3:16 – The Rest of the Story – God Reveals His Plan 7: Joshua

A Bible Study exploring all the 3:16s in the Bible as they illuminate

  • the Human Condition
  • God’s Revelation of His Plan (Current location of study)
  • God’s Fulfillment of His Plan
  • Our Response

“the waters coming down from above stood and rose up in a heap very far away, at Adam, the city that is beside Zarethan, and those flowing down toward the Sea of the Arabah, the Salt Sea, were completely cut off. And the people passed over opposite Jericho.” – Joshua 3:16

This week’s Bible Study brings us to the book of Joshua. This is probably a good time to review where we’ve been so far in this study.

We saw the human condition described clearly in the scriptures.

  1. All humans are inherently evil (sinners) – discussed through Ecclesiastes 3:16.
  2. God’s judgment will fall on all people, in two groups: His people, and His enemies – discussed through Habakkuk 3:16.
  3. It is human tendency to ignore warnings about the approach of God’s judgment until it is too late – discussed through Nahum 3:16.
  4. Those who call themselves Christians should beware of being “lukewarm”, or one who thinks he is self-sufficient and has all he needs apart from a close and active walk with Jesus – discussed through Revelation 3:16.
  5. The natural path for humanity is ruin and misery: both personally, and in the desire to lead others in that path, and in the tendency subject creation to that path as well – discussed through Romans 3:16.

So far, we’ve seen God revealing his plan to address this human condition through the scriptures:

  1. God revealed to the patriarchs (Adam, Eve, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob) that a singular future male offspring would crush the head of Satan and that all nations would be blessed through him – discussed through Genesis 3:16.
  2. God reminded us through Job that, while our redemption is coming, the timing of it is in God’s hands, not ours – discussed through Job 3:16.
  3. After over 400 years of enslavement in Egypt, God revealed to the nation of Israel that they would be freed and led to the land He had promised them – discussed through Exodus 3:16.
  4. During their release from Egypt, God instituted the promise of substitutionary redemption through the Passover and through allowing the Levites to be substituted for the nation’s firstborn – discussed through Numbers 3:16.
  5. God established the sacrificial system, not as an eternally sufficient means of fellowship with Him, but as a reminder that we NEED an eternally sufficient means of fellowship with Him – discussed through Leviticus 3:16.
  6. God verified to the second generation Israelites wandering in the desert that He was, indeed, going to bring them into the promised land – discussed through Deuteronomy 3:16.

This brings us to today’s passage from Joshua. We find the Israelites poised on the eastern bank of the Jordan River ready to cross and enter the Promised Land and begin its conquest. As God’s plan continues to be revealed, we see Moses’s death and transference of leadership to Joshua.

God had made a promise through Moses in Deuteronomy 18:15-19 to raise up a new prophet like him.

“The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers—it is to him you shall listen— just as you desired of the LORD your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly, when you said, ‘Let me not hear again the voice of the LORD my God or see this great fire any more, lest I die.’ And the LORD said to me, ‘They are right in what they have spoken. I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. And I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. And whoever will not listen to my words that he shall speak in my name, I myself will require it of him.”

The book of Deuteronomy ends with a bit of a description of what this coming prophet who is like Moses would be like. It says, “And there has not arisen a prophet since in Israel like Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face, none like him for all the signs and the wonders that the LORD sent him to do in the land of Egypt, to Pharaoh and to all his servants and to all his land, and for all the mighty power and all the great deeds of terror that Moses did in the sight of all Israel (Deuteronomy 34:10-12).”

The New Testament writes attributed this prophet to the person of Jesus Christ. Note the concluding statement – “Whoever will not listen to my words that he shall speak in my name, I myself will require it of him.” This is a warning to all of us that God’s judgment will depend on how we have responded to Jesus.

Now, more to the immediate story regarding Joshua. Just before Moses’ death, God commissioned Joshua to lead Israel – “And the LORD commissioned Joshua the son of Nun and said, ‘Be strong and courageous, for you shall bring the people of Israel into the land that I swore to give them. I will be with you’ (Deuteronomy 31:23).” After Moses’ death, God commanded Joshua to lead the people across the river and begin the conquest. In Chapter 3:7-8 God said, “‘Today I will begin to exalt you in the sight of all Israel, that they may know that, as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. And as for you, command the priests who bear the ark of the covenant, ‘When you come to the brink of the waters of the Jordan, you shall stand still in the Jordan.”

Joshua was not the prophet that Moses referred to, but he was the person chosen by God to succeed Moses as the nation’s leader, and God promised him that he would begin to “exalt” him in the eyes of the people. To do so, God elected to use a sign such that would be associated with Moses and solidify Joshua’s succession. That’s what the 3:16 verse is referring to.

the waters coming down from above stood and rose up in a heap very far away, at Adam, the city that is beside Zarethan, and those flowing down toward the Sea of the Arabah, the Salt Sea, were completely cut off. And the people passed over opposite Jericho. – Joshua 3:16

Just as He did for the crossing of the Red Sea, God parted the waters of the Jordan river and allowed the Israelites to cross on dry ground. It was at flood stage, so this was no minor feat. This was the first of many signs that God performed solidifying Joshua’s position in the eyes of the people. Joshua obediently set up a memorial for future generations to be reminded of the crossing. He led the nation in observing the Passover, resulting in the cessation of the appearance of manna which they had relied on for the forty years in the desert. They conquered Jericho by simply marching around it, and so on.

God’s revelation of His plan to bring about the redemption of His people continues next week as we look at 2 Chronicles.

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