Joshua was the newly-appointed leader of God’s people. After more than 40 years’ worth of wandering in the desert wilderness between Egypt and Canaan, the descendants of Abraham were about to step foot for the first time in the Promised Land. War stood before them on the other side of the Jordan River. How could they possibly succeed? How would they know where to go, when to go, and what to do?
Then Joshua rose early in the morning and they set out from Shittim. And they came to the Jordan, he and all the people of Israel, and lodged there before they passed over. At the end of three days the officers went through the camp and commanded the people, “As soon as you see the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God being carried by the Levitical priests, then you shall set out from your place and follow it. Yet there shall be a distance between you and it, about 2,000 cubits in length. Do not come near it, in order that you may know the way you shall go, for you have not passed this way before.” (Josh 3:1-4)
“You have not passed this way before.” In at least one important way, that’s true of you and me. Today.
This infant nation of Israel was told to follow the ark of the covenant of the LORD their God, “in order that you may know the way you shall go.” Why? “For you have not passed this way before.”
You and I aren’t following a golden box wherever it’s carried by a group of Israelite priests throughout the day, but we have been blessed with God’s complete revelation to mankind and prayer. Thousands of years after Joshua, we have received our own God-given “marching orders.”
In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance… (Eph 6:16-18)
Why? “In order that you may know the way you shall go.” What does that have to do with me? Today? “For you have not passed this way before.”
When Israel failed to look to the LORD for direction as to where and when and how they ought to go, they encountered disaster. It was a bitter lesson learned over and over and over again. But am I any better off if I approach a new God-given day without deliberately taking up the shield of faith and the helmet of salvation? “I have not passed this way before.” Thank God I have been blessed with the sword of the Spirit and the opportunity to pray “at all times.” But what am I doing with these God-given resources? Have I leaned on them as indispensable to success and life itself today?
Who knows what today will bring for any of us? But that is precisely the point. The Lord God Almighty does. He has provided everything we need in order to know the way we ought to go, come what may. We have not passed this way before. Have we taken the time today to hear from the One who has?