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Chinese8/6/2005English
經文:約書亞記三至四章
鑰節:「耶和華……使約旦河的水乾了……要使地上萬民都知道耶和華的手大有能力,也要使你們永遠敬畏耶和華你們的上帝。」(4:23上~24)
提要

        以色列人期待已久的夢想即將實現。這表明上帝信守祂對以色列人先祖的應許,也表現出祂的大能,因祂奇蹟式的帶他們過約旦河,進入應許之地。此舉大大增強以色列人的信心,也使迦南的居民心生畏懼。拜偶像的異教徒怎敢與如此大能的上帝對抗;祂甚至能在他們神祇的「地盤」上行神蹟。迦南人將會瞭解到,以色列的上帝擁有迦南地的所有權,並且他們所拜的神沒有辦法阻擋祂或祂的百姓。

        探子的報告再次向約書亞保證上帝已經在動工(2:24),現在,他和以色列人百姓要跨出信心的一大步,四十年前,他們的上一代就敗在這一步。一大早,約書亞命令他們收拾營帳,到漲溢的約旦河岸。他可能並不知道這麼一大群百姓要如何渡河,不過他相信上帝會行神蹟,也會與他們同在;所以他吩咐以色列人自潔(3:5)。他們需要在外在的儀節和最重要的內心的態度上都潔淨自己。他們要打的是一場聖戰,所以屬靈的預備是十分必要的。的確,在上帝的百姓能跨出信心步伐和朝上帝引導的方向行進之前,他們必須先有屬靈的預備。

        以色列人一紮營在約旦河邊,上帝就向約書亞啟示祂神聖的計畫。上帝向他解釋,這個神蹟會使他在全以色列人面前得尊榮,確立他的領導地位,「使他們知道,我(上帝)怎樣與摩西同在,也必照樣與你同在」(3:7;在4:14應驗了)。約書亞於是向百姓陳明上帝的計畫,使百姓知道,上帝真的對他說話了。當這個奇蹟果真照著約書亞所說的發生時,所有的百姓都敬畏約書亞,就像他們敬畏摩西一樣,應驗了上帝對約書亞的應許(4:14)。

        代表上帝同在的約櫃由祭司扛抬,走在以色列民前頭。在上帝斷阻約旦河水以前,祭司必須先將腳踏入洶湧的河水中,以表明他們的信心。而上帝就立刻奇蹟也似的使河水從北邊約廿五公里處的亞當城立起成壘。約旦河北從亞當城,南到死海,都成了一片乾地,形成一條寬約卅五公里的礫石路,使為數眾多的以色列民能輕易又快速的過河,同時祭司還抬著約櫃站在河中間。他們一直站到所有以色列人都過了河,以及十二顆紀念石立好為止。

        以色列人還從約旦河中另取了十二顆石頭,以相同的意義(向他們的後代子孫證明上帝的奇妙大能)立在他們的新營地──約旦河西的吉甲,約在耶利哥東北方四又二分之一公里處。上帝要他們立紀念石的理由是要使以色列人敬畏祂,也使地上萬民知道耶和華的手大有能力(鑰節,4:24)。上帝要使救恩普及全世界,也渴望看見所有的人都能相信祂,像喇合一樣,聲稱:「耶和華你們的上帝,本是上天下地的上帝」(2:11)。

禱告

        主啊,我們知道您的手有大能力,我們也永遠敬畏您。幫助我們在今天能告訴別人,您是上天下地的上帝。奉主耶穌聖名,阿們!

English

Scriptures:Joshua 3 & 4
Key Verse:“…. God dried up the waters of the Jordan… that all the peoples of the earth may know the hand of the Lord, that it is mighty, that you may fear the Lord your God forever.
Overview

        Israel’s long-awaiting dream was about to be fulfilled. This would show the faithfulness of God to the promises He made their forefathers, and it would also show His faithfulness and mighty power as He miraculously brought them over the Jordan River into the Promised Land. This would have tremendously strengthened Israel’s faith and also would have brought terror upon the inhabitants of the land. How could the idolatrous heathens hope to stand against a God who had such great power and even performed miracles in the land where their gods were supposed to reign? They would understand that the God of Israel had laid a just claim upon the land and their gods could do nothing to stop Him nor His people.

        The spies’ report reassured Joshua that God was already at work (2:24), now he and the people were to take a great step of faith; a step in which Israel had miserably failed forty years earlier. Early in the morning, Joshua commanded that they move camp and lodge beside the banks of the flooded Jordan River (3:1). He possibly did not know exactly how the great multitude of people was to cross, yet he believed God would do wonders and His presence would be with them; therefore, He ordered that all Israel sanctify themselves (3:5). They needed to consecrate themselves to God with both the outward ceremonial purification and the very important inward devotion to God. Because they were embarking on a holy war, spiritual preparation was necessary. Indeed, before God’s people can take a step of faith and move in the direction He is leading, they must be spiritually prepared.

        Once Israel was encamped beside the Jordan, the Lord revealed to Joshua His divine plan. God explained to him that the miracle would magnify him in the sight of all Israel, thus validating his leadership, saying: “that they may know that, as I was with Moses, so I will be with you” (3:7; fulfilled in 4:14). Joshua, then, could relate God’s plan to the people so they would know that God had truly spoken to him. When the miracle did happen just as Joshua had told them, all the people respected him, just as they had Moses, thus fulfilling God’s promise to him (4:14).

        The Ark of the Covenant, representing God’s presence, was carried by priests ahead of the Israelites. Before God would dry up the Jordan, the priest’s had to show faith by first “getting their feet wet” in the rushing floodwaters. Immediately, God miraculously heaped up the water about twenty-five kilometers north at the city of Adam. The river became dried up as far south as the Dead Sea, leaving s stretch of about thirty-five kilometers where the multitude of Israelites could easily and hurriedly cross over the pebbly riverbed while the priests stood bearing the Holy Ark in the midst of it. There they remained until all had crossed over, and the twelve stones were erected where they were standing as a monument, testifying to their future generations of God’s miraculous power.

        Another twelve stones, also taken from the midst of the Jordan and having the same significance, were erected at their new place of encampment, west of the Jordan at Gilgal, about four and a half kilometers north east of Jericho. The reason God gave for the erection of these monuments was that all Israel would hear Him and that the whole earth would know His mighty hand (key verse, 4:24). God is interested in the salvation of the whole world and longs to see all men and women come to believe and exclaim like Rahab, “the Lord your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath” (2:11).

Prayer

        Lord, we know that Your hand is mighty and we fear You forever. Help us to tell others today that You are God in Heaven above and on earth below. Amen.


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