While in the wilderness, daily, the children of Israel had manna served straight from heaven. As they awakened they went out and gathered what was needed for the day. Forty years passed and now it was time for a new endeavor. All the elders, who lacked faith, had died and a new generation risen. Joshua was now their leader and they had their eyes set on entering the promised land. (Joshua 3-5)
As they began their journey, one major obstacle stood in their way, the Jordan River. This new breed of Israelites stood in agreement with Joshua and preparations were made to crossover. The leaders went throughout the camp giving instructions. “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.” “Then you will know which way to go, since you have never been this way before. (Joshua 3: 2-4)
Let’s stop right there. During those times, the ark of the covenant is where the presence of the Lord was housed. The leaders gave strict instructions to follow the ark because they had not been that way before. Remember up until this time, the Israelites had been following a cloud by day and fire by night and now, they were to follow the ark of the covenant. I can imagine the talk around the camp. The whispers of those who wondered if the leaders had lost their mind. I’ve learned that human nature can become arrogant and risk the possibility of movement based on our mental catalog.
The new generation follows the orders, and God once again parts the sea for his people. We, just as the Israelites, must be very aware and open to understanding that wherever God is taking us, we’ve never been that way before. In the beginning it may look familiar but the closer we get the more we’ll realize it’s not the same. We must let go of old paradigms that make us feel safe and comfortable and lean closely to the Voice of God being sure to follow his every movement.
They crossed the Jordan, but still had one more hurdle to conquer. All the males had to be circumcised before they could begin to take territory. Yes, the land was theirs for the taking but they had to do just that, take it. Circumcision at this point was a mandate. A new generation had risen and none of the males had been circumcised symbolizing they belonged to the Lord and that they were a chosen generation whose covenant was with God and God alone. God would not allow them to advance in the land of promise, the covenant land, without this act of devotion. Just as the Isralelites were circumcised so is God knocking on the doors of our heart one last time and bringing in the knife to cut all humanistic attitudes, behaviors and belief systems away. We, just as the children of Israel, will not be allowed to enter without this right of passage taking place.
They are circumcised and spent three days healing. After healing, they began to eat. Joshua 5: 11-12 tells us that now they were allowed to eat produce from the land. Up until this time manna was the only food given to them. Can you imagine eating bread for years and all of a sudden there is a smorgasbord of produce before you. How do you cook it? How do you know what’s good to eat? The produce did not fall from heaven; it was readily available in the land but they had to find it. The children of Israel knew how to prepare food from heaven but this was a variety of food. Clearly, they had never been that way before.
As our excitement begins to rise, full with the expectations of entering your promised land, be reminded to follow the voice of God and that you have never been this way before. (Exodus 13:21-22) Although things may seem the same, they have changed. Allow God to place a plumbline on your heart and cut away anything that doesn’t measure up. Old habits and thinking don’t belong in the new land and will not be allowed to go. Holding on to old patterns will only delay occupancy. Take the time as the year closes and do the hard work. Silence your thoughts, seek the Lord while he may be found and come out cleansed, pure and ready to take custody of your land. (Isaiah 55:6)
Author: Petrina Milan