walk in the Spirit, God’s power is easily able to hold back the power of the flesh over us (that flows from Adam), so that we can enter into our Promised Land.
The Jordan was apparently blocked at Adam, modern Damiya, some 18 miles upstream from the fords opposite Jericho. Interestingly, this is consistent with seismology of the southern Jordan Valley. This blocking of the Jordan has happened a number of times in recent recorded history. Jericho is located in the Rift Valley, an unstable region with earthquakes occasionally causing the Jordan to be blocked. In 1267, there was a mudslide recorded by the Arab historian Nowairi. He writes that a large mound on the west side of the Jordan at Damiya fell into the river damming it up. No water flowed south from Damiya for 16 hours. In the 1927 quake, a section of a cliff 150 feet high collapsed into the Jordan near the ford at Damiya, blocking the river for some 21 hours
Such cut-offs, typically lasting one to two days, have also been recorded in AD. 1906, 1834, 1546 and 1160.
If God used an earthquake, that does not make it any less supernatural. Look at the timing: God timed the earthquake, so that the very moment the Ark entered the waters, they were held back.
Thus could not be coincidence, but it had to be Divine Intervention. God was showing us that as we walk in step with the Spirit, His power is easily able to hold back the power of the flesh over us, enabling us to enter into the abundant and provision life of God!
Joshua 4 tells of the MEMORIAL of 12 stones at Gilgal, that they built to the miracle of the Jordan Crossing, which represented their entrance into a new life under the power of the Holy Spirit. This was a place to which they were always to return, to remember how God brought them into this new dimension of life. It was the Presence of God in the Ark that held the waters back. It is only by walking by the Spirit, trusting in and being filled by the Spirit that we overcome the waters of the old-life (flesh). This revelation is absolutely essential for continued progress into our Promised Land. Therefore it is essential for us to REMEMBER this truth that we must always depend upon the Holy-Spirit to fill us and lead us.
Joshua 5:13: “it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted his eyes and looked, and behold, a Man stood opposite him with His Sword drawn in His hand. And Joshua went to Him and said to Him, “Are You for us or for our adversaries?”
Joshua 5:14: “So He said, “NO (“I am not on your side, you are on my side”), but as Commander of the Army of the Lord, I have now come.” (“I have come to give you instructions for the Battle of Jericho coming up.”) And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshipped, and said to Him, “What does my Lord say to His servant?” (‘I am ready to receive your battle-orders’).
Joshua 5:15: “Then the Commander of the LORD’s army said to Joshua, “Take your sandal off your foot, for the place where you stand is holy.” And Joshua did so.” This was an appearance of God (Theophany) and so Joshua worshipped Him. This was JESUS Himself! Jesus 'the Greater than Joshua.' He was the real Commander leading Israel into the Land. The battle would only be won by following His instructions, which as we see in the last chapter were unorthodox to say the least! He had His Sword drawn as a Warrior ready to execute vengeance on all the forces opposed to His people.
As the: ‘Commander of the Army of the Lord’, He did not just lead Joshua's men, but an invisible army of angels. Though Jericho seemed an impossible stronghold to defeat, greater forces were with Israel than against them for: “Greater is He Who is with us, than he who is in the world” (1John 4:4). Through eyes of faith, we see our Commander and the invisible forces on our side.