Joshua 3:1 Then Joshua rose early in the morning and they set out from Shittim. And they came to the Jordan, he and all the people of Israel, and lodged there before they passed over. 2 At the end of three days the officers went through the camp 3and commanded the people, “As soon as you see the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord your God being carried by the Levitical priests, then you shall set out from your place and follow it. ESV
God wanted to guide His people into the Promised Land and the way He would lead them would be by the priests carrying a special piece of furniture known as the ‘Ark of the Covenant.’ What was this sacred vessel?
The Ark of the Covenant was a small golden box measuring approximately 2 ft. wide x 2 ft. high x 4 ft. long. So sacred was this box that it was kept in a special room known as ‘the Most Holy Place’, or ‘the Holy of Holies.’ Inside of this box was kept the stone tablets on which God gave His law. Covering the box was a special lid made of pure gold. This lid was called ‘the Mercy Seat’ and it was here that the High Priest would sprinkle blood once a year as an atonement for the people’s sins. As someone explained to me many years ago; standing between God and His law, which the people broke, was the precious blood of a sacrificial lamb.
There are two things that made the Ark of the Covenant so special. First of all, it represented the PURITY OF GOD. Scripture teaches us that if anyone touched Ark or even looked at it, they would die immediately. So sacred was this golden vessel that it had to be transported by golden poles that extended through special golden rings. Concealing it from the vision of men was a special thick veil. Yet it was with the Ark of the Covenant that God was going to guide His people across the raging river and into the Promised Land.
The second thing that made the Ark of the Covenant so special was that it also represented the PRESENCE OF GOD. Concerning the Ark and the Holy of Holies, the LORD said – ‘there will I meet with thee, and I will commune with thee.’ (Ex 25:22) On each end of the Ark was a golden figurine of an angel with their wings overshadowing the Mercy Seat. Hovering above the angels and the Ark was a mysterious cloud sometimes known as the Shekinah Glory. (Lev 16:2) It could be said that the Ark of the Covenant represented God’s throne upon earth.
God said to His people – “As soon as you see the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord your God being carried by the Levitical priests, then you shall set out from your place and follow it.” God was not going to send His people across the raging river. He was going to lead them personally.
As I bring today’s study to a close, a song that we often sing in church comes to my mind –
Where you go, I’ll go
Where you stay, I’ll stay
When you move, I’ll move
I will follow…