The Story of Patriarchs and Prophets
by Ellen G. White
Chapter 44: Crossing the Jordan
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The Israelites deeply mourned for their departed leader, and
thirty days were devoted to special services in honor of his
memory. Never till he was taken from them had they so fully
realized the value of his wise counsels, his parental tenderness,
and his unswerving faith. With a new and deeper appreciation
they recalled the precious lessons he had given while still with
Moses was dead, but his influence did not die with him. It
was to live on, reproducing itself in the hearts of his people.
The memory of that holy, unselfish life would long be cherished,
with silent, persuasive power molding the lives even of those
who had neglected his living words. As the glow of the descending
sun lights up the mountain peaks long after the sun itself has
sunk behind the hills, so the works of the pure, the holy, and the
good shed light upon the world long after the actors themselves
have passed away. Their works, their words, their example, will
forever live. "The righteous shall be in everlasting remembrance."
While they were filled with grief at their great loss, the
people knew that they were not left alone. The pillar of cloud rested
over the tabernacle by day, and the pillar of fire by night, an
assurance that God would still be their guide and helper if they
would walk in the way of His commandments.
Joshua was now the acknowledged leader of Israel. He had
been known chiefly as a warrior, and his gifts and virtues were
especially valuable at this stage in the history of his people.
Courageous, resolute, and persevering, prompt, incorruptible,
unmindful of selfish interests in his care for those committed to
his charge, and, above all, inspired by a living faith in God—
such was the character of the man divinely chosen to conduct
the armies of Israel in their entrance upon the Promised Land.
During the sojourn in the wilderness he had acted as prime minister [p. 482] to Moses, and by his quiet, unpretending fidelity, his
steadfastness when others wavered, his firmness to maintain the truth
in the midst of danger, he had given evidence of his fitness to
succeed Moses, even before he was called to the position by the
voice of God.
It was with great anxiety and self-distrust that Joshua had
looked forward to the work before him; but his fears were
removed by the assurance of God, "As I was with Moses, so I will
be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee. . . . Unto
this people shalt thou divide for an inheritance the land, which
I sware unto their fathers to give them." "Every place that the
sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you, as
I said unto Moses." To the heights of Lebanon in the far
distance, to the shores of the Great Sea, and away to the banks of
the Euphrates in the east—all was to be theirs.
To this promise was added the injunction, "Only be thou
strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do
according to all the law, which Moses My servant commanded."
The Lord's direction was, "This book of the law shall not
depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and
night;" "turn not from it to the right hand or to the left;" "for
then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt
have good success."
The Israelites were still encamped on the east side of Jordan,
which presented the first barrier to the occupation of Canaan.
"Arise," had been the first message of God to Joshua, "go over
this Jordan, thou, and all this people, unto the land which I do
give to them." No instruction was given as to the way in which
they were to make the passage. Joshua knew, however, that whatever
God should command, He would make a way for His people
to perform, and in this faith the intrepid leader at once began
his arrangements for an advance.
A few miles beyond the river, just opposite the place where
the Israelites were encamped, was the large and strongly fortified
city of Jericho. This city was virtually the key to the whole
country, and it would present a formidable obstacle to the
success of Israel. Joshua therefore sent two young men as spies to
visit this city and ascertain something as to its population, its
resources, and the strength of its fortifications. The inhabitants
of the city, terrified and suspicious, were constantly on the alert, [p. 483] and the messengers were in great danger. They were, however,
preserved by Rahab, a woman of Jericho, at the peril of her own
life. In return for her kindness they gave her a promise of protection
when the city should be taken.
The spies returned in safety 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."
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. All heartily acquiesced
in the plans of their leader and assured him of their
confidence and support: "All that thou commandest us we will do,
and whithersoever thou sendest us, we will go. According as we
hearkened unto Moses in all things, so will we hearken unto
thee: only the Lord thy God be with thee, as He was with
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