Scripture Reading:  Joshua 3:1-17

“Then Joshua said to the people, ‘Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you.'” (Joshua 3:5)

The time had arrived for the Israelites to cross over the Jordan River and to enter the Promised Land.  It was a time for warfare and conquest.  But before the people set out, Joshua commanded them to prepare their hearts, to consecrate themselves.  Before we attempt to do any great thing, we must prepare our hearts.  Joshua held the people back until they were prepared spiritually.  Chapters three through five describe how God prepared them with the Ark of the Covenant, the stones of remembrance, and the two Old Testament sacraments — circumcision and the Passover.

The first means God used to consecrate the people involved the Ark of the Covenant.  The Ark symbolized God’s presence among the people.  When the people set out to cross the Jordan River at the beginning of this invasion of the land, the Ark led the way (vs. 3,6).  God Himself went before the people; He was leading them.

The Ark of the Covenant also represented the character of God.  It symbolized God’s holiness and justice, for the stone tablets of the law were housed inside the Ark.  And it also symbolized God’s mercy.  The covering of the Ark was called “the mercy seat.”  Once a year on the Day of Atonement, the high priest sprinkled the blood of a sacrificial animal on it.  This reminded the people of God’s mercy by allowing a substitute to settle the debt they owed God because of their many sins.

Before we begin any great task for God, we must first consecrate ourselves.  We must prepare our hearts by coming into the Lord’s presence and reflecting upon His character.  We must admit our sinful condition and repent.  We must bow down before God’s holiness and see the grievous nature of our sin.  Then we must accept God’s mercy.  Jesus paid for our sins with His precious blood.  We must trust Him fully to forgive us and to prepare us for the calling He has placed upon our lives.  “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you!”

Lord God, I know that I can do nothing apart from You.  Before I begin any task You have set before me today, let me consecrate myself by coming into Your presence and reflecting upon Your holiness, mercy and love.  You must lead the way.  Let me follow You as You lead me in the purposes You have for me.  Thank You for Jesus’ perfect sacrifice that has cleansed me from all my sins.  May I remember that it is no longer I who lives, but Christ lives in me.


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