Crossing the Jordan River

Joshua 3-4

Crossing the Jordan was a huge moment for the nation of Israel. It was the first step to them taking the Promised Land and it happened in a miraculous way! The Lord had them set up a monument so that when times get tough they would remember that God was with them.

Key Verse

“Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead…”

2 Tim 2:8 (NIV)


Lesson

Establishing background

Welcome the kids and remind them how special it is to have each one of them there! Remind them that last week we learnt that Joshua became the new leader of Israel after Moses died.

God gave Joshua a special task to lead the nation of Israel into the Promised Land!

All they had to do was cross the river and they would be in the land of milk and honey, but there were a few problems! Firstly, the river was flooding, so it would be impossible to get across. Secondly, there were enemies living in the land who weren’t going to just going to let the Israelites take the land. Thirdly, the people weren’t sure that Joshua was going to be a good leader. They needed a miracle!

Remembering

Supplies: 3 personal souvenirs/keepsakes

We all know that God can do miracles, right? God can do amazing things, but sometimes we forget. When times are tough it’s sometimes hard to remember that we can trust God. That’s how it was for the people of Israel.

What do we do when we want to remember something that happened?

Well, I have 3 things here that remind me of something that happened in my life:

  • Eg. 1: A pencil that reminds of a trip to Disneyland.
  • Eg. 2: A rock found when hiking up Mt. St. Helens.
  • Eg. 3: A mug that was a gift from a school teacher.

When I look at these things they remind of those special times and those people. Sometimes it helps us to remember when we have something from that time.

Now, the Israelites had a few special things that they kept in a box called the Ark of the Covenant. They had a jar of manna, Aaron’s rod, and the tablets with the ten commandments (Hebrews 9:4). All of those things reminded them of miracles that God had performed and that they could trust God! The Ark was also called the Ark of the presence, which meant that God was with them. Let’s see what happens!

Crossing the Jordan

Props you could use to act out the story with the kids: 2 blue towels, a shoebox ark, 12 stones.

Lay the 2 towels end to end in the middle of the room as the river. Assign one of the kids to be Joshua, a few of the kids to be priests, and some to be representatives from the tribes of Israel.

Act out the story from Joshua 3-4 with the following basic outline:

  • The people get to the river and camp there for 3 nights
  • Joshua instructs the people to follow the Ark when it moves
  • Joshua tells the priests to pick up the Ark and walk head to the river past the people
  • Read Joshua 3:10-13
  • The priests go into the flooded river
  • The water stops flowing and backs up upstream!
  • All the people pass by until everyone is across.

But then God told them to do something interesting (Joshua 4).

  • Choose 12 men
  • They need to each collect a stone from the dry river bed
  • Have them build a monument
  • As soon as the priests came out, the water started flowing again
Remembering God’s goodness

Something that seemed impossible was made possible by God. The Israelites were able to cross the Jordan river, even though it was flooding! The enemies living in the land heard about what God had done and they were afraid of the Israelites! The Israelites now knew that they could trust Joshua as a leader.

When God does something amazing it’s good to remember it because it helps us know that we can trust God. Did you know that God has done something just as amazing for each one of us that we are told to remember. The Bible says in 2 Timothy to “Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead”. When Jesus rose from the dead he made a way for us to also receive new life!

After Jesus rose again he gave us his Holy Spirit to be with us. We don’t have to have an Ark anymore for God’s presence because God is with us and in us! One of the ways that Jesus said we can remember what he has done is to take communion, which is a symbol of the body and blood of Jesus.

Prayer: Thank God that he is able to do amazing things. Thank him for his Son Jesus and for the amazing miracle that he has given each of us. Pray for wisdom and courage for the children as they seek to follow God.


Review Questions

  • Why couldn’t the people easily cross the Jordan river?
  • What did God tell the priests to do?
  • What did God tell the people to do?
  • What happened when they got to the other side?
  • How can we remember the good things that God has done for us?