“When you see the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God with the Levitical priests carrying it, then you shall set out from your place and go after it. However, there shall be between you and it a distance of about 2,000 cubits by measure. Do not come near it, that you may know the way by which you shall go, FOR YOU HAVE NOT PASSED THIS WAY BEFORE.” Joshua 3: 3b-4
In this passage, God was leading Joshua and the children to possess their possessions. He knew that there would be things to come that would be liable to frighten them as they did this. So He sent the Ark of the Covenant before them. It was to be out in front of the people by some distance. In Chapter One of Joshua, God had told His people to “be strong and very courageous” and He had assured them of His presence with them every step of the way. So now the journey into the Promised Land is beginning. The Ark of the Covenant symbolized God’s presence with them. When they saw it, they were reminded that they were not going anywhere that He had not gone before and that they could be assured He was always with them.
As I read this passage once again today, I was really struck by the words, “for you have not passed this way before”. As many of you, I have been deeply concerned at the path that our country is taking. I see things happening at an excelerating pace that must break the heart of our God. Our leaders are corrupt, our president wants no symbol of the Lord God near when he is speaking, and we are looking at a great possibility that we will not have the freedom of worship and expression of our faith as we have so long enjoyed in this country of ours that has been so dear to us.
I look around and I see prophecy being fulfilled everywhere. I see that although we have been allies with Israel, we still have encouraged them to give away some of the land that God gave them as theirs. This is a dangerous position for any country to take. God gave them every inch of that land and woe to the nation who tries to take even an inch from them.
I see much wickedness and moral decay in our land and, yes, even in our churches. Many of you have heard the expression that “if God does not judge America then He will have to apologize to Sodom and Gommorah.” When we see abortion laws that are probably about to be changed again and are reminded of the millions of little babies that have already been aborted and when we see men sleeping with men and women with women, we can certainly see the comparison to Sodom and Gomorrah. When we see an effort to take the mention of God out of every sector of our society and see people whole heartedly endorsing this change, we may begin to be fearful.
Another thing that we are certainly seeing is an increase in natural disasters such as the world has never known. All of these things were predicted by God but most of us probably did not think that they would happen in our lifetime. But the fact remains that they are happening. Many of us are on our face before God fervently praying for this country but one thing is for sure. We have already begun seeing things that we have never seen before and it is enough to make our hearts quake. Surely, we “have not passed this way before”.
Maybe you are going through a great trial in your personal life unlike anything you have ever been through and you are not sure how you are going to make it. “You have not passed this way before” either. But as surely as the Ark of the Covenant of our Jehovah God led the way of His chosen people to the Promised Land; as surely as He was always with them, so He will be with you today. You CAN persevere; you CAN make it because your God has said, “Be strong and very courageous”. He would not have said that if He didn’t know that you had every reason to be strong and courageous.
What is that reason? It is as simple as this. If you are God’s child and have accepted His Son, Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior and if you are walking in the path of obedience to Him, He will bring you through whatever you comes because He has said that He will. God cannot lie. He told you in Philippians 4:13, that you can “do all things through Christ Who strengthens” you. You can claim that promise. You can pray that promise with great confidence!
Surely as a country and at times as individuals, we increasingly find ourselves in a whole new set of circumstances where it seems often as if the world has turned upside down. As God told Joshua and the people, so He speaks to hearts today saying, “You have not passed this way before,” and most certainly we have not. But be of good faith and claim your possessions that God has given to you which are His Word and Himself, available to you twenty-four hours a day. We will be called on to be very strong and courageous as the days pass. One only has to watch the news to see our country spiraling down. But our Lord God never changes. That is the GOOD NEWS today. He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. So take heart, dear ones, and know that although you will be traveling a new and more difficult path; a way that you have not gone before, that the Lord, your God is right beside you. Lift up your arms to Him and cast yourself upon His breast for He cares deeply for you. Begin to spend more time with Him and in His Word that you might be prepared for whatever is to come. Always remember that you serve a Sovereign God and that means that He is always in control although it seems as if the earth is crumbing underneath your feet. And always remember Who wins the battle in the end!