“And the priests that bare the ark of the covenant of the Lord stood firm on dry ground in the midst of Jordan, and all the Israelites passed over on dry ground, until all the people were passed clean over Jordan.” (Joshua 3:17)
Before I continue, please remember that the Bible is the ultimate written authority. No other writing, book, scientific article, religious documents, news articles or anything else supersedes biblical authority. Many scholars, philosophers and theologians choose to place their perspective over the Word of God. Unfortunately for them, each time a scientist, philosopher, theist, polytheist or otherwise tries to contradict God’s Word, they are inevitably proven wrong and the Bible stands as the accurate and unquestionable truth.
According to God, as written in the Bible, great bodies of water were parted to allow the entire nation of Israel walk across, not wade across, as some scholars have suggested, but walk across on dry land – over 1 million adults plus their children, belongings and livestock walking across on dry land. The first episode occurred at the Red Sea when the people were heading out of Egypt and heading toward the Promised Land. The second is contained in our verse for today. God spoke to Joshua and instructed him to send out the Levite priests with the Ark of the Covenant. As their feet touched the water the Jordan River’s water piled up in a heap and the river bed dried up and then the people of Israel crossed over into Canaan, near the towns of Adam and Zaretan. Scholars say that it was probably a land slide that blocked the river (which has happened), but that doesn’t explain the people of Israel watching the waters part and heap up like a wall or explain them walking across on dry land.
The other 2 episodes of the Jordan being held back by God so that someone could walk across on dry land, concern the prophets Elijah and his successor and apprentice Elisha in 2 Kings 2:8 and 2:14, “And Elijah took his mantle, and wrapped it together, and smote the waters, and they were divided hither and thither, so that they two [Elijah & Elisha] went over on dry ground.” Then after God took Elijah alive into Heaven, “And he [Elisha] took the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and smote the waters, and said, Where is the Lord God of Elijah? and when he also had smitten the waters, they parted hither and thither: and Elisha went over.” These episodes in history are written as history and are to be interpreted as history, not allegory or miracles to be explained away by “modern science”. They were true historically accurate accounts of real events. They were amazing acts of God to show his omnipotence. Another reason was to entice the people to respect these men of God. “And the Lord said unto Joshua, This day will I begin to magnify thee in the sight of all Israel, that they may know that, as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee.” (Joshua 3:7)
The Bible is true and accurate and our God is a God of true miracles that both magnify Him and those that follow Him.