And Joshua rose early in the morning; and they removed from Shittim, and came to Jordan, he and all the children of Israel…
is the strong word that gathers up the teaching of the chapter.
1. The advance was from a notable past. "Finis" had been written to the first volume of the history of Israel; bondage its preface, vengeance its introduction, mercy its continual illumination. Sin had made their forty years a wilderness, in which they wandered from one oasis to another of heavenly grace set as with palm-trees and wells of water. And the present was rich and satisfying. Eastern Palestine was overflowing with honey and oil and milk. The stately oaks of Bashan, its sheep and goats and mighty bulls waiting to be herded among their riches, its abundant pasturage and countless watercourses, quite outrivaled the land beyond the river. Here they were already in possession; while beyond, fenced cities and disciplined troops forewarned of hardship and blood. This new volume opened to-day will show no such lavishness of miraculous helps. Still the word is "Advance." If the leader is less, the people are more. If miracles and interventions are fewer, courage and skill and power are greater. God's helps are transferred from without to within the hearts of men. He works best for them by working through them.
2. The advance was a long step toward their destiny. God's purposes never turn back. His plan demanded the transfer of the people across the Jordan. Just because Eastern Palestine was broader and richer, they must go over. Their national growth and mission demanded a new type of life. Israel must set his feet by the shore of the great sea, and dwell upon the roads traversed by caravans and armies. Then Alexandria can supply its spiritual philosophy, Greece its culture and language, Rome its law and wide sway, to aid in recording and extending the gospel. Physical geography is potent in civilisation.
3. Advance requires spiritual preparation. It is not first for the sake of earthly reward. An eternal purpose, a holy destiny rules the progress. Before each Jordan is crossed, the people must be sanctified, the leader empowered. The past was no dead past to bury its dead, but was to live in remembrance of deliverance granted and mercies showered, of disastrous and destructive sins.
(C. M. Southgate.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And Joshua rose early in the morning; and they removed from Shittim, and came to Jordan, he and all the children of Israel, and lodged there before they passed over.