Early in the morning Joshua and all the Israelites set out from Shittim and went to the Jordan, where they camped before crossing over. 2 After three days the officers went throughout the camp, 3 giving orders to the people: “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. 4 Then you will know which way to go, since you have never been this way before. But keep a distance of about two thousand cubits between you and the ark; do not go near it.”
”5 Joshua told the people, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you.” (Joshua 3:1- 5 NIV)
The Israelites are to consecrate themselves: sanctify themselves, purify themselves. This preparation precedes what God will do the next day.
The Israelites need guidance as they have not been in this place until now. The ark will be their compass.
Joshua tells them to prepare spiritually yet they are facing a military operation – the beginning of the conquest of the land.
Do I expect God to do amazing things? How often do any of us expect such things? I am too rational, too much in control (so I think) of things for anything to amaze or astound. One translation says that God will do “wonders.”
One thing missing is this expectation – this waiting for the wonders, the amazing things. Eugene Peterson in The Message calls them “miracle-wonders.”
Connected but different is sanctification. What Joshua means is a little unclear but mostly writers seem to think some kind of purification ritual as they had performed earlier. They were, like the priests, to cleanse themselves in the presence of God’s might and glory and power.
Preparation and purification. Making ready. How can I do that today, this morning, in preparation for what God wants to do later – today, tomorrow, in the future?
God of Wonders, create in me again that expectation of wonders and miracles to come; that certainty that something is coming from you but not quite yet. Cleanse my heart – lead me to purify myself, focus myself, open myself – in preparation for the miracle wonders you will do. In Christ’s name. Amen.