1. EYES FOCUSING IN FAITH
a. What distinct command did Joshua give regarding the ark of the covenant, the symbol of God’s presence in Israel? Why? Joshua 3:2–4.
“The ark of God was a sacred chest, made to be the depository of the ten commandments, which law was the representative of God himself. This ark was considered the glory and strength of Israel. The token of Divine presence abode upon it day and night.”—Spiritual Gifts, vol. 4a, p. 101.
b. In what sense is the ark of the covenant in Heaven equally significant for us today, in a figurative sense? Hebrews 8:1, 2; 9:3–5.
“Satan has laid every measure possible that nothing shall come among us as a people to reprove and rebuke us, and exhort us to put away our errors. But there is a people who will bear the ark of God.”—Testimonies to Ministers, p. 411.
2. PREPARING TO SEE AMAZING THINGS
a. Before the Israelites could experience God’s presence in a miraculous way, how did Joshua tell them to prepare themselves? Joshua 3:5.
b. How does God sanctify or purify us today, and what does sanctification involve on our part? Titus 2:14; Matthew 16:24.
“True sanctification comes through the working out of the principle of love. . . .
“Sanctification is not the work of a moment, an hour, a day, but of a lifetime. It is not gained by a happy flight of feeling, but is the result of constantly dying to sin, and constantly living for Christ.”—The Acts of the Apostles, p. 560.
“Genuine sanctification . . . is nothing less than a daily dying to self and daily conformity to the will of God. . . . Paul’s sanctification was a constant conflict with self. Said he: ‘I die daily.’ His will and his desires every day conflicted with duty and the will of God. Instead of following inclination, he did the will of God, however unpleasant and crucifying to his nature.”—Testimonies, vol. 4, p. 299.
“True sanctification is harmony with God, oneness with Him in character. It is received through obedience to those principles that are the transcript of His character.”—Ibid., vol. 6, p. 350.
“Here is Bible sanctification. It is not merely a show or outside work. It is sanctification received through the channel of truth. It is truth received in the heart, and practically carried out in the life.”—Ibid., vol. 1, p. 339.
c. Who were commanded to be the first to potentially risk life and safety for the sake of the people? Joshua 3:6–8.
“The priests obeyed the commands of their leader, and went before the people carrying the ark of the covenant. Orders had been given for the multitude to fall back, so that there was a vacant space of three-fourths of a mile about the ark. The immense hosts watched with deep interest as the priests advanced down the bank of the Jordan. They saw them with the sacred ark move steadily forward, toward the angry, surging stream, till the feet of the bearers seemed to be dipping into the waters.”—The Signs of the Times, April 7, 1881.
3. THE ASSURANCE OF GOD’S PRESENCE
a. What promise was fulfilled to the consecrated men of God who bore the sacred ark in the face of danger? Isaiah 43:2.
“Four heavenly angels always accompanied the ark of God in all its journeyings, to guard it from all danger, and to fulfill any mission required of them in connection with the ark.”—Spiritual Gifts, vol. 4a, p. 102.
b. What did the Lord promise with regard to the bearing of the ark at the tremendous swelling of the river Jordan? Joshua 3:9–13.
c. What hope does God extend to every burden bearer who faithfully presses forward to “bear the ark” today, spreading the present truth often under difficult and trying circumstances? Psalm 126:4–6.
“There are times when it seems to the servant of God impossible to do the work necessary to be done, because of the lack of means to carry on a strong, solid work. Some are fearful that with the facilities at their command they cannot do all that they feel it their duty to do. But if they advance in faith, the salvation of God will be revealed, and prosperity will attend their efforts. He who has bidden His followers go into all parts of the world will sustain every laborer who in obedience to His command seeks to proclaim His message.
“In the upbuilding of His work the Lord does not always make everything plain before His servants. He sometimes tries the confidence of His people by bringing about circumstances which compel them to move forward in faith. Often He brings them into strait and trying places, and bids them advance when their feet seem to be touching the waters of Jordan. It is at such times, when the prayers of His servants ascend to Him in earnest faith, that God opens the way before them and brings them out into a large place.”—The Acts of the Apostles, p. 357.
4. THE HAND OF GOD AT WORK
a. What amazing result followed when the priests implicitly obeyed the command that God gave through Joshua? Joshua 3:14–17; 4:18.
“The priests obeyed the commands of their leader and went before the people, carrying the ark of the covenant. The Hebrew hosts took up the line of march and followed this symbol of the divine presence. The wide column filed down the bank of Jordan, and, as the feet of the priests were dipped in the brim of the river, the water was cut off from above, and the volume below rolled on, leaving the bed of the stream dry. The priests passed on, bearing the ark of God, and Israel followed in the rear. Halfway over Jordan the priests were commanded to stand still in the channel of the river till all the Hebrew host had crossed over. This was to impress upon their minds more forcibly the fact that the power which stayed the waters of Jordan was the same that enabled their fathers to cross the Red Sea forty years before.
“Many who passed through the Red Sea when they were children, now, by a similar miracle, crossed over Jordan, men of war, equipped for battle. After the host of Israel had all passed over, Joshua commanded the priests to come up out of the river. When they, bearing the ark of the covenant, stood safe upon the farther shore, God removed His mighty hand, and the accumulated waters rushed down, a mighty cataract, in the natural channel of the stream. Jordan rolled on, a resistless flood, overflowing all its banks.”—Testimonies, vol. 4, pp. 157, 158.
b. How and why was this miracle to be kept in memory? How did this affect the surrounding nations? Joshua 4:4–9, 21–24; 5:1.
“Jesus the Son of God, followed by heavenly angels, went before the ark as it came to Jordan, and the waters were cut off before His presence. Christ and angels stood by the ark and the priests in the bed of the river until all Israel had passed over Jordan.”—Spiritual Gifts, vol. 4a, p. 102.
“When the tidings that God had stayed the waters of Jordan before the children of Israel, reached the kings of the Amorites and of the Canaanites, their hearts melted with fear.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 485.
5. ENTERING INTO A NEW EXPERIENCE
a. Why had the practice of circumcision been suspended, and why was it now restored? Joshua 5:2–9.
“The suspension of the rite of circumcision since the rebellion at Kadesh had been a constant witness to Israel that their covenant with God, of which it was the appointed symbol, had been broken. And the discontinuance of the Passover, the memorial of their deliverance from Egypt, 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. Once more God acknowledged Israel as His people, and the sign of the covenant was restored. The rite of circumcision was performed upon all the people who had been born in the wilderness.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 485.
b. What else marked the victorious condition in which the Israelites now found themselves after the miracle at the Jordan? Joshua 5:10–12.
“The Lord had now signally manifested His power and favor by leading His people over Jordan on dry land, and their enemies could no longer reproach them. The manna, which had continued up to this time, now ceased; for as the Israelites were about to possess Canaan, and eat of the fruits of that goodly land, there was no more need of it.”—Testimonies, vol. 4, p. 159.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. How can I be looking to the ark of the covenant today?
2. What is the significance of the priests’ willingness to walk into the Jordan?
3. How can I actually become a bearer of the ark of the covenant today?
4. Why does God sometimes choose to make miracles as He did at the Jordan?
5. Why was the rite of circumcision vital at the entrance to the promised land? What rite is significant to us as we seek the heavenly Canaan? Why?