Joshua 4

Wednesday, January 6th, 2016

Text:   Joshua 4




In chapter 1 we have seen Joshua assume the leadership of the nation of Israel following the death of Moses as the Israelites were encamped east of the Jordan River.


In chapter 2 we have seen the two spies being sent to spy out Jericho and their meeting with Rahab.


In chapter 3 we have seen the miracle of the 2,500,000 Israelites crossing the Jordan River at flood stage on dry land with their flocks, herds, and possessions.


In chapter 4, we see two memorials being erected as a reminder of what the LORD had done in bringing the Israelites into the land of Canaan. It is important to remember things that the LORD has done.

We see –

    I.     THE TWO SETS OF STONES – 4:1-13


Joshua 4:1 And it came to pass, when all the people were clean passed over Jordan [i.e. had completely crossed over the Jordan River], that the LORD spake [i.e. spoke] unto Joshua, saying,


Joshua 4:2 Take you [i.e. take for yourselves] twelve men out of the people, out of every tribe a man,


Joshua 4:3 And command ye them, saying, Take you hence [i.e. from here] out of the midst of Jordan, out of the place where the priests’ feet stood firm, twelve stones, and ye shall carry them over with you, and leave them [i.e. lay them down] in the lodging place, where ye shall lodge this night.


Joshua 4:4 Then Joshua called the twelve men, whom he had prepared of the children of Israel, out of every tribe a man:


Joshua 4:5 And Joshua said unto them, Pass over [i.e. cross over] before the ark of the LORD your God into the midst of Jordan, and take ye up every man of you a stone upon his shoulder, according unto the number of the tribes of the children of Israel:


Joshua 4:6 That this may be a sign among you, that when your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, What mean ye by these stones? [i.e. What is meant by these stones? What is the reason for these stones?]


Joshua 4:7 Then ye shall answer them, That the waters of Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD; when it passed over Jordan [i.e. when the ark of the covenant of the LORD crossed over the Jordan River], the waters of Jordan were cut off: and these stones shall be for a memorial unto the children of Israel for ever.


Joshua 4:8 And the children of Israel did so as Joshua commanded, and took up twelve stones out of the midst of Jordan, as the LORD spake unto Joshua, according to the number of the tribes of the children of Israel, and carried them over with them unto the place where they lodged, and laid them down there.


The Lord directed that these twelve stones be set up as a memorial on the land where they lodged the first night after they crossed the Jordan River.


In addition, Joshua, not necessarily under the direction of the Lord, had an additional twelve stones set up in the middle of the Jordan River to mark the place where the priests who carried the ark of the covenant stood while the Israelites passed over the Jordan River on dry ground.


Joshua 4:9 And Joshua set up twelve stones in the midst of Jordan [i.e. in the middle of the Jordan], in the place where the feet of the priests which bare the ark of the covenant stood: and they are there unto this day [i.e. unto the day in which the book of Joshua was written].


Joshua 4:10 For the priests which bare [i.e. who carried] the ark stood in the midst of Jordan [i.e. in the middle of the Jordan River], 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 [i.e. the people hurried and crossed over].


Joshua 4:11 And it came to pass, when all the people were clean passed over [i.e. had completely crossed over], that the ark of the LORD passed over [i.e. crossed over], and the priests, in the presence of the people.



Joshua 4:12 And the children of Reuben, and the children of Gad, and half the tribe of Manasseh, passed over armed [i.e. in battle array] before the children of Israel, as Moses spake unto them [i.e. just as Moses had directed them]:


Joshua 4:13 About forty thousand prepared for war [i.e. armed for battle] passed over [i.e. crossed over the Jordan River] before the LORD unto battle [i.e. for battle], to the plains of Jericho.

Next, we see –



Joshua 4:14 On that day the LORD magnified [i.e. exalted] Joshua in the sight of all Israel; and they feared [i.e. revered] him, as they feared [i.e. revered] Moses, all the days of his life.


Joshua 4:15 And the LORD spake unto Joshua, saying,


Joshua 4:16 Command the priests that bear [i.e. who are carrying] the ark of the testimony, that they come up out of Jordan.


This verse indicates that the priests were still standing in the Jordan riverbed .


Joshua 4:17 Joshua therefore commanded the priests, saying, Come ye up out of Jordan.


Joshua 4:18 And it came to pass, when the priests that bare [i.e. that carried] the ark of the covenant of the LORD were come up out of the midst of Jordan, and the soles of the priests’ feet were lifted up unto the dry land, that the waters of Jordan returned unto their place, and flowed over all his banks [i.e. overflowed all its banks], as they did before.


There was no going back. The period of Israel’s judgment for their rebellion at Kadesh Barnea had passed. All those who were at Kadesh Barnea who were 20 years old or older were forbidden from ever entering the land of Canaan except Joshua and Caleb. They had now all died. It was time for the Israelites to move forward with the Lord.





Joshua 4:19 And the people came up out of Jordan on the tenth day of the first month, and encamped in Gilgal, in the east border of Jericho.


Joshua 4:20 And those twelve stones, which they took out of Jordan, did Joshua pitch [i.e. Joshua set up] in Gilgal.


Joshua 4:21 And he spake unto the children of Israel, saying, When your children shall ask their fathers in time to come, saying, What mean these stones?


Joshua 4:22 Then ye shall let your children know, saying, Israel came over this Jordan on dry land.


It was the responsibility of the fathers to teach their children.


Deuteronomy 6:4-74 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: 5 And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. 6 And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: 7 And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.


Fathers today still have the same responsibility to teach their children the things of the Lord.


Joshua 4:23 For the LORD your God dried up the waters of Jordan from before you, until ye were passed over [i.e. until you had crossed over the Jordan River], as the LORD your God did to the Red sea, which he dried up from before us, until we were gone over [i.e. until we had crossed over the Red sea]:


Joshua 4:24 That all the people of the earth might know the hand of the LORD, that it is mighty: that ye might fear the LORD your God for ever.



The monuments showed that Israel had not crossed the Jordan River by their own ability but because of the power of God. It showed what God had done for them and what He would also do for them in the future.


Just as the Israelites needed to teach their children what the Lord had done for them, we likewise need to teach our children what the Lord has done for us.


He has saved us not only from the power of sin in our lives but also from consequences of sin in the future. Eventually, He will even save us from the very presence of sin.


Consider how God has blessed us and met all of our needs. Consider how He abides with us at all times and produces the fruit of the Spirit in our lives. Consider that what God wants from us in response is to love Him and to live our lives for Him.


In view of all that God has done for us in the past, we need to trust Him for all things in the future as well.