“Then Joshua commanded the officers of the people, saying,11 “Pass through the camp and command the people, saying, ‘Prepare provisions for yourselves, for within three days you will cross over this Jordan, to go in to possess the land which the LORD your God is giving you to possess.” Joshua 1:10-11.
We stand at the threshold of a new year. Whatever the past year has meant for you, in a few hours it will be over. Therefore, you need to let go of the past in order to possess the future.
Israel also was at the brink of entering the promised land. They were to cross over the Jordan within three days. Jordan would mark a turning point for them as the promises of many generations were about to be realised. Joshua’s instructions to them would be quite relevant to us as we prepare to enter the new year. (See Joshua 3:1-17).
When the people were asked to ‘prepare provisions,’ God wasn’t just talking about food since they still had daily supply of manna. It obviously meant another kind of preparation. It involved everything that made them fit for the journey and to overcome the challenges on the way.
God had established the spiritual structure necessary for them to successfully crossover and possess the land. The Ark of the Covenant is mentioned several times in the passage. It reminded the people of their covenant with God and assured them of His presence. Joshua was a leader who could hear from God and the priests were there to minister to the people.
In the same vein, the Holy Spirit is with us guaranteeing God’s presence; we have spiritual leaders who speak God’s word and minister to us. This structure provides a guidance system to enable us stay on the right path and become all that God wants us to be in this life.
FOLLOW DIVINE DIRECTION
“So it was, after three days, that the officers went through the camp; 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.” Joshua 3:2-4 NKJV
The last phrase: “for you have not passed this way before” underscores the need for divine direction. None of us has been through the new year before, only God has the roadmap. The people were to set their eyes on the Ark of the Covenant. The Ark was a symbol of God’s presence with them. God was going ahead of them to give them direction. “So they set out from the mountain of the Lord and traveled for three days. The ark of the covenant of the Lord went before them during those three days to find them a place to rest.” Numbers 10:33-34 (also see Deuteronomy 1:33).
Even today, God has promised to provide guidance through the Holy Spirit (John 16:13, Romans 8:14). That is part of the ways He helps us (John 14:16). God does not intend that we should navigate through life all by ourselves. “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you” (Psalms 32:8). But we need to trust in His guidance. “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6).
The people were told – when you see the Ark of the Covenant move then you also must move. When you see the Spirit moving you also move. Move out of your position. The right time to move is when God is moving or you will be left behind. God told David to move when He is moving (2 Samuel 5:24).
OBEY DIVINE INSTRUCTIONS
Recently, we made a trip to Ilorin. As we got to Ibadan I decided to try out the GPS feature on my phone to see whether it would work in Nigeria. To our amazement, Google map worked perfectly. We enjoyed the guidance until at one point we decided to ignore the map and take a route that seemed logical to us. We had gone very far before we discovered that we were moving in the wrong direction. We should have trusted our guide. We lost time in making a detour off the right road.
Is this not typically what happens with many of us? When we fail to heed the guidance of the Spirit we run into all kinds of unnecessary problems. A key discipline we need to develop is learning to hear His voice and obeying His instructions. It will be critical to our surviving in the days ahead. On the voyage to Rome Paul had warned his co-travelers that they shouldn’t leave Crete, but they disobeyed the instruction from the Lord and suffered significant loss. (Acts 27:9-44).
“Joshua told the people, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you.” Joshua 3:5
The next aspect of our preparation is to consecrate (or sanctify) ourselves. It basically means two things: to separate from whatever is unclean or common and to consecrate oneself to God. It means we should be wholly devoted to God.
In the present context, God was asking them to consecrate themselves because of what He was about to do. God wanted to do wonders. Isn’t this enough incentive? God does not want anything to stand in the way of what He wants to do in and through our lives.
If you want to go very far in the coming year then you must travel light. Get rid of anything that may be a clog on your wheels. “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.” Hebrews 12:1-2 NLT
It might require altering your lifestyle; separating from a relationship that doesn’t glorify God; refraining from anything that cools your affection towards God. You must separate from whatever weakens you spiritually. It may mean a new attitude towards God’s work; more commitment to prayer, the study of God’s word and personal evangelism; getting involved in church activities etc.
We can choose the company we keep in the coming year. Not everyone can come along with you to the place that God is bringing you. The sailors eventually had to remove Jonah from their boat before they were able to arrive at their destination (Jonah 1:15-16).
Conversely, there are people we need to cultivate their company. “Run from anything that stimulates youthful lusts. Instead, pursue righteous living, faithfulness, love, and peace. Enjoy the companionship of those who call on the Lord with pure hearts.” 2 Timothy 2:22. NLT. (Also see Psalms 119:63). A new consecration is necessary if we are to fully enter the new season to which God is bringing us.
The saying that those who fail to prepare have prepared to fail is true. A year-long journey should begin with adequate preparations. It’s important to know and be assured that God’s presence is with us as we begin this journey. As we consecrate ourselves afresh to Him, prepare to follow His direction and obey His instructions, God will do wonders in and through our lives this year.