JOSHUA – Chapter 4


Tuesday Morning Bible Study

June 27, 2016, the Year of Our Lord

Pastor Carolyn Sissom




Two Memorials of Twelve Stones were to give a sign to future generations of Israelites who had not seen the power of God; to reveal the might of God to all people; and to instill in the hearts of the people an abiding and lasting fear of God. (4:24)


These two monuments of stone were two separate memorials.  The stones placed into the Jordan are prophetic of Jesus’ baptism at Bethabara, and the stones taken out of Jordan are prophetic of the foundation of the government of the Kingdom of God upon the shoulders of the twelve apostles.


Bethabara in Jn. 1:28 means “the house of passage” (where Israel passed over).


These things were done in Bethabara beyond Jordan, where John was baptizing.  The next day John sees Jesus coming to him, and said, Behold the Lamb of God, which takes away the sin of the world.”(Jn. 1:28)


These stones of Matthew 3:9 could be referring to  these stones of Joshua 4:


Think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father; for I say to you that God is able of these stones to raise up children to Abraham.”


The Lord Jesus, our Joshua, overcame the sharpness of death and dried up the Jordan, opened the kingdom of heaven to all believers.  He appointed his twelve apostles by the memorial of the gospel to transmit the knowledge of his Kingdom to remote places and future ages. 


Joshua 4: 1-7: “It came to pass when all the people were clean passed over Jordan, that the Lord spoke to Joshua, saying, Take twelve men out of the people, out of every tribe a man.  Command them, saying, Take out of the midst of Jordan, out of the place where the priests’ feet stood firm, twelve stones.  You shall carry them over with you and leave them in the lodging place, where you shall lodge this night.  Then Joshua called the twelve men, whom he had prepared of the children of Israel, out of every tribe a man.  Joshua said to them, Pass over before the ark of the Lord your God into the midst of Jordan and take up every man of you a stone upon his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the children of Israel:  that this may be a sign among you, that when your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying. What do these stones mean? You 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, the waters of Jordan were cut off; and these stones shall be for a memorial to the children of Israel forever.”


Gilgal was the first lodging place in Canaan – It was six miles west from the river bed and 1-1/2 miles east of Jericho.    The first memorial of twelve stones was taken from the river bed and carried to Gilgal. 


A question was asked in one of my commentaries, “How long had the stones been in the bottom of the river bed?”  Who could know such a question, but we all know they were divinely appointed in the right place for God’s chosen time; for He knew the stones were there.


The stones on the shoulder are a principle of Kingdom government on prepared men.


The priests were the first to start the crossing by going 2000 cubits (about 4/5 of a mile) ahead of the people until they were in the center of the river bed where they stood still while all the people passed over by them.  The place where the priests’ feet stood firm reveals the memorial to the walk of faith.


The Lord has required from many of us to stand firm in Faith, carrying the Presence of the Lord, until the Church passes over into the Glory of God.   


 Deuteronomy 27:1-4, Moses with the elders of Israel commanded the people, saying, keep all the commandments which I command you this day. It shall be on the day when you shall pass over Jordan unto the land which the Lord your God gives you, that you shall set up great stones, and plaster them with plaster.  You shall write upon them all the words of this law, when you have passed over, that you may go in unto the land which the Lord your God gives you, a land that flows with milk and honey, as the Lord God of your fathers has promised you.”


The crossing of the Jordan was on the 10th day of the first month, 9 days after the death of Moses, which was on the lst. day of the 9th month.  Thus the crossing of the Jordan was during the 30-days mourning for Moses.  It also means the two spies went to Jericho and back during this time.  The 10th day of the first month would be 5 days short of a full 40 years after leaving Egypt, which was on the 15th day of the first month (Nu. 33:3).


God said in his wrath that they should wander forty years in the wilderness, and at last he brought them into Canaan five days before the forty years ended.  God ordered it so they should enter Canaan four days before the annual Passover Feast and on the day when the preparation for it was to begin.


4: 8-9: “The children of Israel did as Joshua commanded.  They took up twelve stones out of the midst of Jordan, as the Lord spoke to Joshua, according to the number of the tribes of the children of Israel, and carried them over with them to the place where they lodged, and laid them down there.  Joshua set up twelve stones in the midst of Jordan, in the place where the feet of the priests which bare the Ark of the Covenant stood; and they are there to this day.”


This is the second memorial of twelve stones.   The stones were set up in the midst of the Jordan in the place where the feet of the priests rested with the Ark.  These twelve stones are a memorial to where the Ark (Presence of the Lord) stood.


These too had to be strong men because they stood firm all day while the nation of Israel passed over.


4: 10-13: “The priest 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.  When all the people had passed over, the Ark of the LORD passed over, and the priests in the presence of the people.  The children of Reuben, of Gad, and the half tribe of Manasseh, passed over armed before the children of Israel as Moses commanded them.  About 40,000 prepared for war passed over before the LORD unto battle, to the plains of Jericho.”


If the people went over 400 abreast, it no doubt took them all day to march through.  The two and one half tribes led the people.  They had no reason to complain.  The post of danger is the post of honor.” (M.H.)


When all the people got clear to the other side, the priests with the Ark came up out of Jordan.  Joshua did not order them out of Jordan until God directed him to do so.


4:14-17: “On that day the Lord magnified Joshua in the sight of all Israel; and they feared him, as they feared Moses, all days of his life.  The Lord spoke to Joshua saying, Command the priests that bear the ark of the testimony that they come up out of Jordan.  Joshua commanded the priests, saying come out of the Jordan.”


“However low a condition God may at any time bring his priests or people to, let them patiently wait, till by his providence he shall call them up out of it.  Let us never be weary in waiting in the depths of our adversity while we have the Presence of the Lord with us.  The Presence and power of the Lord was in the Ark of the Covenant.  The Ark was the first to enter Jordan and the last to leave it.” (M.H.)


On that day the Lord magnified Joshua both by the fellowship admitted to Him and by the authority he confirmed him over both priests and people.  The best and surest way to earn respect is not by blustering, bullying, yelling or threatening, but by holiness and love; with a constant regard to the welfare of others; and to God’s will and honor.


The priests didn’t move until Joshua spoke, and Joshua didn’t move until God spoke. 


4:18-19: “When the priests who bare the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord came out of the Jordan, and the soles of the priests’ feet were lifted up to the dry land, the waters of Jordan returned to their place, and flowed over all its banks, as they did before.  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.”


The miracle of the drying of the Jordan was even more notable to the Kings of Canaan because it was at the time of flood stage.


WHAT MEAN THESE STONES?”  They mean that Joshua (Jesus) brought a royal nation (first fruits Company) through the Jordan at flood stage.   Israel is a type of the overcomer of Rev. 2-3.


(1) We should recognize the corporate unity of God’s people, for these 12 stones each made ONE memorial (the twelve tribes become ONE in Him).


(2) That all the people of the earth might know the hand of the Lord, that is mighty, that you might fear the Lord your God forever.


Twelve stones became a common form of memorializing a spectacular Kingdom event in the days of the Kingdom of Judah.   King Josiah abolished the practice because the people were worshiping the stones rather than the memorial of the might and power of the LORD. 


4:20-24:  Those twelve stones which they took out of Jordan, Joshua pitched in Gilgal.  He spoke to the children of Israel saying, when your children ask their fathers in time to come, WHAT MEAN THESE STONES?  You shall say, Israel came over this Jordan on dry land.  The Lord your God dried up the waters of Jordan from before you, until you passed over, as the Lord your God did to the Red sea, which he dried up from before us, until we passed over: that all the people of the earth might know the hand of the Lord, that is mighty; that you might fear the Lord your God for ever.”


The location of Gilgal is not known today.  It was the first campsite of Israel after entering Canaan.  These men carried the stones on their shoulders the 6 miles to Gilgal.


Gilgal was the first fortified camp of Joshua in the conquest of Canaan and where his army continually returned from different directions, and the place for the women and children; and protecting soldiers during the whole Canaanite war.


The place of the first Passover in Canaan.


The place where manna ceased.


The place where God appeared personally to Joshua as commander-in chief of the army of Israel for the coming conquests.


The place of the next appearance of God to Israel (Judg. 2:1).


A place where Elijah was sent on his way to be translated, and one used by Elisha as headquarters.


It was the place of circumcision of those born in the wilderness during the 40 years of wandering.


Next week – chapter 5 will be the principle of the circumcision at Gilgal.


Carolyn Sissom, Pastor

Eastgate Ministries Church

Scripture from K.J.V. – I entered into the labors of Dake’s Annotated Reference Bible; Matthew Henry and Principles of Present Truth by: Rev. Kelly Varner. (1949-2009).  Comments and conclusions are my own and not meant to reflect the views of those who I entered into their labors.  (Jn. 4:38)

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