“…and they commanded the people, saying, “When you see the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, and the priests, the Levites, bearing it, then you shall set out from your place and go after it. Yet there shall be a space between you and it, about two thousand cubits by measure. Do not come near it, that you may know the way by which you must go, for you have not passed this way before.” And Joshua said to the people, “Sanctify yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do wonders among you.”
-(Joshua 3:3-5 NKJV, emphasis added)-
Joshua and the people of Israel were about to cross over the Jordan River into the land promised to them by God through Abraham. The people had been delivered from over four hundred years of slavery to the Egyptians by God’s deliverer, Moses. Over two million people spent the next forty years wandering in the wilderness because of their disobedience. Throughout that time, God provided and protected the Israelite nation. Now, Joshua followed Moses as the leader of the nation and began to instruct and prepare the people to go forward and possess their promised inheritance, Canaan.
The people were told that life as they knew it was about to change! They were about to enter into a “new normal.” Joshua commanded the people to prepare themselves because they were about to encounter things that they had never before experienced. They did not know the direction that they should take because had never come this way before! The instructions were to reverently and respectfully follow the LORD, by following the Ark of the Covenant, (which symbolized the presence of God), at a distance. They were to sanctify themselves by washing themselves and their clothes and abstaining from sexual relations (Exodus 19:9-15). Finally, the people were instructed to observe the wonders of God in their lives.
Warren Wiersbe wrote in his commentary, “The crossing of the Red Sea pictures the believer being delivered from the bondage of sin, and the crossing of the Jordan River pictures the believer claiming the inheritance in Jesus Christ.” Canaan land was not a picture of heaven, but of the Christian life. It is a picture of living a victorious life in Christ! Just as the Israelites faced hostile enemies, we will face the hostile enemies of Satan and his demons, the ungodly philosophies of the world system, and the opposition of the unregenerate.
Christians must prepare themselves according to the Word of God. We must approach this new year fully clothed in the armor of God. We must advance with God given direction. We must move forward in complete obedience to God’s Word! When Israel obediently applied this approach they were victorious! When they strayed from this they failed. We, too, must follow the obedient path and experience the victory in Jesus!
Let us surrender to the will and way of God and enter into 2021 with an obedient heart and life, cleansed of the sins which have hindered us, and with confidence and power of a right relation with our Lord Jesus! “And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God” (Romans 6:13).
Some thoughts to Ponder,
Learning to serve,
Robert D. Finley, Ph.D.