January 3, 2012
“Early in the morning Joshua and all the Israelites set out from Shittim and went to the Jordan, where they camped before crossing over. After three days the officers went throughout the camp, giving orders to the people: “When you see the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, and the priests, who are Levites, 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. But keep a distance of about a thousand yards between you and the ark; do not go near it.” ” — Joshua 3:1-4
Do you remember the first time you travelled out of your country? I was ten-years-old when I first went on a long journey, five hours away from home. My cousins and I were really excited! We were looking forward to seeing new places. That morning, we woke up early without any prompting, to prepare for the departure. Soon, the family was on the coach and we were on the way! We were excited to see the vast land and mountains.
Along the way, we were constantly reminded to stay within sight of our assigned charges. “Don?t get carried away. Don?t stray. Keep close. Watch your things. It?s a new place; you have never been there before.”
The Israelites were preparing to enter the Promised Land after forty years of wandering in the wilderness.
Can you imagine the excitement in the air? All those who were crossing into the Promised Land were the younger generation, except for Joshua and Caleb. All the rest had died because of disobedience to God. This younger generation has heard their parents and grandparents speak of the Promised Land so often they couldn’t wait to see it and get into it.
Also, through their former leader Moses, God had instructed them what to do and what NOT to do when they arrived. The sense of expectation was there.
During the wilderness days, the Israelites had been organized for travel. They knew when to move out in an orderly manner when they saw the Ark of the Covenant leaving. But Joshua their new leader, had another word of instruction for them prior to crossing.
“?there shall be between you and the ark a distance of 2,000 cubits” (about 1,000 metres). The Israelites knew the significance of the ark. They had heard stories of how casual handling of the Ark caused death. Also, he said “?that you may know the way by which you shall go, for you have not passed this way before.”
Instructions are not to be taken lightly. God knew exactly what He was saying. For the Israelites, especially, they were reminded they were to keep a certain distance from the ark so that they could follow it.
The Ark, the symbolic Presence of God, would be leading them. They must not disrespect it by crowding around it. Rather, they must let it guide them.
We have just entered a new year. We don?t know what is going to happen, although there has been talk about many uncertainties.
What is it that is guiding your new journey into 2012? Is it all the uncertain financial predictions? Or is it the certainty of God, through His written Word?
This first week of the New Year, decide to make the meditation of God?s Word a priority. Allow Him to speak to you each day so that “you may know the way by which you shall go.”
Thought For The Week (TFTW) is contributed by Dr Koh Siang Kiang, Associate Professor (Christian Education) at the Singapore Bible College (SBC). She graduated from SBC and Dallas Theological Seminary (DTS), USA, and has served in various ministries for more than 35 years, including teaching at DTS. Dr Koh has been with SBC for the last 10 years, and has a passion for people and teaching the Word of God. She also loves to make the Bible come alive by leading tours to the Holy Land, and has led 12 such trips. To help her relax, Dr Koh likes to cook and cross-stitch.