by: Pastor Joey Vazquez
Joshua 3:3b-4 (NLT) “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.”
The Israelites were getting ready to finally cross over into the promised land but in order to get there, they had to cross the Jordan River. God, always being the wonderful guide that He promised He would be, would go before them. The Ark of the Covenant, which represented the presence of God, was to be carried by the Levitical priests and they would be the ones that would go ahead of all of the people and begin to cross over the river with the Ark of the Covenant being carried on their shoulders with poles, as prescribed by God Himself. The people were instructed to follow the priests and the Ark, but warned to stay at least a half of a mile behind them. While God was indeed with them, the people were not allowed to go anywhere near God's presence because sin had not been dealt with yet. While animal sacrifices were offered for the people's sin, it is clear from scripture that the blood of bulls and goats did nothing to take care of the people's sin problem (Hebrews 10:4). It only temporarily covered them. How sad it is that the people could not go near to God but had to rely on priests to represent them.
That's why we should be all the more aware of the position that we hold as God's children now that Jesus has made the perfect sacrifice for our sins. He was the perfect sacrifice as He was the only one who had no sins of His own. It was only God Himself who could offer the perfect sacrifice to save us from sin and damnation. He loves and cares about us so much that He held nothing back, giving us His very best, which was Himself so that we might live. But that's not all. Unlike the Israelites who had to follow the presence of God at a distance, today we are invited to come boldly and near to the throne of grace to receive all that we need from Him (Hebrews 4:16). We can also worship and praise Him there while kneeling before the very shekinah glory of our God. We don't have to be at least a half of a mile away, which is about a ten-to-fifteen-minute walk. Now there is absolutely no distance between us. We don't even have to walk at all to reach Him because we not only can come near, but the greater miracle is that He dwells within us. Now, he guides us not from a distance but from within, prompting us through His word and through His Holy Spirit. What a blessed people we are. Take advantage of the proximity that you have as a child of God to His very presence. If the presence of God through the Ark of the Covenant was what distinguished Israel from all other nations, imagine the distinguishing mark on us for having Christ dwell in our hearts through faith. That makes us, as it says in 1 Peter 2:9, God's special possession, never to be distanced from Him again!
Pastor Joey Vazquez