Last week, when we looked at chapter 3 and the crossing itself, we saw that the most important element in that crossing is the emphasis found there upon the ark of the covenant. The ark symbolized the presence of God. It has not been mentioned in Joshua until now, but suddenly in these chapters connected with the crossing of the Jordan, it is mentioned many times. The ark symbolized the presence of God, and as the people crossed the river, they did so with the ark going before them. In other words, God went before them. There wasn't any use crossing that river, trying to bring about the conquest of the land, unless God went first and delivered the land into their hands.

Alfred Lord Tennyson was the poet laureate of England in his lifetime. And on one occasion, he had the duty that poet-laureates have of writing a poem for a state occasion.  

I think of something else that concerns this story, though it comes later in Israel's history and you would think at first reading it had no relevance at all. You recall that in II Kings, right at the beginning, there’s a transition of authority between Elijah to Elisha, the one who was going to succeed him. Elisha was presumably a younger man than Elijah. Elijah, with Elisha following along beside, were led by God out into the desert. And they came to the Jordan River, this very Jordan that the people had crossed in our study. And after Elijah rolled up his cloak, he struck the water with it, and the water parted. Elijah then walked across on dry ground. He kept saying to Elisha, “Stay behind. The Lord’s calling me." And Elisha wouldn't do it because he knew what was coming. So Elisha kept following. Well finally they got out in a very remote area, and suddenly there were chariots of fire that swept down from heaven and carried Elijah up into heaven, leaving Elisha behind. Then the cloak of Elijah fell, and Elisha understood that it was thepassing of authority to him and that he was now to be the prophet in Israel. And he picked it up and he made his way back out of the desert. As he came to the Jordan, he rolled up the cloak of Elijah and he struck the water as Elijah had done. And he said, "Where now is the Lord, the God of Elijah?" And the same God, the God of Elijah, who was also his God, parted the water. And he went across on dry ground, as Elijah had. 
The third thing that was kept before the eyes of the people was His justice. This God was a God of judgment. You see, the picture of that ark with God symbolically dwelling between the wings of the cherubim over the ark, which contained the law of God, is a picture of judgment because here is portrayed as the holy God and righteous God, staring down upon the law, the expression of His moral character which every single human being has violated. That picture is a picture of judgment. It's meant to strike terror into the hearts of sinful men and women. God’s standard of justice does not change; and God judges, and will judge all things in the end. The Judge of all the universe must do right. And that means that the God of all the universe cannot overlook sin. We see plenty of violations of His holy law now, and there is a sense in which there is retribution in life. Certain sins produce certain consequences. But it doesn't exhaust the justice of God. And the day is coming when men and women will stand before Him as we know in our hearts we one day will. And that God will pronounce judgment. 
The second lesson is that the God who goes before us is the same God who has gone before His people at all times. That, too, was symbolized by the ark. He is the God of the exodus who had brought judgment upon the Egyptians, and who had parted the Red Sea, and who had led the people out with a strong hand. This was the same powerful, sovereign God now who was leading them into the Promised Land, just as He had led them out of Egypt. And the symbolism was clear: just as God had parted the waters of the Red Sea to lead them out of Egypt, so God parted the waters of the Jordan in order to lead them into the Promised Land. Moses was the channel through whom God did that first miracle. And now Joshua is the channel through whom God works again. But the point is that it is not Moses or Joshua who are important, but God Himself, who is the same yesterday, today, and forever. The God of Moses is the God of Joshua, and the God of Joshua is our God, too.