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First Reading: Joshua Chapter 3 and 4

Joshua 3

3:1 Early in the morning Joshua and all the Israelites set out from Shittim and went to the Jordan, where they camped before crossing over. 2 After three days the officers went throughout the camp, 3 giving orders to the people: "When you see the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, and the priests, who are Levites, carrying it, you are to move out from your positions and follow it. 4 Then you will know which way to go, since you have never been this way before. But keep a distance of about a thousand yards between you and the ark; do not go near it."
5 Joshua told the people, "Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do amazing things among you."
6 Joshua said to the priests, "Take up the ark of the covenant and pass on ahead of the people." So they took it up and went ahead of them.
7 And the LORD said to Joshua, "Today I will begin to exalt you in the eyes of all Israel, so they may know that I am with you as I was with Moses. 8 Tell the priests who carry the ark of the covenant: 'When you reach the edge of the Jordan's waters, go and stand in the river.'"
9 Joshua said to the Israelites, "Come here and listen to the words of the LORD your God. 10 This is how you will know that the living God is among you and that he will certainly drive out before you the Canaanites, Hittites, Hivites, Perizzites, Girgashites, Amorites and Jebusites. 11 See, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth will go into the Jordan ahead of you. 12 Now then, choose twelve men from the tribes of Israel, one from each tribe. 13 And as soon as the priests who carry the ark of the LORD-the Lord of all the earth-set foot in the Jordan, its waters flowing downstream will be cut off and stand up in a heap."
14 So when the people broke camp to cross the Jordan, the priests carrying the ark of the covenant went ahead of them. 15 Now the Jordan is at flood stage all during harvest. Yet as soon as the priests who carried the ark reached the Jordan and their feet touched the water's edge, 16 the water from upstream stopped flowing. It piled up in a heap a great distance away, at a town called Adam in the vicinity of Zarethan, while the water flowing down to the Sea of the Arabah (the Salt Sea) was completely cut off. So the people crossed over opposite Jericho. 17 The priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the LORD stood firm on dry ground in the middle of the Jordan, while all Israel passed by until the whole nation had completed the crossing on dry ground.

Joshua 4

4:1 When the whole nation had finished crossing the Jordan, the LORD said to Joshua, 2 "Choose twelve men from among the people, one from each tribe, 3 and tell them to take up twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan from right where the priests stood and to carry them over with you and put them down at the place where you stay tonight."
4 So Joshua called together the twelve men he had appointed from the Israelites, one from each tribe, 5 and said to them, "Go over before the ark of the LORD your God into the middle of the Jordan. Each of you is to take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the Israelites, 6 to serve as a sign among you. In the future, when your children ask you, 'What do these stones mean?' 7 tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever."
8 So the Israelites did as Joshua commanded them. They took twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan, according to the number of the tribes of the Israelites, as the LORD had told Joshua; and they carried them over with them to their camp, where they put them down. 9 Joshua set up the twelve stones that had been in the middle of the Jordan at the spot where the priests who carried the ark of the covenant had stood. And they are there to this day.
10 Now the priests who carried the ark remained standing in the middle of the Jordan until everything the LORD had commanded Joshua was done by the people, just as Moses had directed Joshua. The people hurried over, 11 and as soon as all of them had crossed, the ark of the LORD and the priests came to the other side while the people watched. 12 The men of Reuben, Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh crossed over, armed, in front of the Israelites, as Moses had directed them. 13 About forty thousand armed for battle crossed over before the LORD to the plains of Jericho for war.
14 That day the LORD exalted Joshua in the sight of all Israel; and they revered him all the days of his life, just as they had revered Moses.
15 Then the LORD said to Joshua, 16 "Command the priests carrying the ark of the Testimony to come up out of the Jordan."
17 So Joshua commanded the priests, "Come up out of the Jordan."
18 And the priests came up out of the river carrying the ark of the covenant of the LORD. No sooner had they set their feet on the dry ground than the waters of the Jordan returned to their place and ran at flood stage as before.
19 On the tenth day of the first month the people went up from the Jordan and camped at Gilgal on the eastern border of Jericho. 20 And Joshua set up at Gilgal the twelve stones they had taken out of the Jordan. 21 He said to the Israelites, "In the future when your descendants ask their fathers, 'What do these stones mean?' 22 tell them, 'Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground.' 23 For the LORD your God dried up the Jordan before you until you had crossed over. The LORD your God did to the Jordan just what he had done to the Red Sea when he dried it up before us until we had crossed over. 24 He did this so that all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the LORD is powerful and so that you might always fear the LORD your God."

Second Reading: Psalms Chapter 40 and 41

Psalms 40

40:1 For the director of music. Of David. A psalm.

I waited patiently for the LORD;he turned to me and heard my cry. 2 He lifted me out of the slimy pit,out of the mud and mire;he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. 3 He put a new song in my mouth,a hymn of praise to our God.Many will see and fear and put their trust in the LORD.
4 Blessed is the man who makes the LORD his trust,who does not look to the proud,to those who turn aside to false gods. 5 Many, O LORD my God,are the wonders you have done.The things you planned for us no one can recount to you;were I to speak and tell of them,they would be too many to declare.
6 Sacrifice and offering you did not desire,but my ears you have pierced ;burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not require. 7 Then I said, "Here I am, I have come — it is written about me in the scroll. 8 I desire to do your will, O my God;your law is within my heart."
9 I proclaim righteousness in the great assembly;I do not seal my lips,as you know, O LORD. 10 I do not hide your righteousness in my heart;I speak of your faithfulness and salvation.I do not conceal your love and your truth from the great assembly.
11 Do not withhold your mercy from me, O LORD;may your love and your truth always protect me. 12 For troubles without number surround me;my sins have overtaken me, and I cannot see.They are more than the hairs of my head,and my heart fails within me.
13 Be pleased, O LORD, to save me;O LORD, come quickly to help me. 14 May all who seek to take my life be put to shame and confusion;may all who desire my ruin be turned back in disgrace. 15 May those who say to me, "Aha! Aha!"be appalled at their own shame. 16 But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you;may those who love your salvation always say,"The LORD be exalted!"
17 Yet I am poor and needy;may the Lord think of me.You are my help and my deliverer;O my God, do not delay.

Psalms 41

41:1 For the director of music. A psalm of David.

Blessed is he who has regard for the weak;the LORD delivers him in times of trouble. 2 The LORD will protect him and preserve his life;he will bless him in the land and not surrender him to the desire of his foes. 3 The LORD will sustain him on his sickbed and restore him from his bed of illness.
4 I said, "O LORD, have mercy on me;heal me, for I have sinned against you." 5 My enemies say of me in malice,"When will he die and his name perish?" 6 Whenever one comes to see me,he speaks falsely, while his heart gathers slander;then he goes out and spreads it abroad.
7 All my enemies whisper together against me;they imagine the worst for me, saying, 8 "A vile disease has beset him;he will never get up from the place where he lies." 9 Even my close friend, whom I trusted,he who shared my bread,has lifted up his heel against me.
10 But you, O LORD, have mercy on me;raise me up, that I may repay them. 11 I know that you are pleased with me,for my enemy does not triumph over me. 12 In my integrity you uphold me and set me in your presence forever.
13 Praise be to the LORD, the God of Israel,from everlasting to everlasting.Amen and Amen.

Bible Background



Part 2 of 2

The book of Joshua can be outlined as follows:

  1. God's Commission to Joshua - Chapter 1
  2. Spies are sent into the land and Rahab the Canaanite hides them - Chapter 2
  3. The Israelites cross the Jordan and observe the Passover - Chapters 3-5
  4. The walls of Jericho fall and Israel conquors the city - Chapter 6
  5. Continued conquest of the land - Chapters 7-12
  6. The Promised land is divided by tribes - Chapters 13-22
  7. Joshua exhorts the people and renews the covenant - Chapters 23-24
  8. The death of Joshua - Chapter 24


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