3 Early in the morning Joshua and all the Israelites set out from Shittimand went to the Jordan, where they camped before crossing over. 2 After three days the officers went throughout the camp, 3 giving orders to the people: “When you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, and the Levitical priests carrying it, you are to move out from your positions and follow it. 4 Then you will know which way to go, since you have never been this way before. But keep a distance of about two thousand cubits[a] between you and the ark; do not go near it.”/ Joshua 3:1-4
I heard this message preached in a sermon yesterday and I heard some truths that completely turned my world upside down. I was going to send the whole chapter because of the enormous amounts of gold in it but to save you some time reading, we’re going to take this piece by piece and dig into it so we can scrape every piece of gold we can from this Word. After a season of life where I’ve constantly tried to drive the car, be in control of all the uncertainty of my life and just figure it out. With each day of driving in circles, not having a clue where to go, and running low on gas, the Lord has continually showed me to let go of the wheel because I’m not capable of driving. I guess letting go and giving it to God is what I knew I needed to do but I constantly failed to fully let go. I struggled as to why but the simple truth was in my view of God. I didn’t want to give up control because I didn’t realize just how much He was in control. Not seeing God in a deeper view of who He is as my Rock, my Provider, my Refuge, it was hard to have faith in Him to handle these question marks in my life.
After reading this passage and seeing what the Israelites went through on their journey to the promised land the Lord has simplified every question in my life and magnified His presence in it and I pray that this lesson can do the same for you. The context of these verses in Joshua is the Israelites had been going through the wilderness for many years after leaving Egypt and they are now on a journey to the promised land. The Lord had constantly brought miracles of deliverance to the people along their journey but they couldn’t seem to bring their belief to His deliverance to get them to the promised land. Because of their unbelief they doubted God and chose to put their trust in many different gods who could never provide. The Lord allowed the first generation to die off during their years of wandering, why? I thought it sounded harsh but in that sermon the preacher made a point that sometimes people have to die to get to the places He has planned to take them. We have to die to our self and the view that we need to be in control before we will ever take our hands off the wheel and trust in His provision. You would think after so many times of driving in circles that I would realize this simple and powerful truth, I CAN’T but HE CAN!! The less we lean on ourselves the more we tend to lean on the only One who can save us and lead us to the promised land, which is freedom in this life walking into the eternity. The people are about to cross the river of Jordan now on the way into the promised land and Joshua, their leader, is spreading the officers out to give the instructions that the Lord had spoke to him.
I know you’re probably reading this and thinking, “what gold could come out of this?” I literally read these verses at first and had no idea what to do with it. Sometimes digging into the Old Testament scripture doesn’t make a lot of sense and not super exciting when its rules and instructions but man!! There is way more punch packed in these Scriptures than we could ever imagine when we look at it deeper by not skimming over it. The instructions don’t sound too wild or even that big of a deal but it was the simplest of commands that God had His people following on their way to the promised land and the provision He had promised them for generations.
The officers are saying to keep the ark of God close by at all times and follow it in whatever direction it takes you. The ark of God is God’s presence during this time and is still true today. Keeping God close by and in front at the lead of our lives, where He’s driving the car and giving the directions changes everything. So look at this, they put God front and center at the lead of all the people before they do anything else. Then they say to “move out from your positions and follow it.” Before the Israelites could move and follow the ark (God), they had to make sure He was in His rightful place. At the lead. That just shows that it’s easy to talk up a big game and follow God on our terms, terms that sound real good and we still play a role in but actually following God is complete surrender, laying yourself, your wants, your weakness to the side and putting God in His rightful place in our lives. The #1 priority and authority over every move we make. When the Creator of all, the Rock, Redeemer, Refuge, and the only One powerful enough to save us from a life of hopelessness and brokenness, the God that parted the Red Seas to deliver the Israelites away from the Egyptians, when the TRUE and ALMIGHTY God stands at the lead of our lives, us trying to drive the car sounds ridiculous.
With God in the HUGE, powerful, daggum I’m literally running out of words to describe God that would do any justice but there aren’t enough words to ever describe Him. He’s God and He’s really really awesome. In a truer view that the Word allows us to see and learn of God with each Word, He’s at the lead of our lives. Before the Israelites could do anything else they made it a priority to put God at the lead and with God at the lead following Him isn’t as hard as we make it out to be. Think about it, God’s at the lead driving the car that means you are behind Him following Him. You see why God told them to do that first because if they didn’t He knew how much we love to attempt driving and going the way we want to go.
Then with God at the front of the people, THEN the people will know which way to go. Verse also says its simply that they had never been this way before anyways. I constantly have fought for a piece of control in my life, trying to figure out which way to go but not only am I not capable of driving, I have no idea where to drive to. It’s crazy how simple and huge these instructions were for the Israelites and they are just as big for me and you!!! With God at the lead, the almighty and capable Lord of Lords, move in your trust with Him behind the wheel. Not sitting there with God at the lead but move with Him and faithfully walk with Him, and at times it may be scary because you don’t know which way to go or what move to make but remember. He is at the lead and He will show you which way to go so don’t stop sit and wait on the Heavens to open up for God’s miracle of provision and deliverance in your life. But also, the last instruction, not to get to close to the ark. Think about it, the moments you are just “sitting” in your problems and letting your wild circumstances of life chain you up the easier it becomes for the devil to plant lies in your head, “you’re not good enough, better stay here because you can’t take that next step, why trust in God at the lead, why don’t you try something the world has to offer?” You see how it can so easily and quickly escalate the more we’re not on the move, step in step with the Spirit. God tells the Israelites to MOVE and FOLLOW God. Also, they’re told not to get too close to the ark. The closer we get to the lead position, the moment we start getting prideful, thinking well we made it this far we can figure out where to go and get the rest of the way. God specifically tells them to stay a certain distance back and it seems like no big deal but it’s just a picture of God leading and putting His people in a place that they won’t go ahead of Him or get behind, a place that He knows is best for them because He wants nothing more than to give us everything we need and put us in a place where we can live and rest in the freedom and security that only He can give. He wanted them to walk in His victory, move and follow with Him at the lead and He wants that for us to.
How good does that feel. Knowing that God loves you and wants nothing but the best for you. So what do we do now? Just live this life enjoying the fact that God is driving the car and in full control. Follow Him as the #1 priority and authority of your life. Only He knows where you need to go and only He can take you there so rest in this truth. Pay close attention to the position, the position you’re putting God in your life. It’s cool how when He’s positioned in the right place in your life, He leads you to “move out of your position and follow Him.” Being in “Your position” has only had you driving in circles, low on gas, not getting anywhere. God says to “move out of your position and Follow Him” because He’s wants to take you higher, running freely in His provision and protection, where victory has taken the place of defeat in your life.