For the past few days, I’ve been thinking about a powerful image in Joshua 3 as a metaphor for how to behave and how to think during the COVID-19 changes to our daily life. Joshua 3 provides an account of the Israelites moving into unknown territory, apparently by way of the Jordan river. Joshua writes what the orders were and explains to the people to follow the ark. The ark always represented the power and presence of God. We read this:
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. Then you will know which way to go, since you have never been this way before. . . Joshua told the people, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you.” Joshua said to the priests, “Take up the ark of the covenant and pass on ahead of the people.” So they took it up and went ahead of them. . . So when the people broke camp to cross the Jordan, the priests carrying the ark of the covenant went ahead of them. . . The priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord stopped in the middle of the Jordan and stood on dry ground, while all Israel passed by until the whole nation had completed the crossing on dry ground.
I think about being part of the New Testament royal priesthood (1 Peter 2:9) who goes ahead of the people when they have never been that way before. The priests move ahead and stand firm as they hold up the power and the presence of God. They lead out. They show people where to go. Their presence with God ushers in miracles. They stand in the midst of floodwaters to guide the whole nation to safety.
I think of myself as a calm presence who holds out the power and presence of Jesus. Look here! Here is the way to safety! Here is the path to the Promised Land!
We’ve never been this way before, so we follow the ark to safety.