4/14/2020 – Following the Ark of the Covenant
We’re actually going to begin in Joshua 3, but I’d just like to get a running start in chapter 1.
After wandering around in the wilderness for the past forty years, the nation of Israel is finally ready to enter the land the Lord promised Abraham He would give them. The Lord miraculously delivered Israel out of a life of misery and bondage under Pharaoh in Egypt. Their deliverance started with the Passover and culminated with the parting of the waters of the Red Sea. As dramatic as that was, it wasn’t enough to cause God’s people to trust Him completely and remain faithful to Him
The Lord miraculously delivered US out of a life of bondage to sin that began when Jesus shed His blood on the cross and culminated when He rose from the dead so that whoever would believe on Him, would not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)
Unfortunately, like Israel, many Christians, after their salvation, never seem to progress very far in their spiritual development. They often seem to be wandering in a kind of spiritual wilderness, going around in circles, never accomplishing very much, and living a life that is far below the “abundant” life the Lord intended us to live.
The only way for believers to break the cycle of aimless wandering is to reach the point of being willing to put our complete trust in God and determine that we will live for Him and be obedient to His Word regardless of our circumstances.
Joshua 1: 2 – The Lord says to Joshua “Get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about ready to give them (the Israelites).” By GRACE, Israel has been given a second chance but in order for them to break the cycle of aimless wandering and begin living in the land the Lord wanted to give them, they had to cross the Jordan River.
“Get ready to cross the Jordan river.” Get ready to change. Get ready to leave the safe, predictable, routine you’ve gotten so comfortable with over the past 40 years. Get ready to go where you’ve never gone and do what you’ve never done as the Lord moves you to where He wants you to be, to the life He wants you to live and to the work He has for you to do.
Joshua 3:1 – “Early in the morning Joshua and all the Israelites set out from Shittim and went to the Jordan where they camped before crossing over.”
Is there some kind of Jordan River running in front of YOU right now? There always seems to be some kind of barrier, some type of obstacle stopping us: some reason, some excuse, some form of fear or anxiety. Whatever it is, it keeps pulling us down and sweeping us away whenever we try to make a deeper commitment to the Lord. We just can’t seem to move beyond it. Hopefully, what we learn from this study will help us overcome that.
Joshua 3:2-3a: “After three days the officers went throughout the camp, giving orders to the people.” These are commands. This is how the Lord says it must be done. We’ll never be able to accomplish this our own way. The only way we can do this is by believing and obeying God’s Word.
Joshua 3:3b – “When you see the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord your God…you are to move out from your positions and follow it.” It seems like everybody today is either chasing something, running away from something, hiding something, or following something.
Some are chasing after material wealth or power. Others are pursuing pleasure, seeking attention, or longing for the approval of others. Some just follow their own instincts. They only trust themselves because they don’t trust anyone or anything else to lead them. They’re determined to make their own way through life. This current time of social distancing and lock-down should make all of us question if what we’re following can take us to where we want to go. Israel was commanded to follow the Ark of the Covenant.
Inside the Ark were the Ten Commandments. Those commandments that Moses received on Mt Sini represented the WORD of God that revealed the WILL of God and explained the REQUIRENMENTS of God for His people.
The Ark also contained a piece of manna, that heavenly bread that kept them alive during the forty years they were wandering. It represented the LOVE of God, the GRACE of God, and the FAITHFULNESS of God to provide for His children even though they showed themselves to be unworthy and ungrateful.
Aaron’s rod was also in the Ark. It was the rod the Lord used to convince Pharaoh to release Israel from Egypt. It was the rod Moses used to part the waters of the Red Sea. It represented the awesome, mighty POWER of God, the power to save, to deliver and to protect His people.
The Ark of the Covenant with everything inside it, represented the presence of God among His people. It was Israel’s most precious and most sacred possession and they were commanded to follow it.
Joshua 3:4a- “then you will know which way to go since you have never been this way before.” Do YOU know which way to go? Do you know where you’re going? Does it really matter which way you go? Are you concerned about the direction your life is headed? Are you sure you’re not lost? If you keep following what you’re following, are you sure it will take you to where you want to be?
The Bible says there’s a way that seems right, but it ends in death. (Proverbs 14:12) Jesus said that the road that leads to life is very narrow, but the road that leads to death and destruction is very broad and that’s the road most people choose to walk on. (Matthew 7:13)
All roads do NOT lead to the same God. All religions are NOT worshipping the same God. If whatever we’re following or pursuing doesn’t bring us to Jesus, we’re headed in the wrong direction. The path we’ve chosen to walk on is a dead end.
Joshua 3:4b – “But keep a distance of about a thousand yards (about ten football fields) between you and the Ark.” At that distance, you couldn’t possibly see the Ark even if you were in the front row. You had to KNOW the Ark was there. You had to BELIEVE the Ark was there. You had to REMEMBER the Ark was there.
When we’re facing hopeless and seemingly impossible situations, even though we can’t SEE Him, we have to KNOW the Lord is with us. We have to BELIEVE the Lord is with us and we have to REMEMBER the Lord is with us just as He promised He always would be.
“but do not go near it.” Sin was the reason no one could get near the Ark. God is a holy God, perfectly clean and without flaws or defects. Sin causes a separation between God and anything that is unholy, imperfect, and defective, including you and me. We all have sinned. (Romans 3:23)
The Law required Israel to offer sacrifices for sin every day, but they were still not able to get near the Ark. Once a year, on the Day of Atonement, the High Priest was allowed to get near the Ark to offer a sacrifice for the sins of the people. But He had to do that every year.
But now, because of God’s grace, repentant believers no longer have to keep their distance. We have been invited to draw near to Him. When Jesus shed His blood on the cross for our sin, the veil of separation that made us keep our distance, was torn down so that all who are trusting in Him alone for forgiveness and salvation can “approach the Throne of Grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”(Hebrews 4:16)
Got to stop here until next time. Would love to hear from you. Hope these studies are meaningful and helpful. Encourage someone you know to get into God’s Word with Pastor Buj.