While not as big a body of water as the Red Sea, the Jordan River was in flood stage and running over the banks (3:15; 4:18). Any river in flood stage was a problem. A miracle occurred when the Israelites crossed through and the waters ‘stood up in mass’ (3:13). Their collective memory I’m sure recalled the deliverance from Egypt.
And just has the passing through the Red Sea was a baptism for the first generation of Exodus Israelites (1 Cor 10:1-4), this generation in a sense was having its own baptism passing through the Jordan.
To stop the water, the Lord instructed the people to take the Ark of the Covenant. The priests were to carry it into the water and as soon as they placed their feet into the water, the waters would stop, allowing the people to cross on dry land.
“Joshua told the people, “Consecrate yourselves because the Lord will do wonders among you tomorow” (1:5).
And that’s exactly what happened. The priests stepped in the water, the water stood up in mass (v. 13), and the ground became dry (v. 17). And the whole Israelite nation crossed over not just into the land, but into the promises of God.
At this point there was no turning back. I can’t imagine God doing a reverse miracle so they could run away from his promises if they became frightened or discouraged.
But they had made it. After a miraculous deliverance out of Egypt, after many miracles of provision in the desert, after 40 years of wandering, they had now arrived.
But there was one thing important, actually two things still left to do…