Joy at the Jordan

  "They went through the river on foot. There we will rejoice in Him" (Psalm 66:6)

These lessons center on joyous Bible events that occurred at the Jordan River.



Lesson 1: The Israelite Cross the Jordan

Text: Joshua 1-4

Lesson Objective: To teach the joy of receiving God's promises and the importance of remembering what He has done for us.

Teaching Approach: When teaching the first few chapters of Joshua, we often focus on Rahab hiding the spies and the fall of Jericho.  In this lesson, we would like to draw more attention to "the rest of the story" -- the Israelites crossing the Jordan to enter the Promised Land. 

Suggestions for Visuals -- 12 rocks to build a memorial.  Pictures or a model of the Jordan River.

INTRO: Long ago, God promised Abraham that his descendents would become a nation and would be given the Land of Canaan (Genesis 12:1-3, 7).  This promise was repeated to Abraham and his descendents for hundreds of years (Genesis 13:15; 17:8; 26:1-3; 28:13;  Exodus 6:1-8).  During the latter part of this time period, the Israelites had become slaves in Egypt.  God's purpose in sending Moses to free the Israelites was to give them their own land in which they would find rest from the cruel burden of slavery (Exodus 3:7-10). As we come to Joshua 1, Moses has just died, and it is left to Joshua to actually lead Israel into the Land that God had been promising them for so long.


The Israelites readied to enter the Promised Land. 

Even though God had given Israel the land, the Israelites still had to prepare and work to actually take possession of it.


The Israelites crossed over Jordan into the Land that God had promised.

The Israelites remembered what God had done for them.

Conclusion:  As Christians, God has granted to us "exceeding great and precious promises," enabling us to escape from the evils of this world and be conformed to the image of Christ (2 Peter 1:4).  The joy of receiving and remembering God's promises should fill the lives of Christians. "Bless the LORD, O my soul, And forget not all His benefits." (Psalm 103:2)



Lesson 2: Elijah is Caught up into Heaven

Text: 2 Kings 2

Lesson Objective: To teach the students about the precious bonds that form between those who work together in the Lord's cause, the joy of going to be with the Lord when one's work is done, and the importance of continuing the Lord's work when others have gone on.

Teaching Approach: Although the central event in this lesson is Elijah's ascension, the focus is on Elisha.  Key points to emphasize are Elisha's commitment to following his master, his confidence in his master's eternal destiny, and his acceptance of the responsibility to carry on Elijah's work.

Suggestions for Visuals:  A cloak or "mantle."  A picture or model of a chariot.

Introduction:  Elijah was truly a great prophet of the Old Testament.  God accomplished many tremendous things through this man of faith. You might recall Elijah's prayer that it not rain for over three years, or how he brought a widows' son back to life, or how God gave him the victory over the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel.  (1 Kings 17-18; James 5:17-18).  Not long after the victory on Mount Carmel, God instructed Elijah to appoint his successor (1 Kings 19:15-17)


Elisha's dedication to Elijah -- 2 Kings 2:1-6


Elijah's glorious end


Elisha takes up Elijah's mantle

Conclusion:  The youth of today are challenged to dedicate themselves to serving the Lord.  Like Elisha, they should respect those who are older in the faith while at the same time determining to work even harder than they did in the


Lesson 3: The Cleansing of Naaman

Text: 2 Kings 5

Lesson Objective: To instill in each student that joy results from obedience to God's will, not from doing things our own way.

Suggestions for Visuals --  A map of Israel & Syria during the time of Elisha.  Pictures of the effects of leprosy.

Introduction: Elisha performed many miracles that benefited the people of Israel and demonstrated the power of God's word.  On one occasion, he provided oil for a widow so that she might sell it and use the proceeds to keep her sons from being sold into slavery (2 Kings 4:1-7).  By Elisha's word, a woman who had no son, and whose husband was old, conceived and bore a son.  Later, when the son died, Elisha brought him back to life (2 Kings 4:8-37).  On other occasions he healed a pot of poisonous stew (2 Kings 4:38-41) and fed 100 men with the contents of a knapsack (2 Kings 2:42-44).  Elisha's renown as a prophet of God, and Israel's longstanding border war with neighboring Syria (cf. 1 Kings 20:1; 22:1), serve as a backdrop to the events of 2 Kings 5.


Naaman the Leper Learns of a Cure (2 Kings 5:1-3)


Naaman seeks a cure to the wrong Person (2 Kings 5:5-8)


Naaman rejects the cure (2 Kings 5:9-12)


Naaman accepts the cure (2 Kings 5:13-14)


Naaman's gratitude (2 Kings 5:15)

NOTE: If time permits at the end of this lesson, discuss Gehazi's covetous actions (2 Kings 5:20-27), and note that efforts like Gehazi's to get around complying with the will of the Master will not meet with ultimate success.

Conclusion:  Anytime God tells us to do something in order to receive a blessing from His hand, we must completely comply in order to receive the blessing.  This fact is very clearly illustrated in the story of Naaman. Just as Naaman was told to "Go and wash in the Jordan seven times and your flesh shall be restored" we are told that "he who believes and is baptized shall be saved."  We must believe and be baptized to receive salvation.


Lesson 4: John's Baptism of Repentance

Texts: Matthew 3:1-10; Luke 3:1-18

Lesson Objective: To teach the students of the joy that comes from truly repenting of sins.

Teaching Approach: This lesson should show that John's work of preparing the way for the Messiah involved encouraging people to make real changes in their lives.  The student should come away from the lesson understanding that repentance is a change of mind which results from godly sorrow and results in changed behavior

Suggestions for Visuals: Pictures or flannel graph depicting John the Baptist.

Introduction:  The prophets of the Old Testament spoke of the coming of one who would prepare the way for the Christ (Isaiah 4:5-6).  He would come in the spirit of Elijah and change the hearts of men (Malachi 4:5-6; Matthew 11:10-14).  Jesus said that, " among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist" and that he was indeed "Elijah who is to come" (Matthew 11:11, 14).  The life and work of this great man are certainly worthy of study.  His preaching marks the inception of the preaching of the gospel and the message of the kingdom of heaven (Luke 16:16; Mark 1:1-3).   The main point of his preaching is a vital message still today: "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."

John, the prophet and preacher.


John's Baptism of Repentance. 


Repentance as John Preached it (Luke 3:7-14; 2 Corinthians 7:8-10)

Conclusion: The joy of repentance cannot be experienced without first experiencing sorrow for sin.  Even though rebuke and godly sorrow may be unpleasant to experience, the repentance that results brings joy.  The joy of repentance is a joy that comes from correcting past mistakes, being forgiven of them, and determining to do better in the future.  In the end, repentance is truly a "feel good" experience.  "Weeping may endure for a night, But joy comes in the morning" (Psalm 30:5).


Lesson 5: The Baptism of Jesus

Texts: Matthew 3:11-17; John 1:19-34

Lesson Objective: To teach the joy of knowing God's only begotten Son, and the importance of following His example.

Teaching Approach: Several different lessons can be derived from this text and taught in conjunction with the main lesson objective.  The fact that Jesus pleased His Father opens the door for teaching younger children to please their parents.  The fact that Jesus was baptized even though He did not need to repent illustrates the importance of simply doing the right thing.  His baptism also serves to some degree as an example for those who would follow in His steps. The heavenly declaration of Jesus' identity provides strong evidence for believing in and obeying Jesus.  Other lessons, such as the humility exemplified by John the Baptist or the fact that all three Persons of the Godhead are present at Jesus baptism, may also be worthy of note.

Suggestions for Visuals: Pictures or flannel graph of Jesus' baptism, a dove, etc.

Introduction: As we studied in Lesson 4, part of the mission of John the Baptist was to prepare the way for the Christ and testify concerning His identity.  Although John continued his work for a short time after baptizing Jesus (cf. John 1:33; Mark 6:14-23), Jesus' baptism is surely the glorious culmination of John's ministry.

Jesus and John 


Jesus comes to be Baptized


The Heavenly Testimony

Conclusion:  Since Jesus is truly God's Son, we are obligated to follow and obey Him (Matthew 17:5).   Just as Jesus submitted to baptism as commanded by the prophet John, no one today can be a follower of Jesus who does not submit to the baptism that He commands (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38).



(VBS Theme Songs)
On Jordan's Banks Rejoicing I Stand

On Jordan's banks rejoicing I stand
And cast a wishful eye.
To Canaan's fair and happy land
Where my possessions lie.

On Jordan's banks rejoicing I stand
And look up to the sky
And see by faith Elijah rise
To his sweet home on high.

On Jordan's banks rejoicing I stand
And see the leper cleansed,
And learn that I too must obey
For cleansing from my sins!

On Jordan's banks rejoicing I stand
And hear the Baptist's cry,
"Repent, and bring forth worthy fruits,
The kingdom draweth nigh!"

On Jordan's banks rejoicing I stand
And see my Lord baptized.
God's Son obeyed His Father's word
And so, and so must I.


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