Early the next morning Joshua and all the Israelites left Acacia Grove and arrived at the banks of the Jordan River, where they camped before crossing. Three days later the Israelite officers went through the camp, giving these instructions to the people: “When you see the Levitical priests carrying the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord your God, move out from your positions and follow them. Since you have never traveled this way before, they will guide you. Stay about half a mile behind them, keeping a clear distance between you and the Ark. Make sure you don’t come any closer." Joshua 3:1-4
O Israel, trust the Lord! He is your helper and your shield. O priests, descendants of Aaron, trust the Lord! He is your helper and your shield. All you who fear the Lord, trust the Lord! He is your helper and your shield. The Lord remembers us and will bless us. He will bless the people of Israel and bless the priests, the descendants of Aaron. He will bless those who fear the Lord, both great and lowly. Psalm 115:9-13
Abraham is the father of Israel. In Genesis 12, God said to Abraham, "Go forth from your country .... to the land which I will show you .... I will make you a great nation .... and in you all the nations of the earth will be blessed." In Genesis 3 we see that "Abraham settled in the land of Canaan (the promised land). In Genesis 15, God said to Abraham, "Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs (Egypt), where they will be enslaved and oppressed four hundred years .... in the fourth generation they will return here.
Israel (a great nation numerically) is camped on the banks of the Jordan River, poised to enter the promised land. Quite a lengthy build up from God's words to Abraham to this moment. When it was just Abraham and Sarah, God spoke of this moment all these years later. It is an absolute work of God and it is entirely for his purposes. God is about to display the work of his presence by parting the waters of the Jordan River and taking the people of Israel across. But before God confronts his people with the work of his presence, he wants to confront his people with the reality of his presence.
Our Joshua passage above speaks of the Ark of the Covenant which represents the fact that God was in their midst. When the Levitical priests who would be carrying the Ark of the Covenant moved out they were to follow about a half mile behind them. The specific instructions given about keeping their distance serves to remind them of their need to show their respect and reverence for God. The application for us is simple: we need a proper respect and reverence for God.
The Psalm above talks about trusting and fearing the Lord. God helping, shielding , and blessing his people are dependent on his people trusting and fearing him. Trusting God we get, but what about fearing God. We are talking about the right kind of fear. This is the major focus of our considerations this week. It has nothing to do with being afraid and everything to do with having a proper respect and reverence for God.
Lord, you really are in charge of everything. I pray that my life will become more and more an absolute work that you are doing and that is entirely for your purposes. I know I am growing in my ability to trust you, but today I ask that you will teach me clearly what it means to have a proper respect and reverence for you. And then, Lord, lead me into the depths of being one who's life truly manifests a full respect and reverence for you.
Posted on Mon, June 22, 2015
by Alan Porter