“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 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.”
— Joshua 3:1-4
I read this verse in passing the other day because I felt the nudge from God to “read something from the conquest narratives.” Not my first choice for light reading, but I did it anyway and this popped out at me.
Ancient Israel had a heavy dependency on the leading of God telling them where to go. You might recall that the LORD led them out of Egypt dressed as a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night.
They were led by the Presence of God.
When it was time for Israel to enter into the Promised Land (Canaan) under Joshua’s leadership, the people were commanded to follow the ark of the covenant. What rested on top of the ark?
The Presence of God.
I love the reason they were given though: so that you know which way to go because you’ve never been this way.
I cannot list the number of times I’ve entered unfamiliar territory and credited myself with the ability to lead myself.
It’s usually the times that I think I can do it on my own that I end up falling flat on my face, only then to turn to God for assistance.
Through this story, God is telling me: follow my lead and lean on my leadership to tell you where to go. Watch me and you’ll surely succeed.