CROSSING YOUR JORDAN BY REVD CHRISTIAN UMUKORO

Then Joshua called the twelve men he had chosen, and said, “Go into the Jordan ahead of the Covenant Box of the LORD your God. Each one of you take a stone on your shoulder, one for each of the tribes of Israel. These stones will remind the people of what the LORD has done. In the future, when your children ask what these stones mean to you, you will tell them that the water of the Jordan stopped flowing when the LORD’s Covenant Box crossed the river. These stones will always remind the people of Israel of what happened here.”

The men followed Joshua’s orders. As the LORD had commanded Joshua, they took twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan, one for each of the tribes of Israel, carried them to the camping place, and put them down there. Joshua also set up twelve stones in the middle of the Jordan, where the priests carrying the Covenant Box had stood. (Those stones are still there.) The priests stood in the middle of the Jordan until everything had been done that the LORD ordered Joshua to tell the people to do. This is what Moses had commanded.

The people hurried across the river. When they were all on the other side, the priests with the LORD’s Covenant Box went on ahead of the people. The men of the tribes of Reuben and Gad and of half the tribe of Manasseh, ready for battle, crossed ahead of the rest of the people, as Moses had told them to do. In the presence of the LORD about 40,000 men ready for war crossed over to the plain near Jericho. What the LORD did that day made the people of Israel consider Joshua a great man. They honoured him all his life, just as they had honoured Moses.

Then the LORD told Joshua to command the priests carrying the Covenant Box to come up out of the Jordan. Joshua did so, and when the priests reached the river bank, the river began flowing once more and flooded its banks again.

The people crossed the Jordan on the tenth day of the first month and made camp at Gilgal, east of Jericho. There Joshua set up the twelve stones taken from the Jordan. He said to the people of Israel, “In the future, when your children ask you what these stones mean, you will tell them about the time when Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground. Tell them that the LORD your God dried up the water of the Jordan for you until you had crossed, just as he dried up the Red Sea for us. Because of this everyone on earth will know how great the LORD’s power is, and you will honour the LORD your God for ever.”

The Circumcision at Gilgal

Then the LORD told Joshua, “Make some knives out of flint and circumcise the Israelites.” So Joshua did as the LORD had commanded, and he circumcised the Israelites at a place called Circumcision Hill. When the people of Israel left Egypt, all the males were already circumcised. However, during the forty years the people spent crossing the desert, none of the baby boys had been circumcised. Also, by the end of that time all the men who were of fighting age when they left Egypt had died because they had disobeyed the LORD. Just as he had sworn, they were not allowed to see the rich and fertile land that he had promised their ancestors. The sons of these men had never been circumcised, and it was this new generation that Joshua circumcised.

After the circumcision was completed, the whole nation stayed in the camp until the wounds had healed. The LORD said to Joshua, “Today I have removed from you the disgrace of being slaves in Egypt.” That is why the place was named Gilgal, the name it still has.

While the Israelites were camping at Gilgal on the plain near Jericho, they observed Passover on the evening of the fourteenth day of the month. The next day was the first time they ate food grown in Canaan: roasted grain and bread made without yeast. The manna stopped falling then, and the Israelites no longer had any. From that time on they ate food grown in Canaan.

Joshua and the Man with a Sword

While Joshua was near Jericho, he suddenly saw a man standing in front of him, holding a sword. Joshua went up to him and asked, “Are you one of our soldiers, or an enemy?”

“Neither,” the man answered. “I am here as the commander of the LORD’s army.”

Joshua threw himself on the ground in worship and said, “I am your servant, sir. What do you want me to do?”

And the commander of the LORD’s army told him, “Take your sandals off; you are standing on holy ground.” And Joshua did as he was told.