Guidance: Joshua 3-4

Coincides with Sunday, September 18, 2016 

For the second time in Israel’s story, God reveals his power by miraculously opening a body of water and allowing them to cross on dry land. The previous generation, after personally experiencing deliverance from the Egyptians through the parting of the sea, would eventually be destroyed by their own unbelieving hearts. Now a new generation is given a second chance, as God opens the waters that separate them from the promised land.

Preliminary question

What do you think it means to let God be your guide?

First read the story in parts according to this outline:

Outline of Joshua 3:1 – 5:1

Preparation for crossing the Jordan (3:1-6)

Part One (3:7-17)
Part Two (4:1-14)
Part Three (4:15-5:1)

Yahweh (3:7-8)
Joshua (3:9-13)
Narration (3:14-17)

Yahweh (4:1-3)
Joshua (4:4-7)
Narration (4:8-14)
Yahweh (4:15-16)
Joshua (4:17; 21-14)
Narration (4:18-20;5:1)


TAKING IN: Understanding

  • What are the repeated words and ideas?
  • Observe the commands and the responses?
  • What is the role of the priests?
  • What is the role of the ark?
  • What are the purposes of this miracle? (Note: observe the phrase, “that you (they) may know…”) Observe the four times this phrase is used and then list the four purposes.
  • Compare this miracle with the crossing of the sea experienced by the previous generation (Exodus 14:1-31). How do the circumstances differ?
  • What does the ark represent? Why should the Israelites keep their distance from it?
  • The first use of “that you may know” is in 3:4, where the Israelites are told that this miracle is for the purpose of showing them the way. The word “way” (Hebrew = derek) may be either literal or metaphorical, just like the English word. What do you think it means in this verse?
  • Why was it important for Joshua to be exalted in the eyes of Israel (3:7; 4:14)?
  • What is the meaning of the stones?
  • What role do the Israelites play in the story? What do you learn from their role?
  • This is the longest story in the book of Joshua, showing its relative significance. Why do you think it was so important?

LIVING OUT: Applying

  • As you see how God guides his people in this story (the “way” in 3:7), what lessons can you apply to your life?
  • As you see Joshua’s role in this story, in what ways does he prefigure Jesus?
  • God demonstrates his power for certain purposes. Think about the four uses of “that you (they) may know.” Which one is most applicable to you today?
  • In a way this was an “unnecessary” miracle (unlike the earlier crossing of the sea BUT like Jesus walking on water), for there were other ways that Israel could have crossed the Jordan. Do you feel that it is helpful or important to see signs of God’s power?
  • What are some of the stones of remembrance in your life? (That is, in what are some of the main ways you have seen God demonstrate his power?)
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