Then Joshua rose early in the morning; and he and all the sons of Israel set out from Shittim and came to the Jordan, and they lodged there before they crossed. At the end of three days the officers went through the midst of the camp; and they commanded the people, saying, “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.”
Then Joshua said to the people, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you.” And Joshua spoke to the priests, saying, “Take up the ark of the covenant and cross over ahead of the people.” So they took up the ark of the covenant and went ahead of the people. Joshua 3:1-6
Joshua, upon receiving the report of the two spies, rose up early and moved the Israelites from Shittim to the Jordan, a distance between seven to eight miles, in preparation to cross the swollen Jordan River at the time of harvest.
On the third day, the officers gave Joshua’s specific orders to the people of how the crossing was to proceed. They were to follow the “ark of the covenant” which symbolized God’s presence among His people and indicates the crossing of the Jordan was a religious procession.
Joshua instructed the people to consecrate themselves to embark on the holy journey to cleanse the land of wickedness and claim the land for God. The people were to be holy as God is holy, the ark was holy and the event itself was holy. Consecration involved bathing, washing one’s clothing, and abstinence from certain activities: to be set apart as God’s agents doing God’s work of bringing judgment upon the Canaanites. They were to present themselves as a separated, obedient and holy nation at all times.
Joshua told them God was going to do amazing things in the midst of His people as He led them into enemy territory. Joshua was acquainted with God’s wonders as Moses’ young servant and he was promised in advance God would display His glory and grace. The people of Israel were now entering into the holy land as a holy people. They had God’s favor and He was going to give them victory as they depended upon Him in obedience.
To experience God’s wonders we also must consecrate ourselves in full obedience to God, cast aside all filthiness of flesh and spirit, separate ourselves from all worldly cares and devote ourselves to God’s honor. When we live our lives set apart from the world in obedience to God’s will, we will receive God’s favor upon our lives. See Leviticus 20:7-8; Romans 12:1-2 and I Peter 1:9-10.