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From Eternity Past

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    People of Jericho Already Terrified

    The spies returned with the tidings, “Truly the Lord hath delivered into our hands all the land; for even all the inhabitants of the country do faint because of us.” It had been declared to them in Jericho, “We have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea for you, when ye came out of Egypt; and what ye did unto the two kings of the Amorites, that were on the other side Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom ye utterly destroyed. And as soon as we had heard these things, our hearts did melt, neither did there remain any more courage in any man, because of you: for the Lord your God, He is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath.”EP 342.3

    Orders were now issued to make ready for an advance. The people were to prepare a three-days’ supply of food, and the army was to be put in readiness for battle. Leaving their encampment the host descended to the border of the Jordan. All knew that without divine aid they could not hope to make the passage. At this time of year the melting snows of the mountains so raised the Jordan that the river overflowed, making it impossible to cross. God willed that the passage over Jordan should be miraculous.EP 343.1

    Joshua, by divine direction, commanded the people to put away their sins and free themselves from all outward impurity, “for tomorrow,” he said, “the Lord will do wonders among you.” The “ark of the covenant” was to lead the way, borne by the priests from its place in the center of the camp, toward the river. “Hereby ye shall know that the living God is among you, and that He will without fail drive out from before you the Canaanites... . Behold, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth passeth over before you into Jordan.”EP 343.2

    At the appointed time the onward movement began, the ark, borne upon the shoulders of the priests, leading. There was a vacant space of more than half a mile about the ark. All watched with deep interest as the priests advanced down the bank of the Jordan. They saw the sacred ark move steadily toward the surging stream, till the feet of the bearers were dipped into the waters. Then suddenly the tide above was swept back, while the current below flowed on, and the bed of the river was laid bare.EP 343.3

    The priests advanced to the middle of the channel and stood there while the entire host descended and crossed to the farther side. The power that stayed the waters of Jordan was the same that had opened the Red Sea to their fathers forty years before. When the people had all passed over, the ark itself was borne to the western shore. No sooner had “the soles of the priests’ feet ... lifted up unto the dry land” than the imprisoned waters rushed down, a resistless flood, in the natural channel of the stream.EP 343.4

    While the priests bearing the ark were still in the midst of Jordan, twelve men, one from each tribe, took up each a stone from the riverbed where the priests were standing and carried them over to the western side. These stones were to be set up as a monument in the first camping place beyond the river, as Joshua said, “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 forever.”EP 344.1

    This miracle was an assurance to Israel of God's continued presence and protection, an evidence that He would work for them through Joshua as He had wrought through Moses. The Lord had declared to Joshua before the crossing, “This day will I begin to magnify thee in the sight of all Israel, that they may know that, as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee.”EP 344.2

    When the tidings that God had stayed the waters of Jordan before the children of Israel reached the kings of the Amorites and Canaanites, their hearts melted with fear. To the Canaanites, to all Israel, and to Joshua himself, unmistakable evidence had been given that the living God, the King of heaven and earth, was among His people. He would not fail them nor forsake them.EP 344.3

    A short distance from Jordan the Hebrews made their first encampment in Canaan. The suspension of the rite of circumcision and the discontinuance of the Passover had been an evidence of the Lord's displeasure at their desire to return to the land of bondage. Now, however, the years of rejection were ended. The sign of the covenant was restored. The rite of circumcision was performed upon all the people who had been born in the wilderness. And the Lord declared to Joshua, “This day have I rolled away the reproach of Egypt from off you.”EP 344.4

    Heathen nations had reproached the Lord and His people because the Hebrews had failed to take possession of Canaan soon after leaving Egypt. Their enemies had triumphed because Israel had wandered so long in the wilderness, and they had mockingly declared that the God of the Hebrews was not able to bring them into the Promised Land. The Lord had now signally manifested His power and favor in opening the Jordan before His people, and their enemies could no longer reproach them.EP 345.1

    The Passover was celebrated, “and the manna ceased on the morrow after they had eaten of the old corn of the land; neither had the children of Israel manna any more; but they did eat of the fruit of the land of Canaan.” The long years of their desert wanderings were ended. The feet of Israel were at last treading the Promised Land.EP 345.2

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