God was about to part the Jordan for the people of Israel, and “hereby” they could know He’d defeat the giants for them as well. Their fathers saw Him part the Red Sea, but the Jews were like us and needed constant reminders of God’s love and care for them. We find those reminders in Romans 5:8!
But how could Joshua say God would “without fail” conquer the giants, when He usually said, “If you obey, I’ll conquer your enemies”? It was because going into Canaan was a type of going into the kingdom, when God will “cause” His people to obey Him (Ezek.36:27), like He did at Pentecost (Acts 2:4) when they couldn’t sin (IJo.3:9). That’s how God will without fail give them the kingdom, by making them obey Him, so He could bless them with the kingdom. And that’s how Joshua could say God wouldn’t fail to give them the land despite the giants in this type of entering the kingdom.
Last week we saw that the ark was a type of Christ. So when it leads the Jews across Jordan into Canaan, that typifies how Christ will lead the Jews across it again into the kingdom (Isa.11:15,16). It doesn’t say Christ will lead them, but we know He will by this type. Some things can only be known by the types. Only the type of Noah said Christ would rise from the dead “on the third day” (Mt.12:40cf.ICor.15:3,4).
Just as the parting of Jordan assured the Jews that God would conquer the giants, it will assure Tribulation Jews that God will conquer Antichrist and his armies at Armageddon (Isa. 50:2). But verse 2 is the Father talking to His Son on the cross (Isa.50:3 cf. Mt.27:35,45; Isa.50:6 cf. Mt.27:63,64). So Isaiah 50:2 is God assuring Christ He’d deliver Him from the unseen demons that surrounded Him on the cross (Ps.22: 12,16) by raising Him from the dead. Since He did, that will encourage Tribulation Jews that He’ll deliver them as well.
The ark represented the Lord, so the 12 men of Joshua 3:12
represented His apostles, who will rise from the dead to help Him lead Israel across the Jordan. The priests’ feet were resting (3:13), but their arms were working, holding the ark. That symbolizes how salvation worked when it was by faith plus works like bringing a sacrifice, etc. If men did the work of baptism, they could rest in the assurance they were saved (Acts 2:38; Heb.10:22). In the Tribulation, if saints work to feed those who can’t buy food without the mark, they can rest in the knowledge they’re saved (IJo.3:17-19).
The Jews treasured the ark, but will forget it (Jer.3:16) when the One the ark typified sits on Jerusalem’s throne (v.17). Christians today should forget the type of baptism now that we have the cleansing in Christ it typified, and the type of the sabbath now that we have the rest in Christ it typified.
The Jordan stood in in flood stage (Josh.3:15), a type of the Antichrist (Isa.59:19), who will also stand in Israel’s way be-fore Christ returns (v.20). The “standard” God will raise against him will be the battle flag of the saints (Num.10:9,14, 18 cf. Ps.149,6,7,9), who won’t fear the beast (Is.43:1,2).
The “harvest” (Josh.3:15) typifies the harvest of unsaved men at Armageddon (Joel3:9-13cf.Rev.14:14-20). That harvesting of lost people into the fire of hell will be followed by the harvest of saved people into the “barn” of the kingdom (Mt.13:24-30). The Lord said the world was ripe for this 2,000 years ago (John 4:34,35) when He looked around and saw saved Jews ready to believe, and even more unsaved Jews and Gentiles ready to be harvested into the fires of hell.
The priests carrying the ark stopped in the middle of Jordan (Josh.3:17), holding back the wrath of that raging overflowing river. That’s a type of something Job could only wish for, a “daysman” who could stand between him and God and mediate their differences (Job 9:33). That makes the ark they carried a type of Christ, who stood between us and God, holding back His wrath on our sins by dying for our sins.
A video of this sermon is available on YouTube: “The crossing of the Jordan” Joshua 3:9-17