Chapter-a-Day: Joshua 3

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Joshua 3

This event might seem oddly familiar. Just as God parted the Red Sea for the Israelites as they fled the Egyptian army, so He now parts the Jordan. Only if you read carefully, it isn’t the same exactly. Exodus 14 tell us twice, “And the people of Israel went into the midst of the sea on dry ground, the waters being a wall to them on their right hand and on their left.” But in Joshua 3:13, the Bible says, “The waters of the Jordan shall be cut off from flowing, and the waters coming down from above shall stand in one heap.” In verses 15-16, it provides more detail: “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, the city that is beside Zarethan, and those flowing down toward the Sea of the Arabah, the Salt Sea, were completely cut off. And the people passed over opposite Jericho.”

You might wonder, what difference does this make? I think it is significant in understanding and trusting the veracity of Scripture. The Israelites were certainly familiar with the account of crossing the Red Sea. Why not just say the same thing happened? Because these are eyewitness accounts. They are explaining what they saw and experienced. And it was different.

I’ve read archeological reports indicating that at Adam, where the Bible says the water piled up in a heap, there have been other times in recorded history where an earthquake or landslide has caused rocks to fall, blocking the flow of the Jordan in just this way. I’ve also read various explanations for the Red Sea crossing, including stories of finding ancient remains, believed to be the chariot wheels of the Egyptians. It’s tempting to flock to these stories as if they give proof to God’s Word. The stories are interesting, but the truth of God’s Word does not depend on the discoveries or understanding of mankind. Too often, we rest our faith in modern stories — and if those stories turn out to be false or hoaxes, our faith is rattled.

God may use natural phenomenon to accomplish His purpose at times. At other times, He may supernaturally intervene to miraculously bring His will to pass. God is sovereign over the wind and the waves, so even nature obeys.

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