“Yet there shall be a space between you & it, about two thousand cubits by measure. Do not come near it, that you may know the way by which you must go, for you have not passed this way before.” Joshua 3:4
This morning I awoke to these words, “There shall be a space between you & it.” These words rang like a gonging bell in my mind & spirit over & over. God had my attention.
Moses, the previous great leader of Israel was dead. Now Joshua had been released to lead them, after 40 years of assisting Moses & being in the Tabernacle. (Ex 33:11) Joshua was about to lead the people of Israel over into the land that God had chosen. What a great moment! But first they had to cross over the River Jordan. Joshua’s instruction to this massive group of people was simple… “When you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, & the priests, the Levities, bearing it, then you shall set out from your place & go after it.” (Jos 3:3)
The Ark of the Covenant of the Lord was the place on earth that God first chose to dwell & upon this, his name was proclaimed (1 Chron 13:6). Simply put, the ark was where the Lord was, & this ark was housed in the Tabernacle. So here is Joshua telling the people to look for the presence of the Lord. What is incredible is that God, the King of the Universe, chose to dwell here & have men carry him! These men called Priests & Levites, had been set apart from the people to be near the Lord (check out Numbers 16:9). This was a prophetic picture of what God purposed in his heart when the Holy Spirit of God came in Acts 2 & chose the temporary bodies of men to be the way in which He was carried. (By the way, the word Tabernacle is Hebrew for ‘tent’ – which is a temporary dwelling). Peter, the disciple of Jesus said, “You also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a royal priesthood..” (1 Peter 2:5). We now have the honor & responsibility to carry the presence of the Lord.
The ark was on the move. Joshua wanted the people to know this & see this. But he also wanted them to know how to move with the moving ark. God is on the move, just as He was then, so he is now. And it is His heart for us to know how to move with Him. If we are a people of God, we had better get used to a mindset & lifestyle of being on the move! The Vatican in the 1960’s knew this when they defined the Church as “The people of God on a journey.”
Joshua’s instruction was clear in how the people were to move with a moving God, “There shall be a space between you & it, about two thousand cubits by measure.” In the Hebrew language, numbers also carry meanings. I pondered what was the big deal about two thousand cubits? What was God saying here about moving with Him? I found only two times in the Bible when the round figure of two thousand appeared. One is here; the other is in Numbers 35:5. In both cases, it related to the Levities. I find it interesting that since the year 2000(note the number), the message of God restoring the Tabernacle of David (Acts 15:16-17) erupted globally & with it the birth of Tabernacles & Houses of Prayer & Praise. For years a generation has assisted Moses type leaders, learning the disciplines of waiting on the Lord & being in his presence. They were being trained in what it meant to carry the presence of a God who is ever on the move! They are a Joshua generation but also a Levitical generation who love to worship God, especially with instruments & cymbals just like in the glorious, heady days of King David & the Tabernacle of David. ( 1 Chron 25:1)
The call of Joshua to the people of Israel was to give God space as he moved. Why? So that “you may know the way by which you must go, for you have not passed this way before.” (3:4) God wants us to know the way by which we must go. We must go. We are beckoned to move. Why? Because there is a way to be taken which we have no gone before. God is moving in new ways. He is summoning us to move. We are invited again to give Him space and as we do this will be know how to walk a way we have not gone before. It is an adventure into the unknowns with a supernatural God who is wanting to bring to fulfillment words that He has long prophesized over individuals, nations & moments in history. Are we prepared to give Him space? Are we prepared to be the royal priesthood who will carry the presence of the moving God into a land he has promised for us?
In Germany, a group of people affectionately called the ‘Tossies’ (Church in Tübingen who we walked with when we lived there), would set aside all of the month of January to give God space. They would do this by fasting food & gathering together to pray & wait on the Lord. In February, a community we are walking alongside of here in Australia, Christian City Church (called C3), have set aside the month of February to do the same. Interestingly, this past month of January & now February, the Lord has invited us to give him space through fasting. While we have fasted food & work on certain days in January, we sense now February’s fast may involve ‘screens’ (specifically not watching somethings on TV). The Hebrew word ‘space’ used here in Joshua 3:4 means “space in place & time”. The point is not the fast, but the giving to God the space & place that would otherwise be taken up by these things. The point is to give space to the ark, His presence, & go after it. As we do this we will know the way by which we must go. The Lord has shown his hand, & it is into a way we have not passed before! I invite you to join with us & to even tell us if God is also beckoning you to this in February.
The presence of the Lord is moving. Will we be a people of God who will move with Him, His way, into a place we have not gone before?