In the first 9 verses of Joshua we read, “be strong and very courageous” three times, then once again in verse 18! The Lord promises Joshua he will be with him, but reminds him over and over again that this isn’t going to be easy. It’s not easy, but it is wonderful!
As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and courageous…Joshua 1:4
Rahab and the Spies
Joshua sent two spies across the Jordan, especially Jericho, to provide their intelligence assessment and prepare the army for battle. Rahab provides a hiding place for the spies and lets them know that the people are truly afraid of the Israelites. I’ve heard lots of sermons on Rahab, but it’s still hard to understand why these guys sought out a prostitute or somehow knew this was the right thing to do.
Crossing the Jordan
They camped for three days along the Jordan, no need to hurry after 40 years of wandering! God provides another miraculous sign for the crossing of the Jordan:
…as soon as the priests who carried the ark reached the Jordan and their feet touched the water’s edge, the water from upstream stopped flowing. It piled up in a heap a great distance away…so the people crossed over opposite Jericho…The priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord stopped in the middle of the Jordan and stood on dry ground… Joshua 3:15-17
If the people in Jericho were afraid because of the stories they heard, this must be a terrifying sight to see! Last time we heard about the population, the Israelites were some 2 million people strong, plus livestock and possessions. This is not stealthy crossing! This is a mass of humanity walking across a dry riverbed during flood stage. Amazing stuff!!