Bible Readings for July 1st
Perhaps the chief difficulty of the Christian life is that we are not always given clear directions about where to go, and even when we know what we are supposed to do, it is not always clear what the consequences will be if we obey. The situation was the same for the Israelites in Joshua 3, where the reward of the Promised Land stood before them, but the risks also loomed large.
First, Israel needs to know where they should go, since they “have not passed this way before” (Josh. 3:4). Joshua recognizes this, so he sends officers through the camp of Israel, instructing them to follow the ark of the covenant. The people were not to come near to the ark of the covenant, but they were to look to the ark for guidance as they entered into the Promised Land.
By commanding Israel to follow the ark of the covenant, Joshua was teaching his people something significant. The ark of the covenant represented Yahweh’s presence on the earth. It was where Israel kept the Ten Commandments (God’s written covenant with his people), and it was the place where the high priest would sprinkle blood once a year on the Day of Atonement. By this, Joshua was teaching his people that God himself would lead them, according to the terms of his covenant.
Second, Israel needs to know how they should go into the Promised Land. Specifically, they had to learn to walk by faith and not by sight. When Moses parted the Red Sea, he had been the one to trust Yahweh to deliver his people. But now that Moses is gone, that responsibility transfers to the priests. Joshua tells the priests what to do, but it is not until “the soles of the feet of the priests bearing the ark of the LORD, the Lord of all the earth, shall rest in the waters of the Jordan” (Josh. 3:13) that the waters stop flowing.
While we no longer look to the ark of the covenant to direct our steps, this story reminds us of the centrality of God’s written covenant with us in his word—a covenant inaugurated by the sprinkled blood of Jesus Christ himself. Although Jesus Christ is seated at the right hand of his Father rather than physically leading us, we must nevertheless look to him by faith to guide our steps.
But also, we often do not get to see exactly where Jesus is leading us until we actually step out in faith. The priests had to step into the rushing river before God dried it up, and Jesus frequently does not show us how he will provide for us until our feet get wet as they sink into the rushing river. It is at that point that God provides, and often not before.
Where is Jesus asking you to go in obedience to him today?
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.