New Feet On An Old Path
Robert Wurtz II
Yet there shall be a space between you and it, about two thousand cubits by measure. Do not come near it, that you may know the way by which you must go, for you have not passed this way before. (Joshua 3:4)
The children of Israel were preparing to cross over, with much anticipation, into the Promised Land. The people have their concepts of what this new life means, but the reality of the matter is that they have not passed this way before. Their forefathers wasted away and died in the wilderness until only Joshua and Caleb were left to lead. Rebellion springing from evil hearts of unbelief had so plagued the people that they did not enter into His promised rest. God having put all the unbelievers out, He was preparing to lead His people into a place that they could not now conceive of – a place where God would be present in such a way that He would carry all of his enemies before Him.
When God comes near our attention must be arrested and all preconceived notions of God must be cast down – to make way for the God as revealed in the Holy Scriptures. It was not time to think of God in a way they had thought of Him before or they had seen their rebellious forefathers think of Him: it was time to sanctify themselves and prepare for His arrival. For had God been with them He had driven their enemies out from before them – but rather the devil ran wild among them even as he does in our day. What shall we do Joshua? “Sanctify yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do wonders among you.” Why Joshua? Because you have not passed this way before. You have been a lot of ways, but you have not passed this way. You have tried a lot of gimmicks, but you have not passed this way before.
By This Shall You Know
And Joshua said, “By this you shall know that the living God is among you, and that He will without fail drive out from before you the Canaanites and the Hittites and the Hivites and the Perizzites and the Girgashites and the Amorites and the Jebusites: Behold, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth is crossing over before you into the Jordan. (Joshus 3:10, 11)
God was about to drive the enemies out from before the Israelites. All He needed was to come – just to show up – in His manifest presence and the enemy would flee. Perhaps you’re already thinking of the passage: Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. (James 4:7, 8) This has always been the pattern of it. When we are finally prepared to submit ourselves to God, we will know the manifest presence of God. But He must be exalted in our eyes. He must be sanctified in our hearts. We cannot think of Him as anything man-made, for He is the only “only one.” There is none like unto Him. Their forefathers perished having concocted a “god” after their own lusts and imaginations that they might “play” before it. Jehovah (YHWH) was not a demon, whom they were dancing and playing around as if it were the lord. He is the majestic exalted One that holds all power in His hands. When He moves none can ask Him, What doest thou? You will know what the One True God is among you, because He will drive the enemy out from before Him.
Jesus the True Joshua
When Jesus came into the world and began His ministry he was moving in an authority that was carrying all principality and power before it. Demons would fall at His feet and beg him not to destroy them or torment them before “the time.” Even the Disciples struggled and could not cast a demon out of one dear child that threw him into the fire and the water. Jesus was not happy. He referred to them as a twisted and faithless generation and demanded that the child be brought to Him. Jesus rebuked the demon and the child was healed instantly. (Matthew 17:15-18) Later they asked him why they could not do it – He said because the type of demon vexing the boy came out only by prayer and fasting. It took an extraordinary walk with God to deal with it. We need an extraordinary walk with God in this crisis hour.
New Feet on an Old Path
The Disciples were often content in those days to allow Jesus to do the fasting and praying. They allowed Him to spend the time in communion with the Father. But as with Joshua so too with the Disciples, they will need to sanctify themselves and prepare for the coming of the Lord (inward and into man). He was not coming this time to take up residence in a building, but in the very Bodies of the people. Sanctify yourself Peter! Sanctify yourself John! For you have not passed this way before. You have walk with the Lord Jesus and you have healed the sick, but you have not passed this way heretofore. When God came in the book of Acts a history broke out upon the human race never before seen in human history. God was among the people carrying all before Him. Sometimes we forget how dreadful these times were. They watched Jesus ascend into Heaven after He had been raised from the dead. There is nothing like unto that in all of the scriptures. The Spirit was poured out and a transformation took place so complete, that it ushered 120 people into the Kingdom of God at once. They were moving in a reality no human being save the Lord Jesus Christ had known to this point. Sanctify yourselves you 120! Prepare the way of the Lord!… for you have not passed this way heretofore. The Lord Jesus had walked in this reality and now the 120 would take it up. Stunning things happened. Fearful things.
When God Comes
By the time we get to Acts 5 two people had been smitten dead by God for lying to the Holy Spirit. Herod made the dreadful error of exalting himself in the presence of God and was was struck dead where he stood and worms ate him. (Acts 12:23) In the next chapter a pretender named Barjesus decides to act out in the midst of a move of God and the hand of the Lord came upon him – blinding him for a season until he could get some sense. Consider these verses to get a feel for what it must have been like to have lived the “book of Acts experience”:
“And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles.” (Acts 2:43 KJV)
“And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all them that heard these things.” (Acts 5:5 KJV)
“And great fear came upon all the church, and upon as many as heard these things.” (Acts 5:11 KJV)
“And this was known to all the Jews and Greeks also dwelling at Ephesus; and fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified.” (Acts 19:17 KJV)
Chapter to chapter there are signs and wonders being performed, even demons being cast out. God was near and He was driving out His enemies before Him. The only limitation to this reality is when the people decide it is no longer necessary to sanctify themselves before the Lord. For Joshua and those that came across the Jordon they refused to throw down the gods and altars that littered the landscape. God warned them in Judges 1 and 2 that he would no longer drive their enemies out. Why? because the people were trying to entertain the very thing God wanted thrust out. So He left the enemies in the land to be thorns in their sides. God has often given the people what they demonstrate by their conduct that they want.
God Came and God Went
The majority of people in Israel did not want God. That is why they died in the Wilderness. Had they wanted God, He would have never allowed them to die there. They wanted their sin and they longed to return to Egypt. They took a look at God on Mount Sinai and wanted no part of “that God.” So they fabricated one themselves to play around. This will be the pattern of the people over the centuries. Finally God is preparing to roll-out again. As bad as He wanted to stay – He cannot live in the filth of sin. The more the prophets called them back to the covenant the angrier and more high-handed the people became. Alas God laid it on the line in Jeremiah 6 when he stated emphatically:
Hear this, you foolish and senseless people,<sup class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(BA)”>
who have eyes<sup class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(BB)”> but do not see,
who have ears but do not hear:<sup class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(BC)”>
22 Should you not fear<sup class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(BD)”> me?” declares the Lord.
“Should you not tremble<sup class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(BE)”> in my presence?
I made the sand a boundary for the sea,<sup class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(BF)”>
an everlasting barrier it cannot cross.
The waves may roll, but they cannot prevail;
they may roar,<sup class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(BG)”> but they cannot cross it.
23 But these people have stubborn and rebellious<sup class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(BH)”> hearts;
they have turned aside<sup class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(BI)”> and gone away.
24 They do not say to themselves,
‘Let us fear<sup class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(BJ)”> the Lord our God,
who gives autumn and spring rains<sup class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(BK)”> in season,
who assures us of the regular weeks of harvest.’<sup class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(BL)”>
25 Your wrongdoings have kept these away; your sins have deprived you of good. (NIV)
It might as well read as a newspaper headline. people are committing sin in such high-handed ways that our forefathers would turn over in their graves. Nobody is asking “where is the Lord?” They are dancing around the golden calf of the man-made gods of much of modern Christian TV and radio. When was the last time you turned on the TV and trembled because He and not men were being exalted? When was the last time a mainline minister – ministered a sermon that so exalted Christ that it made you tremble before a holy God? They do not say to themselves, ‘Let us fear<sup class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(BJ)”> the Lord our God.
Passing this Way
There is a way we need to pass that does not travel through the well trodden paths of the lusts of men; but a path like unto Israel walked when it followed behind the Ark of God or when the Church was born in the book of Acts. We cannot look back to a reference point and say “we will do this” or “we will do that” because you have not passed this way before. You have passed a lot of places and you have heard a lot of things, but you have not passed this way before. The way of separation and holiness. The way of set apart unto God – ness. A place of fasting and prayer. A place where the demons will know who Christians are unlike the bygone years of, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you?” (Acts 19:15) There are no reference points outside of the book of Acts or moves of God like unto that – that we can look to. God has moved in book of acts power in times past, but for the overwhelming majority of us you have not passed this way before. May the Lord lead us into that place of absolute separation and faith that we may do his will in this desperate time. May the Lord speak to us words of direction that we might follow him as they did in the book of Acts. Not falling behind and not getting ahead. May the Lord gives us ears to hear once again what the Spirit is saying unto the churches.