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Joshua 3:1-17, Israel Crosses the Jordan

Narrative Lectionary Key Verse for Today

Then Joshua said to the people, “Sanctify yourselves; for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you.”
— Joshua 3:5

NL Daily Devotion for Thursday, October 11, 2018

river crossing

by Daniel D. Maurer, Clergy Stuff

How often can any of us say that we’ve really witnessed a “wonder” of the Lord? If our eyes were open to the fact that existence itself is a wonder, perhaps we’d experience this much more frequently than many of us do.

The fact is that there are miracles everywhere. A good writer friend of mine who lives on the East Coast writes frequently for his blog The Miracle of the Mundane. In it, he ponders the gifts of recovery from addiction he has had to learn and just how wonderful the little things in life can be.

Probably the crossing of the Jordan was as mundane as any river crossing might have been back in that day. What made it miraculous is that God was with them. God, had, in fact, been with the entire community all throughout their many years together in the wilderness. The Promised Land was neigh.

The wonders we experience depend much on our perception of the events around us. It’s easy to lose hope and to miss out in the truly miraculous nature of existence. The rich heritage of scripture reminds us that our forebears also struggled with such things, but that they reinterpreted them in a new light when they saw that God, indeed, had been there all along.

Narrative Lectionary Daily Reading:

Joshua 3:1-17

Early in the morning Joshua rose and set out from Shittim with all the Israelites, and they came to the Jordan. They camped there before crossing over. At the end of three days the officers went through the camp and commanded the people, “When you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God being carried by the levitical priests, then you shall set out from your place. Follow it, so that you may know the way you should go, for you have not passed this way before. Yet there shall be a space between you and it, a distance of about two thousand cubits; do not come any nearer to it.” Then Joshua said to the people, “Sanctify yourselves; for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you.” To the priests Joshua said, “Take up the ark of the covenant, and pass on in front of the people.” So they took up the ark of the covenant and went in front of the people.

The Lord said to Joshua, “This day I will begin to exalt you in the sight of all Israel, so that they may know that I will be with you as I was with Moses. You are the one who shall command the priests who bear the ark of the covenant, ‘When you come to the edge of the waters of the Jordan, you shall stand still in the Jordan.’” Joshua then said to the Israelites, “Draw near and hear the words of the Lord your God.”Joshua said, “By this you shall know that among you is the living God who without fail will drive out from before you the Canaanites, Hittites, Hivites, Perizzites, Girgashites, Amorites, and Jebusites: the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth is going to pass before you into the Jordan. So now select twelve men from the tribes of Israel, one from each tribe. When the soles of the feet of the priests who bear the ark of the Lord, the Lord of all the earth, rest in the waters of the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan flowing from above shall be cut off; they shall stand in a single heap.”

When the people set out from their tents to cross over the Jordan, the priests bearing the ark of the covenant were in front of the people. Now the Jordan overflows all its banks throughout the time of harvest. So when those who bore the ark had come to the Jordan, and the feet of the priests bearing the ark were dipped in the edge of the water, the waters flowing from above stood still, rising up in a single heap far off at Adam, the city that is beside Zarethan, while those flowing toward the sea of the Arabah, the Dead Sea, were wholly cut off. Then the people crossed over opposite Jericho. While all Israel were crossing over on dry ground, the priests who bore the ark of the covenant of the Lord stood on dry ground in the middle of the Jordan, until the entire nation finished crossing over the Jordan.

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