Joshua 3:16
the flowing water stood still. It backed up as far upstream as Adam, a city in the area of Zarethan, while the water flowing toward the Sea of the Arabah (the Salt Sea) was completely cut off. So the people crossed over opposite Jericho.
The Crisis of LifeR. Glover Joshua 3:16
Jordan Driven BackA. B. Mackay.Joshua 3:14-17
Ministers as Leaders of the PeopleW. G. Blaikie, D. D.Joshua 3:14-17
No River There!Joshua 3:14-17
The Ark and the Crossing of JordanC. D. Marston, M. A.Joshua 3:14-17
The Crossing of the JordanW. Hay Aitken, M. A.Joshua 3:14-17
The Division of the WatersJ. Waite Joshua 3:14-17
The Jordanic PassageT. . De Witt Talmage.Joshua 3:14-17
The Passage of JordanA. B. Mackay.Joshua 3:14-17
The Passage of the River JordanH. J Gamble.Joshua 3:14-17
The Priests in the Midst of Jordan; Or, Moral FirmnessHomilistJoshua 3:14-17

= - there is only one date in History transcending this in importance - the date when, across a vaster Jordan, the dividing line between heaven and earth, God came in the person of a little babe to make a conquest of world of promise. the year of the foundi

I. THE CRISES OF LIFE. - Our life is built up of acts, every one of them important. They, made by our character, react on our character and make it. And in the sense that it contributes to an enduring result in character, no act is little. But there are times specially solemn in our life, when the roads which invite us diverge at a large angle, and are such that each step we take on the one makes return to the other more difficult. And if a man is made by his ordinary acts, much more is he made by his crisis acts. If a nation's character is moulded by its acts, much more by its crisis acts. Here there is a crisis reached in Israel's history very analogous to the first great crisis, when they passed the Red Sea. Shall they or shall they not commit then selves to the struggle with the seven nations of Canaan - some with what seemed impregnable fastnesses, some with chariots of iron, some conspicuous for gigantic stature? Jordan accentuates the question. To cross it is to commit themselves to a course condemned by ten out of twelve of the spies sent out forty years before, is to hazard everything on the chance of battle, is to have no retreat, is to win or lose all things. It was a crisis on which their national future hung. It needed crisis virtue. Let them hang back and their enthusiasm would evaporate, their unity break up; they would fall off into a number of nomadic tribes, and probably degenerate into a people like the Ishmaelites, without any of that consecutive progress and self-contained strength that constitutes a history. Let them go forward, and to remotest ages and countries mankind is blessed by the national history that takes a forward stride and reaches a stouter solidity by their new departure. Happily, they had crisis virtue; at least, a sufficient amount of faith to let them venture - to make them obedient to faithful leaders, and united in their purpose to obey the guidance of their God. And meeting the crisis, they accepted its duty, with results of perpetual usefulness, and left us a testimony as to the solemnity of all such junctures and the blessedness of meeting them aright. The kind of juncture that comes to us you will recognise from your own experience. They vary in their kind, but all have this in common, that they summon a man to some higher duty, some better life, some bolder enterprise, and put before him "an open door;" that to decline them is to degenerate into a poorer character and more sordid life, while to accept them is to rise to "newness of life." Their variety, indeed, is striking. Sometimes it is a great mercy that comes to a man, meant to wake him to a sense of the fatherliness of God, and to win him by the gentle constraints of gratitude to filial duty; to cure grumbling or to destroy despair. If he meets this crisis well, he passes to a higher level of gentler, kinder, gracious thoughts and purposes; and a sense of debtorship to man and an overflowing gratitude to God are the abiding results of the crisis of a great mercy. Sometimes the crisis is the revelation of a duty. Some sudden turn in our experience devolves on us a duty hitherto discharged by others; or some new duty arising from a fresh contingency. It may be a duty of Christian mercy to some overtaken in calamity. It may be that a slumbering conscience or an indolent mind has been awaked to the discernment of God's requirements. It may be that with some growth of years or development of thought and feeling we see we owe some duty to our Saviour and our fellow men hitherto not due from us or not known to us. This is a crisis not to be overlooked. Hitherto there was comparative unimportance in the neglect of this duty. It was a" time of ignorance God winked at." But to neglect it now, when it stands out eminent and clear, would be to cast off the Divine Master, and to be guilty of unfaithfulness to the Lord that bought us; while to do this would strengthen the bond that binds you to God and man, would result in enlargement of heart, ennoblement of purpose, strengthening of conscience, and enjoyment of peace. Sometimes the crisis is a temptation, pressing on the spirit on every side, and by guile, clamor, terrors, and allurements compelling its divergence from the path of duty. I need not enumerate other kinds of crises. Let me only urge that, in whatever way the crisis come, we meet it manfully. When you come to Jordan see that you cross over it. God will not fail you if you do not fail yourself.

II. I ask you to observe, secondly, THE CREED FOR A CRISIS. It is given us here: one of those beautiful instances of faith in which noble hearts find at once their expression and their sustenance. Here is one couched in a name of God. Here are two significant titles, neither of them in common use previously: He calls God "the living God," and "the God of the whole earth." Once only is the former of these names retold in Scripture before this use of it, and the other is not found in use until long after. They are, therefore, not traditional words a parrot might have used, but great original words which register the truth Joshua had conquered for himself. And if we would meet our crisis, when it comes, as nobly and grandly as Joshua met his, we must try and get his creed of two articles.

1. We must believe God is the living God, for all do not believe that; not that they would formulate the idea that on such a day God died, and has not been heard of since. But the general feeling is, He is as good as dead. A distant God, without living eye to mark our necessities, without living hand to help us, without a living heart to feel for our distresses. And if Joshua had been of that creed there would have probably been no passage of the Jordan, and no victory of Jericho, and no conquest of the land. But by the ever extending obedience or experiences of his life he had learned this mighty secret - that God is alive, is here, gives their bias to all events, can hear a prayer, can save a soul, can cleave a passage through sea or river.

2. And the second was like to it. He deemed God "the Lord of all the earth." No local deity, like those heathen deities whose sovereignty was often as limited as a German duchy; no limited being; but master of all powers of nature, master of all tribes of men, with the government upon His shoulder of all things; able to open a path where all passage seemed denied; so that his and Israel's future would not depend on their own wisdom, strength, or fortunes, but would depend supremely on. the favour of God. Aye, and that is the sort of creed which we all need for the crises we have to face. God living and reigning; earth alive with His presence and His work; all events dependent on His will. Oh, let us catch from heroic souls at least their creed. Their faith, which works such wonders, must be the true faith. God IS living, His heart is alive with tenderness. He is not the great grave into which all things fall, but the great fount of life from which all things live. So alive that He could become incarnate and take infinite trouble to redeem us. So alive He is here today, ready to help us. If you suspect the creed of priests, here is a layman, a soldier, a hero; this is the first article of His creed. Have you that creed? If not, pray for a large enough heart to hold it. And especially if you are in any crisis of your life; for if in any crisis of our life we assume in our despair that, so far as we are concerned, God is dead, or unable to control the elements of nature, the fair results of all opportunity are lost because it passes unused. If you have come to Jordan, cross over it; and if you want strength to do it, find it in this creed: God is the living God, and the Lord of all the earth. And observe lastly -

III. CRISIS GRACE comes wherever there is crisis faith and obedience. It is a strange story, in its circumstantiality, that of the dividing of the Jordan. The baring of the bed of the river, the water gathering for thirty miles up by the sudden arrestment of its flow into a lake like Loch Lomond in size and form, while below the point of transit it flows away as if its career was ended. There is interest in all explanations that are suggested; in that, for instance, which, combining the destruction of the walls of Jericho with this dividing of the river, and both with the numerous traces of volcanic action in the neighbourhood, and demonstrable changes in the river bed, sees here the action of an earthquake, upheaving the bed, and thus for a day or so making of all the deep valley of the Jordan above it a temporary lake. But there is more importance in our marking the fact and its lessons than in our being able to explain the mode. Does Joshua believe God to be the living God? "According to his faith it is Him." And with all Divine energy of love He comes nigh to help them that trust in Him, laws of nature and forces of nature notwithstanding. Such faith never goes dishonoured; and we ought to mark it for our comfort in life. God is not dead; lie is living still, as fresh for working miracles as when He divided Jordan, and as sure to open up our way, and to lend supernatural aid to simple faith, as when Israel halted before Jordan. Our hope must not be limited within the sphere of what is obviously possible according to laws of nature. I should think God never in any miracle broke the usual laws, but only employed unusual forces. And He does the impossible still - making weakness strong, despair victorious; healing the sick, saving the lost, giving victory and success. The supernatural is not contranatural, but blends kindly with nature; and whenever in the crises of our life there is the obedience which honours God and the faith that trusts Him, there is specifically supernatural help and grace making the grandest deliverance and achievements possible. Our lives might be perpetual miracles, and every day behold the impossible achieved, and the insurmountable surmounted with blessed ease. Is there some stern crisis on you now? Do not faint. There is crisis grace for all who have faith enough to admit and act on it. Let it in, and even though Jordan be at the flood you will pass over as on dry land. - G.

The priests... before the people.
It is not always that either priests or Christian ministers have set the example of going before in any hazardous undertaking. They have not always moved so steadily in the van of great movements, nor stood so firmly in the midst of the river. What shall we say of those whose idea, whether of Hebrew priesthood or of Christian ministry, has been that of a mere office, that of men ordained to perform certain mechanical functions, in whom personal character and personal example signified little or nothing? Is it not infinitely nearer to the Bible view that the ministers of religion are the leaders of the people, and that they ought as such to be ever foremost in zeal, in holiness, in self-denial, in victory over the world, the flesh, and the devil? And of all men ought they not to stand firm? Where are Mr. Byends, and Mr. Facing-Both-Ways, and Mr. Worldly-Wiseman more out of place than in the ministry? Where does even the world look more for consistency and devotion and fearless regard to the will of God? What should we think of an army where the officers counted it enough to see to the drill and discipline of the men, and in the hour of battle confined themselves to mere mechanical duties, and were outstripped in self-denial, in courage, in dash and daring by the commonest of their soldiers? Happy the Church where the officers are officers indeed! Feeling ever that their place is in the front rank of the battle and in the vanguard of every perilous enterprise, and that it is their part to set the men an example of unwavering firmness even when the missiles of death are whistling or bursting on every side.

(W. G. Blaikie, D. D.)

I. THAT WHATEVER DIFFICULTIES MAY ARISE IN THE CHRISTIAN'S PILGRIMAGE, THE MOST FORMIDABLE AWAITS HIM AT ITS CLOSE. Reserve, then, your resources. Do not waste your moral strength in useless sighing over ills that are incident to human life, and which are blessings rather than curses if patiently borne. Remember that some really formidable obstacle may ere long be placed in your path, and that floods of suffering may be before you. The lesser troubles wisely borne will prepare you for greater ones — will teach you calmly to meet and eventually to triumph over them, as did the Israelites when, after encountering the perils of their desert-life, they came at length to "the swellings of Jordan."


1. He endows us with moral courage. Faith in God will give us firmness in times of danger; we shall be calm when others are agitated, and steadfast when others are moved.

2. He vouchsafes His gracious presence. And where God is there is peace and safety. Victory over temptation, comfort in trouble, support in death, all are insured by the presence of God.

3. He provides a guide. It was not under Moses, but under Joshua, that the Israelites crossed the Jordan, yet all and more than Joshua was to the Israelites the Saviour is to us; going before to show us the way, encouraging us by His example and sustaining us by His grace.

(H. J Gamble.)

Our subject brings before us a scene which in many of its features reminds us of that memorable night in which the Lord led Israel forth by that unexpected way, through the waters of the sea, from the house of bondage into liberty, from cruel slavery into the joy of a new national life. Now there is much to be learned from considering both the points of similarity and of contrast in those two memorable events. First we notice that in both cases there was a going down into the element of water, and a rising up out of it into an entirely new position — the mystical symbol of death, and burial, and of resurrection. In both cases by this passage through water a complete separation was effected between the old and the new state of things, and in both cases the passage indicated the commencement of a new and happy career. In each case the water, which naturally should have been an obstacle, became, we may say, an assistance, and that which naturally should have been a cause of danger became a means of safety. And in both cases this was caused by a distinct Divine intervention, and in each case that manifestation of supernatural power was associated with a symbol of the Divine presence, though the symbols in the two cases were different — in the first it was the fiery pillar, in the second it was the ark of the covenant. Nor are the points of contrast less striking than the points of agreement. The frenzied terror, the fearful excitement which pervaded that terrified multitude at the Red Sea is conspicuous by its absence on this occasion; they are no longer fleeing from destruction and death, but passing on to a higher and happier kind of life. There they were passing from a fertile land into a howling desert, where they would have to depend on a miracle for every meal. Here they were passing from a waste of desert into a fertile land — a land that flowed with milk and honey. There we hear an outburst of triumphant enthusiasm when the sea was crossed, and loud songs of triumph rang forth from the vast multitude as the returning wave submerged the Egyptians. Here all seems to have been calm and solemn; the only expression of strong feeling was the setting up of those memorial stones as if a deep and lasting recollection of this great fact were aimed at rather than an evanescent excitement. In both cases, observe, we are contemplating a scene of salvation, yet is there a great difference between the salvation effected in the one case and in the other. In both cases the salvation comes through a divinely-appointed Saviour; but even between these there is a contrast. Moses was the Saviour from, Joshua was the Saviour into. And all this may throw much light upon a question that seems greatly to exercise the minds of some, especially just at present. It is unquestionably a fact that long after their conversion some Christians pass through an experience so marked and definite in its character, and leading to such happy and unmistakable consequences in their subsequent lives, that some teachers give to this great inward change the name of A. second conversion. Others speak of it as entire sanctification, and urge upon all indiscriminately the necessity of passing through some such definite experience, Now two things are equally plain from this narrative. The first is, that the crossing of the Jordan did mark a very definite epoch in the history of the Israelites, and served to emphasise a crisis in their history, out of which they passed into a new and far more satisfactory condition. The second is, that this crossing of the Jordan, nevertheless, would not have been necessary at all but for the backsliding and perversity and unbelief of the Israelites. The lesson of Divine power exercised over the very elements, and over that element which, but for the intervention of an omnipotent hand, must have destroyed those whom it now protected, and the pledge that such a miracle contained for the future — all this would have been fresh in the minds of the Israelites when they first reached Kadesh-Burned, and would have required no repetition. I was much struck with the remark of a dear friend of mine. Shortly after I had devoted myself entirely to mission work he said to me with great emphasis, "Now, my dear brother, you are going to give yourself up to the work of preaching the gospel, and I hope the Lord will give you many converts. But whatever you do, try and bring them in at Kadesh-Barnea; don't tell them that they've got to go wandering in the wilderness for forty years." I have never forgotten his words; and how I long for you young Christians who are just starting forwards from the Red Sea that you may be spared these forty years of weary wandering; that it should not be necessary for you to go on year after year murmuring over your doubts and fears, your disappointments and your barrenness, your dulness and deadness, your infirmities and failures. Oh, it is weary work this! I pray you avoid it. We have seen that both the passage of the Red Sea and the passage of the Jordan were miracles of salvation wrought for Israel by God. We have also to notice that they are both instances of salvation by water. It is by God's judgment upon sin that we are to be saved from sin; by His judgment upon the world we are to be saved from the world. And now here lies our practical lesson. Whether we have been baptized at the moment of our conversion, and actually expressed our faith in Christ for justification in submitting to the ordinance, as probably was the case with St. Paul, or whether we are baptized in unconscious infancy before our faith became operative, as is usually the case with us Church-people, or whether we are baptized long after justification, as in the case with modern Baptists, we cannot become truly justified without passing through that which the ordinance symbolises — death and resurrection. Rise from the regrets of the past into the acquisitions of the future. Dry your tears, and claim your heritage. And here is the first step, "Sanctify yourselves: for to-morrow the Lord will do wonders among you." Sanctify yourselves. This is God's call to those of us who would fain cross over the Jordan. Put away every unclean thing — all that interferes with the Divine operation. And the next lesson is, expect! To-morrow the Lord will do wonders amongst you. Only by a miracle of grace can you be raised to your true level of Christian experience, and brought into the land that flows with milk and honey. Your heavenly Leader seems to ask, "Believest thou that I am able to do this?" Oh, let Him be answered from the bottom of your heart with a fervent "Yea, Lord; there is nothing too hard for Thee." Then comes the great fact, the pledge and presage of all coming victories: "Hereby ye shall know that the living God is among you," &c. Go down again into the place of death and burial, but see your Lord there before you, a pledge that when you pass through the waters, because He is with thee, the floods shall not overflow thee. Go down into the place of judgment, and see thine old wilderness life, with all its waywardness and wilfulness, judged, condemned, and left behind thee for ever.

(W. Hay Aitken, M. A.)

I. THE CIRCUMSTANCES AS CONNECTED WITH THE PEOPLE OF ISRAEL. It does not appear that any intimation was given to the Israelites before the morning of the day on which they crossed the river as to the manner in which their passage was to be effected. This would be a great trial of their faith; and the readiness which they showed to go on when the ark did move was a clear proof that their faith, through the grace of God, stood the trial; and that they were actuated by simple trust in God, believing that whatever He said should be done would surely come to pass, however impossible it might seem to the judgment of men. The fact is that Israel had become accustomed to the constant exhibition of the most amazing miracles. They had been delivered from the bondage of Egypt by a succession of wonders. As our minds dwell on this strange sight, one object stands forth pre-eminently conspicuous, and that is the ark borne by the priests. The ark was the point round which all the glory of the miracle was made to revolve. As the people passed and gazed at the wall of waters, they would feel, we owe our safety and our easy passage to the presence of the ark, the token of the presence of Jehovah Himself. It will not be without instruction if we notice the name by which the ark was called in connection with the transaction before us: "the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God." Here, then, was a pledge of God's truth and faithfulness. He who was showing their way was one on whom they could thoroughly depend, How would this serve to stimulate them, to stir up their hearts, to awaken faith, to strengthen hope! Thus conspicuous was the ark on this most notable day. And if you ask why, the answer is twofold. First, because the ark was to remind them of the presence of God. By it He made to His people that most welcome of announcements, ever fresh: "I will dwell in them and walk in them, and they shall be My people, and I will be their God." The ark was also a type of Christ; and though Israel might not see the lessons which all the typical economy taught, yet God would magnify His Son by exalting that which pre-eminently represented Him.

II. From the consideration of Israel LET US TURN TO OURSELVES, AND SEE WHAT IS TO BE GATHERED FROM THE HISTORY before us for instruction, comfort, and encouragement, as far as our own Christian life and practice are concerned. Is it not true that if we are among the spiritual Israel of God, experience of difficulty and trial is constantly falling to our lot? Now when we reflect on our necessities, east our eyes around to survey our individual position, look onwards to the Canaan which we love, and think what we must encounter before its shore is reached, must we not have a guide and a defence? Obstacles as great as Jordan with its overflowed banks and swollen stream meet us in our course; uncertainties in respect of which no calculation can, humanly speaking, be made, veil the future; intricacies which we cannot thread are constantly arising; enemies seem to stand upon the farther shore, and to threaten opposition and repulse even if we cross the stream. To-day all may be fair and smooth, to-morrow such a flood may arise of trouble, adversity, or temptation, as will be well-nigh sufficient to sweep us quite away. Well, let it be so. Believer, there is help for you which is all-sufficient. The ark is going before. Hear how the Lord speaks (Isaiah 42:15, 16; Isaiah 43:1, 2). Remember how you have been guided hitherto: how when you broke from the bondage of Satan and of sin, the Lord made a way through all that would have kept back your soul. If He of whom the ark was but a type, if Jesus be our guide, where may we not readily go? How precious is the word, "He goeth before them" (John 10:4). As we follow our heavenly Guide we may well believe that He leads us forth by the right way, that we may go unto a city of habitations. This is the glad portion of every one who lives the life of faith. He may thus individualise the covenant truth of God, and make it his own. But not only so, he can rest in the assurance that this covenant truth is the common heritage of all the saints, and so learn more and more to rejoice that all his brethren and sisters in Christ Jesus have the same guide, the same defence, the same refuge as himself. What a source of comfort is this; inexhaustible, overflowing, ever fresh and life-affording!

(C. D. Marston, M. A.)

This was only one of several ways of entrance that might have been chosen; therefore this, the most unlikely of all, must have been chosen for special purposes. Nor are these difficult to find.

I. By this wonderful entrance into the land JOSHUA WAS GREATLY HONOURED (ver. 7). It was a wonder wrought by Jehovah to establish the authority of Joshua. It was a fulfilling of the promise He had made, to be with him as He had been with Moses. It was an emphatic endorsement of the people's enthusiastic response. It was His own seal and signature placed upon Joshua's commission. Surely this was essential to united and effective action on the part of those he led. If men have no deep confidence in their commander, they cannot follow cheerfully, they cannot work heartily. Therefore, when God calls to office, lie endows with all needful honour; and not only does He bestow it at the beginning, He also maintains it so long as He has work for His servants to do. Surely such a record as this should teach every servant of God to leave his honour in God's keeping. His one aim should ever be to honour God, knowing assuredly that that word of promise is never broken, "Them that honour Me I will honour." Yea, more than that, He will also cause others to do the same.

II. Still further, we are told that by this miracle THE DIVINE PRESENCE WAS REVEALED (ver. 10). This wonder gave new proof of His guiding presence, and such an assurance was, in their present circumstances, peculiarly appropriate. The manna was about to cease. In like manner the beckoning banner of cloud and fire is furled for ever. No longer can it lead them forward, for their rest is gained. But if it has gone, Jehovah has not. His presence, though without that visible manifestation, is as real as ever. And it is as powerful; He is the living God, not dead like the idols of the Canaanites, or the ideas and abstractions of the philosopher, or the forces sad atoms of the scientist. Neither is He inoperative; a worn-out energy, a decrepit force. He is acting everywhere, by all means, at all times. What a demonstration of these things was the working of this wonder. If it has been said of a great general that his presence with the army was worth a regiment, how much more would the assurance of the Divine presence strengthen every hero in Israel to chase thousand foes.

III. Again, by this miracle SUCCESS WAS GUARANTEED. After such brilliant opening of the campaign, could there be an ignominious end? Impossible! lie that did the greater wonder, would not fall in accomplishing the less. God never abandons His work half-way; lie never leaves it marred or unfinished.

IV. Among the results flowing from this wonder, not the least important was its influence on Israel's enemies. THE CANAANITES WERE TERROR-STRUCK (Joshua 5:1). This great event, which filled the hearts of the Israelites with confidence, had just the opposite effect upon their enemies. Nothing could have dispirited them more. Who could stand against a people thus favoured? When God makes bare His arm the stoutest heart becomes like wax. All refuges of lies, every false security, is felt more frail than a gossamer web.

(A. B. Mackay.)

1. Standing on the scene of that affrighted and fugitive river Jordan, I learn that obstacles, when they are touched, vanish. It is the trouble, the difficulty, the obstacle there in the distance that seems so huge and tremendous.

2. Again: this Jordanic passage teaches me the completeness of everything that God does. Does He make a universe, it is a perfect clock, running ever since it was wound up; fixed stars the pivots, constellations the intermoving wheels, and ponderous laws the weights and mighty swinging pendulum; the stars in the great dome striking midnight, and the sun with brazen tongue tolling the hour of noon. A perfect universe! No astronomer has ever proposed an amendment. Does God make a Bible, it is a complete Bible. Standing amid its dreadful and delightful truths, you seem to be in the midst of an orchestra, where the wailings over sin, and the rejoicings over pardon, and the martial strains of victory make a chorus like the anthem of eternity. Does God provide a Saviour; He is a complete Saviour. God — man. Divinity — humanity united in the same person.

3. Again, I learn from this Jordanic passage that between us and every Canaan of success and prosperity there is a river that must be passed. "Oh! how I should like to have some of those grapes on the other side," said some of the Israelites to Joshua. "Well," said Joshua, "if you want some of those grapes why don't you cross over and get them?" A river of difficulty between us and everything that is worth having. That which costs nothing is worth nothing. God makes everything valuable difficult to get at for the same reason that He puts the gold down in the mine, and the pearl clear down in the sea; it is to make us dig and dive for them. We acknowledge this principle in worldly things. Would that we were wise enough to acknowledge it in religious things. Eminent Christian character is only attained by Jordanic passage. No man just happens to get good. Why does that man know so much about the Scriptures? He was studying the Bible while you were reading a novel. He was on fire with the sublimities of the Bible while you were sound asleep. It was by tugging, and toiling, and pushing, and running in the Christian life that he became so strong. In a hundred Solferinos he learned how to fight. In a hundred shipwrecks he learned how to swim. Tears over sin, tears over Zion's desolation, tears aver the impenitent, tears over graves, made a Jordan which that man had to pass. The other morning, seated at my table, all my family present, I thought to myself how pleasant it would be if I could put them all in a boat, and then get in with them, and we could pull across the river to the next world, and be there, and be there all together. But we cannot all go together; we must go one by one. What a heaven it will be if we have all our families there! Lord God of Joshua, give them safe Jordanic passage! Every Christian will go over dry-shod. One word of comfort from this subject for all the bereft. You see our departed friends have not been submerged, they have not been swamped in the waters; they have only crossed over. They are not sick, not dead, not exhausted, not extinguished, not blotted out; but with healthier respiration, and stouter pulsation, and keener sight, and better prospect, crossed over — their sins, their physical and mental disquietude all left on this side. Impassable obstacle between them, and all human and Satanic pursuit, crossed over. Would you have them back again? Would you have them take the risks and the temptations which threaten every human pathway? Would you have them cross Jordan three times — in addition to the crossing already — crossing again to greet you now, and then crossing to go back to heaven?

(T. . De Witt Talmage.)

Behold, in this passage of Jordan, first of all a picture of the beginning of the Christian's earthly course. As we stand where Israel stood, on the eastern bank, we behold a fair inheritance, a land flowing with milk and honey, rich with every earthly blessing, with all that heart could wish. But as between Israel and Canaan Jordan rolled, a great and immovable barrier, so between us and the goodly heritage of spiritual blessings we behold the swollen river of God's judgment against sin. How can we who are sinners enter into life and rest? How can we reach or enjoy such blessings? That barrier is to us unsurmountable. There are no fords in this river; and we cannot swim across it as the spies the Jordan. Neither is there any bridge above the waterflood. But look again. Behold a mighty wonder. That river is dried up and driven back. That barrier has been abolished, and the empty bed lies bare. It is as if there were no river. What has abolished the barrier? The ark of God alone. By means of it Jordan was driven back. And as the ark abolished the barrier between Israel and Canaan, so Christ has abolished death. He Himself, in His own body, has borne all the weight of the flood of God's judgment against sin. He has finished the work of salvation, and opened up a new and living way through His own body into the land of spiritual rest. He has done this, and done it alone. Of the people there was none with Him. No hand of man had a share in this work, even as no man in Israel drove Jordan back. And Jesus abolished death as speedily and effectually as that flood was driven back. As it was with the priests in Jordan so was it with the great High Priest in the waters of judgment. Whenever the soles of His feet touched the brim of the deadly flood it fled away. He has put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. To those who trust in Him, so far as safety goes, it is as if it did not exist. Not the faintest trickle of condemnation can damp their feet. "There is no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus." Mark also how the passage was made by Israel. As it is written, "By faith they passed through the Red Sea as by dry land"; so might it also be written of this twin event, "By faith they crossed the Jordan and entered into the inheritance of the Lord." By nought that we can do can we gain an entrance; but trusting in Him who has made an end of sin, we pass from death to life, from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of God's dear Son. As Israel passed over Jordan by faith in God, even so must all pass from condemnation to acceptance, according to theft word of the gospel, "Therefore being justified by faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." And right gloriously is all such confidence justified, whether in the case of Israel or of any sinner that believes. Oh l how safe are they who put their trust in the living God, who enter into life by faith in Christ Jesus. The way of faith is absolutely safe for all who walk therein. And it is as simple as it is safe. The entrance into Canaan was the simplest, the easiest, the plainest, that could be devised. A little child could cross the emptied river as well as the stoutest warrior. And the stoutest warrior had to go the same way as the little child. It was a path that suited the feeblest, and therefore a path that suited the strongest; and no one could make any mistake about it; the wayfaring man, though a fool, could not err therein. Again, note that this way of entrance was free to all. No one was prevented from crossing. No charge was made for crossing. Whosoever would was welcome to enter in. The fact that the road lay open was an invitation for all to cross to the goodly, land of rest. Even so, though the blessings of Canaan are not to be compared for a moment with the glory of God's inheritance of grace, still entrance into this heavenly rest is free. Without money, and without price, whosoever will may enter in. But we cannot conclude our consideration of this great event without pointing out its resemblance to that abundant entrance into the everlasting kingdom, ministered to all those who with all diligence add to their faith courage, knowledge, temperance, godliness, brotherly kindness, love. The grace that led Israel through the wilderness for forty years; the grace that sustained their lives amid its barren sands; the grace that gave them bread from heaven and water from the flinty rock, did it fail them at the end of the journey? Nay! nay! The same power and love that had fed them with manna, and canopied them with cloud and flame, divided the waters of Jordan and gave them abundant entrance. This God remains our God for ever. His grace can never fail us.

(A. B. Mackay.)

The priests.., stood firm on
Observe the sublime calmness of these priests — these leaders of the people; they stood firm in the midst of the waters till all passed over. The circumstances suggest two remarks about their firmness.


1. It was not stolid indifference.

2. It was not confidence in their own power to keep back the mountain of water.

3. It was not, of course, faith in the laws of nature. These men were firm in defiance of nature's laws.

4. What, then, was the foundation of their firmness? The word of God. Now, our position is, that it is more rational to trust the word of God than the laws of nature.(1) Because His words bind Him to action; the laws of nature do not.(2) Because deviation from His word would be a far more serious thing to the universe, than deviation from the laws of nature. Were He to deviate from His word, virtue would be at an end, moral government would be disobeyed, the grand barrier between right and wrong, truth and error, heaven and hell, would be broken down; and anarchy and misery would deluge the moral creation.(3) Because He has departed from the laws of nature, but has never swerved an iota from His word. "Heaven and earth shall pass away," &c.

4. Two inferences necessarily flow from the foregoing considerations —(1) That it is more reasonable to walk by faith than by sight.(2) That apparent impossibilities can never be pleaded against Divine predictions.


1. The force of human influence. The millions of every age follow the few.

2. The philosophy of useful influence. Fidelity to God is the spring of useful influence.


The dying words of Bishop Haven to the Rev. Samuel Upham, who went to see him, were, "Preach a complete gospel: a whole Christ, a whole heaven, a whole hell, the whole Bible from end to end." His physician on leaving said, "Good-night, bishop," and he answered, "Good-night: next time it will be 'Good-morning.'" Then he closed his eyes, and some thought the spirit had fled, but he opened them again, and, looking at the Rev. Mr. Mallalieu, said, "I have been looking for the cold river, but there is no river there; only a broad plain leading up to the throne." Soon afterwards his spirit crossed the "broad plain.".

What mean ye by these stones?
These stones proclaimed certain realities. Taken from the dry bed of the river, they declared God's power in cutting off the waters before the ark of His covenant; twelve in number, one stone for each tribe, they declared how that all Israel had entered into Canaan; set up together in Canaan, they witnessed to Israel's unity in that land. Moreover, they became a memorial to the nation of Jehovah's work for them. First, these stones declared Jehovah's great work for His people; even Jordan emptied of its waters before the ark of His covenant, and His people brought thereby into the fulness of their blessing. Now as we truly recognise that we are brought, in Christ, into the heavenly places, our first action in spirit will resemble that of Israel: we shall extol God for His power and might in accomplishing His purpose in bringing us into such blessing. Christ, our ark, went down into death for us, exhausted its power, stripped it of its might; and God has given us, who were dead in sins, life "together with" Christ risen from among the dead, and has set us in Him in the fulness of blessing, so that as truly as Israel through the passage of the Jordan were in Canaan, saints now are in Christ in the heavenly places. To enter into this grace, it is necessary to keep before our hearts, in faith, the measure of God's Divine power exercised towards us, the exceeding greatness of which is according to that energy and might of His "which He wrought," &c. (Ephesians 1:20). And speaking in the language of the type under our consideration as "clean passed over" Jordan, the Christian's first act should be the heart recognition of what God has done. We are across the river; to God through Christ be the praise. Next, the stones, twelve in number, "according to the number of the tribes of the children of Israel" (vers. 5, 8), spoke of the whole of Israel. Christians occupy themselves practically with spiritual, not national, unity; therefore with the truth that all saints of every nation are one in God's sight and according to His purpose. Saints are seated together in the heavenly places in Christ, the one common place of blessing for all who believe. One association and one privilege mark all saints, and all equally have the highest and the best place. Even as each individual believer has life for himself "together" with Christ risen (Ephesians 2:5), so have all believers the highest privileges in common; they are by God made "to sit together" (Ephesians 2:6). The pillar of twelve stones, set up in Gilgal, became a memorial to the nation of Jehovah's work for them. The question, "What mean ye by these stones?" which the children would ask their fathers was to be answered by a relation of the Lord's doings. And well indeed may Christians recount to their children what God has wrought. Our little ones should be grounded in the great truths of God's Word. Redemption, resurrection, and ascension facts should be implanted in their minds and memories.

(H. F. Witherby.)

It is an outrage to build a house like this, occupying so much room in a crowded thoroughfare, and with such vast toil and outlay, unless there be some tremendous reasons for doing it; and so I demand of all who have assisted in the building of this structure: "What mean ye by these stones?"

1. We mean that they shall be an earthly residence for Christ. Jesus did not have much of a home when He was here. Oh, Jesus! is it not time that Thou hadst a house? We give Thee this. Thou didst give it to us first, but we give it back to Thee. It is too good for us, but not half good enough for Thee.

2. We mean the communion of saints.

3. We mean by these stones the salvation of the people. We did not build this church for mere worldly reforms, or for an educational institution, or as a platform on which to read essays and philosophical disquisitions; but a place for the tremendous work of soul-saving. Do not make the blunder of the ship carpenters in Noah's time, who helped to build the ark, but did not get into it.

(T. De Witt Talmage.)

I. These stones were most emphatically A MONUMENT OF GREAT MIGHT. The hand of man is capable of great achievements. How stupendous, how unparalleled, was the work of carrying Israel across Jordan in this fashion; yet how easily, how quickly, how quietly, was it all done!

II. Yet these stones formed A MONUMENT THAT MIGHT BE DESPISED. Simple and rude it was; it had no beauty or architectural comeliness, to be desired; it was nothing more than a rough pyramid of twelve muddy stones. With what contempt would an Egyptian look down upon it. But, after all, ostentation is human, simplicity is Divine; for though, from a human point of view, the wonder commemorated here was very great, what was it from the Divine? Nothing. What, after all, was the opening up of this passage to Him who upholds all things by the word of His power, who gathers the waters in the hollow of His hand, who taketh up the isles as a very little thing? Nothing, and less than nothing. It was easy for the men of Israel to raise such a monument. Yes; yet it was harder for them to heap up these stones than for God to heap up these waters; and all the might that reared the pyramids could never have congealed these depths.

III. Again, THIS MONUMENT HAD A WORLDWIDE REFERENCE AND A SPECIAL APPLICATION. Most monuments have a very restricted reference. They speak to a political or a religious community; to the inhabitants of a city or the natives of a country, or to the members of a common faith; but this simple monument on Jordan's bank has a voice for all mankind. It gives a declaration of God's mighty power, so clear and emphatic that if men do not hear its testimony it is because they have stopped their ears. And if it had, for the human race as a whole, a great lesson to teach, it was fraught with special instruction to the Israel of God. To all men it cried, "God is mighty"; to Israel it testified, "This God abides thy God for evermore." He is your refuge and strength. Therefore this monument was set up that they might remember and fear the Lord for ever and walk in His ways, and do His commandments.

IV. OTHER LESSONS ARE TAUGHT BY THESE STONES. They were twelve in number, arranged in their places by twelve warriors, one from each tribe; therefore it is plain that the whole people are represented by these stones. Also there were two sets of twelve stones: one set in the bed of the river, buried by its waters; another raised from the bed of the river, and piled upon its bank. Therefore we have here the whole people represented in two different aspects. The twelve buried stones speak of Israel in one relation; the twelve raised in another. Think of the buried. What mean ye by these stones? They lie on the bottom of the river, covered by its muddy waters. They represent God's chosen people, for they are twelve. The strange place, therefore, in which they lie, must be a representation of some spiritual and important truth concerning Israel. What is it? "By grace are ye saved, through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God." The death of those who came out of Egypt made this very plain. Now the children have arisen in place of the fathers, and they are about to enter in. What is their title to the inheritance? Is it better than that of their fathers? Is it true that they are worthy; that they have clean hands and a pure heart, and have not lifted up their souls unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully? Is it true that they are righteous? Can they claim entrance because of their obedience to the law? Nay, by the law shall no man be justified; and this burying of the twelve stones most solemnly emphasises this declaration. "Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of heaven." The sinner must leave the old man behind; the body of sin must be destroyed; we must be born again ere ever we see or enter into the kingdom of God. Do we ask, where is the old man, the body of sin? The Cross and grave of Christ give answer: it is gone, clean gone for ever; lost sight of, as these stones in the bed of Jordan. They are buried, to know no resurrection; yea, God tells us He has cast them behind His back, into the depths of the sea, a far deeper grave than Jordan. Through Alaric I. the Goths first learned the way to Rome. lie and his rugged hosts were everywhere invincible. All Italy, luxurious and effeminate, lay at his feet. He extended his conquest as far south as Sicily. But at Cosenza in Calabria he was seized with a deadly malady. When he died, his followers had to face a great difficulty. What were they to do with the dead body of their great leader? It was impossible to carry it back over Italian plain and snowy Alp to the dark forests of his fatherland. It dare not be left to the mockery and desecration of the caitiffs he had conquered. Therefore they determined to bury it in the bed of the river Busento. They set their captives to the task of diverting the stream from its channel, and there in its dry bed they dug the grave of Alaric. Then, when he was buried deep in his rocky tomb, and the waters rolled once more in their wonted channel, to hide for ever the secret of this strange sepulchre, all the captives were put to death. These Goths wished to give their king a grave which no hand could reach. Even such a grave has God given our sins, and here in these stones we behold a picture of what He has done. We are buried with Christ. Reckon yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin but alive unto God by Christ Jesus our Lord. But there were twelve stones raised upon the bank as well as twelve buried in the bed of Jordan, and we may well ask, "What mean ye by these stones?" This is the positive side of the same truth we have been considering. As the buried stones speak of death, so the raised speak of resurrection. We are not only buried with Christ, but are also quickened with Him, raised with Him, and seated with Him in heavenly places. The twelve buried stones picture our place on account of sin; the twelve raised declare our place on account of righteousness. The first speak of weakness; the second of might. The one declares all "old things are passed away"; the other, "all things are become new." These twelve stones set on Jordan's bank were raised from Jordan's bed. That river, as it were, begot them. They were of it, from it, out of it. Even so the Church of Christ is begotten and brought forth from His death. The agonies of Christ crucified were the travail pangs of the new creation. As His people are buried with Him, so are they quickened, "begotten again unto a lively hope, by the resurrection of Christ from the dead." Yes, it is a "lively hope." The great pyramid of Egypt was after all a monument of despair, "the eternal abode" of the dead. This little pyramid of Canaan is a pyramid of hope, placed in the goodly land conspicuously and permanently; reminding those that believe that we are not only raised with Christ, but seated with Him in heavenly places — that we are henceforth a constituent part of His inheritance.

(A. B. Mackay.)

This primitive form of a memorial is common to almost all nations. Of this character are the Egyptian obelisks and the cairns and the Druidical circles in England and Scotland. The text is the question of the children. The sight of the cairn would awaken curiosity. It has been well asked, "What child in Altorf but must have inquired respecting the statue of William Tell, or in Lucerne about the lion sculptured by Thorwaldsen to commemorate the deaths of the Swiss Guard? "These memorial stones would remind the tribes of God's greatness and goodness. But the stones must have tongues in order that their testimony may be more complete. They were not simply to be memorial; they were also to be declaratory

.... Occupying to-day for the first time this place of worship, it is fitting that we should ask and answer the old question, "What mean ye by these stones?" The form which the stones have taken partly answers the question. Turret, tower, and spire point heavenward. In its symmetry and sincerity the whole structure preaches the need of truth in the heart and life.

1. These stones express our conviction of the world's need of Christ's gospel. Sin is the terrible fact in human existence. It is the absence of wholeness and of happiness; of Godlikeness here, and of heaven hereafter. It has separated man from God, and man from man. It is the prolific parent of all our woes. In the fulness of time the Christ was born. One element, the negative element, in that fulness was the world's fruitless effort to help itself. Mighty Rome, in her abject helplessness, was calling for a deliverer. Beautiful Greece was stretching out her hands for a healer. Christ was both to both so far as they received Him. The experience of the world must be that of each individual. God says, and experience echoes the saying, "Thou hast destroyed thyself." Thank God He speaks this other word: "But in Me is thy help."

2. These stones express our faith in Christ's gospel to meet the world's need. To each man, guilty and condemned, it offers, through the death and mediation of Christ, a full and free pardon. It makes the redeemed here have foretastes of heaven. It harmonises all the conflicting interests of human society.

3. These stones declare our faith in and our duty toward the aggressive, the missionary side of Christ's gospel. It means to conquer the world. It will do it. This is its lofty ambition and its Divine destiny. In this respect it stands unique among the religions of the world. We are not to satisfy ourselves by singing, "Hold the fort!" we must shout, "Storm the fort!" Our anti-mission Church is an anti-Christian Church.

4. These stones declare our faith in our distinctive organic order as a body of Christians, as being in harmony with Christ's gospel.

(R. S. MacArthur.)

Family Churchman.
I. THE MEMORY OF GOD'S GOODNESS IS HONOURING TO GOD HIMSELF. To receive favours from an earthly friend, and then to forget them, and to act as if they had never been bestowed; this is ingratitude, base and contemptible. How much worse is the conduct of those who are insensible to and negligent of the favours shown by God to man! Especially should redemption wrought by the Son of God be kept in everlasting remembrance. The least we can do is to praise and glorify the God of grace.

II. THE MEMORY OF GOD'S GOODNESS IS A STIMULUS TO PIETY. Remembrance feeds the flame of devotion, of love, of trust. To think of God's favours and to be thankful is "a good thing," is profitable to the spiritual life, and conducive to fellowship with God, and to true happiness and contentment.

III. THE MEMORY OF GOD'S GOODNESS IS AN ENCOURAGEMENT IN TIME OF TRIAL, DANGER, AND FEAR. The distressed and harassed may well call to mind the Divine interpositions of the past, which will lead them to exclaim: "The Lord hath been mindful of us: He will help us."

(Family Churchman.)


1. The memorial was to be an aid to faith.

2. It had the purpose of cherishing gratitude.

3. It was a reminder of the need of unity.


1. The two piles of stones, according to St. , represent the twelve patriarchs and the twelve apostles; the new Israel on the bank of the old river, the old in the midst of the stream, as the "buried" past. Thus the "memorial" is the Church of Christ, built upon the apostles, the one Divine Society, which is founded on a Rock, and against which the gates of hell may beat, but cannot prevail; for it is a memorial "for ever."

2. As the passage of the Bed Sea represents baptism — God "safely led the children of Israel Thy people through the Red Sea, figuring thereby Thy holy baptism" (Prayer Book) — so some writers have seen in the crossing of Jordan a figure of the pardon for sins committed after baptism; in other words, an image of repentance. Further, as after passing Jordan, the Passover was kept, so after repentance the Holy Communion is received. In fact, the memorial as to its purposes may be compared to the Holy Eucharist; that is, a "memorial" of the death and passion of Christ: "Do this, for My memorial"; it is the great service of thanksgiving for redemption, as its name announces; and it is a pledge of unity, for "we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one Bread" (1 Corinthians 10:17).

3. Further, as through Jordan the Hebrews entered the land of promise, the "Holy Land," so penitence must be introductory to a holy life, which leads to heaven.

4. It may be noticed that by some modern writers Jordan is regarded as the river of death, and the words, "How wilt thou do in the swelling of Jordan?" (Jeremiah 12:5) to be applicable to the fears which surround death, through which all must pass before they can "see the kingdom of God."


1. To sustain our faith by the use of those "outward and visible" signs — the Sacraments, which our Lord has appointed as the memorials of what He has wrought for us.

2. To make our lives more lives of thanksgiving, and especially by receiving the Holy Eucharist, which is the "thanksgiving" which Christ ordained to be offered up to the end of time, "till He come" (1 Corinthians 11:26).

3. Further, let the twelve stones remind us of the union which should exist between the members of Christ; for whilst we are bidden to "honour all men," the apostle says further, "love the brotherhood."

4. The cairn of stones at Gilgal should teach us that we "as lively stones are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood," &c. (1 Peter 2:5). The truest witness to Christ is to be found in the lives of His members, those who make Him visible. To such, the power which made a way for Israel through Jordan will not fail them, and the promise will be fulfilled by the Saviour (Isaiah 43:2).

(Canon Hutchings.)

I. THAT THE SPIRITUAL LIFE SHOULD BE ONE OF CONTINUED MEMORIALS. Is it not one continued course of mercies? And as these mercies, these proofs of love and care telling sweetly of the provision of a Father, the grace of a Saviour, the presence of a Comforter, are manifested day by day and hour by hour, what cry so fitting as that of the Psalmist, "Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits"? How delightful to look back and trace the dealings of God with your soul; or, not confining the mind to spiritual things, to see how, at times, especial providences have fallen out, telling of unceasing watchfulness on the part of the Lord, and calling for devout acknowledgment on yours. How delightful to find that you have not overlooked these signs of goodness, but that they still live fresh in loving recollection, and that here on earth those things are not forgotten which assuredly will furnish themes of praise hereafter in heaven. It has been so all along. Observe Abraham on mount Moriah; Jacob on the plain by Luz; Moses after Israel's defeat of Amalek at Rephidim; Samuel when the Philistines had fled before him; look at the children of Israel here at Gilgal; the same Spirit moves them all.

II. IT IS USEFUL TO CONSIDER WHAT WE SHOULD COMMEMORATE, AND THE MANNER IN WHICH SUCH COMMEMORATION SHOULD BE OBSERVED. We might speak of national mercies, and mercies to our Church; of signal benefits, such as our pure creed, our heritage of the Word of God, the opening of wide fields for Christian enterprise, the revival of the spirit of religion, which, a century ago, made England see a wondrous resurrection from spiritual death, and which is still manifesting itself in a thousand forms for the good of man. Such things as these call for deep thankfulness. The Christian community which can recount them may appropriate the language (Psalm 78:1-7). But just in proportion as thankfulness fills the individual heart will the general mind of the community feel its expanding power. The revival of God's work in this, as in other respects, must begin in the individual, and the community will take its tone from the majority. And if we learn to value for ourselves, by personal participation, the blessings of the gospel of Christ Jesus, we are prepared to appreciate the benefit which those blessings confer on the community: if we really set up our memorials for saving mercy conferred on ourselves, the Divine goodness shown to our nation and our Church will not readily be overlooked.

III. WHY IT IS DESIRABLE TO ACT IN THE WAY THAT HAS BEEN POINTED OUT. We are prone to look rather at our sorrows than at our joys; to brood over trouble rather than to be grateful for prosperity. Poor complaining souls, take heed lest you rebuke God. Look on the other side. Try to count your mercies. "My mercies." Yes! The help God has given you over and over again; the difference which you may find between your trials, which are so great, and those of your neighbour, which are even greater; the patience and long-suffering with which God has borne all your repining, your murmuring, your forgetfulness of Him, your doubts and fears and unbelief; the grace which has spared you instead of cutting you off in sin and casting you down to hell; the rich privileges and means of spiritual good brought to your very door and placed within your reach, set by your side from time to time, with merciful perseverance and consideration for your soul. Let us be well assured that if we kept these things more in remembrance the spiritual life of the people of God would flourish and abound to an extent as yet not generally seen.

1. There would be more gratitude. Fresh exercises of praise would spring from hearts whose thankfulness would be from time to time more specially revived.

2. There would be more hope. As desires after mercies might arise, they would not be vague, but accompanied by well-grounded expectations based on the past experience of so many mercies remembered.

3. There would be more faith. When dark clouds gather we should see the light streak where they would ere long break, the golden fringe to show that the sun is still there. We should feel that these shadows shall be dissipated as others have been.

4. There would be more happiness. Where gratitude and hope and faith abide, repining and doubt can find no room.

(C. D. Marston, M. A.)

Memorials! What are they? For what do they stand, and what do they teach? They are special signs of Divine interposition in human lives, and commemorate some event or circumstance claiming special remembrance and study.


1. It commemorated a new departure. They had not been this way before, they had never stood so near the fulfilment of hope as they did now. This is typical of every life. We all have our new departures, times of marked and decisive change, when some sudden bend in the road completely changes the track, leads us into new scenes of activity or rest, giving us new revelations and new experiences, and are truly periods of deep interest, epochs, red-letter days in our lives; we cannot forget them, and have raised memorials marking them as points to be remembered and studied.

2. It commemorated a signal mercy. Every Christian life has its seasons of peculiar need, which are often made special means of grace. And should he not raise memorials to mark both the trial and the mercy?

3. It commemorated a remarkable deliverance. What a sublime spectacle! When all human aid is unavailing, and nothing can save but direct Divine intervention, then Jehovah commands the waters to stand up upon a heap, again showing His salvation to His people. Some such memorial you have in your life. Some time of pressing need, when human help failed, and God came to your deliverance by opening up a path through the deep waters for you. And have you made no mark, no sign, put up no lasting reminder?


1. They witness for God. They stand at different points on the ways of life, bearing silent but telling testimony to the power and grace of the Infinite Father in some time of sore and pressing need, confirming our faith in the doctrine of the conscious, abiding, personal presence of God in the lives of His people.

2. They remind us of mercies received in the past. We are consciously faulty in memory, are apt to forget the blessings already received, and to grow impatient and fretful when things are a little contrary; then it is of service to us to go back a little in our history to some of these times of God's special nearness to us, when He gave us such unmistakable proof of His presence and grace by some marked deliverance, some special blessing, or some signal answer to prayer; when we can refresh our faulty memories by putting our hand upon some place, or time, or event in our life that we had marked by a stone of memorial, as a record of faith in God and gratitude to Him.

3. They inspire confidence and hope for the future. Much was before them to perplex.

4. They check despondency and gloom.

5. They supply precious lessons of Divine faithfulness. God would have us raise these memorials by the way to remind us of His covenant engagements. The past shall repeat itself in our future.

6. These memorials are of service to others. The pillar at Gilgal was not only to be a memento of the sovereign mercy of God to those who had actually witnessed the cutting off of the waters of Jordan, blot it was to supply to posterity some precious lessons of Divine majesty and love. Much so it is with the memorials of Christian lives — they exert a helping influence on other lives.

7. These memorials supply incentives to increased devotion, and stimulate to loftier praise. In this day of scepticism, coldness, indifference, and practical infidelity, when the actual presence of God in individual lives is more or less ignored, it is both refreshing and reassuring to take up Christian biography and hear how the holy men and women who have passed into the Father's house accounted for similar events in their lives. I have sometimes seen family Bibles marked with peculiar hieroglyphics which a stranger could not read or understand; but ask the husband or wife to tell you what these marks mean, and you will find that each has a history precious and sweet to the marker. They are pillars that have been raised to remind them of some special answer to prayer, when they pleaded that promise; or When some extraordinary light broke upon the mind, on a certain day, as they pondered and prayed over that verse; or perhaps it was a literal fulfilment of another promise on which they had rested in a time of distressing calamity, and they have placed these memorials there to call to mind the signal mercy of God in their time of urgent need, and they would as soon doubt the need as they would the source of supply. "God did it for us," they say, "as surely as He divided Jordan for Israel to pass over to Canaan." I have also heard matured Christian men converse together on God's dealings with them, and have felt a strange thrill pass through me as one of them has put his hand upon some pillar in his life and said, "Here God met me, and I communed with Him. It was a time of bitter pain and need, and I was bowed down to earth with the burden, and was fainting by the wayside, but the Lord drew very near, and I seemed to hear His voice speaking to me, and asking me to tell Him about the pain, and I was drawn out to tell Him all, and He blessed me there, by giving in a way marvellous to me just what I needed; I rose up a strong man, and the grace was so like a miracle that I put up this memorial, and this spot is very dear to me, for here I saw God face to face and my life is preserved."

(J. Higgins.)

As a memorial of this wonderful passage, twelve stones were selected from the rocky bed of the river, one for each of the twelve tribes of Israel; and these were borne across before them on the shoulders of twelve men, and planted on the upper terrace of the valley beyond the reach of the annual inundation. In this manner was formed the first sanctuary of the Holy Land, which was a circle of upright stones — like one of the so-called Druidical circles in which our pagan ancestors worshipped in our own country. But besides this memorial which was set up on the western bank of the Jordan, there was another set up in the bed of the river itself. In the place where the feet of the priests who bore the ark of the covenant stood, in the centre of the channel, twelve stones like those which had been carried across to the opposite bank were arranged probably in the same manner; and when the river, which had been temporarily driven back wards to allow the Israelites to cross, returned to its forsaken bed, its dark, muddy waters flowed over the buried stones and hid them for ever from view. Thus there were two monuments of the miraculous passage of the Jordan taken from the materials of its own bed; one that gave rise to the sacred shrine of Gilgal, which was for a long time the appointed place of worship in the land; and another that was buried out of sight for ever in the muddy ooze of the deep rushing river. The sacred narrative tells us what were the purpose and meaning of the monument that stood on the dry land and was visible to every eye; but we have to find out what were the purpose and meaning of the monument that was invisible beneath the waters of the river. The place where they entered the Holy Land is unique. There is no other place like it in the world. It is the deepest chasm on the surface of the earth — at a great depth below the level of the sea. Do we not see in this circumstance a symbol of the deep repentance and self-abasement which a people so sensual, so ignorant, required before they could be fitted to occupy the heights of worship in God's holy heritage? Then look further at the fact that the time when the Israelites crossed the Jordan was the spring-time, which in Palestine is the commencement of the barley-harvest. We are told elsewhere in Scripture that the harvest is emblematical of the judgment. It was therefore a time of judgment when the Israelites crossed the river; their past sins, their numerous rebellions, and outbursts of unbelief, deserved condemnation and punishment; their iniquities rose up against them, and demanded their exclusion from the land of promise as unworthy. But God in His great mercy held back the waters of the Jordan, the waters of judgment and death, which would otherwise have overwhelmed them, whilst His holy ark stood in the midst of the stream, and Israel crossed in safety; a token surely that though He was angry with them, His anger had passed away, and He was about to give them double for all their sins. Look further still at the significant fact that when the Israelites had erected their first sanctuary on the other side of Jordan, on the soil of the Holy Land, which by this solemn act became their own inheritance, they were immediately circumcised, and thus consecrated anew to the Lord, made new creatures, as it were, from their birth to Him. So that we see in this incident, as well as in the circumstance that the older generation which had left Egypt all perished in the wilderness, and only their children entered the Holy Land, what we may regard as the origin and illustration of our Lord's saying, "Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye cannot enter the kingdom of heaven." Seeing, then, that all the incidents and circumstances of the passage of the Israelites across the Jordan form a very focus of symbolism, we are surely warranted in looking for a spiritual significance in the burying of the memorial stones in the bed of the river. The Jordan was a boundary river, separating between the wilderness and the promised land. It flowed down to the dreary, lifeless solitude of the Dead Sea. Its waters, laden with mud, were dark and drumly, and concealed their bed and whatever they flowed over completely. Its course also was very rapid and impetuous. In all these respects it was a most expressive symbol to the Israelites. The transition from the wilderness to Canaan was not made over continuous dry land; a water-boundary was interposed, through which they had to pass. And did not this teach them that in the passage from the wandering life of the desert to a settled home in the land of promise they were not to continue the same persons in the new circumstances that they had been in the old; but, on the contrary, were to undergo a moral change, a spiritual reformation. They were to be made a holy nation, in order to be fit occupants of the Holy Land. Their passage of the Jordan was therefore a baptism of repentance; the river at the entrance of the Holy Land, like the laver at the entrance of the tabernacle, afforded a bath of purification; and the memorial stones laid in the bed of the river, over which the waters, when they had safely crossed on dry land, returned, burying them for ever from sight, represented the fate which should have been theirs had God dealt with them according to their sins. And just as the scape-goat carried away the sins of the people, confessed on its head, into the wilderness, into a land of forgetfulness, so the dark, muddy waters of the Jordan carried away the stones which represented the sins of the Israelites into the Dead Sea, there to be engulphed for ever. All baptism is in a spiritual sense the crossing of a boundary. When a child is baptized it crosses a boundary between nature and grace — between ignorance and knowledge. And when in later life we are baptized with a spiritual baptism, born again of water and the Spirit, we cross the boundary between spiritual death and life — from the kingdom of Satan to that kingdom which is not meat and drink, but righteousness and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. Now the river of baptism is a river of death. In crossing it we die to sin and live to righteousness. In entering into the new life the old life perishes. Through the death of the old man there is the resurrection of the new man. All that is connected with the old life of sin and unbelief is taken from us and carried down to the Dead Sea. The body of sin is drowned in the waters of forgiveness, and shall no more rise up against us. Like the stones in the bed of the Jordan, there is no resurrection for that which was connected with our former dead sinful selves. And how precious is the significance of the buried stones when looked at in this light! It is not a truth that pleases the intelligence by its ingenuity only; it is a truth that Satisfies the heart by its suitableness to its wants. How comforting and reassuring is the thought that when, through faith in Christ, we have crossed from a state of nature to a state of grace, all our sins are cast into the sea of God's mercy. They are as completely buried out of sight as the stones in the ooze of the Jordan. The peace that is like a river and the righteousness that is like the waves of the sea flow over them,(H. Macmillan, D. D.)

1. They were stones of witness, for in after-years they powerfully proclaimed that the miracle of dividing the water of the Jordan was true, since they were raised at the very time; they were erected publicly in the sight of the people, and no one would have dared to make such a monument, and to declare that it commemorated such an event, had the miracle never taken place. Scripture miracles are attested by witnesses, which attestation distinguishes them from the so-called miracles of the heathen world.

2. And the stones of Gilgal were stones of encouragement, for when Israel looked on them, and recollected that they recalled God's power, no doubt could be felt that God was able to make their enterprise a success. When the great cities, vast wealth, and mighty armies of the Canaanites were considered, many a Hebrew might feel his heart sink within him as he looked on the rude and undisciplined host which Joshua had led across the Jordan. But a glance at the stones of the circle of Gilgal would dispel all such fears, and he would think — "The mighty Jehovah who divided the waters of Jordan is on our side; and against the power that cleft asunder the waves of that river what can the might of the Amorites avail? Jehovah is with us, and against Him whose word divided Jordan vain is the power of the Canaanite, and our victory is absolutely sure."

3. But while these stones gave encouragement to Israel, they bore witness in a different manner to their enemies, for to the Canaanites they were stones of warning. How could Amorite or Hittite withstand invaders whose God possessed the power of dividing the waters of Jordan? They had run riot in sin; they had stifled conscience: they had despised warning; and now the day of mercy was past, and the avengers were upon them, and who could hope to resist their power and to escape their swords, when their God made the waters of Jordan to stand as a heap in the day when His people passed over? Sin will not go for ever unpunished; God's Spirit shall not always strive with man, and corruption shall not with impunity defile the fairest portions of a groaning creation: but when the day of grace has passed, the day of vengeance shall certainly follow. The stones in Gilgal are gone, the circle is destroyed, and the stony witness of encouragement and warning is no longer borne; but there are stones around us now which give their witness, and our ears must be heavy if we do not hear, and our minds dull if we do not understand, the testimony that they deliver. "What mean these stones?"

1. They show God's power; for who could make such mighty foundation rocks, and after their formation could heave them up into their present lofty heights, but a Being possessed of almighty power?

2. What wisdom, too, is exhibited in their formation! What a wonderful skill is shown in the selection of their constituent elements, and in their combination according to a fixed design!

3. And what goodness also do these stones of the hills manifest? for how useful they are to man, and how it stimulates his inventive faculty to quarry, shape, and erect them as monuments to beautify the creations of his genius! Man puts up milestones to measure the length of his journey, and God also erects milestones to mark how man himself is advancing on that journey which we are all travelling. What is our life but a journey? ever advancing and ceaselessly progressing day by day, month by month, and year by year. Life's journey is to many painful and wearisome. The morning of life, with its freshness, is gone; the noonday sun beats fiercely on our heads; the novelty of changing experiences has passed away; and as we slowly advance along the highway of daily life, our hearts begin to get weary, and we too become discouraged "because of the way." God puts up His milestones to mark our progress on life's journey, and as we pass them successively, it is solemn to notice their witness and their character. The eyesight begins to grow dim: slowly, indeed, but surely; and we treat the fact almost with indifference. It is a mere common event, but it is another milestone on the road of life, to show that the end will before long draw near. The hearing is dulled. Pleasant sounds can no more be enjoyed, and the harmonies of nature's and of human music gratify us no longer. We quietly accept the inevitable, perhaps with sigh, but at all events with resignation, knowing that it must be so; and in the heavy ear we recognise another of God's milestones. Memory now begins to fail. We cannot trust it as formerly, and do not attempt to tax its power for fear that it should prove treacherous. Failing, capricious memory! what is it but another milestone placed by God by the side of the road of life to tell us that we have passed over the greater part of our journey and are drawing near to home? The milestones of the way, how differently they affect different people! Here is a man going away from his country, seeking his place of abode in a distant land, and leaving behind him all he holds dear in this world: his lands, his treasures, and his friends. Milestones are sad things to him, for they tell him that his time in the land in which all his pleasure is found is rapidly passing away. But here is another man, returning to his home. He has been in a foreign land; has made his fortune: has landed on his return at the well-known port, and is journeying rapidly along the highroad to his loved and long-expected home. He knows a welcome is there: dear ones are all looking out for his arrival, and his greeting will be joyous, while he will not merely meet them, but will never leave them again. How quickly he walks! How slowly the milestones seem to pass! The heat of the sun, the length of the way, the ups and downs of the road, are all nothing to him, for the thought of the home ever drawing nearer and nearer makes him take no notice of them whatever. So it should be with us. We have had, perhaps, our morning of life, and it may be that the journey is beginning to grow wearisome; but let us think less of the road and more of the home.

(D. G. Whitley.)

The priests...


until everything was finished.

The way of difficulty: —


II. GOD'S REGARD TO THE GREATER TRIALS OF OUR LIFE DOES NOT CALL OFF HIS ATTENTION FROM DETAILS. He not only parted the waters, but He waited in the river, both in power and presence, "until everything was finished."

III. THE GENERAL COMMANDMENTS OF THE BIBLE ARE MEANT TO REGULATE AND CONTROL THE SPECIFIC ACTS OF OUR LIFE. "According to all that Moses," &c. But Moses had never given any commands touching the actual passage of the Jordan. Yet Moses had commanded an implicit reliance on Divine guidance and a careful obedience to Divine requirements. Such general words covered all the particulars of the case. There are many things in the family, in business, in the Church, and in the world, which no specific precept may touch; there is absolutely no place which we can occupy in our daily life which in principle and in spirit is not covered by the Scriptures.

IV. WHILE DIVINE PATIENCE NEVER WEARIES IN GIVING US NECESSARY HELP, WHEN GOD GOES BEFORE WE SHOULD PROMPTLY FOLLOW. "The people hasted and passed over." Whatever motive actuated their haste, haste was the right thing for the time. God does not work that we may idly look on. His manifest energy is a call for our marked diligence (2 Samuel 5:24).

V. GOD, WHO MAKES WAY IN THE VAN OF OUR DIFFICULTIES, IS NO LESS NECESSARY TO SECURE OUR REAR (ver. 11; Deuteronomy 25:17, 18). Not only that He may see His people, but that He may save them, He besets them "behind and before."

(F. G. Marchant.)

Probably the majority of the people were moved by fear, but some feelings may have led some of the host to hasten, and other considerations others.

I. THE HASTE OF FEAR. This also leads to Canaan.

II. THE HASTE OF DILIGENCE. With so much to be done, each had need to remember, "the night cometh."

III. THE HASTE OF REVERENT OBEDIENCE. God does not work mightily and command urgently that men may move slothfully.

IV. THE HASTE OF COMPASSION. While the people tarried, the priests must wait. No man ever idles without expense and inconvenience to some one else.

V. THE HASTE OF UNCONSCIOUS INFLUENCE. The quick movement of a few would communicate itself to all. Our pace times that of our companion, and his that of others.

(D. G. Whitley.)

They made the best use of the golden opportunity afforded them, and with the utmost alacrity and diligence hastened across the river while thus laid bare for them. The torrent was restrained by the mighty power of God to afford the people an opportunity to pass over dry-shod. But there was no time for presumptuous delays, as though they could count upon an indefinite prolongation of this favoured season, and might postpone crossing until it suited their pleasure, in the confidence that God's grace would wait upon their dilatory movements. There was no disposition on the part of any to remain as long as they could on the wilderness side, with any chance of getting into Canaan before the waters should rush back again into their accustomed channel.

(W. H. Green, D. D.)

The priests and the ark stood still; but "the people hasted and passed over." Many commentators assume that they hastened from fear. Such haste would have been both utterly unseemly, and an evil omen for the conquest. There were other reasons for making all possible haste. Were they not keeping the priests of God with their arms outstretched, to bear up their holy burden? And moreover, there, distinct before them, beautiful in the soft, rich light of the early morning, lay the homes, and vineyards, and fields, which they were to possess. A few steps, and their feet would be in Canaan; a few moments, and the weary waiting of years would end. As the tired labourer hastes at the first glimpse of his home, so must they have hastened. There may have been, also, some innocent rivalry to be among the first to touch the further shore. All these motives, indeed, might easily combine as they hastened and passed over. And shall not the thought that Jesus waits till all be gathered in — waits, without coming yet "in His power and great glory" — shall not this thought stir up His Church, not only to be looking for, but hastening His coming? The love of Christ constraining us, will urge us onward. And who that has had "the eyes of the understanding opened" to behold what are "the riches of glory" of this inheritance in Christ Jesus would not fain "to his speed add wings," that he might enter it and at once possess it?

(S. F. Smiley.)

Come ye up out of Jordan.
We can fancy how the people who had reached the western shore lined the bank, gazing on the group in the channel, who stood still waiting God's command to relieve them at their post. The word comes at last, and is immediately obeyed. May we not learn the lesson to stand fixed and patient wherever God sets us, as long as He does not call us thence? God's priests should be like the legionary on guard in Pompeii, who stuck to his post while the ashes were falling thick, and was smothered by them, rather than leave his charge without his commander's orders. One graphic word pictures the priests lifting, or, as it might be translated, "plucking," the soles of their feet from the slimy bottom into which they had settled down in their long standing still. They reach the bank, marching as steadily with their sacred burden as might be over so rough and slippery a road. The first to enter were the last to leave the river's bed. God's ark "goes before us," and "is our rearward." He besets us behind and before, and all dangerous service is safe if begun and ended in Him. The one point made prominent is the instantaneous rush back of the impatient torrent as soon as the curb was taken off. Like some horse rejoicing to be free, the tawny flood pours down, and soon everything looks "as aforetime," except for the new rock, piled by human hands, round which the waters chafed. The dullest would understand what had wrought the miracle when they saw the immediate consequence of the ark's leaving its place. Cause and effect seldom come thus close together in God's dealings; but sometimes He lets us see them as near each other as the lightning and the thunder, that we may learn to trace them in faith, when centuries part them. How the people would gaze as the hurrying stream covered up their path, and would look across to the further shore, almost doubting if they had really stood there that morning! They were indeed "Hebrews" — men from the other side — now, and would set themselves to the dangerous task before them with courage. Well begun is half done; "and God would not divide the river for them to thrust them into a tiger's den, where they would be torn to pieces. Retreat was impossible now. A new page in their history was turned. The desert was as unreachable as Egypt. The passage of the Jordan rounded off the epoch which the passage of the Red Sea introduced, and began a new era.

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)


1. Change of scenery.

2. Approach to an end.

3. Unsettledness of feeling. Life's journey is —




1. Our end is certain.

2. It is solemn.


1. It may be glorious in the courage of the traveller.

2. It may' be glorious in the destination reached.


Those twelve stones.., did Joshua pitch in Gilgal
Many fine allegories have been reared upon the foundation of the twenty-four stones that were placed, twelve in the river-bed, and twelve at the encampment in Gilgal. Some have spiritualised them as types of death and the resurrection; others have seen in them a representation of the prophets and apostles of the Old and New Testament dispensations. They mean that the passage of the Israelites over Jordan is —

I. A REAL EVENT. The history that records it is not an oriental poem or a patriotic legend. It is not a fine conception of an impassioned imagination. It is not an exaggeration. We have before us a plain matter of actual history.


1. God was glorified. He was herein exhibited as "the living God" (Joshua 3:10), and "the Lord of all the earth" (Joshua 3:11).

2. Joshua, moreover, was magnified, and shown to be Moses' divinely-sanctioned successor (Joshua 3:7).

3. The Israelites, moreover, were assured. With the remembrance of the naked channel of Jordan, what cause of trepidation can remain?

4. By this miracle their enemies were appalled — namely, the inland Amorites, the immediate spectators; and the Canaanites, or coast tribes (Numbers 13:30) in the distance, who heard the report (Joshua 5:1). The passage took place "right against Jericho" (Joshua 3:16). Oh, portentous sight for the inhabitants of that fortress!

III. A PATTERN EVENT. It was with apparent reference to this event that God promised His people by the mouth of the prophet Isaiah, "When thou passest through the waters," &c. Let us, then, claim the promise, and embrace the consolation that this history declares to us for ourselves. And what can we do in these "swellings of Jordan"? Here is an answer to our misgivings, "The Lord will do wonders among you!"


1. On the one hand, we may regard the passage of the Jordan as a glorious and "abundant entrance" into the promised inheritance.

2. On the other hand, we may regard it as illustrating, not only the triumphant close, but also the hopeful beginning of the believer's course, and conversion, not death, will be the aspect of Christian experience that we shall recognise.Application:

1. Are you yet in your sins? and do you long to experience the saving change of the new birth? But does a very torrent of difficulties seem to roll at their fullest height between you and the peace and pardon you long to enjoy? Go forward, and fear not. Jesus Himself calls you. He Himself accompanies you. Every hindrance will vanish if you obey His word.

2. Are you already amongst God's people? Have you anxieties, difficulties, obstructions, in your course of life? He who opened a highway through the Jordan is also your helper.

3. Is Jesus your hope, and do you nevertheless quail when you think of the hour of your departure hence, when you must leave all you love here below? (Isaiah 43:1-8).

(G. W. Butler, M. A.)

I. GREAT EVENTS DESERVE COMMEMORATION. In them God is the teacher. Men have always been ready to perpetuate the memory of their own great deeds. By memorial structures, memorial days, memorial observances, they have sought to keep alive the knowledge of their achievements and to foster a regard for the sentiments which lived in them. It has been common for all men in every age to act upon the principle which Daniel Webster stated when the corner-stone of the Bunker Hill Monument was laid: "Human beings are composed not of reason only, but of imagination also, and sentiment, and that is neither wasted nor misapplied which is appropriated to the purpose of giving right direction to sentiments, and opening proper springs of feeling in the heart." But no memorial structure elaborately reared to perpetuate right feeling and sentiment could subserve this end as fitly and fully as did the rude circle of stones set up at Gilgal. It nursed no pride of ancestry. It declared God's "mighty acts." Reminded by this rude memorial, one generation praised His works to another. They were led to speak of the glory of His kingdom, and to talk of His power.

II. GOD EXPECTS THE CHILDREN TO BECOME INTERESTED IN GREAT EVENTS OF THE PAST. It was for the children's sake that the circle of stones was set up at Gilgal. It was to awaken their curiosity. God wishes the children to ask a great many questions. In this way He would have them learn what He has been doing for His people in past ages.

III. GOD EXPECTS THE FATHERS TO BE READY TO ANSWER THE CHILDREN'S QUESTIONS. The stones of Gilgal could be of little use to those children whose parents did not keep freshly in mind the events commemorated. They would become a monument whose inscription had faded away. No doubt the word "fathers" means parents, but it is worthy of remark that it does not mean mothers only or especially. The father who gives over to the mother the religious training of the child fails in the special duty which fatherhood imposes. He shirks the greatest responsibility of life. The father who answers his child's questions by evasion acts unworthily. "My wife takes care of the religion of the family," a busy man said. But this is not God's plan. This father's life, in many respects admirable, failed miserably in a central, essential duty. For this failure no other well-doing could compensate.


1. A memorial book. Concerning this book He would have the children question and the fathers give answer. How has this book been made, and by what providence has it been preserved?

2. A Church with memorial rites. What do baptism and the Lord's Supper have to tell us about God's ways with men?

3. A memorial day. Sunday is God's commemoration day. It stands a lasting memorial of the greatest event in human history.

(W. G. Sperry.)

Gilgal, the first encampment, lay defenceless in the open plain, and the first thing to be done would be to throw up some earthwork round the camp. It seems to have been the resting-place of the ark, and probably of the non-combatants, during the conquest, and to have derived thence a sacredness which long clung to it, and finally led, singularly enough, to its becoming a centre of idolatrous worship. The rude circle of unhewn stones without inscription was, no doubt, exactly like the many pre historic monuments found all over the world which forgotten races have raised to keep in everlasting remembrance forgotten fights and heroes. It was a comparatively small thing; for each stone was but a load for one man, and it would seem mean enough by the side of Stonehenge or Carnac, just as Israel's history is on a small scale as compared with the world-embracing empires of old. Size is not greatness; and Joshua's little circle told a more wonderful story than its taller kindred, or Egyptian obelisks or colossi.

1. These grey stones preached at once the duty of remembering and the danger of forgetting the past mercies of God. When they were reared they would seem needless; but the deepest impressions get filled up by degrees, as the river of time deposits its sands on them. We do not forget pain so quickly as joy, and most men have a longer and keener remembrance of their injurers than of their benefactors, human or Divine. The stones were set up because Israel remembered, but also lest Israel should forget. We often think of the Jews as monsters of ingratitude; but we should more truly learn the lesson of their history if we regarded them as fair, average men, and asked ourselves whether our recollection of God's goodness to us is much more vivid than theirs. Unless we make distinct and frequent efforts to recall, we shall certainly forget God's goodness. The cultivation of thankful remembrance is a very large part of practical religion; and it is not by accident that the psalmist puts it in the middle, between hope and obedience (Psalm 78:7).

2. The memorial stones further proclaimed the duty of parental instruction in God's mercies. They speak of a time when tradition was the vehicle of history; when books were rare, and monuments were relied upon to awaken curiosity which a father's words would satisfy. Notwithstanding all differences in means of obtaining knowledge, the old law remains in full force, that the parent is the natural and most powerful instructor in the ways of God. The decay of parental religious teaching is working enormous mischief in Christian households; and the happiest results would follow if Joshua's homely advice were attended to, "Ye shall let your children know."

3. The same principle which led to the erection of this simple monument reaches its highest and sacredest instance in the institution of the Lord's Supper, in which Jesus, with wonderful lowliness, condescends to avail Himself of material symbols in order to secure a firmer place in treacherous memories.

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

The Lord your
That is true. We saw it. We were there. It is happening every day. Take out the mere detail and put in the great picture, and what is it? It is Divine interposition in the affairs of life. It is God taking away all hindrances to the progress which He Himself has purposed and defined; not the hindrances to your progress, but the hindrances to His own progress as shown through your life. He will not take any stones out of our way if they lie between us and ruin. He will rather embed those stones a little more firmly. God be praised for His hindrances! We wanted to make that contract, and could not. We had the pen in hand to sign it, but the ink would not flow, or the light suddenly gave out, and we dropped the pen. What did it? We see now we were going to sign away our birthright, our liberty, our honour, our conscience, and we were doing this more or less unconsciously, and God said "No." Blessed be God for His denials! Sometimes we are able to say, "Blessed be God for His bereavements!" Let God alone. Let us put our lives lust into His hands and say, "Lord, they are Thy lives more than ours. Thou hast only lent them to us. We would not spoil one moment of these trembling frailties which we call our lives. Undertake everything for us and use us. We will run Thine errands, we will obey Thy will, we will do what Thou dost bid us do. Lord, undertake for us. Then if there is a river in the way Thou wilt dry it up, if there is a Red Sea in the way Thou wilt command it to stand back, and we shall walk through the beds of rivers as if they were beds of roses," you would be greatly comforted, as I have been in a thousand instances, by reasoning from the river to the sea. This is the right method of inference, by induction and by deduction. What has God done for us in the past? Hear David. He said: "The God that delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from this uncircumcised Philistine. I will strike him in the name of the Eternal." Was it a rash act? It was reasoned piety. Why did the young man's blood boil for one moment and then subside? It was all the piety of the past gathered up into one supreme stroke. Sometimes one act of faith condenses a lifetime of study, experience, and prayer. "Wondrously doth life bring its own power, and marvellously doth yesterday contribute its quota to the forces of to-day. When a great man advises you upon a certain course, he does not speak for the moment. For a quarter of a century and more he has been buried in the study of law, and when he gives you advice that could be written down in a line he puts a lifetime into that line. When the hoary physician touches your pulse half a century touches it. So we should thus see God moving, as in contemplation and in faith, from the Jordan to the Red Sea. He says to us, as we near the sea: "What about the Jordan? Was there one drop of water on the sole of your feet?" No, Lord, there was not. "Then," saith He in reply, "as with the Jordan, so with the Red Sea. It shall be dried up as if it had never been." When the disciples said, "How can we feed this multitude?" He said, "Did I not feed a multitude once. What lack was there then?" None. "Had the people barely enough to eat?" Nay. "How many baskets took you up?" Twelve. And He helped them to carry out that reasoning, that He who was able to do it once was able to do it twice; and if He could do it twice, He could do it for ever. Here is the historical lesson He teaches us, that what He did yesterday He is going to do to-morrow. If you have no faith in to-morrow, surely you have faith in your own recollection of yesterday. There are timid souls who never dare look at to-morrow. The Lord says to these, "Then think about yesterday; that is over. Now what was done to you yesterday? You thought your heart was going to burst. Did your heart break yesterday?" No. "You thought all things were against you yesternight. Did one star fall out of its place?" No, Lord, they are all there. "Then," saith God, "as yesterday, so to-morrow; as the Jordan, so the Red Sea." What is your experience? How have you been treated in straits and perplexities and difficulties? Who cooled your fever? Who brought light when all was darkness? Bacon saith, "A little learning inclineth to atheism"; but much learning, great wisdom, makes a man pray. Whenever you doubt God, think that you are but feebly or superficially instructed. When you can lean upon Him four-square, know that the kingdom of heaven is at hand. How true it is that all things in life are done by an unseen power in so far as they are either good or bad. The devil is as invisible as God. How wonderful a thing it is that-life becomes shaped into palaces and temples without any handling of our own. The Jordan was dried up not with hands; the Red Sea was dried up — not with hands. Hands, poor hands, what can hands make? "The hand can make and break" is a little proverb, I would suggest. Whatever can be made by the hand can be unmade by the hand. God Himself takes all primary ministry unto His own power and employs us, even when we are going about our own errands, simply as His messengers. All life as it grows wisely and well turns and tends to service. Blessed be God, there is a bondage of love, there is a slavery of joy! Are you dreading the Jordan? He will dry it up for you if you put your trust in Him. Are you dreading the Red Sea? He will blow it away with the wind of His mouth. You may go within a step of it, nay, you may touch it, but the moment the foot of faith touches that sea, the sea is gone.

(J. Parker, D. D.).

Adam, Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashite, Girgashites, Hittites, Hivite, Hivites, Israelites, Jebusites, Joshua, Levites, Perizzites
Adam, Jericho, Jordan River, Salt Sea, Sea of the Arabah, Shittim, Zarethan
Across, Adam, Arabah, Beside, Completely, Crossed, Cut, Distance, Failed, Flowed, Flowing, Heap, Higher, Jericho, Mass, Opposite, Over-against, Passed, Piled, Plain, Risen, Rose, Salt, Stand, Stood, Stopped, Towards, Town, Vicinity, Waters, Wholly, Zaretan, Zarethan, Zar'ethan
1. Joshua come to Jordan
2. The officers instruct the people for their passage
7. The Lord encourages Joshua
9. Joshua encourages the people
14. The water of Jordan are divided

Dictionary of Bible Themes
Joshua 3:1-17

     4819   dryness

Joshua 3:13-17

     1418   miracles, responses

Joshua 3:14-17

     1416   miracles, nature of
     5092   Elijah

Joshua 3:15-16

     4357   salt
     7306   ark of the covenant

'The Waters Saw Thee; they were Afraid'
'And Joshua said unto the people, Sanctify yourselves: for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you. 6. And Joshua spake unto the priests, saying, Take up the ark of the covenant, and pass over before the people. And they took up the ark of the covenant, and went before the people. 7. And the Lord said unto Joshua, This day will I begin to magnify thee in the sight of all Israel, that they may know that, as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee. 8 And thou shalt command the priests that bear
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

The Meeting Hereafter.
Funeral Service. Joshua iii. 17. "And the priests that bare the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord stood firm on dry ground in the midst of Jordan, and all the Israelites passed over on dry ground, until all the people were passed clean over Jordan." INTRODUCTION.--That must have been a striking sight! The whole of God's people passing over Jordan. On one side, on that of the Wilderness, a crowd pressing down, and going into the deep river bed, on the other, those who had traversed, rising out of
S. Baring-Gould—The Village Pulpit, Volume II. Trinity to Advent

Adam and Zaretan, Joshua 3
I suspect a double error in some maps, while they place these two towns in Perea; much more, while they place them at so little a distance. We do not deny, indeed, that the city Adam was in Perea; but Zaretan was not so. Of Adam is mention, Joshua 3:16; where discourse is had of the cutting-off, or cutting in two, the waters of Jordan, that they might afford a passage to Israel; The waters rose up upon a heap afar off in Adam. For the textual reading "In Adam," the marginal hath "From Adam." You
John Lightfoot—From the Talmud and Hebraica

The New Leaders Commission
'Now after the death of Moses the servant of the Lord it came to pass, that the Lord spake unto Joshua the son of Nun, Moses' minister, saying, 2. Moses My servant is dead: now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, thou, and all this people, unto the land which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel. 3. Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you, as I said unto Moses. 4. From the wilderness and this Lebanon even unto the great river, the river Euphrates,
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

The Charge to the Soldier of the Lord
'Only be then strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded thee... that thou mayest prosper wheresoever thou goest. 8. This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shall meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.'--JOSHUA i. 7,8. This is the central portion of the
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

Stones Crying Out
'For the priests which bare the ark stood in the midst of Jordan, until every thing was finished that the Lord commanded Joshua to speak unto the people, according to all that Moses commanded Joshua: and the people hasted and passed over. 11. And it came to pass, when all the people were clean passed over, that the ark of the Lord passed over, and the priests, in the presence of the people. 12. And the children of Reuben, and the children of Gad, and half the tribe of Manasseh, passed over armed
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

Some Miscellaneous Matters Belonging to the Country About Jericho.
Let us begin from the last encampings of Israel beyond Jordan. Numbers 33:49: "They encamped near Jordan from Beth-jeshimoth unto Abel-shittim."--"From Beth-jeshimoth to Abel-shittim were twelve miles." It is a most received opinion among the Jews, that the tents of the Israelites in the wilderness contained a square of twelve miles. So the Targum of Jonathan, upon Number 2:2; "The encamping of Israel was twelve miles in length, and twelve miles in breadth." And the Gemarists say, "It is forbidden
John Lightfoot—From the Talmud and Hebraica

The book of Joshua is the natural complement of the Pentateuch. Moses is dead, but the people are on the verge of the promised land, and the story of early Israel would be incomplete, did it not record the conquest of that land and her establishment upon it. The divine purpose moves restlessly on, until it is accomplished; so "after the death of Moses, Jehovah spake to Joshua," i. 1. The book falls naturally into three divisions: (a) the conquest of Canaan (i.-xii.), (b) the settlement of the
John Edgar McFadyen—Introduction to the Old Testament

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