“They commanded the people, saying, “When you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, and the priests, the Levites, bearing it, then you shall set out from your place and go after it. 4 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: 3, 4
The day had arrived. It had taken 40 years in the wilderness—a lot has transpired since the Exodus from Egypt. Only two men and their families from the original million-plus people who also started that journey will make the crossing into the Promised Land. The Savior’s words ring loud: “Many are called but few are chosen.”
These two men, Joshua and Caleb, have learned some key principles along that journey; and as well we should learn on ours. The keys are strict obedience to His Word and that all His biddings are enablings. Those two principles of love brought them that far, and they gave the command to follow the Ark of the Lord your God. Yet there is to be a space of about 2,000 cubits, and when measured in terms we can understand that would be about 10 football fields. That’s the same distance when the temple was set up—it stood as a protective barrier between God’s tent and the Israelite encampment. Yet you could approach it if you had business to attend to with God, dealing with the convection of sin.
God has made a way to deal with the sin problem that separates us from our Heavenly Father. That 2,000 cubits is holy ground, and we need to approach Him as Moses did on the mountain at the burning bush. “Remove your sandals and bring an offering.”
That 2,000 cubits seems a long way. It was Jesus who put it this way: “Narrow and difficult is the way and few are they that find it.” It’s true the first time but look at what you are offered as you approach God—the promise “Be of good cheer, I have gone before you and will be with you and I will not forsake you.” You will find Jesus as an adequate offering before God. He will help you each step of the way. You will find mercy and grace, and that God is faithful and has unconditional love for you. That’s good news!
The first time is always the hardest, but read Psalm 100 and hear King David’s experience in approaching God’s throne of mercy.
In the days of the wilderness it was a 2,000 cubit distance. Yet when the time had fully come for Jesus’ ministry on earth, and He bid His disciples to follow Him, the Word of God who was made flesh and dwelt among us, they heard Him, they saw Him, and they touched Him. That was not even close enough. God is asking us today to build a temple after the pattern given and live it out as Jesus did, and let Him be our Lamb, our Priest, and our Judge. Paul puts it this way in the book of Colossians: “To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Colossians 1: 27. That glory is when His church, His people, His bride, perfectly reflect His character. Then He will come, and the promise is fulfilled in Revelation 10:7: “But in the days of the sounding of the seventh angel, when he is about to sound, the mystery of God would be finished, as He declared to His servants the prophets.”
So let’s get started and build a temple and set it up, so we can approach God and have a “Sanctuary Alive” experience!