18. Be ready to move

Ways of Seeing Meditations: 18. Be ready to move

Josh 3:3 When you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, and the Levitical priests carrying it, you are to move out from your positions and follow it.”

Recap: In the previous study we noted that Zechariah needed an angel to wake him from either sleep or a simple reverie, perhaps as he had got caught up contemplating all he had seen so far. But now there was a new vision to see, one that was all about the Holy Spirit being their provision. As important as the previous visions were, there is now a new one to take in. The apostle Peter on the Mount of Transfiguration shows us our natural desire to hold on to the present revelation as he asks if he can make shelters for Jesus, Moses and Elijah (Mt 17:4) but I wonder how much of the Gospel accounts we would have missed out in if Jesus had set up camp in one location, say a few miles out of Capernaum. But he didn’t, he kept moving as his Father led him. Every day there was something new to do, places to go, people to meet, blessings to bring, teaching to impart.

Watching for the Move: It was pretty easy for the disciples for Jesus would have simply told them over breakfast, we’re moving on. “Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.” (Mk 1:38) But for us, it is life by the Spirit and we have to catch his prompting. I found myself wondering recently about prayer and about why sometimes God holds back on answering. I found myself thinking back to February of this year (2020), before we really had any inkling of what was coming. No doubt many of us might have been praying as a normal part of our Christian experience, no doubt asking for things, perhaps for friends or family, perhaps for changes of circumstances, but  I guess there were very few indeed who heard from heaven about what was coming. Perhaps if we had had ears to hear we might have heard Father reply, “Those are all very good things and things I would like to do, but I am afraid there is something very big about to break on the world scene and so we’ll have to put a hold on some of these other things you want. Some of them will be worked out in the midst of what is coming, some you will realise in what is coming, are not very important.” Back in Study no.15 I shared what I felt I was hearing while I was praying, “the big issue today is not the pandemic, it is whether my people will rise up and become what they were called to be, the big issue is the numbers of people outside the church who know nothing of me, the big issue is how they will come to hear and see my power and presence if my people will not reveal it.” Now if I was hearing aright,  and I believe I was, I would suggest these are calls to arms, calls to get ready to be part of what Jesus, seated at his Father’s right hand, ruling in the midst of his enemies to bring in the kingdom, is coming to do.

Follow the Ark:  Our starter verse today comes at the time when Israel are about to cross into the Promised Land and will have to cross the Jordan: When you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, and the Levitical priests carrying it, you are to move out from your positions and follow it.”  The ark was the symbol of the presence of God that usually dwelt in the Tabernacle, and so they were being told, follow God’s presence because when you do you will see spectacular things happen. That spectacular thing is soon reported: “Now the Jordan is at flood stage all during harvest. Yet as soon as the priests who carried the ark reached the Jordan and their feet touched the water’s edge, the water from upstream stopped flowing.” (v.15,16) Put most simply, God opened up a way for them to move ahead where previously there appeared an obstacle (the river) blocking them. Taking a million or more people through a raging river in full flood was not something to be done. So God stops it flowing. That simple. Don’t try and explain it, you can’t explain miracles except to say nothing is beyond the God who created this world to start with.

But there was another aspect to this. God had led them by a pillar of cloud by day and fire by night but there is no reference to when that ceased. Manna ceased being given once they ate the fruit in the land (Josh 5:12) but there is no mention of the pillar leading them over the Jordan. It seems guidance now came by direct instruction and when they obeyed that they were successful. The command now, is simply to follow the ark across the river. The rest will follow. They are to follow the ark and, “Then you will know which way to go, since you have never been this way before.” (Josh 3:4)

God’s Guidance: The guidance from the Lord comes in different ways. We’ve seen here: visible cloud & fire, direct instructions, follow the ark, but is this a major thing the Lord is seeking to communicate to His Church through this time: stop planning, stop organising, stop trying to be clever, but instead listen to me and follow me. As that last vision of Zechariah we referred to, communicated, “Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty.” (Zech 4:6) Will we have the courage to sit still and listen and wait until Jesus shares with us where he next wants to take us? This is the simple lesson: be alert to see Jesus going ahead. Sometimes we don’t see because we don’t look – we are looking in wrong direction, not expecting him to move. Israel had to keep an eye on the priests and the ark. When they started to move towards the Jordan, it was time to stand up and get ready to follow.   

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