“And they commanded the people, saying, When ye see the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, and the priests the Levites bearing it, then ye shall remove from your place, and go after it.”
Forty years had passed since the children of Israel had left Egypt in route to the Promised Land. An entire generation had died. Moses also died, not being permitted to enter Canaan. Joshua was about to lead God’s people across the Jordan River to inherit their promised possession. The congregation was to watch for the Ark of the Covenant. This would be their signal. When they saw the ark moving, they were to “remove from your place, and go after it.” It was the most sacred piece of furniture in the tabernacle. It was a rectangular shaped chest of wood overlaid with gold. The mercy seat was placed on the top of the ark. Kept inside the ark were to be the tablets of the law, a jar of manna, and Aaron’s rod that miraculously budded. The ark was placed inside the veil of the tabernacle. The ark represented for them the presence of God in their camp. When they saw the ark move, they were to “remove from your place, and go after it.”
These words of instruction, given to the Israelites as they moved into Canaan, inspire a principle worthy of our consideration and application. In so many words, the life of the Christian could be summarized in a similar way. As Israel, we are to remove from our place and go after the way God would have us go. Often we find that where God wants us to be is different from where we are, and possibly different from where we want to be. Joshua and the officers referred to it as “your place.” We must not think only in terms of a physical or geographic location, but also a spiritual place. We are to be willing to leave our place and pursue God’s best for our lives.
The thing that sometimes keeps us from the spiritual progress we should attain is that we are unwilling to give up our place for God’s plan and place for us. Our place may not necessarily be a bad place; it may even be a respectably good place. But, if it is not where God wants us to be, we have to be willing to leave it and “go after” the ark. We are to be following the Savior, pursuing His will, and pressing on to know the Lord. The Christian life is not a passive life. We are to be going after all that the Bible promises us. By faith and obedience, we are to lay aside our wills and go after what God has for us.